Over Memorial Day weekend my friends and I took advantage of the three-day weekend and ventured off to somewhere in Europe.
We ended up in Lucerne (Luzern), Switzerland, a short 1 hour train ride south of Zurich on the beautiful lake Luzern. (The featured image on this post if of the Reuss River with the Chapel Bridge looking out towards the Lake Luzern). We flew into Stuttgart from Atlanta then took the train from Stuttgart to Luzern, and spent 1 night and around 1.5 days there before heading up to Zurich for one transit night and flying out the next morning back to Atlanta.
Over all Luzern was gorgeous, picturesque and relaxing. Same goes for the county of Switzerland, however due to extremely high costs there I wont be returning anytime soon. It is home to the Swiss Transport Museum which is an excellent museum that is worth the time and steep admissions fee. It pays homage and displays Swiss engineerings and contributions to world transportation, and trust me the Swiss have done a lot in this realm, but it also doesnt forget about the rest of the world. However, a few things to note about Luzer and in generla Switzerland, it is an insanely expensive country, like $15 for a Burger King meal kind of expensive. Luzern’s main center is over flowing with tours groups, mostly from Asia and in general feel very very touristy, however once you step out a little from the center and away from the hoards of tour buses you will still find peace, tranquility and local charms. Further it is surrounded by nature, perfect for hiking.
Getting around was easy, as is the case with most of Western Europe. Within Luzern you can basically walk everywhere, though there is an extensive bus and ferry system and hotels offer free/ discounted transportation passes (make sure to ask for it as our hotel didnt offer it right off the bat). In Luzern we managed to get a very good deal for a 4 person shared bunk room at Hotel Falken at the last minute. The room was tiny but for the location and below Luzern average price we paid, we were fine with it. During out transit in Zurich we stayed at the Ibis Budget Zurich Airport, which as the name should suggest was affordable and pragmatic.
- Saturday morning arrival in Stuttgart, took the train down to Luzern (required 2 transfers, airport to Stuttgart station, then to Zurich then to Luzern).
- Arrival in Luzern, 5 minute walk from the train station to Hotel Falken, checked in.
- As the room was not ready we decided to go out for lunch, and as we soon learned finding a decently priced meal in Switzerland is a very challenging task. We settled for Rathaus Brauerei, a local brewery next to the old city hall and along the banks of the Reuss River with views of the famous Chapel Bridge. The beers here were tasty, light and refreshing, I had Wieberwurst with pretzel and a sweet mustard, while my friends had Beer Sausage. All were quite tasty. Luzern clearly caters to tourists of all nations, as the menus came in a multitude of languages.
- Afterwards we checked out Max Chocolatier, well because we were in Switzerland and when one is here one must check out some form of a local chocolate shop. This place had a wonderful assortment of artisanal chocolates made in house, although the store is clearly being catered to Asian tour groups, as are most stores in town, with Chinese signage everywhere.
- Returned to our hotel, freshened up before our evening stroll through town.
- As we had a late lunch we were all not that hungry so we decided to walk around town, and it is a very walkable city.
- Our first stop on our walk was the Nadelwehr Luzern, a medieval dam system to ease and control the flow of water in the Reuss River to help prevent flooding.
- We then walked further upriver to catch the funicular up the mountain to Chateau Gutsch, which is now a luxury hotel but still has sweeping views of the city and lake.
- We then walked back along the river then along the lake, and began looking for places to eat, we almost made it to the Lion Monument, but we just didnt know it at the time. However I was later informed by others that it is worth checking out if you have time or venture near it. We wanted to eat some Swiss Cheese Fondue. We settled on Zunfithausrestaurant Pfistern, located on the banks of the river. The annoying thing about eating fondue in Switzerland is that its a per person charge, and a steep one at that, for a pot of melted cheese paired with bread and potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, its filling and quite delicious. I also tried some Swiss wine produced in the Luzern area, quite tasty.
- We then returned to the brewery next door to try their other brew, earlier we had their house unfiltered brew, post-dinner we had their seasonal wheat brew, again delicious. I also had an Apple Strudel a la mode.
- Returned to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
- Woke up and headed out to grab a small bite to eat for breakfast. Then headed to the pier by the train station to catch a ferry to Lido, where the Swiss Museum of Transport is. Its a 10 minute bus ride or around the same for ferry to get to the museum, its also actually quite walkable too.
- Spent nearly 3.5 hours at the museum. As someone who is not only into aviation but transportation in general, I was fascinated with the museum and channeled my inner-child and inner-nerd throughout each exhibition hall. Absolutely worth it.
- We took the bus back to the city center and had lunch Da Ernesto Italian, my chili-garlic shrimp and seafood pasta was actually quite good, and so was my fresh strawberry and vanilla ice cream/ cream dessert.
- We then spent the early evening doing a 1-hour Lake Luzern Cruise, there are many types of cruises to choose from and types of boats. We went on a more modern yacht while you can definitely get on the historic Lake Steamers, or do a sunset/ dinner or brunch cruise. Our’s included a complimentary audio-guide, it was a very nice way to see more of the lake and surrounding natural landscapes as well as get a better historic and cultural context of the lake.
- Hopped on a train back up to Zurich, the train took us straight to the Zurich Airport from Luzern.
- Transferred to a tram to get us to the Ibis Budget Hotel Zurich Airport. Checked in and headed out for dinner.
- The area didnt have many options, a pizza place was open right next door, and everything else around it was closed except for a place called Runway 34, which was a short 10 minute walk away. By the time we got there however, they had stopped serving full meals, only drinks and snacks were available but it was fine as this was still a filling but much more affordable alternative. The restaurant is an aviation nerd’s dream come true. Direct views of Zurich airport, many of the seats are actual airplane seats, the wait staff wear pilot uniforms, and there is a whiskey/cigar lounge housed inside a former Russian turbo-prop jet inside the main restaurant which is shaped as a hanger.
- Returned to the hotel.
- Woke up and took the tram back to Zurich Airport for our flights back to the United States.
- If you have a Priority Pass card or are a star alliance gold or are flying Swiss first/business class, I highly recommend going to either the Priority Pass lounge or the Swiss Lounge (only for star alliance gold or Swiss premium passengers) on Concourse E (international departures), The balconies offer sweeping views of the planes and runways and the food is great too, especially at breakfast time.