Alpine Adventure 2018

Lucerne Day One: “This is a Luxury Tour.”

The houseboat was a good idea. Aside from the spiders and the annoying stairs we had to take down to the bedroom, we had air conditioning, we had a cool view, and we got to sleep on the Seine. Who else gets to sleep on the Seine? It was cool!
The one thing we had dreaded was the 30 degree angled ramp that we’d have to drag our giant suitcases up to get back to the surface. Uh-oh. Well, using a relay system of our invention, we were able to schlep the 50-75 pound bags up the ramp. We were sore for days after, but we did it! Soon after, we’d lugged our bags back to Gare de Leon train station, wheeled our way onto the platform, and settled ourselves onto our train from Paris to Geneva. This is kind of a short entry because we spent most of our day on the train. The first train was pretty uneventful. I got a giant cappuccino topped with whipped cream and chocolate (cuz I saw someone else get one and knew I needed to have one). We also met an adorable five-person family from Mauritius, four adults and a, maybe 15 month old? They were all passing the baby around like a hot potato between looking out the window. They asked us about our trip, we asked them about theirs. It was lovely.

After about a three hour ride, we switched trains in Geneva. We originally were going to wait for the next train and get something to eat. But just as we got to the platform, the 1:00 train had arrived and would be leaving in like two minutes. So we said “screw it” and hopped aboard. We would later regret this, because there was no food on this train, and we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. But whatever. On this train ride, from Geneva to Lucerne, we started to witness the scenic views of the Alpine region. I tried to take some photos, but if there’s one thing about Switzerland, it’s that it’s hard to photograph. What you can see with your eyes is hard to bottle and take home with you. You just kind of have to enjoy the view and enjoy it for what it is.I will say the only annoying thing was that every time Jen or I saw one of those amazing postcard views, we’d always look to each other and say “wow, look at that!” and by the time the other person looked over, there were always trees or buildings in the way. It got to the point that we kept saying, “Really Switzerland! EVERY time!” I will say, the train was the best idea. We had the option to take a flight from Paris to Zurich and then take another train from there, but then we would have missed out on the views. It’s also just way more comfortable on the train. Sure it was six hours rather than one hour on a plane, but there’s no security checkpoint, a better view, and hey, we needed those six hours to recuperate after our Paris adventure. After another three hours, we hopped out in Lucerne. Our GPS had told us it was a twenty minute walk to our hotel, so we splurged and got a cab. We actually splurged a little too much and we had to scramble to find enough Euros. We had to pay our cab driver with some change. He was really nice though. Thanks, Swiss cab guy. Upon reaching the “Grand Hotel Europe,” which was postcard-worthy on its own, we realized that this was going to be a little bit nicer than our prior Contiki and EF tours. For comparison, when I was in Lucerne last, we stayed at the Jail Hotel, which was a converted prison. The rooms were literal jail cells. This time we had…well these were some of our views.It’s super nice. Really. When I was on my EF Tour in Spain, the people from the company advertised their partner company, “Go Ahead Tours,’ (the company with which we are traveling) as “luxury adult tours.” At the time I chuckled to myself, thinking, “Hah, yeah right.” Oh no, this is pretty good. And I mean, I only expect the best. I fly first class, y’know. After settling into our room, we went down to the bar for our introductions. Upon reaching the bar, Jen had already introduced herself to Stephanie and Marcel, a couple traveling from PEI, Canada. They’re also teachers, 5th grade and high school social studies respectively. We’ve hung out with them a lot since. They’re chill. Soon after we met our guide, Juergen (pronounced: Yer-gin), who is German, sassy, and hilarious. We also met our first bus driver, Kristoff, who is good so far, but he’s leaving us at Annecy, so we only have him with us for a couple days. Jeurgen gave us some information about the tour, how it would work when we traveled from place to place, some etiquette stuff, the whole spiel. At this point I was pretty used to the ropes. But then at one point he kept talking about the rules for this one thing. Every time he said the word I couldn’t understand him with his German accent. Porridge? Postage? Portage? Eventually I realized he was saying “Porterage.” And from context I found out that he was referring to the fact that people would be moving my bags down from my room and up again for me. This was not something I had ever been privy to in the past. Hell, this morning I’d shlepped my stuff up off the houseboat. But again, This was a luxury tour. We also introduced ourselves to the other members of our group. The winner of best introduction goes to Eddie from Georgia, who introduced himself as someone as a member of the “Underground furniture business.” When he was met with confused silence, he changed his answer to that he was a member of the “return-to-earth movement.” Frustrated with his antics, Tracey,another member of their group yelled over him, with the annoyance of someone who had heard this joke a thousand times “He’s a funeral director!” We had dinner at the hotel and then took a short walk outside. It was a beautiful day, so we wanted to take in some views of the lake before we crashed for the night. Apparently it gets its green color from limestone rock. So, in the words of Jen, “If you ever get your own lake, add limestone.”And then we went to bed. Because we were still really tired still from Paris.

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