The original plan was to have this as part of my France post but once I started writing it was just too much for one post. So hope you enjoy — check out the other posts from the trip as well!
- Review: Delta One A330 JFK-ZRH
- My experiences through Europe: France
- My experiences through Europe: Switzerland
- My experiences through Europe: Renting a car and flying “domestic”
- Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 MXP-YYZ
Heading Into Switzerland
So after about 4 and a half days in France, we were headed east towards Switzerland. If you want to hear more about the driving experience, check out my next installment. For now I will just say that it stayed eventful.
The next stop on our trip was Lucerne, Switzerland, where we would be ditching the car and heading south through the alps.
I actually started this trip with a night in Zurich. As mentioned in my Delta One review I flew across the pond to Zurich, then had to make my way through Paris. So while it didn’t warrant an entire excerpt for this blog, I will mention that I experienced a “part” of Switzerland.
And the reason I bring this up is because of the contrast I noticed between France and Switzerland. France had a bit of an older, more historic feel, while Switzerland seemed a bit more modernized. Not taking a way from either one, just simply pointing out the differences I noticed.
However you shake it, though, Lucerne was phenomenal. Every time you turn it is like looking at the back of a postcard. And not to mention, the weather was perfect. It was sunny with a cool breeze blowing off of the water. Good weather can easily sway my feelings!
This was the view from our hotel, so I’d say my mom absolutely crushed it. We stayed at the Hotel des Alpes, which is perfectly positioned, but may be a bit tricky to find!
Definitely one of the more European things we did was drive on what I guess were roads, but felt more like shopping alleys. (This picture doesn’t do justice how narrow these streets are).
We did have a full day in Lucerne, so we spent much of that day doing a walking tour suggested by the city’s tourism office. While we didn’t hit it all, it’s pretty cool that everything to see in the city can be done on a walking tour.
One of the cool spots to enjoy a cocktail was suggested to us by the gentleman who checked us in — I’d definitely recommend! On top of the Hotel Monopol is a really cool bar and rooftop, which looked to be quite a popular spot for both Swiss locals and tourists alike. (For some reason I kept the only picture not overlooking the water — still beautiful, though)
While Lucerne was beautiful, and there were a ton of tourists (so it was definitely popular), the city definitely let the views speak for themselves. I’d assume that during the winter months Lucerne attracts people to the nearby alps and all the fun activities that came with it.
Which really takes nothing away from the city in the summer, because it was absolutely picture perfect. And while there may not be much to do, if you spent some extended time there I’d recommend wandering around some of the bordering towns and natural attractions.
I think overall the Swiss are very active people. So I’m sure you could find plenty to do to fill your time.
On to Lugano
The highlight of Switzerland was most definitely the boat tour. My mom booked a boat leaving from Lucerne, passing through Lake Uri, nestled in the Alps, and then directly onto the Gotthard Panorama Express train to Lugano. By far the most stunningly picturesque part of the trip.
We left Lucerne around 10:30 in the morning. Luckily, the weather was absolutely perfect — again.
We did have First Class tickets, which got us access to the top of the boat, but right out of Lucerne the seating was pretty limited. Luckily, the boat stopped at almost every town on the lake, so after a few stops we had our pick of seats. (the tables on the sides were obviously the hot-spots)
From anywhere on the boat, even standing up, it was hard to focus on anything but the views around you. Every time you turned around the picture seemed better than the last.
Besides the obvious beauty of the Alps surrounding us, I particularly enjoyed the small, quaint towns nestled against the hillsides that seemed to be almost removed from reality. I can imagine that anyone staying at these places may believe they were outside of reality anyways.
I can write a bit more about the boat ride, like how we were able to sneak a bottle of wine on, but in reality the pictures are the only thing that can do it justice. So we spent a better part of 3 hours on the boat, which was incredible, and once we “landed” in Fluelen, it was an easy walk over to the Gotthard Express.
Gotthard Panorama Express
We bought tickets as “one” trip through the Gotthard Panorama Express, so while it was tough to say goodbye to the boat, we had to get to Lugano. And the panorama views weren’t too bad, either.
We were seated in the first class, “panorama” car which had very comfortable seating in some pretty incredible views. But in second class, the car in front of us you could actually stick your head out the windows
But fortunately we were able to walk back and forth if we wanted to get some fresh air.
From a group standpoint we were pretty amazed with the boat views, and it was hard not to be, but the panorama views offered some pretty memorable moments as well.
Oh ya, and we were able to sneak a bottle of wine on the train as well! Not sure the waitress was too pleased, but she begrudgingly gave us some cups.
Late that afternoon we finally arrived to Lugano, our last stop on the trip.
We arrived to the main train station in Lugano, with amazing views of Lake Lugano almost instantly.
In Lugano everything feeds down the mountains into the beautiful Lake Lugano. While the town itself is a bit larger than that, you get the feeling that you can see the entire population when looking at a high enough point.
Suffice to say, the views were magnificent. And even though the hikes were a bit grueling just getting from one place to another, the end product was well worth it.
While our stay in Lugano was short, we covered most of what you needed to see in just a few hours. On a bit bigger scale, Lugano was like the many resort towns we saw from the boat — almost too good for reality.
We stayed at a Best Western right across the street from the lake — a lot more fancy than most Best Western’s you see in the states. Based on the picture below you can see it was at one point the Hotel Bellevue, then most likely got bought by Best Western. And we unfortunately did not spend a ton of time there, but I would most definitely recommend the property to anyone visiting the area.
Rounding out the trip
So this unfortunately meant that the trip was coming to an end. We didn’t plan a ton of time in Lugano, but we had enough time to get a glimpse. And I have to say that I will be back for more!
Lugano’s closest international airport is Milan-Malpensa, which is where my brother and I were departing. Early the next morning we grabbed a bus that runs to the airport from right downtown Lugano, which is only about an hour trip. And I really can’t say enough about the entire experience.
Switzerland was incredible. We had a bit less time in Switzerland, but the entire country seemed like a postcard. I can’t wait to be back and experience more that the country has to offer.