Number 8

Trip 40

Day 12

Luzern is one of our favorite cities (we have a lot of them), but we didn’t plan to go thru there on this trip since Zurich was our point of departure. But since it’s only about 50 minutes by train from Zürich to Luzern, we decided to take part of the day to visit. Also, looking back, it’s been three years since we were last here (hard for me to believe). This is the eighth city on our Christmas markets tour.

Our train left Zürich Hbf about 10:30am. If nothing else, the trip would have been worth it just to wander around familiar places and enjoy the scenery. The Luzern train station hadn’t changed much, though some of the SBB travel services offices have been replaced with retail shopping in the underground. As more people use digital services and apps to book travel and update schedules, there’s less of a need for the rail travel desks of old.

We crossed over the lake on the main bridge into the old town and had lunch at one of our favorite bakeries (Heini) before going into other sections of the old town. There was only one lake cruiser coming into port, when normally, there’s a regular rotation in and out of the docks near the train station. One of the mainstays of Luzern is the jewelry store, Bucherer, which is on the main square just over the bridge. But the street to the right side of it (Graben) has seemingly been taken over by watch manufacturers; there must have been eight brand name high end watch stores where there were previously none. Though it’s midweek, we’re struck by how few people are out in the old town; during peak tourist season (June/July) it sometimes felt like you can hardly move. A nice respite.

Bucherer

One of the hotels we walked past brought back memories of our first trip together as a family in 1985 when we stayed at the Hotel zum Wilden Mann, which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2017. Think about it, this hotel was in operation in 1317.

zum Hotel Wilden Mann 705 years

Down the street you can look to the right and above and see one of the towers of the old town wall. Some of the (nine) towers are open to visitors, though not at this time of year. We visited the area above the town, bordered by the wall in 2016.

Old town wall tower

Following the street down to the Reuss river, there are two famous wooden bridges – The Spreuerbrucke and the Kapellebrucke (Chapel) bridge.

Kapellebrucke
Spreuerbrucke

The water level of the river is very low, we’ve seen it at least six feet higher. The Reuss River comes out of Lake Luzern, which is fed by snow and glacier melt.

Beam construction of bridges
Panels depicting town history in archways

Exiting to the street on the “new” side of town, we walked down to a church to find one of the Christmas markets, because we haven’t seen many of those on this trip.

Christmas market at Franziskannerplatz

We had just started enjoying a gluhwein when we heard the clanking of bells and rushed to the market entrance to see a procession passing by. It was Samichlaus , Santa (YouTube video). Tradition has it that Samichlaus (YouTube video) is accompanied by Trychler and Scheller (cow & other bell bearers), and always accompanied by his donkey (there was actually a donkey), Samichlaus walks through the lined streets. Samichlaus was moving at a pretty good pace and his bell bearers were clanking their bells loudly. It was a bit of a challenge to catch up to them as they wended their way from one side of the river to the other (old town).

Samichlaus greeting childten

It’s getting close to time to walk back to the train station for the trip back to Zürich , but one more look across the old town to tide us over until the next visit.


Country count 4

City count 8

Total Christmas markets 16

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