Cities / Towns Visited: 23
Countries Visited: 9
Steps Taken Today: 17,218
Steps Taken Around the World: 967,356
The sun was shining when we ate breakfast and checked out of the hostel, leaving our bags in storage as we set out to spend a little time admiring the old town of Lucerne and its historic buildings, before we moved on yet again.
We meandered along the river, drinking in the beauty of the picturesque town, with its quaint historic wooden bridges spanning the azure waters, and its city walls towering stoically behind the houses. We crossed through one of the aforementioned bridges, admiring the series of medieval paintings, all themed around depictions of death, which hang in the annexes of the beams supporting its wooden roof. Although rather macabre, they are a beautiful example of public art spanning further than statues and sculptures.
From here we headed towards the edge of the city walls, where the massive stone structure drops off at the shore of the river. Following a small path through an almost unnaturally green field, greeted with the gentle tinkle of bells as the cows grazed nearby, we reached the foot of the first tower of the walls. After an uncomfortable amount of stairs for such a relaxed day, we reached the roof, and were met with stunning views of the city below. If you looked past the old town you could see the lake, and the wider city sprawling out across the valley. It’s the kind of vantage point people make postcards from.
We descended, and moved on to the next tower, which houses a clock, facing the city below. The tower also houses a series of old clock faces and mechanisms from other buildings of Lucerne. At one point on the stairs, just before you reach the roof, you can look out through a window, and if you happen to be there at the right time you can see the minute hand as it passes the top of the clock face; a somewhat surreal view of the world. This tower is linked to the next via an open air walkway on the top of the walls. With a cool breeze brushing over us, and the sun shining, it really was something else.
Finally it was time to come back down to earth, however. We had one last thing wanted to see before we quickly shot off on our two train journey; the Dying Lion of Lucerne monument. It is said, by some, that it is one of the saddest statues in the world, and as we drew closer it was hard not to be moved by the vivid imagery of it. This massive statue, hewn into the very rock of a small cliff, is dedicated to the memory of the Swiss guards who were killed while guarding the Tuileries Palace, where King Louis XVI was staying in 1792 during the French Revolution. The depiction of this massive male lion, with a broken spear protruding from his shoulder, laying in pain and sadness, its head resting on a shield baring the fleur de lis of France, digs at your soul. It is crushing to see such a majestic animal portrayed in such a way, and thus its purpose is complete, and you in turn mourn for those men who were massacred.
Leaving a little heavier hearted than we arrived, we headed back to the hotel, passing through the other old wooden bridge on our journey back across the river. We grabbed our bags and hopped on the train. After just under three hours, and three trains, we alighted in our ninth country; Liechtenstein. As we walked the half hour to our accommodation it was somewhat of a change of pace. The town we had arrived in, Schaan, was small. This in and of itself was of little surprise as we all know this is a small country, however its rather imposing to see that the populated areas of the country sit in a valley between two sets of peaks. As we continued we quickly found ourselves flanked by a few scant farm houses, and field after field of crops. Dark clouds rolled over the mountains, and the heavens opened just as we were rounding the corner to our hostel.
Greeted by the friendly host (and I’m assuming manager), we found ourselves alone on a six bed dorm (as he has not wanted to put us up with ‘two rough guys’ as he put it), and after eating our dinner served in the lodging’s dining room, by the very same man who had greeted us so warmly on our arrival, and running a couple of loads of washing, we settled in to sleep.
I took a quiet moment at this point to reflect on our time in Switzerland. It had started so poorly, but had gain traction steadily as it progressed; it grew on us, so to speak. It had been expensive, a fact we had scoffed about several times along the way; but it had rewarded us with incredible views, unforgettable memories, and delectable food. We were taken to heights we had never reached before, and experienced sights we had never seen before. It had given us some of our greatest and some of our poorest experiences thus far. Isn’t that the way of things though; you live and you learn. You have to take the bad with the good, or so they say. You cannot appreciate the highs without the lows, and as long as you’re having more highs, you’re doing okay. We started off on the wrong foot, but we reconciled, and we leave as firm friends. Until next time you pricey, mountainous beauty.