Although we’ve taken lots of great excursions, most of our time in Switzerland has been spent around Lake Lucerne, the beautiful body of water that we see out our windows every day.
Our little village of Merlischachen, with its handful of old chalet-style houses, is always a good place for a stroll. The benches down by the water are a favorite place to stop when we’re craving a quiet, contemplative moment outdoors.
Twenty minutes away by train, the city of Lucerne has a pretty setting where a river runs out of one end of the lake. Several medieval wooden bridges span the river, the most famous of which is decked with flowers and has a pointed stone tower in the middle (which served at various times as a treasury and a prison). In the old part of the city, buildings sport elaborately painted facades, many renovated in medieval style in the late 19th century.
Lucerne sits at the base of a particularly craggy mountain, 7,000-foot Mount Pilatus. Funicular trains and cable cars carry visitors up to the top. Besides the amazing views we’ve come to expect from Swiss mountains, we had an added treat the day we went up Pilatus. Looking down from a trail at the summit, we saw a group of wild ibex, including two young ones, sunning themselves on a rock outcropping far below us. On our previous trip to Switzerland, 12 years ago, we never managed to spot ibex in the wild. (We ended up going to the Bern zoo to see what they looked like.) So getting to watch these beautiful animals in their mountain home was an extra-special experience.