Chapel Bridge and water tower, supposedly Switzerland’s most photographed thing

It’s always a sad day when you have to say goodbye to Lauterbrunnen, but today it was made slightly easier as it was raining, and being here for so long I can always come back later. Hopped on the train to Interlaken and then it was a direct train to Lucerne, the centre of Switzerland. It weaved its way through a lot of very picturesque little towns on lakes and arrived two hours later.

Got off the train and whipped out the Google Map that I printed out 3 weeks earlier before I left which had the directions to my hotel. Being that most European train stations are near the centre of cities if you pick a hotel nearby its quite handy. My hotel was about 500m away id guess, with McDonalds and Burger King nearby. Hotel was quite nice, in-between a hotel and hostel I guess. Most of, if not all I think, of the rooms had no bathroom or TV etc, just a bed, desk and washbasin, but quite new and modern. The communal facilities were great as well. The wireless internet was a bit weird though, the hotel had it but it cost 5 francs for 2 hours. But whilst walking around later I noticed that there is FREE wifi covering most of the city. There was someone else’s open network close by that worked anyways, so yea I just used that.

Went for a quick walk around that night and quite a few memories from when I was here in 2007 came back, even though it was with Contiki and we were here for about 23.8 seconds. Got my bearings of where things were then went back and had some dinner. Couldn’t be stuffed finding something so I went for Maccas. A medium meal and a cheeseburger cost me 15 francs, which is about $17. Yikes.

Next day was just spent walking around seeing the sights. First item on the agenda was the Lion of Lucerne. I knew where it was in my head but how that translated to me walking was quite a bit different. Quite a bit different in the way that one walks about 3km past the road they were supposed to stop at. Eventually found it and realised how stupid I was for getting lost when it was so obvious. The monument is very very cool, a giant lion carved out of a rock face. Took quite a few snaps then headed for the old town.

The runners that I had been using were looking a bit worse for wear now (wore them last trip as well) so I decided to buy some new shoes. There was a Jack Wolfskin shop in the old town that was having a sale so I went in there to have a look. Walked out with some pretty comfy shoes. Jack Wolfskin, apart from being a badass name, is one of the top alpine clothing labels in Europe, the stuff is top quality.

Rest of the day was spent walking around, taking photos, wishing I had money to spend, etc.

Next day the weather looked perfect, cloudless and blue sky, so I thought it would be a good time to make it up Mt Pilatus. There seems to be endless ways to go up Mt Pilatus, most of which are aimed at the lazy tourist with money to burn. You can either go up one side via the steepest railway in Europe, or go up the other in the cable car and gondola. Both of which require you to travel from Lucerne to the towns each of them start. You can get crazy expensive and time consuming lake cruises and scenic trains and that crap, but instead I did my research and caught the bus to the cable car side of the mountain for 4 francs.

Paid for my 64 franc return ticket and got in to the cable car. The journey is split up in to 3 sections, with the last section being a gondola instead because of how steep the final section is. The weather up top was wonderful, could see for miles. I went off on basically the only real walk you can do up there, a 40 minute out and back route which takes you to a peak that overlooks everything. I wore my Jack Wolfskins and yowza what a difference. I can actually grip on to the rocks on the track. Could have come in real handy in Lauterbrunnen whilst on the edge of cliffs. So yea that walk was quite nice, great views all around. Started walking back and those all too familiar clouds started to roll in. For the rest of the day the entire mountain was covered in cloud, lucky I went up early and at least got a few good hours of weather in. Amazes me that people still go up when its covered in cloud, you literally cannot see a thing. You could just sit in your backyard and buy a fog machine for the same experience.

If I had to rate Pilatus vs Jungfrau, which are probably the two most popular high mountain excursions in Switzerland, then id have to say Jungfrau hands down. For one there is snow up top of Jungfrau. Starting in hot weather and ending up in the snow is very cool. Pilatus sits at around 2100m whilst Jungfrau viewing point is at 3500m. This allows Jungfrau to have things year round that Pilatus cant, such as ice caves, sled dogs and toboggan runs (Pilatus has a summer toboggan run).

On the final day I decided to go to my first museum of the trip (shock horror I didn’t go to the Louvre), the Swiss Museum of Transport. Apparently the best museum in Switzerland, which kinda makes sense being that they have been pioneers in various forms of transport, especially trains. Instead of catching the bus around the lake I just walked it, its a nice view that you don’t get from inside a bus. Arrived and noticed there is an IMAX attached to the museum as part of it, the largest screen in Switzerland. I bought a museum pass and also a ticket to ‘Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D’, which is about Kelly Slate and Teahupoo in Tahiti.

I don’t think ive ever spent so long in a museum before. The train section was fantastic, outlining the entire history of Swiss trains with most of the trains actually there as well. There was an entire section of the new Alps tunnel that is currently in progress that will revolutionise the Swiss train network and timetable. Being able to cut through the mountains instead of winding around them will reduce journeys from all of their neighbouring countries.

Apart from trains they had automobiles, planes, boats and space travel. The entire museum reminded me of the various Smithsonians in Washington DC. The layout of things was quite similar, and it seemed that anything they didn’t have the Smithsonian had and vice versa.

It eventually got around to 4pm so I went to the IMAX theatre for the movie. It was being shown in 3D which for a surfing movie turns out is pretty awesome. Having Kelly Slater throw a massive carve right at your head is something else. The whole thing was in German so I couldn’t understand the narration, but I don’t really think it mattered. I just sat there and enjoyed the scenery of Tahiti and the crazy surfing skills of Kelly Slater.

Headed back to my hotel, grabbed some dinner on the way, then spent some time dumping photos and backing them up. Losing photos is probably worse to me than losing my passport, you can always get a new passport. Waited till about 8:30pm and went out for some night photos. Going around on weekend nights its jaw to the floor, place is just full of stunners. Anyways, the Chapel Bridge at night gets lit up and looks quite nice. Walked along it and there was a lone cello player doing her thing. I know nothing about cello music, but it sounded good and suited the place to a tee. Took a photo and gave her all the spare franc coins I no longer needed.

So that wraps up Lucerne. Another great Swiss city to visit. A crazy expensive one too. (photos coming soon)