This is a long overdue post about my last International trip but let me tell you it was worth the wait…just kidding! It’s been over a month since I have been back to reality from our annual summer trip (I visit my parents in the UK every year). The highlight of this trip, however, was exploring the beauty of one of the most scenic places I have ever been to. Lucerne (locally spelled as Luzern) is located in central Switzerland along the shores of Lake Lucerne with fantastic views of the Swiss Alps. Switzerland had always been on top of my travel list, mainly because growing up I had watched the most beautiful Swiss landscapes in almost every 90s Hindi/Bollywood movie (if I wasn’t as self-conscious as I am, I would have totally taken some pictures strolling around in my saree to the beat of some very danceable Hindi song). Needless to say, Switzerland did not disappoint, it truly is every bit as breathtaking as it is portrayed in the movies.
So, I know I say this about almost every new International destination I visit but the little villages (like Engelberg) of Switzerland truly took my breath away. Even at the peak of their summer, with soaring temperatures of high 90s F (one of the hottest summers, competing with the heat of some North African countries), the little villages were still lush green and the rivers/lakes full of crystal clear cold water.
If you are wondering why I picked Lucerne as our Swiss destination- I’m not really sure how the idea originated but I do remember seeing the Old Chapel Bridge- the oldest wooden bridge in the world, dating back to the 14th century- in a travel magazine and since then Lucerne had been a place of interest for me.
Here are some unexpected delights that we (I traveled with my husband and 7 year old son) experienced during our trip. Although, I knew Lucerne has some of the world’s best dairy farms, it was still unexpectedly amazing to taste the butter there. For a person like me who hates most dairy products, to like butter says a lot. Our flight from London landed in Zurich, from Zurich we took a train to Lucerne. On our way to the train station (which is connected to the airport) we saw this pretzel shop, with all kinds of pretzel; as a recent convert (to vegetarianism) my only option was butter pretzel. I reluctantly bought it, being a little disgusted by the butter oozing out of it. As soon as that butter melted in my mouth, I was obsessed. Other than butter, we tried fondue (fondue originated in Switzerland) with some local cheese, which was also pretty amazing. Having fondue lakeside in one of the outdoor restaurants (there’s a whole row of lakeside restaurants with pretty much the same menu) was a definite bonus. Clearly by now you have figured that I was on a no carb left behind diet in Switzerland, so of course next on the list was Swiss chocolate. We explored a lot of little chocolate boutiques and tried a LOT of chocolates. Lindt chocolates that are a product of Switzerland can be found at every corner store.
My son’s first fondue experience
On our last day, we also visited the local Picasso museum that houses some of Picasso’s original sketches and paintings.
Among some fun activities (not that eating all day long wasn’t fun )- we took a 30 minute Gondola ride to Mt. Titlis (10,623 ft above sea level, it is the highest summit of the range north of the Sunset Pass, and is famous as the site of the world’s first rotating cable car that we went on) explored the Glacier cave, played in the snow (which was a welcome relief from the heat wave at the bottom of the mountain). We also went paddle boating on Lake Lucerne.
Not that the views of Lucerne weren’t enough motivation for finding some running trails; being on butter, cheese and chocolate diet for three days of our trip further motivated me to put my running shoes on. Honestly, I feel the best time to explore a new place is during its ‘off hours’, especially if it’s a high traffic tourist destination- you really get to soak in the magic of the new place.
My only regret about visiting Switzerland was that I didn’t plan a longer trip. I wish we had at least a week to explore some more places, hike some more mountains and of course eat some more of that delicious butter 🙂