We had a bit of a lazy morning before heading down the mountain to Lucerne. It’s incredible to me how much space we occupy in America for our roads and our bridges and Right of Way and just in general. When you come to Europe, your hotel might very well be up a goat path of a road that the bus huffs and puffs its way up so that it can pull off in a little side space to let the line of cars pass it by. It’s crazy how steep and narrow some of the streets are. They must have very good drivers in these countries.
Another thing I noticed about transportation – because you know, I like that kind of thing – is how many bicycles there are. So many people ride bikes and they ride them up those crazy hills! It’s incredible. My friend and I were commenting on how we wouldn’t ride a bike up one particular hill, and seconds later a female cyclist came around the corner and started up toward us. We wanted to cheer her on. I wonder if people are used to the athletic nature of their counterparts in these countries? Back home it’s always surprising when somebody bikes to work or runs home afterward or swims more than two miles. I wonder if these things are just as surprising in cities across the world? Is it weird in Washington DC or New York City where there are so many cyclists? Is it American culture that is surprised by athleticism? Or is it a global thing? Do the Swiss or Italians or Germans find it normal to seek alternative transportation? It’s an interesting question. The snapshot of Swiss people we have seen all appear to be in good physical shape and very healthy. Switzerland is awesome.
Anyway, we made our way to Lucerne and the first thing we saw was the monument to the Swiss bodyguards who lost their lives defending the French monarchy during the Revolution. There were 1100 Swiss bodyguards at the time. (When the tour guide was telling the story, he kept calling them lifeguards – which was really wonderful imagery to picture defending the monarchy in the late 1700s.) The monument was of a lion dying, his hand on a shield with a French emblem and a shield with a Swiss flag emblem behind him. It was so tragic. Over 600 men lost their lives defending a castle from invasion – and the entire time King Louis and Marie Antoinette had been relocated to safety and weren’t even there to defend.
We took a walking tour of Lucerne afterward, seeing the old wall that was part of the original city then down to the water front. We walked the old wooden walkways that have been there forever and were a part of the defense of the water ways into Lucerne. The walkways had old artwork hung over them along the way with strange depictions of men with skulls for heads and people either fighting it or running away from it or something. I asked Frank about them and he said they were reminders to people about death. They show death coming for people of all kinds – rich, poor, old, young, beautiful, etc. How’s that for a public service announcement? How about public service announcements being considered artwork some day? Good times.
We finished our tour in front of the premier Rolex and watch dealership in Switzerland! I didn’t go in, although it would have been neat to see the price tags. We had lots of free time after our tour finished. Winter (curiously enough, she’s another 30-something young person from Rutland that I had to go to Switzerland to actually meet) and I went to take in the Museum of Modern Art. One of the displays had swings so we actually got to swing in a museum! It was great. We had to take a selfie. Also, in the kids section, we got to draw cartoons of our life. My hair has been crazy since my hair straightener doesn’t work, so I drew my comic about it swallowing my face. It made me laugh!
We enjoyed the artwork and walking around in the sunshine and 70 degrees. It’s been so gorgeous and clear. On another environmental note – THE WATER!!! The water is so clear here! I just want to swim in it in the worst way! It reminds me of Lake George and I just ache to feel the cold of it and get to know it. I want to dip right in and surrender to the unfamiliar nature of it and see how it compares to my water back home. What color is it? What sounds will I hear? What’s the texture and the smell and the taste of it? I think I might carry my swimsuit around with me from now on. Just in case of an emergency. That’s not weird. It’s only weird if you wear it all day in case of an emergency. We passed by some dams or locks, perhaps, too that caught my attention. My VTC counterparts and I were speculating about the construction and the use of some of the dam, but the tour guide didn’t say much about it. I found an English sign so I got to read about it a bit at least. I like environmental controls and turbidity readings and water clarification processes and stuff like that. It’s neat to observe these things in other countries.
The bells are tolling nine o’clock. We’ve heard the cowbells being rung on the hillsides as the sun goes down – I’m not sure what type of livestock they are actually calling in or if they are even for that, but it was really neat to hear.
My only complaint so far is that my ankles swelled up on the plane and they have not unswelled. It went down a bit during the night last night, but we’ve been walking over 6 miles a day and they are not improving. It doesn’t hurt, I just feel… gross or something.
I am having such a good time, although I am a bit nervous about presenting about Dante’s Divine Comedy and need to be a weirdo and do some research now. Tomorrow we head for Italy with a stop in Verona before we go to our destination just outside of Venice. It’s going to be amazing.