Upon reaching the Lucerne Railway Station from Zurich for our honeymoon, we asked a blue-eyed man with a friendly-vibe for directions to our hotel. He not only detailed the way, but also offered to escort us. Given our mistrust of strangers formed after years of living in India, we vehemently declined. And when he still insisted on helping, pointing to our giant suitcases, we panicked. In our minds, he was already a man on the mission of robbing us of our belongings. He sensed our hesitation and went his separate way. The next few days that we spent in Lucerne, we realised two things – people of Lucerne are a genuinely helpful lot, and they are all gorgeous.
The smiling and helpful strangers
Not knowing a word in German, the local language, we were able to navigate our way with utmost ease; partly because of the phenomenal infrastructure and law-abiding denizens and mostly because the smiling strangers went to lengths to help us. An old lady walking her dogs took a detour of at least 500 metres to drop us at the boat pier, and a young girl named at least five restaurants serving vegetarian food when we asked for one nearby.
A timeless paradise where everything runs on time
The Swiss take great pride in being one of the most punctual nations in the world and rightly so! If you are visiting Switzerland from a place like India, where a delay of up till 30 minutes isn’t really considered a delay, you’ll be amazed at the timeliness. A lady who attended us at a watch store asked us to come back at least one hour before the closing time of 6PM if we wanted to buy. The reason – she initiates the closing process at 5.30PM, after which she doesn’t attend to any visitors. I will be honest to admit that such unerring punctuality became a little frustrating for me at times. I found myself disappointed when a train or a boat kept up to the schedule, as if scanning for a speckle of imperfection in an overwhelmingly beautiful face. I wonder if the obsession with time is what makes Switzerland the world’s best producer of watches.
The lakeside revelry
Built around the eponymous lake, Lucerne has a beauty to render your senses stunned. With its waterfront plazas, and candy-coloured houses; this paradisiacal city is such a fantasyland that I often wondered where the catch was. Watching a bevy of swans floating on the Lake Lucerne on a lazy afternoon from the shade of the greenest trees I’ve ever seen is one of my fondest memories of the city. The tireless energy of the habitants contrasted the relaxed vibe of the city. No matter the time of the day, we would find joggers, runners, cyclists, skaters waking the city up from its slumber with their hurried strides. If you are lucky like us, you might also catch budding musicians striking melodious chords on the iconic Kapellbrücke Bridge, the oldest covered bridge in Europe, dating back to 1333. It here that you will see Lucerne’s most popular architectural piece, featuring on travel guides from the city – the quaint Water Tower. As we grabbed a cup of coffee on a rather cold April evening in Lucerne from a typical European al fresco by the water, I wasn’t sure if it was the coffee or the romantic setting that had the warmth returning to my body.
The boat pier
Most of our strolls in Lucerne eventually lead us to the boat pier, a wooden structure beautified by fountains, white-painted wooden benches, and multi-coloured boats that line ashore, waiting to sail away to an equally alluring destination nearby. We learnt that boats are readily used as a means of commuting to cities and towns that are built around the lake; the details on the available routes can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre at the Railway Station, right across the road from the pier. It is from here that visitors to the popular Mountains of Rigi, Pilatus and Titlis begin their tours, which for a fact, are one of the most stunning journeys toward the exploration of the spectacular Swiss Alps. I often fall short of words while describing our tour of Mount Rigi from Lucerne.
The Old Town
We knew we couldn’t conclude our Lucerne trip without visiting the Old Town. The narrow cobblestone streets and the architecture sealed in time assured us the place had been named well. There were beautiful stores selling Swiss chocolates, souvenirs and clothing on the either side of the street leading to the Old Town. The unhindered views of the mountains, overlooking quaint houses, some of them painted in bright colours, are the most prominent in this part of the city as is the ornate Mardi Gras fountain, right outside Saint Peter’s Chapel at the town square.