Monday, 27 October 2008


On the weekend Linda and I headed up to Lucerne. We had always heard it was one of the most beautiful of the Swiss towns, and one of the founding members of the Swiss confederation, and yet we had never before found the time to go.

Linda found us a room in a hotel with an amazing view over the river, an outlet of the lake of Lucerne, with the Chapel Bridge going across it.

We woke up on Saturday and it was cold and drizzly, although we quickly warmed ourselves up with some Apfelstrudel from the markets by the lake, and then with some coffee and pastries in one of the lakeside cafés.

We took advantage of the weather to wander around the markets, shops, and sites within the city, finishing up with a delicious dinner with some local cuisine.

On Sunday we watched some of the Lucerne Marathon, which happened to be on that weekend, visited a local art gallery and took ourselves off to the IMAX cinema which happened to be showing Die Alpen, a german translation of an American movie, which we listened to with our English earphones. This was slightly confusing to watch, but also very cool because we saw large parts of Switzerland, where we had lived or visited, up on the big screen.

When we came out we found the weather had really cleared up, so we could finally see the town and the lake as they were meant to be seen. We took a ferry back into Lucerne and then drove our car out towards Mount Pilatus, where we hoped to catch a train to the top where there should be a view over the lake and town.

Unfortunately we missed the last train, the timetable having just reverted to the winter schedule along with the start of daylight savings. This was a little disappointing as we were quite excited about catching the train, which has an exhilarating 48° gradient in parts. At least we found ourselves a view, driving a winding road up the hillside to a handy vantage point looking over the lake.

We resolved to come back to Lucerne for the Carnival celebrations, which are meant to be the most exciting in Switzerland, to see more of Lucerne and the surrounding countryside.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Plein Ciel Tower - Mont-Pelerin

The weather recently has not been so great, with lots of rain and hazy skies, so when Linda's parents arrived and the sun peeked out for a moment, we quickly headed up the hills behind Vevey to Mont-Pelerin to go up the Plein Ciel Tower (full sky).

We had tried to go there once before, by walking from the top of the Mont-Pelerin Funi, but we got distracted on the way and never actually made it.

I think this was for the best as actually it is a really long walk from the Funi to the tower. You also cant just conveniently drive all the way to the top, and are meant to leave your car in the car park and hike up the hill.

We got stuck at the boom gate for a while and had a picnic to fill in the time as we considered our options. However another car (presumably a resident) soon went through the boom gates so I rushed to cover the sensor to prevent the boom from going back down and quickly drove the car through the gates!

After this little victory, we drove to the top of the hill and bought ourselves tickets up the tower. The view was spectacular, looking towards the alps and over the lake (especially since we'd had some snow falling on the peaks). It was freezing cold however so we didn't linger too long!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Vienna - Prague

From Vienna we headed on to Prague where we would spend a few days seeing the town and meeting up with Linda's parents.

I have to say that while Austria was very nice and we really enjoyed our time there, we were hugely more excited about arriving in Prague. I took far more photos in Prague than the whole of our time in Austria (granted, the weather in Prague was much better).

On our first night we did little more than grab a bite to eat, buy some basic supplies and go to bed. In the morning, however, we walked into the old town and were really amazed by the spectacular architecture and atmosphere of the city.

We had quite a full agenda for ourselves on the first day, heading out of town and up the funicular to the park overlooking Prague, where we climbed a tower that looks over the town and the castle district. The views were really spectacular.

We then walked into the castle district and bought an all-inclusive ticket that got us into all the sites of the castle, including the cathedral (which looks quite dramatic from all around Prague), the golden lane (tiny houses built into the castle walls).

We walked slowly back into town, stopping on the Charles Bridge to take photos at sunset, of the bridge itself and back towards Hradcany castle. It is really amazing at night.

The next day we headed in to the Jewish quarter and I got quite put out by the high cost of entering the Old New Synagogue, which is tiny and sparse inside. I know I should be impressed that it is Europe's oldest surviving synagogue, but it takes a lot to impress me these days.

Prague is also the home of Alphons Mucha, one of the original Art Nouveau artists, and we saw his images all over the place, along with other Art Nouveau works. We bought ourselves quite a few Mucha trinkets, and I bought myself a Kafka t-shirt (another famous resident of Prague) even though we didn't actually visit the Kafka museum.

Unexpectedly, we also ate a lot of good food in Prague. We had plenty of Goulash, Pilsner Urquell, Roast Duck, and Pike. We even found a place that served good coffee.

I could go on about Prague for some time, although I actually think the photos speak best for what the city is like (yes this is a bit of a cop-out so I don't have to write forever).

We left the car with Linda's Parents in Prague for their own drive through Eastern Europe back to Switzerland. Linda and I caught the train to Vienna and then a plane back to Geneva. By the time we were back home we were quite exhausted and ready for a holiday!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Salzburg - Vienna

We arrived in Vienna quite late, having spent a large part of the day in Salzburg and also having some difficulty navigating the ring roads into our Pension.

On our first night we still managed to head into town and catch a performance in the Vienna opera house. This was a bit of a victory for us as Linda had read that you can get standing tickets for only a few Euros and we managed to get some despite turning up quite late. The view from our spot up the back was actually quite good, although we decided to leave at the intermission; not actually being opera fans and deciding it was a good time for dinner.

We went to Sacha restaurant, which is opposite the opera house where we had Goulash soup (yummy) and Sacha tort (famous but not quite as notably yummy).

The next day we wandered into town, stopping to look at St Stephen's Cathedral and window-shopped around the Graben, the main shopping strip in Vienna.

It was cold and rainy and we spent a fair amount of time in the Albertina museum, where they had an exhibition on alpine photography, and another on van Gough which was very interesting - especially as by now we have visited some of the places where he'd done a lot of his painting.

On to Demel café for more Goulash soup and cakes, and more window shopping and wandering around Vienna until dinner time when we headed off for peach schnapps (we later bought some of those glasses that Linda, slightly wind-blown, is holding in the photo), giant sized Wiener Schnitzel, and beer.

We didn't have any trouble getting to sleep with our very full tummies.

On our way out of Vienna we went to the Schloss Belvedere, which houses lots of interesting artworks, but most importantly many works by Gustav Klimt, including the his most famous: The Kiss. We also had some yummy Apfelstrudel at the museum café.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Innsbruck - Salzburg

We moved on pretty quickly from Innsbruck - it was only ever meant to be a stopping point along the way - driving straight on towards Salzburg where we planned to spend a bit more time; two days and one night.

We had a great time in Salzburg, despite the cold and rain which was following us; visiting the Palace of Mirabelle (where they filmed do-re-me from The Sound of Music) and Mozart's Residence (where they had excellent cakes and coffee (we went there twice)).

We also spent a fair amount of time wandering around the old town, visiting the churches and monasteries and even saw a live Mozart performance! We had some typical Salzburg cuisine for dinner, including an incredibly fluffy meringue-like desert.

On Monday the shops were open and we spent some time wandering in and out. We also climbed to the top of the fortress, to take in the spectacular views over the town, before heading back to our car for the drive towards Vienna.