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Posts Tagged ‘Lucerne’

Lucerne, and going deeper into the Alps

July 20th, 2009 Comments off

There comes a point where I find myself at a loss for words. The beauty of the Swiss Alps is stunning. This is, I think, the most beautiful place I have visited, partly because of its overwhelming scale.

The forests go on forever and, with the meadows, offer every conceivable shade of green. The mountains are majestic and even in the summer, covered with snow at the higher elevations. The lakes are a strange hue of blue-green, perhaps reflecting their icy origins.

Even the towns and villages are postcard perfect — the swans, the covered bridges, the pastel-colored buildings, the stone churches.

So, at least for now, I will leave this post, and invite you to click onto the photo galleries to enjoy the enlargements. I guess I’m speechless.

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat

July 19th, 2009 Comments off

Because we love the Olympic Winter Games, it was a thrill for us to wake up Sunday morning in Innsbruck, Austria, where  our first destination was the ski-jumping stadium that was used for both the 1964 and 1976 games. “I can hear Jim McKay’s voice,” Jeanne said. “I can see him, I can hear him.”

The stadium was surprisingly close, and low, to the city, and maybe its location a bit unsettling for jumpers. If they look up during their jump, instead of focusing on the tips of their skis and their landing target, they’ll see a cemetery filled with tombstones just beyond the stadium. Lovely.

The stadium is used year-round and in the summer, jumpers fly down onto a kind of a plastic, grassy material. If you click onto the photo below to the left in order to see the enlargement, you’ll spot the cemetery in front of him.

At the top of the ski-jump tower is an observation terrace and restaurant. It’s a tad pricey but we rationalized we won’t be back for a few weeks so we’d live it up. You can imagine the view.

We left Innsbruck for Zurich in the early afternoon, knowing we were behind schedule in getting to our planned camping site in Lucerne, Switzerland. But hey, no worry, we would not let ourselves be rushed! The scenery was remarkable and now I know why ice-skating and gymnastics judges are reluctant to give 6.0′s or 10.0′s to the first competitors to perform: there is nothing better to give if better performances are turned in by later competitors.  So true with scenery, too: we were baffled by the forests, the mountains, the lakes, the Alpine villages and as we drove, we exhausted our adjectives. We didn’t grow numb, mind you, but we just had nothing more to say.

Zurich was our dinner stop. Daughter had visited it before and wanted us to have dinner at a restaurant she discovered.  The tables are shared among parties and next to us was an elderly couple from Japan. The most I could figure out from talking to them was that they were on a 19-day tour of Europe and had just spent 4 days in France. I liked them, though, because as I told a few jokes, they laughed loudly. I guess the understood English better than I had realized.

After dinner we drove for Lucerne, targeting a camp site that had good reviews.  We pulled up at 10:20. It was closed.  And it was, we think, the only campsite in town. The agony of defeat. So we did what the camping books advise: “free camp” — find a place to park where nobody will object, close the curtains and call it a night.

We found a public parking lot just down the street, where a tour bus was parked. We pulled in  behind him, hoping he would provide cover for us if police drove by.  But we wouldn’t be secret for long. By the time we were asleep, no less than nine other campers had pulled in alongside of us, all having found themselves with no where else to park.

Lucerne’s lake was just 200 yards away, with members of the Lucerne Yacht Club having access to their private docks. Us, we parked next to a weedy lot where little dinghies are stored.  Maybe I can do some Photoshopping.