Sunday, December 18, 2016


Another early morning this morning again.  We have a long road trip today as we make our way to Lucerne in Switzerland.  We left Florence around 7.45am, most of the day was spent on the road.  Most of us slept the first part of the trip as Gary had advised us that the real scenery would start once we reach the Italian Lakes and crossed over into Switzerland.

Once we passed Milan, the scenery started to change and driving around Lake Como, Lake Maggore and Lake Lugano, the views were quite spectacular.  Once we reached the lakes, we were all awake and their were cameras clicking everywhere in the bus.

 For lunch we stopped in the Ticino canton in Switzerland at a place called "Bellinzona".  We only stopped at a Mache, but Steve and I decided to have a decent lunch as we weren't going out to the Swiss Fondue night tonight.  We had a 45 minutes lunch break before heading off again.

The scenery was breathtaking, beautiful beautiful Alpine Pines, towering alps, clear running streams, green green rolling hills and wildflowers.  Such a beautiful country.

 We had quite a hold up at the Gotthard Base Tunnel.  This tunnel through the mountains is 17 kms long.  The traffic was backed up here for over 6 kilometers and it took us over an hour to move 5kms.  Apparently they only let 10-12 cars go at any time, then they wait for a few minutes and let another 10 cars through.  We heard after we got through that the traffic was back up for more then 16kms so felt relieved that it was only 6kms when we got there.

This all came about because there was a horrific accident in the tunnel a few year back where multiple vehicles collided and it became a huge inferno in there and lots of people died,  and over 128 people were missing with up to 40 vehicles charred and melted together.

 This put our arrival time in Lucerne behind over an hour which means it was closer to 5pm before we arrived rather than our predicted time of 3.30pm.

We had about an hour and a half before we had to meet Gary in the lobby of our hotel for our cruise on Lake Lucerne.

 Today just happens to be the Swiss National Day, so it was a public holiday here in Lucerne.  There were lots of people out grilling and partying on the lake's edge. 

 The cruise on Lake Lucerne was lovely, we had pre dinner drinks and nibblies whilst we motored around the lake with lovely swiss music in the background.

 Lake Lucerne's Swiss name is "Vierwaldstattersee".  It is the fourth largest lake in Switzerland.  The entire lake has a total of 114 square kilometres, and a maximum depth of 214m.  Most of its shore line rises steeply into the mountains.

After our cruise, half of our tour went out for dinner for a traditional fondue dinner with Swiss entertainment.  At 99Euro each we thought it was a little excessive, but then again  Switzerland is expensive everywhere, 

Eight of us didn't go so we decided to walk from our hotel back into the city centre walking over the "Kapellbrucke" (Chapel Bridge).  The Chapel Bridge is a gorgeous old covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss River.  It was named after the nearby St Peter's Chapel.

 The bridge is really unique because it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century.  Although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries old bridge in a 1993 fire.  Subsequently restored, the "Kapellbrucke" is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge.  It serves as Lucerne's city symbol and one of Switzerlands main tourist attractions.

We had a lovely time walking over it and checking out all the artwork and admiring the beautiful flowers along the sides of the bridge.

 We enjoyed a little walk around the square and saw a pretty cool fountain before heading back to the river bank for dinner.

We found an English pub called Mr, Pickwick, and as it looked as good as anywhere we had dinner with the others there.

We had a lovely evening chatting with new friends and then about 9pm we started hearing lots of loud bangs and realized that there was a fireworks display happening to celebrate the Swiss National Day.

 We decided to stroll home along the bridge and just enjoy the festive atmosphere and watch the fireworks.

It has been a really lovely day, beautiful scenery, relaxing cruise, very relaxing.   We just love Switzerland especially Lucerne.  The one thing we really noticed about Switzerland and especially Lucerne is how clean and tidy this town is and not one sign of any graffiti which has been pretty common everywhere else we have been,

We are staying at the Astoria Hotel.  It is really lovely also,  large rooms, and walking distance into the city.  We are loving our stay in Switzerland, and wishing that we could have a whole week here....


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