Carpe Diem: Eurotrip 2016

The Day Everything Was Better in Switzerland

We wrapped up Italy with another hotel breakfast and more Nesquick in coffee. We piled ourselves onto the bus and set out for Switzerland.

We passed Lake Como on our drive, vacation destination for many rich celebrities. We only saw it for a good 5 seconds. For those 5 seconds, the bus was a chorus of “ooh”s “ahh”s and camera shutters.

Now, our entire trip, Matt has let us know that Switzerland is his favorite place in the world. He has a Swiss watch that tells time with by building the Swiss flag. Our bus mascot is a Swiss cow wearing the Swiss flag. He keeps reminding us how great our trip will be once we get to Switzerland. As soon as we crossed the border into Switzerland, he got on the bus microphone and took a deep inhale, his eyes as bright as a 7 year old who just arrived at Disney World. He welcomed us to Switzerland and then proceeded to tell us all the wonderful things about Switzerland. How much better the transportation is, how much cleaner the streets are, “The grass is literally greener once you’ve crossed the border! I’ve checked!” He usually has given us a little spiel about a new country once we’ve entered it, maybe about 20 minutes about general history, culture, politics, fun anecdotes, etc. The Switzerland spiel lasted a full hour at least, all while Matt perched his Swiss cow on his shoulder. At pauses in stories, he’d sigh and say “Ah, Switzerland.” I don’t think anyone was bored though, if nothing else we were completely entertained by the passion in his eyes about his favorite little country.

As we drove through the Swiss countryside, I began to understand the obsession. Switzerland is unfathomably gorgeous. Surrounded by snow capped mountains and dotted by crystal clear cerulean lakes, it is the most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on. I am not being dramatic. I speak the truth.

We stopped off at Mount Stanserhorn, where we were going to take a funicular and cable car up to the top of the mountain. Stanserhorn isn’t a tall mountain by Swiss standards, but it’s on our route and offers pretty views. We cleared off of the bus and boarded the funicular train, which had been in existence since the 1870s. It was a cute little wooden train lined with Swiss flags. The Swiss love their flag. Matt had told us about his love for Swiss cows and how cute they are. He said that they all have bells around their necks, so when we pass them on the funicular is like they play music for us. And they did. We passed them on the train and shushed everyone so we could hear them chiming. So cute. Swiss cows are the best cows.

Then was the cable car. This was thrilling. It was a small cable car with an open upper level. The wind blew in our hair as we climbed higher. Every little while there was a dip in the line as we went over one of the cable posts. The first time we went over one, we didn’t see it coming. We were in the middle of taking a selfie so now we have a picture of a few of us screaming our heads off.

The top of the mountain was crazy. We could see a ton of the alps, as well as the super blue lakes below. They were so clean and refreshing looking, I wanted to go for a swim. I saw a pair of groundhogs that were running around outside their little burrow. They wound up having a fight and I caught it on video. We also got to see a paraglider prepping for takeoff, which was pretty awesome. I never did see him fly, but I assume he did; I can’t imagine he evaporated out of thin air.

We came back down and reboarded the coach. Soon we were in the beautiful city of Lucerne. It’s not one of the bigger cities in Switzerland, but due to its location in the mountains and scenic lake, it’s a very popular tourist destination. We noticed the larger tourist presence there. Not as bad as Venice, but still pretty congested. It really was beautiful though, with its chalet style buildings, old bridges, and beautiful lake. We walked over a famous bridge that had been standing since the 1300s. It was amazing.

Our first stop in the city was a souvenir shop where you can purchase Swiss watches and Swiss Army knives. I bought a Swiss Army knife and got my last name engraved on it. It was free. I’ve already used it to file my nails. Gotta love a souvenir with function.

Before our cruise, we checked into the infamous Lucerne Jail Hotel. It’s what it sounds like, a once jail converted into a hotel. To convert it, they didn’t do much. It was so scary it was hilarious. I had the top bunk in our triple, since I’d had the single room in Munich. More than fair. Though the bed was too close to the wall, so I had to like slither to get up there. It was so bad. Memories.

We were supposed to get dinner on our own before the boat cruise, but we had limited time, so me and my buddies opted to wait until after the cruise for dinner. That was later decided a mistake, but we’ll come back to that. The cruise was absolutely lovely. The weather was perfect. I’d checked the weather earlier in the week, which had forecasted rain. Well, that was not the result. It was beautiful weather under puffy clouds and a beautiful sunset. Simply gorgeous. We also had beautiful wine, which was apparently the cheapest alcohol in the city. The result of such escapades was the immediate desire for food.

We stopped by to see the lion monument, and afterwards, due to desperate hunger, impatience, and awareness of the city’s outrageous prices (really folks, Switzerland be expensive), we broke the cardinal rule of European travel and went to McDonald’s, or as my new Aussie friends referred to it, “Mackers.” For reference, dinner at Mackers was $12. Imagine what a nice Swiss meal would have been. We munched on some Swiss chocolate to make up for it. That stuff is to die for.

We were then off the the hotel bar. To completely downplay the terror and history of the jail hotel, the bar was a modern dance club with neon lights and flat screen TVs. Some people watched the soccer game, some people played games, some people danced. Even Matt joined in on the fun. Once the dancing got started, we decided to relocate the party. We went to Club Princesse, a dance club in downtown Lucerne, just a stone’s throw from the hotel. We caravaned to the club, at least 20 of us, making our Contiki presence known to the city. The club was a stereotypical dance club with bright flashing lights, a smoke machine, big statues, dance platforms, and of course, loud bumping music. God we had so much fun. We danced with some locals and some Italians on tour. I even danced old school with a couple of Italian guys, holding hands and being twirled on occasion. Matt got wilder than we ever saw him, dancing on the platform and passing around his drink. Atta boy Matt, have a good time. Though he did break his Swiss watch…sad day.

If this tour didn’t include Switzerland, I probably never would have gone. It wasn’t on my list of must-dos. But having been there, I’m so glad I didn’t write it off. It was so beautiful in the day, and so fun at night. Thanks for impressing me Switzerland!

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