We left the AmaCello and departed for Switzerland. We were supposed to arrive in Basel, but due to a broken river lock, the AmaCello was forced to return to our last port of Breisach (where we toured the Black Forest). It was bittersweet to say farewell to most of our fellow passengers as only about a third of us were continuing the journey to the land of cheese and chocolate.
Since we were due to begin the land extension in Basel, we traveled by bus to the cosmopolitan city. The first thing we noticed about our first Swiss town was how cold it was. By far, this was the chilliest of all the places we visited and it was hard to admire the medieval character of this Swiss banking center.
After a brief walking tour where Christmas markets and the crimson Town Hall were pointed out, we were left to our own devices. We changed our Euros into Swiss Francs and found relief for our frozen limbs in a delightful coffee shop that made incredible hot chocolate.
With our bellies full and the grateful return of feeling into our fingers and toes, my mom and I wandered through farmer’s markets and discovered an adult merry-go-round.
Before long, we were back on the bus and headed to our final destination of the day: Luzern, also known as Lucerne. I snoozed as we drove along the motorways until an elbow jabbed me in the rib cage (thanks, Mom!) and my eyes were opened to the beauty of the Swiss Alps. Pictures of these snow-capped mountains can only do so much; you need to experience that kind of scenery in person to understand how breathtaking the sight is. I can definitely appreciate why so many folks take ski vacations in the Alps.
Our first stop when we finally reached Luzern was to see the famous Lion Monument. I’ll be honest, I had never heard of this monument, but I’m so glad it was included on our trip. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. Or the adorable children who were also visiting it.
We checked into one of, if not the, most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed in. The Schweizerhof sits right on the lake and was dressed to the nines with candles and Christmas trees around every corner. And then we got to the room.
Wow, just wow. French windows, tall ceilings, and our own chandelier greeted us when we walked in. I don’t know if the Schweizerhof is a Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous hotel, but it should be. It didn’t take me long to feel right at home and never want to leave.
Our Cruise Director, Nick, along for the extension, invited us all on a brief orientation tour where he pointed out tried-and-true restaurants and gave us plenty of tips to get the most out of the Swiss paradise. Mom and I decided to break off from the group with one of our new buddies and found a nice Irish pub to enjoy a pint and burger. My Guinness actually had a clover in the foam. I was very impressed.
Fortune favored us the next day and the anticipated rain was over before we left the hotel for our walking tour of the city.
I cannot begin to put into words just how beautiful Luzern is. There is little to no garbage on the streets, the architecture is spectacular, and the lake water is so clean you can actually drink it. No wonder people everywhere seemed so content.
We walked across the wooden covered Chapel Bridge, saw an advent calendar, and found a Jesuit church, by far my favorite church of all the ones we visited. It was so light and not as cold as some of the gothic cathedrals.
The afternoon took us to Mount Rigi for my first ever cogwheel train ride. Heading up the mountain, we passed numerous homes of people who relied on the cogwheel train for their daily transportation. The higher we climbed, the more spectacular the view became.
With an adventurous day behind us, we decided to turn in early. We headed back to the room to get ready for bed and turned on the television for a little background noise. And that’s when we learned about the Sandy Hook shootings. It was a sad evening and much of the rest of the trip was spent following the CNN coverage.
Other than the sad news back in America, I loved every bit about our time in Luzern. It was by far my favorite city of the entire trip and if any of you Wonderlings ever find yourselves in Switzerland, be sure to check out this lakeside town.
You won’t be sorry.