18.05.2011 25 °C
Switzerland has became one of my faviourite countries.
It offers breathtaking scenery and amazing natural
beauty everywhere you look, from the gorgeous Swiss Alps
to it's many beautiful lakes. The four national languages of
Switzerland are German, French, Italian & Romansh and whilst
visiting you will use the Swiss Franc as your currency which
at the time was equal in value to the Australian dollar.
We stayed in Lucerne which is located in the centre of Switzerland
and the city was recently voted the fifth most popular tourist
destination in the world. Once we arrived we headed to the
city centre for some sightseeing, Standing on the shore of the
Ruess River you can spot Switzerland's most famous sights including
the Chaple Bridge, The old Water tower and the white swans all
with Mount Pilatus in the background, Talk about a photo opp!
The Chaple Bridge is 204 meters long and is the oldest covered
wooden bridge in Europe. It was completed in 1333 and inside the
bridge features paintings of Lucerne's history which date back to
the 17th century. Unfortently parts of the bridge were badly
damaged during a fire in 1993 but has since been restored.
Adjoining the bridge is the octagon Water Tower, it stands 43 meters
and has been many things over the decades including a prison,
torture chamber, watchtower and a treasury but today the tower can
be hired out for private functions. The tower and the bridge are the
most photographed monuments in the country.
We also visited the Lion Monument, the memorial represents the
700 Swiss guards who were killed while defending the palace
during the French Revolution in 1792. The sculpture was carved in
a sandstone cliff during 1820 and shows a lion being killed whilst
protecting the coat of arm shields of Switzerland and France.
It was sculptered by Bertel Thorvaldsen who was not paid in full for
his masterpiece, So before he completed it the artist changed the
shape of the cave to resemble a pig as a private protest.
It was very moving and i would recommend paying it a visit.
We took a stoll around the city and we were in town during the
Blue Balls Festival so had a look around the food stalls and live
stages. We also stopped off to buy an authenic Swiss army
knife as a souvineer. They even engrave your name on it while you wait.
We took a closer look at The Baroque Jesuit Church on the left bank
of the river. It is a beauiful church that dates back to the 16th century
and later stumbled across the Collegial Church of St Leodegar Hofkirche.
Switzerland is also known as one of the world's top chocolate stops
and it was here where the tobelorone chocolate bar originated from.
The triangular shape chocolate bar represents the mountains of the
Swiss Alps and huge bars can be found in gift shops all around Lucerne.
That afternoon we took a walk along the medieval City Walls, they
were completed in 1386 to defend the city and still remain mostly
intact today. There are eight towers that run between the walls and
we climbed up the top of the Schirmurturm Tower which offers fantastic
views back over the city.
The next day we visited Mount Pilatus which is 2,128 meters above
sea level. The top can be reached by the Pilatus Railway which is
the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. But we rode to the top
firstly in a aerial cablecar that holds four adults and then in a large
panorama gondola that holds 30 people and is standing room only.
The ride up is half the fun and as you incline you can watch the
skiiers ride down the slopes and listen to the bells ring around the
cow's necks. Also keep your eyes out for the liltte church perched
on the side of the mountain.
If your lucky you may even spot a Swiss horn blower.
Once at the top you can walk up to the very tip of the mountain
and the pamaramic views are just spectacular with 73 peaks and
6 lakes below. There is a resturant and a gift shop on top as well
as a hiking trail that offers more amazing viewing opportunities.
After heading back to the half way point you can even have the
option of taking a ride on a Toboggan that runs 1,350 meters down
the slope. This runs during summer only but can be closed in bad
weather, but luckily for us it was opened when i was there
and it was as fun as it looks!
We also opted for a scenic cruise along Lake Lucerne,
It was a one hour boat ride around the lake and
another chance to see even more of the beautiful scenery.
Later that day we crossed the border to visit the small country of
Liechtenstein which is the sixth smallest country in the world and it's
area covers 160 km. We made a stop in the capital, Vaduz.
This is home to the Vaduz Castle which is the palace and official
residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein.
One day i would love to return to Switzerland in winter to see
the Alps completly covered in snow and even go skiing!