Mount Pilatus-Lucerne 2

The day started with a trip to Mount Pilatus, which is about 7000 feet. According to one legend, it’s named for Pontius Pilate. According to legend his body is in one of the lakes. Every Good Friday, he would arise to wash his hands. Locals were not allowed up there because if disturbed he would create a fuss. Then some priest went up there to end his reign of terror and were arrested. Finally the locals did something that rid the lake of his spirit. There’s also supposed to be dragons up there. The dragon legend, the tunnels, and the clouds reminded me of the Hobbit and the Misty Mountain song. Tissues please. There were hikers who hiked up. I met one woman briefly who said she hiked it at a fast pace, and it took her 2.5 hours. She said it would normally take four.

We of course took a train up, which took about 30 minutes. OMG. The views were so amazing. I walked up this path and was so out of breath. Out of shape and high altitude did not do me good. Anyway, I just stood in awe. This place is something else with the water and mountains. And in the background a guy was playing Amazing Grace on an alpine horn. It was kind of a a Wedding Singer moment because the song would end, he would pause, and then play it again. So it was worth getting up at 8 to get to. Plus when we were leaving the sun was coming out, it was getting windy, and every other tour group in the city was descending. The rail that took us up is 125 years old. Amazing. Glad it’s there cause I would have missed what has to be in my top ten places of amazement. Oh. When I die, I want to be cremated, and my ashes released from the top of there towards the Alps (this is of course 50 years from now).

Went back to the hotel, and then I headed out. I began by doing the walk in the Rick Steve’s guide book. Started at the rail station to see the arch that was the entrance to the old train station. Did the Chapel Bridge. There was also a market at both entrances, mainly flowers and fruits and vegetables. The Water Tower there was built in 1300. The bridge was built in 14th century, with paintings added in 17th. In 1993 a leisure boat moored under the bridge caught fire and some of it was destroyed but rebuilt. Many of the paintings were ruined.

Then went to the Jesuit Church, which reminds me, I always want to put my feet up on the kneelers but I stop myself. There is an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry goes to a priest to rat out Tim Watley for telling Catholic jokes. When the priest comes into the confession box, Seinfeld is sitting on the kneeler, and the priest was like you know that’s a kneeler don’t you. Comedy. Anyway, I digress. The color scheme is so amazing in the church. The church was finished in 1677. The pope wanted a strong presence in Switzerland during the time of reformation.

Walked along and saw the river system. Then to the mill bridge, which is original and no smoking anywhere near it. I was walking across it and there was a painter doing some touch up work to one of the paintings, which by the way are not pleasant. They depict Judgement Day with some going to heaven and some going to hell. So the painter sneezed, and I said bless you. He said thank you, and I asked if he was touching up the paint. He said he was controlling it, which I found a strange word but hey Lost in Translation. On a side note, he was cute. It would have been a perfect story. Grandma tell us again how you met granddad. Well, I was on vacation in Lucerne, and was passing this bridge and granddad sneezed, and I told him bless you. I have a  lot of great meet queue stories (a term I learned from the movie The Holiday). Like the bike rider who dropped his key, and I picked them up as he was returning to get them. Like the guy in Safeway I asked to get me from the shelf. These are all great how did you meet stories.

Then off to a couple of squares: Weinmarkt (old marketplace for wine, Hirschenplatz, Sternenplatz). One of the squares has a mural with a depiction of the Wedding Feast at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine. There is also a facade from what was once a pharmacy that says, “Amor medicabilis nvllis herbis,” which roughly means “No medicine can cure a broken heart.”

Then to St. Peter’s Church, which was very simple.

I also walked up (and was out of breath) and along the Old Walls and went to a St. Leodegar im Hof Church, which was quite nice. It had nice grounds with tombs.

Then just kind of walked randomly around towards whatever caught my eye. What I realized in Brugge is that I have no desire to see the new parts of cities even though it’s where the people live now. I like being in the old part where the history lives. Bought dinner from the store which is basically meat, cheese, and bread and ate it along the water.

I walked slowly back to the hotel. This place is just so amazing to me. I feel a kindred spirit here.

Black Forest-Rhine Falls-Lucerne 1

Today, we drove through the Black Forest. It was so amazing. 40% of Germany is covered in forests. Our guide said that pre-iron curtain, pollution from East Germany, Czech, etc. was killing the trees. After the fall of the Soviet Union, western powers helped the east clean it up so the trees are thriving again.

On the ride over one of my tour mates was saying how Obama should have just caved and delayed the roll out of the health care act. I was like why. After a circular conversion, I am reminded that talking politics, religion, and race is just a conversion that neither side yields. Yet no matter what the topic is people find a way to bring one if not all of the three into it. I will still sometimes read the comment sections on articles, and I am puzzled by this. Even in a topic where it has nothing to do with the subject at hand. Case in point, about a month back there was an article about how someone in Portland had put hundred dollar bills in random places in stores. The comments were all good until this commenter said he or she bet “The Blacks” would tear stores up looking for free money. Huh? But I digress.

I recently read an article about the most annoying things people do. One of them was like forget name dropping, country dropping is more annoying. It made me laugh because I may do this sometime. Person A. I saw Wicked in Seattle. Person B. I a saw Wicked in New York. Me. I saw Wicked in London. It seems like most of the people on the tour have and do travel a lot and there is a lot of country dropping. LOL!

I digress again. We made a stop in the Black Forest. It was this complex. As it turns out, Marie Antoinette had made a stop at this site on her way from Austria to Paris to marry Louis XVI. I thought that was cool. And I went on a hike through the Black Forest. About 30 or so minutes. It was so quiet and peaceful. I may need to start hiking more. The shoes I got before I left are good for hiking. It’s very zen.

So yesterday was nice, then it rained, and then it got nice again. Today was nice in the morning. Then it rained on part of our drive but was nice this evening.

My guide shared a story about his friend who is also a guide. After the war, the border between East and West Berlin was fluid. Then one day out of nowhere, the Russians basically shut it down. So people were stuck on the wrong side.  Fast forward years and his friend was in this restaurant and sees a guy who looks familiar. So he approaches the guy saying don’t I know you? The man was like no. So the friend goes back to his seat. And realizes who it is. Goes back and hugs the man and says father! They have an emotional reunion and the father must leave because he really isn’t suppose to be there. So the guide goes back and tells his family he saw his father and they don’t believe him until he shows the suitcase his dad left with him full of things like deodorant, jeans, etc. A few days later the secret police show and and ask him who the spy was he was talking too. He was questioned for two days and then put on a watch list. The cafe they were in was full of informants. Imagine a time when you would rat out your brother or friend for better housing or more food. I have put Berlin high on my list.

We also went to the Rhine River Falls which was pretty.

Then on to Lucerne. OMG! I LOVE this place. I have a list of places I could live (Dublin, Amsterdam, London, and Hong Kong). I also have a place where I would like to bring a significant other. It was just Venice and Santorini, now add Lucerne. I feel like I am walking on a movie set because this place does not look real. It’s just so amazing. The water. The mountains. And my room has a view of it all. I could just sit there all day and admire it.

We went to the Lion Monument. It is actually pretty powerful. Louis XVI had around 600 armed guards from Switzerland. When the revolution started and the people stormed the palace, he ordered his guards to not raise their swords. The guards obeyed and were killed. So this monument honors them. The Lion, looks so sad. His paw is on his shield and he’s crying and he has a spear in his side. I didn’t expect to be so moved by it.

We actually did walk that was similar to the Rick Steve’s walk I am planning to do tomorrow, which includes the train station, Jesuit Church, and Chapel Bridge, but I will do it all tomorrow.

I took an evening stroll down the water to the main tourist area, and sighed with pleasure. Just absolutely beautiful!

I asked Andrejs about his life in Latvia. He said he likes the U.S. much better. After the fall, people from the communist party were elevated and were able to claim things that didn’t belong to them. The only thing he doesn’t like so to speak is health care. He said he thinks Obama is trying to do the right thing.

Tomorrow I am going up to Mount Pilatus with the group in the morning then spending the rest of the day walking to the places I want to visit.

I’m trying to not go too crazy on pictures this year. I’ve had a thousand plus these last two trips. And the pictures from last year have yet to be developed. It’s just so pretty here!