Thursday, November 5, 2009

Luzern / Lucerne

I read books now, while riding trains, rather than looking out the window.

Well not today. On the train from Interlaken to Lucerne I couldn't help but stay glued to the windows. I tried to guess which way the train would be headed, to secure the best seat. I failed. But, once we started up, I made a quick hop and managed to get a good seat before any of the crazy old people with their hiking sticks could sit down. Did I steal seats from old people? It's hard to say. I would say – no – they could easily take my old seat. Plus, you now, pretty!

As it turned out, said old people would only be hanging around for a stop or two before jumping out to start their days trek. But myself? I was in for the long hall. All the way to Luzern. Or Lucerne. Whatever spelling you feel is best.

We travelled past lakes, and mountains, and small Swiss villages. Only to then pass more lakes, and more mountains. And even more small Swiss villages. At one point the train came to a stop, and I saw on the map that the lakes would soon be on the other side, so I hopped over. But – we started to go backwards. Backwards! Can you believe it? So I headed back to my original side, but facing the other way. The other passengers must have thought me quite the hyperactive child. And perhaps I was, but if you had access to such views, I'm sure you'd take whatever action was necessary (or regret failing to take said actions) to secure yourself a prime viewing station.

And for an hour, all was good. Then we were informed that due to construction we would have to take a bus part way. Look – all I'm saying, is I think there should be some sort of money back here. I paid the train price, to ride the train. I could have taken the bus, paid less, spent more time travelling – but I didn't. Had I been an hour delayed on a two hour ride the Germans would have given me half my money back. Provided I could read German. Which I couldn't.

But, eventually I reached Lucerne. And – of course – it was fantastic. More of a city than Interlaken. But still, there is a large lake, across which mountains can be seen. Sure, they may be a little further away – but still, mountains. Can't complain about that, yeah?

I made my way to the hostel – three hours before I was supposed to check in, but there was a girl there and she took me anyway. She gave me the option of leaving my passport, or twenty franks, as a deposit for the key. What type of crazy person would leave their passport?! Seriously – never let go of your passport. And if you left the franks, and you lost the key what's the worst that could happen? Oh you're out twenty franks. Now imagine if you handed over your passport. No thank you miss, I will keep my identification on me at all times, if that's just fine with you.

Having looked ahead at the weather, it seems as if there may be a touch of rain tomorrow. Today, however, was lovely. So I took the next few hours to walk around.

I discovered the lion statue. It's carved into a wall. Mark Twain once said it was the saddest piece of rock in the world. That's what my Luzern visitors guide tells me anyway. So – mystery of the stone lion solved. You may remember said lion as being part of the directions to get to the hostel.

The lion is on a completely different street than the hostel.

Those directions are terrible.

I made my way back down to the lake, where I took a few pictures of the mountains off in the distance, and then followed the walking tour suggested by my tourist information booklet. Over the covered bridges I walked; the bridges were originally part of the city's fortifications. Now they're just quainter than taking the large bridge towards the central station.

Through the city I walked, until I hit the outer wall. There really something fantastic about being in a walled city. It's why Quebec City is so well loved back home, I imagine. You can walk along the ramparts, and even climb up some of them. Provided it's not winter. Which it is. So I couldn't.

But there were a bunch of highland cattle, and a most terrifying mask to be found. For some reason I was reminded of Zardip and the Search for Healthy Wellness.

Cutting through the gate in the wall, I headed back into town, passing by all the name brand stores, and pedestrian shopping districts.

For a moment I considered if this was a tourist area or not. But, even if tourists do flock here, the locals need to shop somewhere as well. So I have, in all my wisdom, decided that this isn't an overly touristy town. Surely it is to some degree – but not so much as Tallinn or Bruges.

Outside the optometrist there was a ridiculous sculpture of a family wearing glasses. I choose to pose by it. Behind me two other people choose to pose, as I waited for my camera's timer to go off. Fan-tas-tic! After doing this to so many other people through the years, I'm glad it happened to me. And it was quite a lovely picture at that. If only there was some way to get a copy of it to them. But they went merrily skipping off before I had a chance to see what they had done.

Next up, the grocery store. And – I found tzatziki sauce! I don't know if I'd mentioned this or not – but I have been craving, and seeking this for a month. It does not exist in the places I've travelled to. It just does not. When I saw it, I nearly teared up with joy. I picked it up, proclaimed my love for it, and proceeded to purchase it. I would eat it with a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Look – the Europeans? They do bread right. It was only three years ago that I discovered there were breads other than white read. Rye – it changed my life. It was only last year that I started buying loafs from the bakers in Toronto. Now – my god. There are so many types of freshly baked, still warm, fluffy bread – it's enough to make you want to try them all.

And I have been trying. If I could find rye bread made like this – well – I don't know if I'd be ready for that or not.

I headed down to the lake with my purchases and proceeded to eat.

I can tell you that Tzatziki still does not exist in this part of Europe. I don't know what it thought it was trying to be, labeled like this, but it was not what it should have been. Look – they have yogurt here. They have cucumbers here. Just mix them together! Why is that so hard?

The quest continues. No longer in the background, but brought to your enlightenment.

I was planning on reading by the lake. But I felt cold. And suddenly very tired.

I blamed it on the train. But – passing out at four pm, I realized I'd never had to nap during the day before. And I also felt hungry. These thoughts faded to black, reappearing at six thirty when the world outside was dark. I was cold. I was tired. I was hungry. I am never any of these things. Not in a way that they affect or bother me, anyway. There is only one time when this happens.

When I get sick.

That stupid kid on the train! Thirteen and headed off with his school mates, coughing all over me! I've probably caught his gross little germs!

But maybe not. We'll see. Maybe I was just tired. And, you know, it is November. And – well people do need to eat? I fear the worst.

Back at the hostel I was told it would cost five franks to use the wifi. Please – I don't think so. I would just head off to McDonalds tomorrow. But, I thought to check for open networks anyway. Of course there was one, and I connected just fine. Is the hostel really charging five franks to allow you to steal internet? And should I have paid to use it now? It's all very confusing – but an open network is an open network, and that's good enough for me. Five hundred megs of train videos to upload, thank you very much.

I met some Australians – they called themselves Australian, despite being from Tasmania (I thought they would have used a different name) and they enlightened me to the distressingly odd show “Monkey Magic” - I've said too much already.

And that's that. Luzern done. Sure I have another full day – and I will indeed wander, provided it does not rain to hard – but I think I've seen it all. It's a great town, and I recommend it. But it's laid back, and that – well that's good too.



  1. Out of curiosity, how do you pronounce Interlaken?

  2. not 100% on this - but I think it's inter-law-kin

  3. But Tasmania is a state of Australia. It's the same as thinking that someone from Halifax, Nova Scotia wouldn't call themselves Canadian.

  4. I'd say Tasmania is more analogous to Newfoundland - and many people from there would consider themselves Newfies.

    Being broken from the main land has a way of messin' with ya.


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