Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Lion of Luzern

Day 105
Stu and I both happen to be morning people and we were up early. I used this to my advantage to go and visit Luzern. On the train I tried to update my woefully behind journal, but didn't get very far on the short ride. I hate when I let my journal get behind. I wish that my journals for my past trips were more detailed and I am determined to make sure that I record everything this time around. I don't mind so much if the blog gets behind, at least that's all written down so I won't fo
rget when I finally do post it, but the journal needs to be up to date.

After grabbing a map and a rather large amount of information I was ready to hit the town. Luzern is beautiful, its surrounded by mountains and it is just so Swiss. I started exploring by walking across the zigzagging Chapel Bridge. Before even crossing it I could tell how pretty it was, the sides were lined with flowers. While I was on it I admired the 17th century paintings in the rafters that focused on local history.

My next stop was the Hof Kirche, Luzerns main church. This was meant to be the most important Renaissance building in all of Switzerland. It had clean lines and wasn't ornate like the Italian churches I had become used to. I quite liked it.

Just a few minutes away was the Lion Monument. This was carved into the side of a rock wall. It is of a wounded and dying lion. Mark Twain called it “the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.” I don't know about that, but it definitely was beautiful.

I surprised myself by visiting the nearby Glacier Garden. From the description and the ads it looked like a roadside attraction. It kinda was too, but in a good way. It advertised that a visit was a journey through 20 million years of Luzern's history with a few extras thrown in.

Essentially, in 1872 Josef Troller wanted to build a really big wine cellar in to the side of the mountain. During construction he stumbled upon a geological anomaly from the last ice age. Once the area had been dug out it was opened as an attraction. As time went by more and more additions were made. The park was pretty cool, I hadn't seen anything like it before. There were deep holes carved out by water and ice as well as a lot of fossils. Plus, I was given a brochure that explained everything and that always makes me happy.

The museum was very detailed. There were several all miniatures of the area depicting various times during history. There was even a stuffed woolly mammoth. A film explained that Luzern had begun as a tropical beach area, but this all changed with the ice age and glacier formation.

Upstairs there seemed to be a lot of random Luzern related things. There was old furniture and a lot of different types of rocks. I particularly liked the room with some intricate wood carvings on the walls.

The next attraction was the Alhambra Hall of Mirrors. It was created in 1898 for the Swiss National Exhibition, and moved to Luzern in 1899. I took my time walking through it and managed to get some really cool pictures with the mirrors.

Next up were some really cute bunnies. I could have watched the all day. However, I had to take a short climb up to the viewing tower. On the way I passed a cabin, and out of date “glacial mill” and a gnome. From the top I had a great view of Luzern and the mountains. I had it to myself and just enjoyed it for a bit.

Luzern still has a large part of it city walls and you can walk along the top of this. This took me some time due to the heat, there was very little shade up there. It was nice to get lots of different angles of the city and the mountains.

When I was back in the old town I took pictures of the fabulous painted buildings and decided to grab some lunch. I ate at a place that overlooked the Reuss River. I had one of those “I love my life” moments as I watched the river go by the Swiss background. I just couldn't believe that this was my life, and had been my life for over three months now!

My next stop required traveling over another painted bridge, the Spreuer Bridge. The pictures on this bridge were called the dance of death and were a bit more morbid than the other ones. This lead me directly to the Luzern History Museum, which had just recently been redone. I was really surprised when I was handed a bar code reader with my ticket. The museum was set up like a warehouse. Each object had a sku, to read information about it I just had to scan it. I hated it. I don't like history museums that are set up in uber modern ways. I feel like it further removes history from the present and makes it more difficult to connect with. Despite that complaint, they did have a ton of information on all of the objects and I could have spent years there. They even had games and specific itineraries dependent upon interest that you could set up with the scanner. There were displays on everything from telephones to undergarments for the last few centuries. Well, the telephones only covered about 100 years, the underwear was older. The special exhibit was on Luzern's lake and tourism there. There were loads of old swimsuits to look out and a large collection of beach towels. I didn't really get the whole thing. It was pretty weird.

After stopping by the town hall for a picture I headed back to the train station. I passed the ride journaling. At the Z├╝rich station I took a picture of the super sized football players that were hanging around. Stu had told me earlier that it was quite eerie when they were being put together because there were body parts lying around everywhere.

That night for dinner Stu was staying in with work so I headed out to a Jamaican place. The people were friendly and the food was good. It also gave me a lot of time to write and finally get pretty much caught up.

Back at Stu's place I fell asleep reading a lot earlier than I had intended. But what could I say, it had been a fabulous, but long, day.

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