After leaving Therme Vals, we traveled to a little town on a lake called Lucern.
When we arrived in Lucerne it was very cold and snowing. Just after exiting the train station, we stumbled across a local parade!
The parade was actually split into two bands. One band was crisp in clean dress wearing red coats and playing traditional upbeat parade music. 50 yards behind them was a “monster band”. Dressed up in the craziest costumes, this band was shuffling along acting very downtrodden and playing at a much slower and depressed speed. We stood and watched the two bands for as long as we could before the cold forced us to continue searching for our hotel. Unfortunately, the cold, snow, luggage, and hunger were enough to deter us from pulling out the camera and snapping pictures of the parade.
In Lucern, our lodging strategy failed us. While in Vals, Switzerland we were not able to locate an Airbnb place in the next town. Several great options were listed, but all the hosts proved to be out of town in the next few days when we needed lodging, so we ended up hastily reading reviews of local hotels. We decided on a place called Hotel Falken.
Walking into the lobby, the place appeared small and moderately clean. Not super impressive, but no huge warning bells either. We checked in and they asked us to pay for the entire stay upfront (the first clue we ignored). Heading upstairs to our room, we realized how thoroughly we had been swindled.
The hallway to our room looked like a freaking horror movie. All the lights were out. As we took timid steps down the hallway, the light nearest us came on, but kept flickering on and off in an eerie fashion. With really no other lodging options, we approached our door. Wishing we had some salt to throw over our left shoulder, we tightened the straps on our packs in case we had to make a run for it and opened our door. The room was very lackluster and depressing. The wallpaper and carpet was old and the room was very small. The “queen bed” was two twin beds pushed together with a strip of foam in the middle. Just off the room was the bathroom with vinyl flooring that was bubbling up and unattached in many places. There was water on the floor from a leaky sink. Oh, and the lights were in very weird places and rather dim.
Surprise Encounter With The Monster Band
Not to be deterred, we left the hotel to find some good cheer and begin exploring. Soon after we left, we heard the faint sounds of a band playing outdoors. On a whim, we decided to chase them down and see what was going on. A short walk led us to discover the very same monster band we had seen earlier! A small number of them congregated in a courtyard to play and entertain the locals after the parade.
It was great to see them again and get a close up look at the costumes. I can’t help but think that their head gear/masks reminded me of little Ewoks from Star Wars!
Mistaken For A Swiss
The next morning, we set up to break our fast with coffee and pastries. After a quick breakfast, we headed to the local Co-Op to get some groceries. We had discovered the Co-Op grocery store in Zurich and realized that it was the best way to buy AMAZING chocolate for rock-bottom prices. Not that chocolate was the only thing we got. We also stocked up on croissants, meat, cheese, and general snack stuff. Our custom was to make our own dinners from the croissants, meat, and cheese while eating out at lunch (or more groceries). This allowed us to get a taste of the local foods at lunch prices while still having scrumptous foods for dinner.
So we almost always had a local Co-Op grocery bag with us. In fact you can often see one in our pictures, especially the train ones with all our luggage piled up. For ease of traveling, and perhaps unconsciously because of where we were, Katie often traveled with her hair up in twin braids. We stopped to admire the local swans, one of which decided to come up and visit. Katie tore off little pieces of bread and fed the swan a bit.
For whatever reason, Lucern seemed to be a top vacation destination for asian tourists. We saw an enormous number in this town. One such couple took a couple pictures of the swans and then pointed their camera at Katie to get some pictures of the locals! Later, actual locals approached us and began speaking in German! I can’t really blame them for the mistake. After all, the blond hair, pigtails, and local grocery bag combined to paint a very different picture from the truth.
While wandering around in town, we discovered the famous Chapel Bridge. It’s the oldest covered bridge in Europe and was built in 1833.
Much of the bridge had to be repaired after a fire in 1993; however, many of the charred sections remain.
Sampling Authentic Swiss Fondue
Katie and I thoght there was no way we could pass up a chance to try authentic Swiss fondue while we were in Switzerland
It was quite good! Although, I remember it being rather expensive. I guess even though you are in Europe (and thus get GREAT prices on amazing cheese), you buy so much in fondue that it still adds up. I’d recommend trying it at least once for the experience.
Giraffe Unfriendly City
Incase you were wondering, no, giraffes* are not allowed into underground Swiss parking garages.
Odds and Ends
I just couldn’t finish this post without adding a picture of the beautiful Catholic church
and an example of the beautiful decoration found on many of the buildings.
*No giraffes were harmed in the writing of this blog post