In case you haven’t been following our entire European adventure, or want to check out some of my previous posts, I’ll do a quick recap of our travel plan thus far. We spent two days in London, took the high-speed train under the English Channel to Belgium, then boarded a bus and drove to Amsterdam. From there, we spent two days in Germany and one night in Innsbruck, Austria. We then headed to Italy, where we explored Venice, Florence, and Rome.
Florence was our last stop in Italy and from there, our adventure continued in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The drive from Florence to Lucerne was by far the prettiest drive of the trip. We left a warmer climate, traveled through mountains and entered a much colder, mountainous region.
A notable part of the drive was passing through the Gotthard Road Tunnel, one of the world’s longest tunnels. The sunny skies and green grass we saw as we entered the tunnel…
… turned into clouds and snow when we exited about 10 miles later. Numerous people in our group had never seen snow before so they were beyond ecstatic.
The views from the bus were absolutely breathtaking!
We arrived in Lucerne and checked into our hotel, the Hotel Astoria. It was one of the nicer places we stayed, located downtown in the heart of the city. Evan and I opted out of the excursion that afternoon, mainly because we were tired out and didn’t feel like spending an extended period of time outside when it was so chilly! (I know, we’re from Minnesota…) Instead we ventured around the city a bit, then enjoyed dinner with our group at the hotel that evening.
The next morning, we visited the Lion Monument. The Lion Monument was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and carved into sandstone by Lukas Ahorn in 1820. The intent of the sculpture was to memorialize the Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution in 1792.
The inscription above the lion reads Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti, which means “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.” Also, if you look closely you’ll notice the outline of the sculpture is shaped like a pig. Apparently, some issues arose during the creation of the monument and the sculptor created the pig shape as an insult.
We left the Lion Monument and walked a short distance through town to the ferry dock. We boarded a ferry and rode across Lake Lucerne to the base of Mount Rigi. We braved the chilly temperatures and went outside on the top of the boat for some awesome pictures.
When we arrived at the base of Mount Rigi, we boarded a tram that reminded me of a gondola, but resembled a train. The tram took us to the top of the mountain and during the 30 minute ride, we saw beautiful views of the lake and a lot of snow!
We got off the tram and walked a short distance uphill to reach the actual summit of the mountain. Most of our group stayed near the lodge area, playing in the snow that they were still fascinated with.
The view from the summit was incredible. It was very windy and cold, though, so we didn’t stay up there too long.
We eventually wandered back down into the lodge and had lunch. Not quite a glamorous meal, but my soup was delicious!
And of course, we had to get a Toblerone at the top of the mountain.
We rode the gondola down the other side of the mountain, then hopped on the bus and headed back to our hotel.
We had the rest of the day off, so Evan and I ventured into town, went for a walk, and did a little shopping. We walked along the river, across this bridge to the shopping area.
We picked up some Swiss chocolates and sampled a few macaroons.
We also made a dinner reservation at the Fondue House, per our tour director’s recommendation. We enjoyed a very traditional Swiss fondue meal: cheese course, followed by an entrée course, and chocolate fondue for dessert.
The food was amazing, but the dining experience was very different from that in the United States. After we finished our meal, we waited about 45 minutes to receive our bill and our waiter was nowhere to be found. We couldn’t really complain though; we were eating real Swiss fondue and were in good company.
We waddled back to our hotel, packed our bags, and called it a night. The next morning, we were driving to our final stop of the trip: Paris, France. Check back soon to read about our final adventures in Europe!