There are at least two lasting impressions of our stay in Lucerne, Switzerland. The first was how much cleaner Lucerne was than Amsterdam, our destination city As we floated downriver and changed countries it seemed the cleanliness quotient of the cities suffered, perhaps like in medieval times when the detritus of life was flushed downriver. It had to end up somewhere, but more realistically, I believe the attention to cleanliness of public areas may be a function of the cultures of each country being quite different despite their proximity.
Our second, and more personal favorable impression was the location and size of our hotel room at the Hotel Schweizerhof. Two baths, formal living/dining area, huge bedroom with a walk-in closet and a balcony overlooking the main street in Lucerne and Lake Lucerne. It, of course, set impossible expectations for the rest of the trip and was very atypical of European hotel rooms.
As we were forewarned, Switzerland was incredibly expensive compared to the other countries we visited. The Swiss still use the Swiss Franc, so we had to carry Euros and Francs. Fortunately our modest estimate regarding foreign currency needs (300 euros and 200 Francs) proved quite adequate to meet our tipping and cash needs on the entire trip.
My favorite sites in Lucerne were the Spreuer Bridge, the “death bridge” with its amazing medieval depictions of the Great Reaper urging everyone, nobleman to peasant, to dance with him. (http://lucerne.all-about-switzerland.info/lucerne-spreuerbridge-dance-death.html#DanceOfDeath)
My second favorite site was the Lion of Lucerene, commemorating Swiss Guards slain in the French Revolution, praised by Mark Twain as the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world
We spent no time to speak of in Basel, our launching city, or Zurich, where we landed, thus reinforcing that this type of trip is not one you can really research and plan for without knowing in advance the detailed itinerary time table for the group.
Other impressions: of Lucerne:
Quite surprisingly, no art galleries apparent in the immediate touristy downtown
Ice a scarcity (as it was in all Europe), but who cares when the food is so good?
Wonderful flower gardens and window boxes everywhere
Great People Watching
Chocolate and Watches Everywhere