After two and a half busy days in Freiburg, Germany it was time for our group to disperse for the weekend. Some students were off to explore Barcelona and Venice, others went to Interlaken to enjoy the mountains, while I was off to spend a night in Lucerne—together with five other students.
When we arrived in the city it was quite different from the other cities we had seen before. A clear division between the old and the new was quite present with modern buildings on one side of the river and the older city on the other. Along our walk to the Backpackers hostel, we realized that the city was very compact. A large lakeside park was located conveniently only a few blocks from the train station. The park was filled with people enjoying the beautiful day.
After quickly dumping our suitcases it was time to wander. On our way back to town we took our time strolling through the park and also passing numerous small marinas. The number of boats on the lake demonstrates the importance of the lake in this city. As we gradually got closer to the downtown area we passed six or seven ferries that shuttle people around to various parts of the lake demonstrating that ferries are an integrative part of the city’s transportation system.
When we finally reached the older part of the city, it was clear that this was the picturesque Switzerland that I had seen on multiple postcards. One of the many beautiful sites is the 14th Century Chapel Bridge; it was covered with fresh flowers while the river passed calmly underneath it. While the tower along the bridge has been used for everything from a prison to an archive, it was originally constructed as part of the city’s defenses in 1333 and features the oldest truss bridge in the world. The rest of the defenses were comprised in a wall up on the hill made up of eight watchtowers and a gated tower.
After wandering around the older part of the town among hundred-year-old wooden and painted buildings, we stumbled across a rooftop restaurant attached to one of the stores. The rooftop offered a 360-degree view of the city of Lucerne, and also the aesthetically pleasing scenery of the lake, the river and Mount Pilatus. After seeing the city at an aerial perspective, we finished dinner and walked down along the lake. There were many luxury hotels and expensive boats that lined the shore while lavish parties and restaurants were underway with lively activity on Friday night. After a quick break and a test of the water erased any desire to go swimming that evening and then it was back to the hotel. Though it was an early night, it was nice to relax in the common room of the hostel. Checking e-mails and catching up with those back in the United States made for a very quiet night.
Our second day in Lucerne was sadly shortened to only a half-day, since we had to board a train back travel back to Riva San Vitale around noon. We locked our bags up at the train station, grabbed a quick bite to eat and then began to make our way back to the old part of town. Along our walk we came upon the local market that was filled with fresh flowers and food as well as a garage sale that had a lot of people’s old junk. From there we went to find the bookmaker we had seen the previous evening to see if we could purchase one of the handmade books that the city is well known for.
Finally, our train arrived at 12:18pm and we all boarded for our ride back to Riva. It did not take long for us to fall asleep after our long, adventured filled week. Even after we got back to Riva the 5 of us were dead tired and were looking forward to having a quiet night and another quiet day. Even Sunday was spent doing as little as possible with the exception of watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final where unfortunately the US women lost in penalty kicks to Japan.
Then tomorrow we begin our final week in Riva and it looks like it will be as exciting as the last three weeks have been.
Author: Lauren Cabral, Undergraduate, Forestry, VT