Sunday, May 11, 2008

Swiss Vacation - Day 6

Day 6

For the sixth and final full day of our vacation we left Montreux and headed to Lucerne. This was Friday, May 9th and happened to be our 10th wedding anniversary as well! We decided to stop and spend some time in Fribourg on the way as it seemed like a very interesting place to visit from the various things I had read while researching for the trip. Here is a photo I took of us with the timer on the camera as we were waiting for the train in Montreux. You can judge how good of a week it has been as it is directly proportional to the size of my gut in this picture.

We got to Fribourg relatively quickly with a quick train change in Lausanne. Fribourg is built along both sides of the Saane/Sarine River, and has an impressive cliff splitting the town as well. There is a small fenicular train you can take from the upper level to the lower level of town, or if you walk far enough there is a more gradual, walkable route down. It is an interesting city because it seems to be equal parts modern and medieval.

One of the main attractions to see is St. Nicholas's cathedral. I think you can go up in the tower for an impressive view of the city but unfortunately it was closed when we were there. The cathedral is very impressive, as can be seen immediately in the elaborate carvings surrounding the front entrance.

After a very pleasant and impressive walk down to old town we stopped and ate at the Brasserie de l'Opée. The waiter said he did not speak english, so we struggled through in french and by the end of the meal felt pretty comfortable talking completely in french despite the fact we told him we only spoke english. We had the daily special, which consisted of cream of asparagus soup (Sharon didn't even realise she was eating asparagus - she hates it!) followed by a mixed grill meat skewer with an unknown but incredibly tasty sauce on top and a fruit salad for dessert. We had a nice red wine with the meal, and ended with coffee. When the waiter swiped our MasterCard he said "You're from Canada and you do not speak french?". We do, in fact, speak enough french to follow a conversation but we are only able to participate if the person we are speaking with has the patience to work with us a little, which doesn't seem to be a problem over there. We received no dirty looks or eye-rolls when we attempted french, which was very refreshing. Anyway, I think the waiter's english was as good as our french after all, but I am glad he gave us the opportunity. After lunch we walked to the fenicular, and rode it back up to the upper level to catch the train to Lucerne.

We arrived in Lucerne in the late afternoon and found it to be a modern, bustling city with far more tourists rushing around than any city we had been to yet. We wanted to first find our hotel and dump our bags, then we planned on walking around to see the sights and find a nice place to have our anniversary dinner. We were staying at the Hotel Schiff, and found that our room was one of the top floor rooms with a river view. It turned out to be a very nice room indeed with a very cool view of the riverfront. Here is a photo from across the river (the Hotel Schiff is the yellow one). Our room is the one on the top floor on the right with the window open (if you look really close you may see my socks hanging up to dry as I needed to wash a pair for the trip home the next day!).

We changed for dinner and decided to see the city before finding a place to eat. I only had one thing I wanted to see, and that was the Lion Monument. I would have liked to see the transport museum but we simply did not have time. We stopped in at a few of the churches and local sights, then stopped at a chocolate and gift shop to get something for the kids and Sharon's mum (who was babysitting for us back at home all week!). We eventually made our way to the Lion Monument and I was very impressed. I had no idea what it was going to look like, and I did not expect the exquisite carving we eventually discovered.

After a short stop at the Lion Monument we made our way back to the waterfront. What suprised both of us was the fact that all of the stores were closing at 6:30pm. Lucerne by far had the most stores and shops of any town we had seen so far, and they were closing everything at 6:30pm on a friday night as thousands of tourists were still walking the streets. Wow.

We eventually decided to have dinner at La Bonne Cave as they reportedly had a wine menu consisting of over 140 different wines. We got a table right beside the river and ordered their special which was a starter soup (Surprise! Cream of asparagus again!) with a small glass of wine, followed by a steak, pasta and ratatouille with two more glasses of wine to try, and our choice of dessert. The food was good and the wine was great. The service was slower even than Swiss standards, but we had nothing better to do. Normally I would not mind, but there were times when we had no wine to drink, and no food to eat for significant periods of time. But the scenery and the weather were perfect, as can be seen in the picture below I took during dinner.

After dinner we headed back to our hotel room where Sharon went to bed and I struggled with the flaky internet access trying to upload pictures and blog posts, eventually giving up around midnight. We had to get up at 5:00am to catch our train into Zurich for a 10:00am flight, so I figured I had better go to sleep as well.

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