Last day in Lucerne.
After breakfast Marian and I decided against the organized walking tour. Instead, after packing and vacating the room, we headed on our own walk.
One of the city’s most famous landmarks is the Lion Monument, a mountainside carving that commemorates hundreds of Swiss Guards who were killed at the Tuileries Palace in Paris during the French Revolution.
We asked the hotel desk clerk about it and he told us wonderful stories and started drawing on our map. Then Marian started her cross-examination. “IF you only had time to see one thing, what would you see?” The desk clerk immediately started marking on another place on the map. “I would go to the Old City Wall. You can go into several of the towers and the views are beautiful. And there is a huge old lock that is working and you can see the clockworks.” So off we went.
The Old City Wall was built to protect the old city from invaders. It sits up the hill from Lake Lucerne and consists of large watch towers connected by walls with parapets. The defenders could shoot (whatever they were shooting at the time) from a position of relative protection.
In route I stopped by a very nice tobacco store. The owner had run the business for almost 20 years, and he took it over from HIS father. I asked if he shipped Cuban cigars to the US. He frowned. Not only did he not ship to the US, he didn’t ship to Canada either because his shipper, FedEx, is a US company.
I picked out a few Cuban cigars for the rest of our trip and then we headed uphill toward the wall. It was a seriously steep hill. We got to the wall and then climbed halfway up the tower. It was a seriously steep climb. But from there the view was beautiful. Here are some photos of both of us, ready to defend the parapet from all invaders.
Marian decided to head up to the top of the tower. It was another seriously steep climb. She was rewarded with a greater view of the city and a view of all three stories of a large clockworks that still works. (And we both heard the clock strike 1:00.)
I stayed behind to guard the wall from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and was rewarded with oxygen.
Afterwards we went back down into the Old Town near the Lake, and had a lunch of bratwurst, potatoes, and a good cold beer. We also came across George and Fran, a couple who are part of the Viking Cruise group. They are from Chicago and great dancers. George Zima , who is 92, used to dance on Broadway. (Google him–he’s fascinating.) Just sitting with them is a celebration.
From there we went back to the hotel, onto the bus, and onto Basel and our cruise ship.
Located in the canton of Basel-Stadt, Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland. It has a population of over 175,000; over two-thirds are foreign nationals. Other cantons had to ask to join the Swiss Confederacy; with Basel it was the other way around. With its strategic location on the Rhine, control of corn imported from Alsace, and good relations with some of the other Confederacy members, it was invited to join by the other members. Basel is where, in 1536, Calvin first published his Institutes of the Christian Religion. It has often been the site of peace negotiations and other international meetings. It’s a big deal. It’s beautiful. We blew right through it and headed to the dock.
Today or tomorrow is its 20th anniversary of Viking Cruise Lines. It has about 40-50 Longships (a specific design–see below). One of those, the Idi, is ours for this cruise. Here is the schematic for the Idi, which was built in 2014:The Viking Idi was built in 2014, and sails under a Swiss flag. It is 443 feet long and is powered by energy-efficient hybrid diesel engines. Like most (all?) of the Viking longships, the Viking Idi has 95 staterooms, and carries a maximum of 190 passengers and a crew of about 50. Only about 6-8 crew members are involved in sailing the ship; the rest are responsible for care of the passengers, cooking and food service, cleaning, and entertainment.
Dinner is a social occasion, as all passengers are in a single dining room with tables of 6-10 people each. Meals on Viking Cruises include beer, wine and soft drinks at no charge. You can also buy drinks at other times, or you can buy a pass (around $210.00 US) for all drinks all the time, including specialty wines ordered with dinner and drinks ordered in the lounge before and after dinner. They also supply complimentary bottled water in your cabin.
Our ship is named after Idi, a Norse Giant. (Don’t confuse Norse Giants with Norse gods. In Norse mythology, Giants and gods didn’t get along.) Idi and his two brothers, Thjazzi and Gangr, are the Rime-Giants or frost giants. Their father, Olvadi, had so much gold that no scale could measure it. When Olvadi died, the brothers divided the inheritance by each taking as much gold as their giant mouths would hold. (Note: Norse mythology isn’t big on spelling regularity. There are alternative spellings for each of the names above. And no, of course I don’t. I looked this up.)
Meeting Up and Dinner
We met up with our group from Texas and had a wonderful meal. Henry and Lynn, who had organized the whole trip, had left Texas well before we did in order to spend time in Italy before heading to Basel.
More later. We have a busy day tomorrow in the Black Forest and the Colmar Pocket, so it is off to bed.