We visited four cities in total, and our very first stop was Lucerne in Switzerland. I've always wanted to visit Switzerland, who wouldn't, with their beautiful mountains and lakes and chocolates and fancy watches and knives?
Where We Stayed
We spent our four nights at CASCADA Hotel which was an easy 10 minute walk from the train station. It was a pleasant and quiet room, but there were a few things that we found rather inconvenient. I thought it felt rather muggy a lot of the time and cooling system didn't really do much to help. We also thought the room was quite small, especially the bathroom, where there was hardly any space to put our toiletries.
Having said that, breakfast was included in the room rate and was quite decent. There was quite a selection of pastries, cereals, cheeses, juices, yoghurt and some hot food. You can also personalise your eggs, I had fried eggs with bacon, mushrooms and chives three mornings in a row and they were delicious!
We found it quite convenient location wise. The train station was a mere 10 minutes walk away and all the restaurants and sights on the other side of Reuss River were about 20 minutes walk away.
What We Did
Day 1: Explore the city
We were still recovering from our 24 hour flight the day before, so we thought we would ease into it by having a relaxing day in the city. Unfortunately it was a Sunday, which meant that most shops were closed, but sights and restaurants were still open thankfully!
What a beautiful view of the buildings while crossing towards the old town. The big swans gliding along the water added more charm to the scenery.
Of course we had to see the famous Lion Monument, a commemorative carving of a dying lion above a tranquil pond.
Since it was just next door, we also visited the Glacier Garden (note: paid entry required). We spent some time learning about ice and glaciers, but there is no denying that the highlight was definitely the mirror maze. It was mind-boggling, I almost bumped into myself so many times! The walk up the observation tower rewarded us with some nice views too.
We couldn't miss walking across the Chapel Bridge. It was very beautiful, and especially so in the evenings.
Day 2: Hike the Swiss Path
Hiking had to make it onto our itinerary, so I was super glad when I came across the Swiss Path during my research. (Click here for a very informative guide.) The Swiss Path is a 35km long hiking trail around part of Lake Lucerne. You can pretty much start from any of the villages located on the route as they are all accessible by public transport.
I had to take into account hubby's seasickness so I pretty much ruled out all the routes that required a boat ride at some point. Route G (Sisikon - Morschach - Brunnen) suited us the most in terms of difficulty, hiking time and accessibility so that was the path we took.
It took us one hour by train to get to Sisikon, but the hiking trail started right from the train station. We veered onto the wrong path about 10 minutes into it (what's new?) but eventually found our way by following the signposts.
The hike wasn't too hard but it did have a lot of uphill sections. We got to walk through farmland where we saw lots of cows and sheep, complete with a cowbell around each of their necks. Juxtaposed against the towering mountains, it was such a beautiful and serene atmosphere.
What made our hike so enjoyable was that there was close to no one on the hike with us. We may have come across some locals working when we passed through the farmland and towards the end when we arrived at Brunnen, but that was about it. I don't have a picture that fully captures the beauty of the mountains, the lake and peacefulness. You'll just have to do it and see and experience it for yourself!
Day 3: Visit Mt. Titlis
It was a struggle to decide which mountain to visit - Rigi, Pilatus or Titlis but Titlis eventually won out with its all year round snow.
I'm so glad that we decided to get there ourselves instead of following a tour because with a bit of research, it was pretty easy and definitely a lot cheaper. We were greeted by this view while walking from Engelberg train station to the cable car station. The mountains in all their glory and majesty were so overwhelming I actually started getting teary-eyed.
Blankets of snow. The view was mesmerising.
We didn't do any snow sports but even then just the view was worth it. We did some of the activities there like the cliff walk, ice flyer and glacier cave and basically took our time plodding around in the snow.
I felt like I was on top of the world, literally!
What We Bought
We couldn't leave Switzerland without buying some Swiss chocolates! We got some beautiful box sets and other bits and pieces from Läderach - there are two shops, one of them is conveniently located in the train station and has better opening hours.
#2: Swiss Army Knives
You will see these in almost every second shop. We bought one each from the well known brand of Victorinox and they turned out to be pretty handy throughout our trip. We even got a Victorinox peeler and I must say it is the best peeler I have ever used in my life!
I never really understood why cowbells were a popular souvenir until we did the hike through the farmland. We bought a small cowbell from a large souvenir shop and we love the sound it makes! Sometimes we hang it around Skye's neck when she's off sniffing in the garden. ;)
In general, we liked our stay in Lucerne but the best days were definitely the ones we spent out of the city. We thought there wasn't too much to do in the city itself, and it didn't help that we were there on a weekend plus a public holiday, which meant lots of shops were closed. In hindsight, four days was probably a bit too much! There were lots of other tourists / travellers, and although everyone was quite friendly we didn't really feel connected to the place. Nevertheless, it gave us a good taste of Switzerland's beauty!
I still have lots more pictures of food that we ate in Lucerne but I will have to leave that for the next post!