Lucerne, Switzerland

John’s Birthday 2018

When: October 2018
Hotel: Seehotel Waldstätterhof Swiss Quality
Why Lucerne: I was trying to figure out something fun to do for John’s birthday, and and was doing my best to follow up the previous years trip to the Harry Potter Studio tour (nothing is going to top that, but I had to try). I was searching fun activities in Europe, and came across a description to assemble your own Swiss Army Knife, and I figured that would be just right!

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The view from our hotel room – they were wonderful. They gave us a free upgrade and when we got back to our room after John’s massage, there was a Birthday tray of Swiss Chocolates.

The Trip: The Victorinox store where the knives are assembled is in the small Swiss town of Brunnen, that sits right on Lake Lucerne and is about a 30-minute drive from the town of Lucerne. I couldn’t decide where to stay at first, but when I called to make the appointment for John and me to make the knives, the only availability was Sunday morning. As this was supposed to be a fun, but relaxing weekend, I opted for us to stay in the quaint town of Brunnen. It’s apparently more of a summer destination, and was quite quiet and closed down by the end of October.

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Switzerland is pretty year around.

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The upgrade was a pleasant surprise…even if it was too foggy to really see the mountains around the lake.

 

I picked the grand hotel, Seehotel Waldstätterhof Swiss Quality, a gorgeous lakefront hotel which was absolutely perfect for a couple of nights. When the fog finally lifted, we had views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Not to mention, it had a spa in the hotel, so I booked John a massage as well. The thing about Switzerland is that it is so naturally beautiful, the towns themselves tend to be a bit bland. So while Brunnen wasn’t the prettiest, the hotel and views more then made up for it.

We had all day Saturday, so we enjoyed a lazy morning walking around the town, before John got a massage. That night, we celebrated his birthday in the town of Lucerne – somewhere I had earmarked as a town I wanted to go back to and look around more.

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The store was within walking distance of our hotel, so we checked out the store on our tour around the town.

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Our hotel was the large white building on the right, and I highly recommend it!

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Self-timer for the win! There were not a lot of people out and about – it was very quiet!

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How he feels about his birthday! 🙂

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The Swiss tourism authority created the Grand Tour of Switzerland, which spans almost 1,000 miles around 22 lakes and over five alpine passes. It’s great for planning a trip around Switzerland.

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This cute tray was waiting for us in our room – another sweet touch by the hotel!

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While John got his massage, I took a little walk on the path that lines the lake.

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Gorgeous!!

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I enjoyed a little moment of my own while John enjoyed his massage.

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It started to clear up a bit as we were getting ready for dinner.

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Europe doesn’t do Mexican food, so we took a HUGE chance on eating here. It got great reviews, and is in the middle of downtown Lucerne.

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It was actually quite tasty!

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When I made the reservation, I mentioned it was John’s birthday, and they came out with this surprise sparkling dessert and the waitstaff sang through the whole restaurant. It was great!

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Just mentioning a birthday in Switzerland brought so many sweet surprises! It was awesome!

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We took a little walk afterwards and there was some sort of fair going on.

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First views of the Chapel Bridge!

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Very pretty!

That Sunday, we had our appointments to make our knives. The Victorinox center is actually smaller than expected as the actual factory where the knives are made are just outside of the town. There are three parts to the factory – a Victorinox Museum, a shop and the Swiss Knife Valley visitor center. The knife workshop, where you assembly the knife, is in the Museum area. There is only one stand, and appointments fill up – especially during tourist season, so make sure to call ahead before going or you may be out of luck.

We had an awesome guide (a male from Canada…more on that later), who gave us a history on the knives, some little fun facts about the knives and then takes you step-by-step through the assembly process. Once the knife is assembled, you can even get it engraved…all for only 30 CHF. I had never owned a Swiss Army Knife before, so to have put together my first was actually a very cool experience.

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Time for the birthday boy to make his knife!

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This guide was AWESOME! I don’t think they were that busy because he took a lot of time walking through everything and just chatting with us.

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My turn! The average knife takes 32 seconds to make…I took slightly longer! 

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Getting the knife engraved!

Final Impressions: It was SO MUCH FUN! Lucerne is only 3 hours away, and is a perfect weekend getaway, especially when it involves making your own Swiss Army Knife. The whole weekend was a hit!

MLK Jr Weekend 2020

When: January 2020
Hotel: Altstadt Hotel Magic Luzern
Why Lucerne: We initially didn’t plan on doing much for the long MLK Jr. weekend, as it was only a short time after a very busy holiday weekend that involved a too-short Christmas in the States, and New Year’s in Edinburgh. Both John and I got terribly sick after Edinburgh, so getting John to travel again was going to be tough (if only we’d known about COVID then, we may have made a different plan). However, our friend Jake was at Ramstein and this was possibly our last weekend to hang out with him…so, a quick trip back to Lucerne and the Swiss Knife Valley visitor center was hatched.

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The view of the sunrise over the Swiss Alps from our hotel room.

The Trip: We were only going to be there for the night, and knowing that Brunnen was tiny and that Lucerne seemed like a cool place to explore, I opted for a hotel right in the center of town. Because it was Jake’s first trip to Switzerland, I wanted a place with a view. Here’s what I have found when booking a hotel – during the reservation process, when there is the box for special requests, definitely use it! Nine times out of 10, the hotel comes through with the request. In this case, I put that it was our friend’s first trip to Switzerland and we would really like a room with a view. We got a honeymoon suite (which was decked out in leopard print in the main bedroom), but the key was the balcony overlooking the Chapel Bridge.

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Always make special requests! You may end up with a room with this view!

Lucerne is a great base for the winter and summer sports enthusiasts, and while I mentioned above that Swiss towns aren’t always super impressive, Lucerne holds it’s own as a cute town to at least walk around for an afternoon. It’s not large and can be done by foot. The Chapel Bridge is, of course, the highlight as the oldest covered bridge in Europe (reconstructed after a discarded cigarette set the wood bridge ablaze), but because the town is cut in half by a river flowing to the lake, there are actually several bridges to see. Remnants of the old town walls are still standing, complete with eight tall watch towers (make sure to pick the right side of the wall to view the town from above), and it leads to the Lion’s Monument, which is in remembrance of the Swiss Guard soldiers that were killed in the French Revolution.

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We started our tour of the town walking across the Chapel Bridge – this is the view of Lucerne.

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The water tower off the bridge

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Pretty look inside the church we can see from our room.

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The Chapel Bridge – it really is super pretty!

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Group shot! 🙂

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Glacier water – pretty color but probably crazy cold!

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Walking up the remnants of the city wall (we went up the wrong side…so we didn’t get any views of the town on the walk up).

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We finally found the view on the other side. 🙂

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The Lion Monument

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Lucerne has some really cool art murals around town.

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One of the main squares.

We didn’t realize that the night we picked, it was the last night of the Lucerne Light Festival, which was slightly underwhelming in parts, but still made for a fun walk around the town.

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Getting ready to check out the light show.

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This was funny – people could just go up and play the piano and the art would go from there…some people that played did not sound good.

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Bit of a hippie look on the church.

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My favorite was this bright blue…the rest was a bit lackluster.

The next day, it was time for Jake and John to make their knives, so we made the 30-minute drive to Brunnen. There was no fog, so we got to enjoy clear views all around the lake before our actually appointment. The only downside (for John and me) was that it was a different guide, and the one we had was not nearly as good as the one we had the first time. She was all business and not nearly as personable…so if you go and you make an appointment, make sure to ask if you can schedule a time with the Canadian guide.

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Last shot in Lucerne!

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Pretty Lake Lucerne!

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Last group shot for the road!

Final Impressions: Switzerland is crazy expensive, but being so close to Germany, is definitely worth a stop. And skip right on over boring Zurich and head to Lucerne if you want the best of Switzerland with lakes, mountains and a decent town. And don’t forget to make a reservation to make your knife!

 

 

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