Belgium has beautiful countryside, Switzerland has beautiful everything else. Today we spent the day in Luzern just being tourists. No beer tours, no tasting (save 1 beer at lunch that isn't worth mentioning), no running for trains (until we headed for Munich), just scenery, scenery, scenery.
Being Leo's, Doug and Sabrina had to see "The Dying Lion of Luzern" which is carved out of natural rock. It is to honor the Swiss mercenaries, who in service to King Louis XVI of France, were killed in the French revolution when the Tuileries were invaded on August 10, 1792. Mark Twain described the monument as "the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world."
We spent a great deal of time climbing stairs around the city. 823 to be exact (We only counted the ones we went up.) Many of which were ascended along the Musegg wall. It was built starting in 1386 and is on the north side of the town. Amazingly, it is entirely in tact and part of it is open to the public. After a steep climb up a mountain side graced with cows sporting the latest in cow bells, we climbed the 125 stairs to the top of the Schirmer tower. We had a commanding view of the city from there. Once we had to duck because the space shuttle was flying by. Always looking for a new challenge we went to the next tower on the wall, the Zyt tower and climbed all the way to the top, another 129 steps, where the oldest city clock (built by Hans Luter in 1535) is located. It has the odd privilege of chiming every hour 1 minute before all the other city clocks, and we just happen to be there, at the very top of the tower next to the bell at 1 minute to noon. It was loud.
After that we felt it necessary to get as far away from the bells as possible for a while, so we took a long walk along Lake Luzern. We got about one tenth the way around and covered about 4 miles. The water comes off the mountains and is so clear you can see the bottom of the lake bed. The lake drains into a fast paced, churning river, I believe called the Reuss, which runs through Luzern. Many famous bridges span the river, one of which dates back to the first half of the 14th century, and was built as part of the cities fortifications. The bridge burned in 1993, but has been rebuilt, and many of the paintings that decorate its ceiling have been restored. It is interesting to note that for a city built on the side of a mountain, they don't have many guard rails. If you are afraid of heights, or get motion sickness, Luzern may not be the place for you.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the many shopping opportunities in Luzern. You can buy everything from a sword to 4" platform tennis shoes here. Although expensive, if you love to shop, this is the place to be. For those of you who are curious, we walked away with only a few postcards. How did we accomplish this? The boys didn't let Sabrina into the stores.
Although we all could have spent a few more days here, laying along the lake or going to see Mt. Pilatus, we couldn't spend too much time away from the beloved beer and so we headed off to Munich, and a whole new kind of yeast.
Things we learned from Switzerland
The Swiss are obsessed with time, chocolate, shoes and jewelry.
No matter where you go, there are stairs.
If it's a cow, put a bell on it.
Luzern is NOT the beer capital of the world. It its not even the beer postcard.
Buy a swiss timepiece and consult it before entering bell towers.