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Springtime in Luzern (& Rigi, Basel, Zofingen, Rapperswil...)

Springtime in Luzern (& Rigi, Basel, Zofingen, Rapperswil...)

Old Apr 17th, 2016, 01:45 PM
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Springtime in Luzern (& Rigi, Basel, Zofingen, Rapperswil...)

Back one week now from a 10-day trip, using Luzern and Hotel Weisses Kreuz as my base.

Normally I rent vacation apartments in lesser-known towns, but this trip was to 'feed my soul' with familiar regions and at a slower pace than usual, anticipating some big career changes when I returned to the US.
The plane was only about 60% full, giving me the center 3 seats all to myself! First time in decades that I curled up and actually slept more than a catnap! Good omen?!

This is my ?8th or 9th trip to Switzerland, but I haven't gone so early in spring since high school. With a job transition looming, it was now or never.

The weather for the first week was beautiful-sunny and mid-60's to low 70's.
Outdoor spaces were filled with Swiss and tourists soaking up the fine rays.
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Old Apr 17th, 2016, 02:08 PM
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Bought my 8-day flexipass in Zurich Airport (407chf). I wanted the ease of HOHO during this trip above all.

I arrived in Luzern quite early, even with all the airport arrival chores(Post for stamps, kiosk for 'Flash' telephone calling card-mom's not on the net, water and yeasty raisin roll for brunch).

Sat in the sunshine along the Reuss River, close to my hotel until about noon, hoping for an early check-in. Luck! My double-room for single use was ready! Nice-sized corner room with queen bed, desk, two small leather chairs, flat-screen TV, bank of windows looking out onto a narrow old-town pedestrian way...oh, and some type of animal rug on the floor...sorry to the cow.
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Old Apr 17th, 2016, 02:43 PM
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keep it coming - always glad to read from a veteran traveler as well as novice ones - big difference of course.

Cheers!
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Old Apr 18th, 2016, 12:40 PM
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Its been a long time since I stayed in a hotel-forgot that most non-chains do not provide a washcloth - viewing it as a personal item.
So, found a linen store with a 'bargain bin' outside, and purchased a 'sensual Frottier' i.e. soft terry washcloth for CHF 3.90.
My plug adaptor to charge the phone also went missing. New one at Manor dept store (CHF 14.90). While there, I had an early dinner of salad plate and Rivella (CHF 13.40). Too bad the rooftop deck was jammed-had to dine indoors.
After finding a quickly-going-extinct phone booth at Schwanenplatz, I called mom and explored the edge of town a bit more.
SO many tourists out and about, even at the end of March!
Energy waning, I returned to my hotel room. Reviewing my photos--WHY are so many blurry? Go to clean my prescription no-line trifocals, which had been resurrected and lovingly tuned-up for this trip---only to find the entire left lens was gone!!
OMG! No wonder I have a headache and can't see! Aaaargh! Do they sell simple reading glasses in Lucerne?
To bed then!
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Old Apr 19th, 2016, 03:54 PM
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Noisy again last night when the cafes closed (warm enough to sleep with windows open). Church bells chime every quarter hour, but I quickly grew used to it and wasn't bothered (light sleepers beware of hotels in the Altstadt).

Basic breakfast in the hotel's Italian restaurant of croissant, cold cuts, piquant Swiss cheese varieties, yogurt, soft-boiled eggs, coffee and juices.
Straight away to Manor dept store to purchase a new set of eyes and to return the plug adaptor (had found mine!) I think this is going to be my 'go-to' store during this trip!
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Old Apr 19th, 2016, 04:09 PM
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After refreshing my pocketbook via the Post's ATM (this trip is going to be expensive... but my reward for sitting out for TWO foot surgeries last year!), I settled in to 'my' red bench along the river. This town is SO photogenic...each time I visit, the blue sky, the pristine water, the swans and ducks, the inviting outdoor cafe tables, chapel bridge, the water tower, the wall/ramparts, the snow-capped mountains at the periphery...I could compare my photos of Chapel Bridge before the 1990s fire...!
And this time, the cheery pink, purple or white magnolia trees, the forsythia, tulips and daffodils adding pretty splashes of color!
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Old Apr 19th, 2016, 04:47 PM
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Manor outdoor deck for lunch of chicken, roast potatoes, salad and Mineralwasser (CHF 15.80).
Then my hotel's tiny sundeck to enjoy more fab weather (62 today, 72 forecast for tomorrow).
Where will I go tomorrow to make my Flexipass worth it?
Strongly considering Vitznau Festung, the WWII artillery built into Mt. Rigi, for its monthly public tour...
Dinner at the Hotel des Alpes (note the popular riverside cafe is closed for renovation). Balcony riverside-even better!
Nidwaldner mashed potato, cheese and bacon dish with Lozaarner amber beer (29.50).
Yum! No other diners! It appears that most tourists don't realize you have to access the restaurant from the cobbled alley behind...
Checked the ship departure times for tomorrow, then back to my room to watch Swiss news.
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Old Apr 21st, 2016, 03:29 PM
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Saturday 2nd April~~
It was actually LESS noisy last night-go figure! I did close the hotel windows for 'some' noise, then too hot with the Federdecke, thank goodness for the ceiling fan! I don't think I would do well in the city during a Swiss summer with no AC!

Took the late morning ship to Vitznau, where everyone else rushed for the Rigibahn!
I am very early for the 2 pm guided tour of the artillery built WITHIN Mt. Rigi during WWII. But too late for a sit-down lunch. So I started the uphill trek, not knowing how far, following the occasional sign.
Beautiful photos of the mountains shrouded in a light fog, towering over Vierwaeldstaettersee (lake). More magnolia trees and inviting terraces in the residential section.
U am first to arrive, followed shortly thereafter by an older gent on a scooter. I figure he will be our guide today...
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Old Apr 21st, 2016, 03:40 PM
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I am first...(!)
Eventually, 25 or so people (young and old), all Swiss, show up. Fee CHF 15. The guide is retired military and multi-lingual. He kindly agrees to narrate in Hochdeutsch, so that all can follow, though he frequently lapses into that incomprehensible Schwyzerduusch! I understand about 60% because the topic is technical and war-related. The extensive military complex, built in just 14 months, IS impressive, but the tour runs long at 2 hours. I am freezing at the end (the interior remains a constant 12 degrees year-round).
Interestingly, a portion of the complex, which can be heated, can be rented to groups for an overnight or weekend function! (Fully ventilated with kitchen and bathroom facilities).
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Old Apr 21st, 2016, 03:53 PM
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I walk easily back down to the ship station, inquire about the bus back to Kussnacht, with < 5 minutes to spare!
I greatly enjoyed the different perspective from the bus~~rolling green hills, snowy mountains, cows, goats, baby lambs with their little jumping frolics--THIS is what I come to Switzerland for!
Ate a large Gruyeres cheese pretzel for a late lunch on MY bench along the quai, sharing it with the small sparrows.

Hankering for a traditional Wurst dinner, I chose the painted Restaurant Fritschi later that evening. Bauernbratwurst mit Zwiebelsoess and Roesti (24chf), the beer (x2) is where the money was spent ;-)
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Old Apr 21st, 2016, 04:10 PM
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Sunday, 3. April~~
VERY noisy last night, between the crowds in the cafes and the quarter-hour church bells. ?Luckily? I am deaf in one ear, so roll over and...quiet!

Decided to revisit Zurich and Uetliberg (local "mountain") to walk in the sunshine. It was already sunny at 10:30 am with forecast high of 70!
Snagged a good seat on the double-decker IC train. Brought a water (never without!)
First time I ever saw a rustic-type of 'golf course', built into the fields near Zythen, about 20 minutes outside if Zurich!
And those tidy garden plots outside of the cities, for people to get their hands into dirt...
There were MANY like-minded families with kids on the S-Bahn...Uetliberg is THE place to be on a sunny Sunday!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2016, 02:46 PM
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I walked the short distance uphill to Uetliberg summit, where a seat on a bench was hard to come by. Even many old folk slowly trudged up the wide paved path, one with a wheeled walker-you go Oma!
360 degree views of mountaintops in the distance.
After a pause to salute those athletic souls who biked up to this point (!), I chose to hike down to Ringlikon. After a brief go, I encountered a fork in the woods, with no indication as to which way to go!
Luckily, a couple with their small daughter came to the same dilemma, when I heard a couple of comments in English.
I asked if I could tag along until the true path revealed itself. Turns out, they were from Austria, having moved to Switzerland just 2 years ago (and all 3 spoke flawless English!)
Snapping photos of the tiny white, sometimes blue, flowers on the forest floor and in the fields we continued in comfortable conversation.
After the family stopped for more views at the JuraBlick outcrop, I continued on without incident.
I caught the S-bahn back to Zurich HB, meeting a fellow from Washington DC, who was pursuing his doctorate in Computer Science. He had a 7-hour layover in Zurich, enroute to Berlin, and decided to visit Uetliberg!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2016, 03:12 PM
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I picked up picnic foods for lunch (Wienerli im Teig-thin hot dog in savory pastry wrap and an apple). Lunch for 4.40 CHF! Mmmmm.

All the city greens were filled with people sunning, walking, biking (mid-70's).
Found a clean public toilet in the area below Grossmunster/ near Teddy's Souvenir Shop-the only retail store open on this Sunday (thank you Zurich for the WC!)
Revisited semi-secluded St. Peter's Square. Skipped the must-sees, as I have already seen more than once!

Decided to find a fav restaurant in Niederdorf--Rheinfelder Bierhalle-with long outdoor communal tables, traditional fare and non-gouging prices.
Ordered Fleischkaese mit Spaetzle +2 Spiegeleier- eggs sunny-side up on top (15chf). My Schneiderweisse Bier completed my happiness!
This resto is across from the back entrance of the kitschy Bierhalle Wolf. The dirdl-wearing, older waitresses from that establishment taking smoking breaks nonstop!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2016, 03:47 PM
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While I was 'dining al fresco', who happened by but my Austrian-now-Swiss family, also enjoying Zurich!Small world!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2016, 03:56 PM
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Upon returning to Luzern, it was pleasantly cool, and I didn't want to turn in just yet.
Sat outdoors at the Rathaus Brewery Cafe and enjoyed a Schale (Latte). Alpenhorn players had set up along Rathaussteg and serenaded those who had ventured further from TouristSquare (i.e. Schwanenplatz)...how cool!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2016, 10:32 PM
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Absolutely loving your report, mokka4!!! Your descriptions carry me back to my own wanderings in the countryside and are so wonderfully evocative.

I think I have the same travel style as you do -- not trying to do a lot in one day, maybe one or two events, but mainly spend my time enjoying scenery, sitting on benches, watching folks, soaking up the atmosphere. And for me walking is the best way to "tour," lol.

Really enjoying this, and thanks so much for posting!

s
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Old Apr 23rd, 2016, 11:41 AM
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Thanks Swandav!
This trip was an even slower pace than I am used to, which worked out, as I was battling a case of sinusitis from the get go!

The next day, a Monday, I decided to sleep in a little, even if it meant missing breakfast. Window open during the night and no noise! Ate my yum raisin roll and a strong Nespresso (room had a machine and replaced 2-3 capsules every day --yay!)
Using a non-trainpass day, I bought a roundtrip ticket to Zug (CHF 23.60). I've been here just once, am motivated by the famous Kirschtorte, and maybe a look from on top the Zugerberg for new perspectives.

Just 20 minutes away, never did find the TI, so stopped in the SBB office to learn that a bus was required to get to the base of the Zugerberg funicular...nah, not on this trip!

I walked to the waterfront-need I mention lovely, sunny weather again?
Unfortunately, those gorgeous mountain views seen on my many train trips between Zug and Rotkreuz were not visible here .

After a pause in my friendly lakeside bench, I continued on to the Altstadt, snapping pics of the narrow alleyways, the church spires, city towers and squares.
Spring flowers in planters and many inviting storefronts, though a majority of the 'regular' stores, i.e. not for tourists, seemed to be closed today..?
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Old Apr 23rd, 2016, 11:59 AM
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My time in Zug was limited by the fact that I had a 3pm appt back in Luzern for a massage.

I settled in at waterfront Cafe San Marco, where the very brusque head waiter informed me that I could not have a table close to the water as I was only one person (snob...I should have left, but didn't).
Had the Mittagsmenu Pizza with mushrooms and black olives (CHF 17.50 + Mineralwasser bottle 6). Because the pizza was brick oven baked, the edges were charred. And because it was Switzerland, one cuts a pizza with knife and fork = a slow-motion, bordering on exasperation meal! It could have been more flavorful too!

Following lunch, I worked my way along the waterfront to the train station, deciding to take the latest train possible to still make my massage appt.
Of course, I bought TWO pieces of the Kirschtorte to take home and enjoy later that evening!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2016, 06:21 PM
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The massage therapist was in the Altstadt of Luzern, just around the corner of my hotel! I had investigated on the internet while still in the US, and had m hotel front desk make the appointment. Although her site advertised classic Swedish massage, and that was what I booked, she proudly announced when I arrived that she specialized in Reflexology! I must have looked crestfallen as I briefly considered cancelling, for then the MT offered to 'start' with an area that was giving me trouble before moving on to my feet!

I decided to stay after indicating that I particularly wanted my neck and shoulders worked on (all that luggage lugging!)
I have had many massages in my lifetime, but none where I was asked to sit on a inflated stability ball !?
So for the first 20 minutes it was heaven, though quite odd to be sitting on the stability ball. The final 40 minutes were spent on my feet, aligning my meridians.
Lets just say, I didn't feel any different the next day.
Said MT did not experience a tip either.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2016, 06:36 PM
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After regrouping at my hotel I went to Coop City (Kornmarkt) to check out their prepared foods section (keeping those costs in check)! Jackpot: a beautiful Greek salad bowl (all parts packaged separately for buyer to toss) @ 5.95, two strawberry yogurt for 1.10, bottled spring water .60 & a Quollfrisch Appenzeller Bier @ 1.70 = dinner for 9.35 CHF.
I include my costs to demonstrate that yes, while Switzerland is crazy expensive (hello $5 cup of coffee-no refill), it is not a reason to skip the entire country. Costs CAN be contained. Figure out what is most important, and economize elsewhere. I am not a poor college student traveling on a shoestring and I did not need to eat Doner Kabobs or stay in youth hostels. I am not a foodie who must have wine with every meal, or who would not consider a dinner establishment charging less than CHF 40 for a meal...
!
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