Updated: Jun 16, 2020
January is a month of the after, after the celebrations,the parties, the gathering with families for few days.Europe is wrapped up in a shimmering gold. At every corner of the street and building and it is most royal. Paris in december is a huge tourist attraction because of it's gleam and splendor,specially for Christmas and new year eve.
This year december 2019 was different. Yes it was as usual marvelously decorated,but the big strike that started in the beginning of the month in France,has turned the atmosphere to be quite tense and rigid. People couldn't commute with the metro,the trains circulating in France and Europe were joining the strike. There was definitely less desire to appreciate the decorations while people had to walk for miles to their work and back home.
The international tourism was affected vigorously by the Strike.
I was suppose to travel to Lucerne in mid December, but the Strike has decided otherwise.I had to postpone it in a month.
There is a saying "Every delay is a blessing in disguise" Although i was already so keen to discover Lucerne on which, i have heard that it is one of the most beautiful city in Switzerland I had to wait patiently for the trains returning to function again,and who knows maybe it is for the best.
Lucerne a breathtaking beauty.
Three hours are separating between Paris with its Swiss border,the city Bazel. I was relived when i could have finally travelled ,in mid january as the Strikers have return gradually to work.
Between Basel and Lucerne separates another hour with the train.
The day i was travelling was sunny and bright. The journey on the Swiss train was very enjoyable as if there was a hidden code between the commuters,not to disturb the ideal calmness,the Swiss reputation, The landscape reflected on the window was of green valleys, hills,
meticulously dressed houses. I could have already imagined the mountains, lakes,and even eating a melting cheese on bread (the traditional dish) by the fireplace.
Sometimes the distance between the train station and the city center is 20 minutes walk and more. in Lucerne the train station is situated in the heart of the city and the minute you walk out you are being exposed to an outstanding scenery. The beauty of Lucene is magnetizing
The glittery blue sky immerses with the extensive lake called "the lake of the four forested settlements".Around colorful ancient houses complete the harmonious picture.
The city is absorbed with so much culture, history that it feels like you wish to stop at any corner to learn as possible as you can,about it.
I was pleased to discover that the Hotel Wilden Man where i would stay was as well so central.
I have started my tour with a guide Monika Akerman. In lucerne the official language is Swiss,German. Monika speaks fluent french. (I have found that the many of the Swiss german speak very well French)
We were walking on a wooden covered bridge the "Spreuerbucke".Built in the middle ages. All along on the ceiling are hanged pictures, their theme is "the danses macabres" Different skeletons accompanied humans in their daily life. It is a kind of a threatening sign and a reminder to any passenger who walks on the bridge that he is mortal.He should bare it in mind. There for he has to enjoy life, and the present moment.
Another famous medieval wooden bridge is the kapellbrucke, A massive part of it was burnt in the past. It was reconstructed and the paintings above,telling the history of the city were saved from the fire blasts. Next to it there is a tour which used to be in the middle ages a prison.
On the other side of the bridge wait charming, narrow streets. alleys, some are pedestrians. The houses tainted in differents colors, from flamboyant red to olive green.With each turning head i was surprised with another, original building. The more modern ones, have an interesting street painting. Ancient fountains.Each Church is more dazzling then the other.
I was very impressed by the sight of Hotel des Balance. The walls are painted remarkably.
The hotels are an undeniable part of the city's attraction.Many of them are ancient and carrie interesting stories as Hotel Schweizerhof that has received Winston Churchill .
The painter William Turner had discovered Lucerne in the 19th century and was inspired by its deep,shining colors. He used to paint the view of the mountains from his room's balcony .He and Mark Twain the writer have influenced other british to go for their vacation to the Swiss mountains.
An important exhibition: collection of the Lucerne paintings by Turner took place last year in the impressive modern art and culture building designed by the french architect Jean Novel.
What i have liked were the contradictions in the city.
On the one hand the modern buildings,built in an innovative architecture,on the other hand old traditional,royal buildings. On the one hand a sparkling light where ever you look, on the other hand a mysterious,dim shadow sneaking behind.
The luxury watches are ticking every where from the shop's windows. The famous brands of Switzerland. And the one which is on the red tower of the town hall building. The Swiss precision. Every minute is meaningful. Maybe its a hidden dialogue between them and the dancing skeletons from the Spreurbrucke,threatening cynically humans that they have to calculate their steps cause they are not eternal,and in the same time that they should take advantage from life!
The lion monument
One of the most original,powerful monument located in the city center. A tormented lion with a sward stuck in its back is sculptured inside a rock. Below it ,a little pond. It was such a moving sight that i went to see it at day and night time. (The changing lights create a totally different effect.
The lion in agony is a symbol of the many Swiss soldiers who perished their life during the French revolution defending the royalty.
It is such a well known memorial that its enough to ask any local "where is the lion"? with an understanding smile, he points you out the way.
The night was slipping smoothly over Lucerne,covering it with a black velvet blanket.Winter,
it gets dark early.The lights were turned on in a perfect timing.
The Swiss people reputation is that they are quite reserved and meticulous,but they know definitively how to make a big celebration!
Every January a famous light festival "Lilu" occurs. Different spots of the city are enlightened with special lights effects,as videos arts are projected on the walls of the buildings. hotels and Churches.Each February takes place the famous Carnival festival of Lucerne. It a massive happening with people wearing extraordinary masks and costumes. It is so vibrant that it makes you forget about the cold and the gloominess of winter.
During my staying there, the preparations for the carnival had already started and masks were exposed in different showcases. In the Hotel Wilden Mann,masks decorated the walls of the corridors,specially for the event and gave it a theatrical twist,
By the Spreurbrucke, was projected a gimmick of a Skeleton taking selfie of himself in different positions.On the enormous church Saint Leodegar, was screened non stop video art of psychedelic forms. Inside the church was a concert, with special lights,sounds and videos effects.
i went to Louis bar in Montana Hotel. It is unique with a delightful decoration, situated upon a mountainside.There is lift that takes you up. Every thursday night there is a free jazz session, just need to order a drink.
It is a charming stylish bar,looks straight from a movie set.The wine was tasty, comfy sits,and the musicians played a great jazz tune into the night.
The next morning the sun continued to enlighten the sky. In order to be on the peak of Rigi mountain,you need to take a boat, journey lasts around an hour,until you arrive to a place called Vitznau.There you take a train that climbs up the mountain.Stops on the way by two villages till it reaches the top.
The cruise was very pleasurable.The landscapes were magical, the colors vivid and strong,waking up immediately all your senses, even if you didn't have much asleep last night.
On the peak, the view is fantastic. I could at last enjoy the sight of the snow,covering all the mountains around and warm up from the rey of lights. Underneath the lac of Rigi was a transparent blue. It was a refreshing experience to walk on the head a mountain, it gives strength and liveliness
In Switzerland every thing is programmed symmetrically and wisely ,when you take the train back, I recommend you stop at Rigi Kaltbad. There is local good italian restaurant. And then you can experience a total relaxation in the spa swimming pool. Mineralbad. There is an interieur and external pool,several Jacuzzis .The outdoor swimming pool is an experience "out of this world" swimming in a steaming water and being surrounded by white mountains.
I choose to return to Lucerne this time with the funicular. It was quite fun to experience it.
At night it started to rain again. I returned to look at the illuminate constructions,exploring the ones i haven't seen yet. This time with the umbrella protecting me from the pouring rain.
And in spite of the forthcast predicting rainy weather,it was a warm sun that has greeted me. It was again a beautiful day, After a delicious breakfast i walked slowly at the waterfront.
I was pleased to discover,small waterfalls,their view with the bridges have reminded me "la petite France" in Strasbourg. The lovely colorful houses, were gleaming in the late morning light.
I went to the museum "Sammlung Rosengart" which gathers important collection of Picasso paintings and other Impressionists. It has allowed an artistique pause from the museum outside.
Cause.Lucerne itself is a work of art which was created by the hands of nature and man.
It is impossible to separate from Lucerne without trying the "traditional Fondue"." You can have the melted cheese on a baked potato or bread. Only from the flavour you get an appetite.
I was sitting in the restaurant's hitted balcony with a view to the lake and the street,suddenly came an enthousiaste crowd ,some of them were wearing medieval clothing. They were following an orchestra who played trumpets and drums.Their facial expression was happy and cheerful.
"Do you know in whose honour?" I have asked someone
Its a preparation for our masks parade. It will happen next month. Its really a big thing here in Lucene,thats why the rehearsals start quite early. You should come and see it.
Its an unforgettable experience"
When i stepped out from the restaurant, i glanced at the red tour of the town hall. I have two hours left to stroll in the beautiful streets and look at the blue lake. I promised my self to enjoy every minute,and to return next year in February to Lucerne's carnival masks.
Photos credit-Lucerne office de Tourisme
Hotel Wilden Mann
A very old and quaint hotel.Right in the heart of the city,built more then 500 years ago.
Unusual architecture,and comfortable rooms. Lovely,high quality breakfast. The dinner that is served in the restaurant is also very good. The service is friendly and thoughtful
Restaurant Rebstock,right next to church Saint- Leodegar. tasty traditional food with a modern touch.
Fondue restaurant Pfistern . Their dishes are so flavourful,and is a large variety, beside the fondue.The location is ideal,by the lake with a gorgeous scenery.
Lilu lights festival January 9-19 2021
the fantastical masks and costume parade February 11-16 2021