We all had a rough morning after our very late night out in Paris. We had a delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel and then the coach departed at 9:30am. We were in for a very long drive from Paris to Lucerne. It was our longest day on the road at almost 12 hours. I slept here and there on the ride. We stopped twice, in central and southern France. The rest stops in France are extremely clean and modern. They have sort of a cafeteria set up, with very high quality foods. Things like roasted chicken, lots of veggies and salads, fish, etc. There are also ellipticals and other exercise equipment outside the rest stops. There was a phone charging station that was powered if you rode an exercise bike! Certainly much more health conscious than the gas stations we have in Canada, and especially more than the ones I’ve seen in the US.
We arrived in Lucerne around 8pm. We stayed in a hotel called Löwengraben… otherwise known as “The Jail Hotel.” It really wasn’t my cup of tea. It was a former women’s prison that was turned in to an ‘experience’ hotel. It was quite barren and creepy. There weren’t even power outlets in the room for us to use. Alex explained that if it wasn’t for a hotel like this, we wouldn’t even be able to stay in Lucerne because it’s so expensive. Fair enough. But I’m still glad that we only stayed there one night.
We took an hour long cruise around Lake Lucerne. It was so beautiful, calm, and relaxing, and so nice to unwind after the whirlwind that was London and Paris. We had hot chocolate on the boat, watched the sunset, hung out, and took lots of pictures. We had lots of fun chatting with the Aussies about all of our different words for things, wild life, music, etc.
After this we went off to find dinner. A big group of us went to one restaurant where the waiter was extremely rude, but the food was delicious. Kelsie, Lauren, Jacinda and I shared a large cheese fondue, and Jacinda and I also split a tomato and cheese rosti. Switzerland was EXTREMELY expensive. The cheapest meals on the menu were still 30 euros each and the waiter charged us 10 euros for 1.5 litres of tap water to share between 8 people. Absolutely insane.
We left our hotel around 8:15 and we had a stop at a Swiss watch and knife shop that Contiki has affiliations with. I wasn’t interested in buying either, and most things were kind of expensive. We also looked in souvenir shops and chocolatiers but I didn’t find anything. We walked around Lucerne a little bit and it was nice, sunny morning.
We took the coach to Mount Stanserhorn. The Alps were absolutely breathtaking. I can’t believe I actually saw them. We took a train part way up the mountain and then we switched to a cable car. That ride alone was amazing. We got to the top and the views were incredible. We were up 2000 meters! We were surrounded by the Alps and the air was so fresh. We could see the villages and lakes below. There was some snow left on the mountain top and the Australians in our group were so excited because many of them had never seen snow before! It was so much fun watching them make snow balls and snow angels, etc. I took lots of pictures and videos of this, especially of my friend Anthony from Brisbane, because he was having so much fun sliding around and playing in the snow. Being up there on the mountain was amazing, but watching everyone having so much fun was probably the best part.
There was a little gift shop and cafe on the mountain and I bought a cute edelweiss bracelet for my swiss souvenir.
We drove on to Vaduz, Liechtenstein for lunch. Liechtenstein is the fourth smallest country in the world, with only 35,000 people. Apparently, it is the world’s largest exporter of sausage skins, power tools and dentures. The more you know, right? We didn’t see very much, but, not surprisingly, it looked very much like Switzerland. We got chicken schnitzel sandwiches and fries for lunch. It was pretty good. We were on our way to Munich, but we passed through Austria on our way. So, by 4pm we’d been in 4 countries in one day! I’ll write about Munich in my next post.