Archive for the ‘Lucerne’ Category

Lucerne – Geneva – Porto

November 12, 2017

Yet another train trip for us, this time from Lucerne to Geneva, leaving the Alps and travelling through rolling green countryside in a journey that will last just under 3 hours. The trains leave Lucerne every hour on the hour with this train taking us north as far as Olten (half way between Lucerne and Basel) then south west toward Geneva via Bern.

the countryside was very pretty with views of typical Swiss chalets dotting the landscape, as well as cows with bells around their necks.

Swiss Chalets

Into Bern

rolling landscape


The trip seemed to take no time at all, either watching the countryside roll past or watching people getting on and off the train made the time go very quickly and we were soon at Geneva Airport. A short walk from the train station and we were at the airport through security and time for lunch before we boarded our flight to Porto. Yes, we are off to Portugal where hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer.

view from the plane to snow topped hills of Geneva.

After two and a half hours we were ready to land in Porto.

the view of the Portuguese coast.

Warmth and sunshine greeted us on landing and we were soon stripping off our scarves and jackets before finding our way to the Metro ready to take the train into town where we have an apartment booked in the centre of the old part of Porto. As we stepped off the escalator rising from the Metro we were met with a noisy, busy, vibrant street scene landing right at the top of Rua de Santa Caterina, one of the main streets of the old part of Porto, and this amazing sight in front of us

This church is covered in around 16000 tiles depicting scenes of Saint Catherine and Saint Francis of Assisi.

We arrived just on dark but we can check the Church out later. The street was alive and buzzy with street traders selling everything from art works, to souvenirs to roasted chestnuts and people everywhere out enjoying the evening. Musicians seems to be on every street corner and there is always something going on.

We picked up the keys you our apartment, which is in Rua de Santa Caterina. We are up on the 4th floor above the Main Street and is perfectly located for us to explore the city.

the Main Street in the early morning before the crowds appear. It appears that traffic is allowed down the centre of the street, one way, until mid day and then it’s pedestrians only and it seems to work very well.

We have booked in for three nights but we may just extend that, depending on our explorations tomorrow. The apartment is lovely and has a kitchen as well as a washing machine, which gives us a bit of freedom to eat in occasionally as well as catching up on laundry. A good nights sleep is in order before setting out to explore this part of Portugal.


November 11, 2017

The sun was shining across the Lake as we arrived in Lucerne, we were met at the station by Billy, our Airbnb host, who then led us the 150 metres to our accomodation. Not only was it close to the rail station, it was also close to the famous Chapel Bridge, in fact as we stood on the street corner by our accommodation we could see the bridge through the street opposite, again only 200 metres away.

Chapel bridge.

Once we had settled into our room and sorted ourselves out we went for a walk to see the bridge, walking across a parallel bridge to get a good view of the historic bridge.

just to prove that we were there!!

From here we went for a wander around the old town, which is on the other side of the Bridge. Lucerne is not a large city, in fact it has a population of just 80,000 and as an interesting aside it has over 500 firemen to serve the city!!! Back to wandering the old town, which is located on the north side of the Reuss River, the river that feeds Lake Lucerne. We found a number of interesting buildings painted decoratively.

as you can see by the picture, it was dark by now, and time to find somewhere to eat. Although there were plenty of choices around, the cost of everything in Switzerland is very high. I was hoping to find somewhere selling fondue as when in Switzerland one should at least try the local. famous local dish. We did indeed find them, however the prices started at CH36 and went up to CH55 (that is about NZD52-80, or £27~42) and that is per person! Guess what? No I didn’t try fondue that night!

We wandered around the old town before heading back across the Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrücke. This bridge was built in 1333 and spans 204m (669ft). And is the oldest covered bridge in Europe, although a lot of it has been replaced after. Afire in 1993 destroyed a large part of it as well as many of the 17th century painted panels depicting scenes from Lucerne’s history.

Roy admiring the panels

Time to retire for the evening and see what’s the new day brings. The new day brought rain, low cloud and mist so that didn’t bode well for the days planned activities. Never mind, we donned our newly purchased ponchos and set off to see the Lion Monument, a dying Lion carved into a rock face to commemorate the hundreds of Swiss guards killed during the French Revolution.

the Lion in its surroundings with lovely autumnal colours.

Roy in his becoming but effective poncho.

Close up of the Lion

After the wander around in the rain we decided we deserved a bit of morning tea

morning tea

It was also time to regroup and replan our activities as this rain was due to last another 4 or 5 days, not the best weather for sightseeing. The planned Lake trip was put off as we had earlier seen the boat disappear off into the mist, hmm, not ideal to see anything. The other options that were also postponed was a trip up Mt Pilatus, mind you the thought of going on that trip was heartstopping! It comprises of a gondola ride which is a rotating gondola, a cable car then a train down.

the route

and the thought of the train hanging over the cliff edge and the height of the cable car ride was enough to say thank goodness it’s raining and covered in cloud!!!!

Therefore that put off a similar trip to Mt Titlus which is renowned for the “highest and scariest suspension bridge in the world.

as regular readers will know, neither of us are into heights and certainly do not need to scare ourselves. We are happy to admire the pictures that others take and secretly thank goodness that the weather played into our hands.

Instead we headed to the Rosengart Art Gallery to view the works on display which included and extensive collection of works by Picasso, Klee, Chagall, Joan Miro, Renoir, Cézanne and Monet to name but a few. I have to admit that I prefer the early Picasso works rather than his later works but my all time favourites are the French Impressionists. It was a lovely way to spend an hour or two out of the rain.

There is also another bridge just downstream from the famous Chapel Bridge, the Spreuer Bridge, which was built in 1408 but had to be rebuilt in 1566 after the original was destroyed by flooding. The picture panels in the Spreuer Bridge are much clearer than those in the Chapel Bridge.

Time for us to leave Lucerne and the weather behind us, tomorrow we are off again.

Train to Lucerne

November 10, 2017

Have we mentioned before how much we enjoy travelling by train? We were on yet another train journey, we had already travelled 1 hour via train from Mendrisio to Bellinzona and this 2 hour train trip was heading though the Gotthard Pass and tunnels to Lucerne. We are moving from the Italian speaking part of Switzerland to the predominantly German speaking region of Switzerland.

The scenery started off Alpine-like, with great views of snow capped mountains. It was quite an overcast and cool start to the day as we climbed higher into the Alps.

The Swiss really know how to build things, a valley? build a bridge or viaduct, mountain? tunnel through it, not enough room for a two way highway? Build another one above the original road!

viaduct leading into tunnels

one road on top of another

mountains pepping through

map of where we are travelling

past lakes

Swiss chalets

more mountains

And finally arriving in Lucerne