Lucerne – a magnificent steamboat cruise
Finally, the trail through the unexplored Alps has been traced. In the first half of the 13th century, a winding path across The Gotthard Pass was marked between some peaks. At that time the only possibility to reach the pass was to cross Lake Lucerne. Longshoremen were leaving the boats on a steep shore near a mountain village called Flüelen but they were getting on in a little town located on plains, on the north shore. A river settlement started to bloom rapidly due to its location. And this is how Lucerne is flourishing today.
The city is strategically situated. It has become the heart of transport as well as trade close to the road junction and on the tip of four-armed lake. From the beginning of the 18th century due to Mount Pilatus, which is nearby, and the view from peaceful shore of a turquoise lake on jagged alpine peaks, some artists and intellectuals were gathering there as well as those who wanted to experience sublimity and enjoy the panorama to the fullest. And if we add a pinch of Wagner’s music, wonderful river and lake promenades and a full blossom of flowers at each corner, we will have a recipe for enviable fame.
We drove to Lucerne with our workmates. A parking lot in the city centre is sheer luxury, however, it allowed us to be in the full urban splendour at once. A brief glimpse of the map, the choice of directions and we could head to the lakeside.
The top tourist attraction of the city is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) built in 1333 which is spanning diagonally across the river. Over one hundred triangular paintings hanging from rafters made the bridge famous. Orange roof tiles and flowers blooming on its both sides bring glory. Almost in the middle of the bridge, at the Reuss river, there is an octagonal tower overlooking the city, which used to be a treasury at the glorious time or a torture chamber at its disgraceful period.
The bridge that we can admire today is actually a reconstruction after a 1993 fire which destroyed almost the whole wooden construction.
Walking through another passage called The Spreuer Bridge, which is also an example of a covered bridge, we enter the city centre – a maze of narrow streets going up to the defensive walls. Passing several squares and climbing up the steep stairs we finally get to the fortified tower located on town walls.
We were spoilt by the sunny weather that allowed us to admire the mountains. Contrary to what one might think, we were in luck because it had been raining for whole two weeks before our excursion. That is why the crowd in the pedestrian zone and at the lakeside seemed to be explicable.
Swiss Museum of Transport
In front of the Museum one can touch a drill bore which was used to drill the tunnel underneath the Gotthard Pass.
Taking a walk along the river promenade, where we had a break for something sweet with excellent coffee, was one of the last aims to fulfil. While sitting on a bench, you can admire not only floating sailboats but also speeding steamboats, of course, accompanied by the mountains in the background. In spite of the widespread rail network, the water transportation in the lakeside area is the major means of communication.
Following in other tourists’ footsteps, we decided to go on a short paddle steamer cruise. We didn’t have to wait long since in every 20 minutes some boats begin to sail.
Paddle steamers in Lucerne
Five one-hundred-year-old side wheelers powered by steam engines sail on Lake Lucerne (Uri, Unterwalden, Schiller, Gallia, Stadt Luzern). All of them are in immaculate condition. During the cruise, one can enjoy spectacular views while sipping his coffee. Moreover, there is a possibility to admire the hypnotizing work of massive and shiny pistons. 864 horsepower will guarantee a dazzling smile on faces of big boys!
After 15-minute cruise we went for a short stroll around the modern part of the city and then started to head back to the parking lot. It was a fantastic 4-hour trip.
The Lion Monument (a rock relief of a dying lion ) that pays a tribute to 800 soldiers who sacrificed their lives in defence of the French king is on our to-do list for the next trip. Mark Twain described it as ‘the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world (1).
Lucerne is a must-see town on the Grand Tour of Switzerland.
Lion Monument, Luzern, Switzerland.
Photo by Andrew Bossi, Wikipedia
Lucerna, Szwajcaria – prices
Parking lot – 4h – 12 CHF
Pizza – 22 CHF
Steamboat cruise – 5 CHF (cash desks available on side wheelers, credit card payment accepted)
Lucerne – top attractions and places worth seeing
Chapel Bridge (Kapelbrucke)
Lion Monumentum (Lowendenkmal)
Steamboats – paddle steamers
Glass mill (Glasi Hergiswil)
Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus)