Saturday, July 31, 2010


My stay in Luzern was relatively quiet and uneventful with the exception of heading up to the Jungfraujosh (Virgin Saddle). The Jungfrau is a huge mountain peak that you must take a bus and then two cogwheel trains to reach the summit.

The day I got into Luzern it was raining and I had for the first time a use for my raincoat. I walked from the train station into town, trying to find my Hostel. After some time walking up and down the boulevard called Zurichstrasse I ducked into a middle eastern eaterie to grab some lunch. I had my card out and the guy behind the counter said very kindly that they don't take card, only cash. I responded with a surprised "OH!" which he laughed at and then attempted to perform charades to figure out where a bank was. He directed me down the street and was kind enough to let me keep my bags there while I ran to get some money.

Typically at Swiss bank machines they give you very large bills. I asked for 100 Francs and recieced a 100 Franc bill! I immediately went over to the teller and asked if she could break it up for me.

I had a good lunch at the restaurant and asked the guy behind the counter for directions to my Hostel. He invited me to the back area where there was a computer and kindly pointed me in the right direction, using google maps. He did not speak English too well, and it was fun playing and making gestures about where I needed to go.

At the Hostel I met a friend randomly who I had Hosteled with in Paris! Her name is Bonnie and she is from Toronto Canada. Although she lived in Chicago for a few years to finish her masters degree.

She invited me to go to the Jungfrau peak with her the next morning. I said I would think on it. We decided to then go out to diner and a walk around Luzern's little city center.

We had diner at a place called The Fondue House. And of course had some truly amazing and artery clogging fun sucking down cheese dipped potatoes, mixed vegetables and bread. It was expensive, but the food itself was well worth the money.

The next day we got up early and headed to the Tourist Office inside the Luzern train station. It was raining pretty hard and I was very hesitant about buying my ticket up the mountain with a tourist service. The expense was not cheap.

I bought it and Bonnie and I went and waited under the awning across the street by the McDonalds. For about ten minutes I vascilated on my purchase. And then ran back to the tourist office to see if a refund was possible. They said I could get half back since the tour itself was already on it's way to pick us up. I decided to go, and am very glad that I did!

The bus arrived and Bonnie and I entered. We were greeted by our tour guide, a loud, flamboyant man from Laos who just told everyone he was Thai. His name is Kid, and he was by far the best tour guide I have had in Europe thus far.

The bus weaved through the alps, going up down, around, and in and out of long tunnels. I believe our driver was from Italy, as his name was Mario and he drove like he was from Italy. I avoided looking over the side of the bus at the lack of guardrails and the rather steep drop into valleys and rivers.

We arrived in Interlaken, a town I am very familiar with for a quick break. Kid noisily and charmingly herded us all into a local tourist shop. Bonnie and I took the time to walk a bit and have a coffee and a strawberry tart at a local Cafe.

After this we hopped back on the bus and rushed up to the train station to catch the first cog train up Jungfrau. It was a nice ride, and the incline going up was quite steep as it climbed up the slopes and in and out of tunnels carved into the mountain.

We stopped off at several viewing points and the air become thinner and colder the higher you climbed. My heart started to work harder as the air thinned. My mouth became dry, as well as my eyes.

At the top in the Sphinx, a look out tower and tourist area at the top we went to the outside look out tower first. There was a group of Japanese tourists, teens who looked to be on a school trip. One of them, a young man, had his shirt off and was running around on the steel grating as people took pictures or his classmates laughed and threw snowballs at him!

We then went to the ice palace and Bonnie and I felt at home shuffling across the ice and practically flying past everyone else. One good thing you pick up in Minnesota is the ability to easily walk on ice without help.

Later still we headed to the Indian Buffet they had at the top. It was neat being the only white person in a restaurant. Interlaken is an area that apparently you go if you've made it in India. And there were many many people from that area. Also a lot of people from Hong Kong and Korea.

After that we went to the souvenier shop and then headed back down to catch the train to Grindelwald. The ride down was relaxing as well as the bus ride back to Luzern.

Kid was a fabulous tour guide and just so much fun to talk with. Bonnie gave him a nice tip at the end, and although I wanted to i had zero Francs left to give at that point.

We returned to the Hostel and then left the next morning for Basel, where Bonnie and I parted ways. Me heading to Strausbourg, and her staying in Basel to meet up with some friends.

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