Luck in Lucerne

Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
Trip End Feb 24, 2008

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Saturday began with more blog updating on the free internet while Belinda got ready for the day. Breakfast was followed by us unpacking my case and filling it with our dirty laundry, including our Tower of Terror shirts that we had alread been wearing proudly for a few days.

We headed out to a nearby laundromat that we had identified the previous evening using the net, utilising the tram for 1 stop (hey, we have a free pass so it's a free-for-all!). Unfortunately the waschsalon is closed on weekends so we were forced to walk back to the hotel with a bag full of still dirty clothes. Thankfully the receptionist knew of another laundromat, as part of a fitness centre on the other side of the Messe.

This laundromat was open, large and semi-staffed. We loaded our 4 machines, selected our settings and then went to the counter to pay and get the lady to start our machines. The lady was nice enough but she started some of the machines on the wrong setting so once they had started I decided to change the setting on 1 of the machines... Big mistake! The door openned and water came flooding out. It was hillarious and disturbing at the same time. Anyway, I quickly closed the door and the lady came out and got it going again.

Due to our delays in getting going with the laundromat we had to return to the hotel straight away to check out, packing my clean items into plastic bags and leaving our things in the hotel's luggage room. To our surprise we were informed at check-out that breakfast had not been free and that we had to pay 15 francs each per meal! At least the internet had been free. Lunch awaited us in the form of quarter pizza slices at the huge Migro at Claraplatz. Naturally we took the tram there and back.

We arrived to find our loads finished and ready to be transfered to the dryers. Again it was a case of getting the lady to start the machines, 1 of which we wanted to run a cool/gentle dry for some of Belinda's clothes. After some fiddling with and cursing at the gentle dry machine the lady told us it was on gentle, even though it appeared as though nothing had changed.

The cycles were supposedly going to take an hour so we headed back to the river on the trams to make a ferry crossing. Despite its bridges Basel still has a few small passenger ferries that cross the river in a peculiar way. Each boat is unpowered, relying on the flow of the river to move it from side to side. Each is connected via a pulley to a cable crossing the river, the captain just points the bow in the right direction using the rudder and changing the side of the cable attachment on the boat and the current does the rest. It's the same principle as sailing, just with water and not wind.

Our return to the waschsalon was perfectly timed with the end of the drying cycles. All of the clothes were nice and dry, especially the "gentle" cycle. To Belinda's horror a few of her items had shrunk in this dry, which was obviously not any cooler and gentler. It was good that our Tower of Terror shirts were a bit oversize, because they fit very snuggly now! This was definitely a memorable laundromat experience...

The hotel's luggage room was our home for the next 15 minutes while we unpacked all of the now clean (and in some cases smaller - at least we'll save space!) clothes and then repacked our cases. In a repeat of our arrival tram 2 returned us to the station and from there we hopped right onboard a Cisalpino branded loco-hauled EuroCity toward Milan, via Lucerne.

Arrival into Lucerne was at 4:13pm and it was not long until we were settled into our hotel, the Waldstaetterhof, which is just to the left of the main entrance to the station.

Belinda's priority was new shoes before the next day, when we were planning to visit Mount Pilatus. Unfortunately the shops in the Altstadt had all just closed at 4pm but our location luckily came to our assistance. At the station is the "RailCity" shopping centre under the main entrance, which is open 7 days a week until late. There was a shoe shop here, which we entered with Belinda saying "I'm not leaving here until I have shoes!".

It came as no surprise that none of the woman's shoes fitted Belinda so we toured the men's sections instead. We ended up with a pair of brown semi-waterproof sneakers and went on the hunt for dinner. Most places were out of our budget so after a lot of walking and deliberating we continued our 2 nights in a row dinner trend by having our 2nd Maccas dinner.

A bit before bed we grabbed an internet ticket from reception, for a cheap 5 Francs for 5 hours of metred, not consecutive use. We took the opportunity to get back up to date and fix up some more blog, bringing me ever closer to being on top of it once more.

This morning was our first full day in Lucerne and of course it had to start with breakfast. When we checked in we had ensured that breakfast was included so we had no hesitation of dining in the hotel. It was a nice, slightly larger variation of the usual offering, including eggs and bacon.

The first activity was the purchase of 2 day tickets for Lucerne transportation, which we again purchased from the SBB machines at the station in lieu of direct from the local authority due to the greater flexibility these machines provide. It was then a simple matter of taking trolleybus route 1 out to Kriens and the Pilatus gondola.

Where Basel has trams and 1 trolleybus route, Lucerne stupidly only has trolleybuses. In the same way that you can find the cool arrangement of a single motor unit hauling 2 trailers on the Basel tram network in Lucerne many trolleybus services are operated by trolleybuses hauling independent passenger trailers or even with double articulated trolleybuses, measuring some 24m long! Get trams already!

Anyway, we disembarked at Kriens and walked up to the Pilatus gondola station, purchasing tickets to the summit and return upon arrival. It was self-service loading of the small 4-person gondolas so we thought we would be fine getting a gondola to ourselves, as most groups of 2 were. Unluckily for us when our gondola was just about to close the doors an annoying age-denying lady and her husband joined us:
"There are 2 free seats here. Thanks."
They stank up our gondola and killed the mood up to the change-over point where we all rode the communal cable car to the summit, Pilatus Kulm.

What a different experience to my last, and first, visit to Pilatus. Last time the snow was thick and the air very foggy. On the way up as well as at the top visibility was very poor, but it did make for a cool wintery experience. Today the sun was out, joined by only a few clouds in the sky and visibility was excellent. We could see for miles and people at the summit were even sitting in rows of deckchairs facing the sun - very European. I have to admit that I was surprised that none of the deckchair people were in bikinis!

I coaxed belinda up the icy steps from the arrival platform to one of the peaks to get a better view of the surrounding area and Lucerne. It was worth it in the great weather. We were happy on the way back to Kriens as we got our own gondola, without any smelly women in denial about how old they are.

Since our hotel is right next to the train station it is convenient for almost any activity one may want to do in town. As such we returned quickly for me to change my waterproof shoes for my normal ones (they've mysteriously developed rips, hoping they will last) before hopping onto another trolleybus.

This time we were bound for the Verkehrshaus (Swiss Transport Museum), around the lake a bit from town. We made it in time for some lunch from the relatively reasonably priced cafe before the 3pm session of The Alps at their IMAX cinema. We both enjoyed this film, which I watched with the aid of an audio set providing the original English soundtrack while Belinda went with the German dubbing for the masses. I couldn't discuss this film without mentioning the stunning shots of Swiss mountains, snow and many a Swiss train passing by.

The only downside of the film was that it ate into our museum time. We were only left with an hour and 15 minutes in the museum before closing time but we used it to the best of our ability. For me it was good to see the new exhibits since my last visit while Belinda was just in awe of how much stuff was there. They are currently doing a ton of work to the museum so some sections, including the old main entrance, are closed. At least this made it less difficult to visit what was open in our limited time. A funny thing that the museum has done is provide free fold up scooters within the museum grounds and paint roads on the footpaths so that kids can scoot their way between different buildings, adding to the fun of being there.

Unknown to me before we saw the ad at the IMAX, a new station has just openned at the museum so Belinda an I decided to take the train back to Lucerne station instead of the trolleybus.

Back at the hotel we used the internet once more and decided to try dinner at the hotel. We had seen the menu excerpts in the lift during the day and decided that it wasn't too unreasonably priced. We both had the Lucerne speciality, a flaky pastry pie thing filled with veal and mushroom. Very nice. In addition we couldn't resist some Moevenpick coupes (ice cream sundaes) for desert. An overall very yummy Swiss meal!
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albert3801 on

Mr Bean
'The lady was nice enough but she started some of the machines on the wrong setting so once they had started I decided to change the setting on 1 of the machines... Big mistake! The door openned and water came flooding out. It was hillarious and disturbing at the same time. Anyway, I quickly closed the door and the lady came out and got it going again.'

This would look like such a typical scene in a Mr.Bean movie!

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