Diary ~ July 2005
Lucerne was exactly as I remembered it from my school trip;
what I didn’t know was that the old covered bridge, the
Kapellbrüke over the Reuss, had burnt down, destroying over
half of the ancient monument.
In typical Swiss fashion, it was rebuilt within in a
year, and if one doesn’t go looking for the unweathered
wood, and apart from several missing triangular paintings,
no-one would ever know. Strolling
through old Lucerne is a joy; the buildings are painted, and
the centre of the old town is compact and easy underfoot.
a stroll along the riverside past the pristine churches,
chapels and museums to Spreuerbrüke, the covered mill bridge,
with more paintings that are decidedly macabre – they are
all themed around the Devil, and unusually, there is a chapel
in the middle.
We climbed up the 15th century city walls to get a
better look at the celebrated clock in one of the towers that,
as befits its ancient status, is the only one that is allowed
to chime a minute before the other clocks of the city.
Of course it is perfectly restored, this is Switzerland
after all, and the walk atop the battlements affords a
brilliant view of the haphazard rooftops.
Two visits stand out for me – one is to the Bourbaki Panorama,
which I found to be mesmerising.
112 metre by 10 metre large painting is one of the last giant
panoramic dioramas of the 19th century that have been
The subject is dour – the retreat of the defeated Eastern French
army in the Franco-German war of 1870 – but the skill of the
painting and the added foreground objects that give it its 3-D
effect simply draws you in.
I sat on the central round seat and just gazed – and
gazed. One of the
last of its kind, this 360° painting truly involves you by
surrounding you with its pathos.
The other place of special note was the Dying Lion monument.
Again, a morbid subject but the skill of the sculptor
brings a lump to your throat as you look upon this magnificent
creature in its death throes, its pain etched poignantly.
I don’t think you can fail to be moved, but I could
be a touch too sentimental, it has to be said.
For a lighter note, the Glacier Garden next door is an
A ride on the paddlesteamer is a ‘must’, and I am beginning to
suspect that I am regressing to a point where something as
simple as a boat ride can fill me with delight.
I adored the steamer; I loved the way the captains
saluted – and tried to outdo - each other with their steam
whistles, only try to avoid sitting underneath one of these as
it truly makes you jump out of your skin at full volume.
Cruising around Lake Lucerne on a warm and sunny day is
charming, and unfortunately makes me terribly lazy to do
anything else. You
can hop-on, hop-off at any of the pretty lakeside villages,
and there is always the fabulous view to be had from Mount
Lucerne is home to the Swiss Transport Museum, and I thoroughly
recommend it, whether you have children with you or not.
I love museums, whether they are about knitting or
electronics, and this one is superb (without the knitting
bit). It takes you
from the early days of learning to get about in their
mountainous country, to the Swiss solution for difficult
transport situations and finally to space travel.
You really need a good half-day to get through it all,
if like me you do actually read the text beside the exhibits,
and there is an Imax theatre there too.
We were fortunate to have an interviewee that was not
only knowledgeable but was extremely eloquent and enthusiastic
about his museum. I
was surprised to learn that the British and the Swiss have a
long association, particularly to do with boats and trains.
The Swiss like their models, and we found them both
inside and outside the museum.
There is a lot to do in Lucerne, it’s a quite a mixed bag of
attractions new and old, and there is even a retired
paddlesteamer that is now a stationary restaurant. There is
even a Lido for those hazy days of summer when a dip in the
lake is the only way to cool down.
Lucerne isn’t the biggest city in Switzerland or the
most important, but I did think it might be the most
your experience in