honeymoon in switzerland
we boarded our flight at 420pm on sunday and prepared for a long flight. it would be nine hours by time and sixteen hours by clock before we landed. as with our last wildly successful vacation, to the florida keys in feb 1999, we had made no reservations and had no plans for our arrival in switzerland.
when we landed at the zurich flughafen (airport) it was 700am, switzerland time. we quickly collected our bags, showed the nice gentlemen our passports and headed to the bahnhof (rail station) in the bowels of the building. there we found eight rail lines, all clearly marked and our train waiting in the station.
after 1 1/4 hours on the train, the first thing we wanted when we arrived in luzern was a couple of coffees. the swiss version of coffee is just like our version of espresso - thick and strong. it was 60 degrees F at about 900am on a monday morning in luzern and everyone was off at work. the city was quiet - and beautiful!
michael wanted a nap. we found the nearest tourist office and michael took charge. the next I knew, we had spent our first swiss francs on a fourth floor (top floor) room at the hotel schiff. it had large, french windows overlooking the reuss river, the chapel bridge and the water tower. gaggles of swans floated serenely under the bridges while locals on bicycles weaved in and out.
we napped for hours. when we woke up, both of us were starving. we took a quick shower then headed out to see what culinary offerings we might find. we were thrilled to find a little restaurant right across the river called "opus", with a special seating area for lunch right in the wine room. it was an incredible meal, complete with wine and candlabras (at noon). our long lunch was followed, predictably, by another nap. this time, when we awoke, it was to the sound of a man on the street below playing the violin. it was so romantic.
we wound up staying in luzern for an extra day, since we spent much of the first day sleeping. we did a lot of site-seeing around town, shopping for chocolate (first on laura's list in switzerland), and even found a cool castle ruins at the edge of town to explore at the top of a minor hillside.
on the other side of town, we found a huge cliff to climb (the civilized way, using a steep cement staircase) that led to a huge old hotel called "the gutsch". it was decorated in medieval fashion, with knights of armour in the hallways and crests on the doorways, but also it was very elegant and bright. from there, we could see that the castle ruins that we had explored across the way was actually a small piece of a castle wall that had once surrounded the entire village, including the lake beyond.
then, we killed off a goodly portion of the late afternoon drinking beers at an outdoor pub on the river, just down the walkway from the hotel schiff.
for dinner our second night in luzern, I had to taste the meal that the city is known for: luzern veal. it is a delicious concoction of sliced veal and egg noodles in a dark gravy. this was served with rösti, swiss-style hashbrown potatoes. mmmmm, it was very good. we ate at a local german restaurant across the street from our hotel and just past a town square with a huge fountain and shops (there were lots and lots of little town squares with fountains in all of the swiss cities we visited). michael and I each had a german beer or two, then we went into the downtown area on the bahnhofstrasse (the street to the train station) to sit at the window seat in a bar and watch people walk by.
the next morning we got going early and headed to the restauarant in the hotel schiff for what became our usual european breakfast of crusty bread, cheese, yogurt and dark coffee. we sat out on the balconey and looked out over the river. we left for the bahnhof after breakfast.