Today we left Montecatini before dawn broke because, once again, we would have a long ride to our final destination of Lucerne, Switzerland.
The skies were filled with ominous clouds and periodically raindrops blurred our view but none of these inconveniences could mar the beautiful landscape we passed as we traveled the through the Italian lakes region passing Genoa, Milan and Lake Como.
As we drove along our guide, Mary talked about the marble quarries along the coast, pointed out all the beautiful olive trees, talked about the drought in Italy and the shrinkage of the glaciers.
It was raining as we pulled into the Swiss city of Lugano. The bus came to a stop in Lugano’s main piazza, Piazza dell Riforma. The bus parked in front of a fountain. I wondered if the water spouts I was looking at were meant to represent lava rock or Cypress knees. Either way it was very unusual. Randy, I, Doug and Sue set off to find a place to keep dry and have a bite to eat.
The square was very large and colorful with many restaurants. The sidewalk cafés were full with happy lunch goers. It took us a bit of time to finally find a restaurant with a seat, we did and happily next to an outside heater. The choices on the menu were crepes with an assortment of fillings.
I was still not very hungry so we ordered the Pfannkuchen mit Pouletfleisch, tomaten und salat. Translated our choice was a pancake with chicken meat. It was very tasty. The café lattes were wonderfully warm on this damp day.
As we walked back to our bus, we ran into our wonderful guide, Mary sheltering in the doorway of the bank building. We stopped for a chat and photos and then hurried to the bus to continue our trip to Lucerne.
We continued on traveling high into the Swiss Alps passing mountains covered in lush green trees partially hidden delicate and light clouds that gave the scene an ethereal look.
We arrived in Lucerne around 4pm and were taken on a short tour of the city. We stopped only once to see a beautiful Lion Monument. The monument is a carving on a sandstone rock dedicated to the memory of soldiers from central Switzerland who lost their lives while serving the French king Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The dedication on the monument reads, “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss”.
I was filled with a feeling of great sadness when I looked at the face of the lion. I have never seen such a sad countenance on an animal as he lay dying on the shields and swords of the fallen Swiss guards.
We hurried back to the bus and made our way to our hotel, got checked in and prepared for dinner. But, not before we stopped for a photo opportunity in front of a Swiss cow. Too funny!
After checking in we had a little time so we took a walk around the town. The town was beautiful, clean and inviting. We passed many beautiful buildings, bakeries and other shops on our walk.
The event we signed up for this evening was the ‘Swiss Folklore Show and Dinner’ evening tour. I am so glad we did. The evening was filled with traditional Swiss beer, food, music and fun.
We gathered in the lobby of the hotel and then made our way, with our wonderful guide Mary, to The Stadkeller, Switzerland’s most famous music folklore dinner show.
We walked to the restaurant down several narrow streets until we reached the waterfront and crossed the Chapel Bridge. The bridge was amazing. According to Mary, the bridge was built in the first half of the 14th century. The beautiful paintings on the bridge depict Swiss and local history as well as the biographies of the city’s patron saints, St. Leodegar and St. Maurice.
We finally arrived at the restaurant, took seats at long tables and proceeded to have a fun-filled evening. First things first, we were all given tall, cold glasses of a home-made Stadkeller beer which led to much merriment. Our first course was a blast from the seventies, cheese fondue.
The rest of our meal consisted of salad, home-made veal sausage (Roasted Swiss Bratwurst), grated and fried potatoes (Rosit). Our meal was finished with a Swiss Chalet Dessert of a meringue with applesauce and strawberry ice cream. The dessert was fashioned in the image of the Swiss flag. It was delicious and very sweet.
The entertainers, dressed in traditional Swiss costumes, kept us singing, clapping, laughing and participating in several of the activities during the evening. I love the Alphorn and this group played not one but three at a time. It was so much fun.
Guests were asked to come up on stage to attempt to play the alphorn and were rewarded with a little gift if they participated and rewarded with great applause when successful. Our friend Rachel always wanted to do this and she did in style.
Then they asked for volunteers to come to the stage and participate in a beer drinking competition. The participants were each given a glass of beer that they had to drink in one try. Again, the guests were rewarded with a little gift if they tried and roaring cheers and applause if they were successful.
Another fun activity that the guest participated in was yodeling. Volunteers went to the stage and tried their best to yodel. It was quite funny to watch and had an interesting effect on our ears. Just before we left a man dressed in a cow costume made the rounds from table to table kissing some, hugging others garnering a great deal of laughter from the guests. Like I said, this evening was just fun, fun, fun!
All too soon it was time to leave. We walked back to the hotel and settled in for the remainder of the evening.
Tomorrow we enjoy a free day Lucerne.