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Report 866: Castles, Caves and Cablecars

By wendy lynn from California, U.S.A., Spring 2005

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Page 15 of 16: Lucerne and Zurich

photo by Wendy

Alex in Lucerne, Switzerland

We woke up “strong and sturdy” as Julia would say. While Wendy showered, Joe and the kids explored the church on the hill in Unterschachen. Julia found a flower for her hair. There was an old man there contemplating a grave, so they moved on.

Back at the Hotel Alpina for breafast. We were apparently the only ones there, so we had the whole breakfast room to ourselves… along with the various trophy heads that covered the walls. We were served a basket of breads and had some good meat and cheese. The kids especially loved their yogurt. Outside, the weather was foggy and damp, obscuring the views of the Alps nearby. We were up too early in the morning to attempt to see if the William Tell museum was open, so we decided to head for Lucerne which looked to be an easy drive. It was.

We found Lucerne easily enough after a relatively short drive. It is quite picturesque, located on the shores of a glacial lake. Unfortunately for us, however, the mostly Catholic Luzerne was enjoying the All Saints Holiday. All but a few tourists had deserted the city. We looked around a bit and wished we had more time to spend. The kids fed some swans, and we crossed the river a few times on covered bridges.

We decided to head out for Zurich, if only to see what it was like. Also, we figured that Zurich was unlikely to be shut down for the Catholic holiday… wasn’t Zurich the home base for the Protestant reformationist Zwingli?

We hit some horrible traffic and didn’t have a great map, so everyone felt a bit hassled before we even got out of the car. We found a two hour parking spot, purely by a combination of good luck and Joe’s good driving, right by the bahnhof.

Everyone was hungry so we stopped at the first place we saw. Horrible doner kebab at a hefty price, but the beer was good. The kids were happy to be fed, though, so it was worth it.

We walked around the Altstadt for awhile and found a great toy store. Lots of carved wooden toys and other interesting devices. Alex cried when we left.

We also found Baerenland, the kingdom of the Gummi Bear. The staff at Baerenland seemed to be under strict instruction to hand out multiple samples. Alex and Julia could not believe their luck. Wendy quickly picked up a bag for Julia to take back to her classmates. We found out later that Wendy picked up probably the only bag in the entire place that was x-rated. According to Julia’s teacher, the individual pieces were stamped with the words “love partner” and showed a couple making love. Not what we had intended. What were the chances of that happening?

Wendy saw a sign for the Spielzug Museum which we thought was the toy museum. We followed the sign and didn’t immediately see the museum, but we did see a nice park where the kids stopped to play. By this time our parking meter was running out, and we didn’t have time to look for the museum. We got back just in time. Our neighbor car was getting a ticket, and we had just a few minutes left on our meter.

Given the drive into town, we were somewhat dreading the car ride into Kloten, a suburb just outside of Zurich where many airport hotels are located. Despite our fears, we were back in a land of good signage so we easily and quickly found our way to our clearly marked hotel, the Welcome Inn.

Kloten is surprising for its quasi-residential feel. In America, airport hotels are most often located in areas where no one would want to live, but Kloten seemed to be quite pleasant. Small hotels lived next door to neatly kept suburban homes.

We had a two bedroom, spacious suite with two TVs. The kids couldn’t believe their good fortune. We tried to avoid allowing Julia to change channels because the adult videos, although somewhat blocked, still gave away more than we liked. We unpacked the car, and Joe and Julia decided to return the car to the airport instead of waiting until the next day. Joe was incensed that Avis ripped him off on the gas, but what was there to do?

We somewhat regretted returning the car when it was time to eat. The hotel restaurant seemed a bit pricy, so we wound up at the tavern-like “Alte Poste” for wurstli and pommes frites. The French fries are great and the sausages are decent, but it wasn’t a culinary high to end the trip on.

Wendy thought the Welcome Inn was just what an airport hotel should be… competitively priced for the market, easy to find, close to the airport, including shuttle services and in general clean and spacious. Joe felt that the price was too steep, but this was Switzerland. The breakfast was merely standard with a few extras like bacon and hard boiled eggs. They did have a lot of coffee, though. The one night with two adult breakfasts ran us about 198 Swiss Francs or 135 Euros.

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