It is raining. Again. That’s what they never tell you about Switzerland in the summer: you need a bloody ark to get around.
Travel by train, they say. It’s so romantic.
Sure it is hombre, sure it is.
Until you find yourself dragging five suitcases and two babies — arkless, wet and increasingly annoyed — down the sidewalk of Switzerland’s so-called prettiest towns, wondering where the heck is the hotel.
Not a clue.
After a good 15 minutes, you arrive at this beige, nondescript building with a Mexican restaurant out front. The lobby is drab and small; you’ve taken a piss in bigger, more cheerful-looking toilets. When you try to keep it classy and instead queried the staff on the whereabouts of the breakfast room, she shakes her head and replied there isn’t one.
Before you could keel over and die from shock at the amount of money you’ve paid for an “upscale” hotel that didn’t have a breakfast room or even breakfast, she quipped, “It’s the world’s smallest Renaissance hotel” — a claim that must make all the other Renaissance seethe with envy. Yeah lady, when you have sufficient space for 96 rooms, THERE IS NO VALID EXCUSE FOR NOT HAVING A BREAKFAST ROOM.
By this time, my two boys were cranky as hell and one of the staff came waltzing out with free ice cream. Ok, at least they seem to be pros at shutting a sleep-deprived two-year-old up.
Our 7-month-old seemed happy enough.
After freshening up in our room — which thankfully is a lot bigger and brighter than the lobby — we went sightseeing in the rain (because it never stops raining here). Most people go to Lucerne for some high-altitude excursions to Mount Rigi and Pilatus but we didn’t do any of those as we were all mountain’ed out from our recent trip to Zermatt and Appenzell. Heck, we didn’t even do the boat trip across Lake Lucerne because frankly, we just got lazy.
Instead, we headed to the famous Rosengart Museum, which was just across the street and supposedly home to one of the biggest Picasso collections in the world.
Before ODing on Picasso.
I have always thought Picasso is a douche and perv but the voyeur in me still enjoyed the museum’s extensive photograph collection documenting Picasso and his wife’s unremarkable day-to-day existence in their private residence (if anything, it made me feel better about my own life).
I also loved that the museum have an entire section devoted to Klee — but in the basement because Klee with his immense flair for form, function and colors still comes second to Picasso and his grotesque parade of sniveling, naked women and their hairy vaginas.
That says a lot about the art world, really.
Anyway after that, we walked some and realized that the Blue Balls festival was on. Try as I might however, I couldn’t find any men walking around with a weird gait — just a lot of people playing / enjoying music. It soon became apparent that this was a music festival and not a festival celebrating a certain testicular condition — and any interest I had in the event quickly evaporated.
Admittedly, the musicians were quite good.
We eventually ended up where most tourists do after walking aimlessly around little Lucerne because there are few places to go: the Chapel Bridge aka Chinatown. There were SO MANY Chinese tourists at this iconic 13th-century structure we forgot we were in Switzerland. The Chinese takeover of the world is obviously complete. I can’t help but feel a little proud of my homies. #kidding
The obligatory shot.
My eyes were hurting from all the Louis Vuittons and Ferragamos, so we scurried further along the rushing Reuss river to the more evocative Mill Bridge, where more loudmouths waited in hiding for us.
Picture can be deceiving.
Mill Bridge with the kids.
So we called it a day and had dinner at a restaurant recommended by Rick Steves, Opus. That was the first and last time I will ever take culinary advice from an American.
Not exactly a Michelin experience.
Walking off the burger.
The next day, mom got stuck in one of the hotel’s two elevators. For real. She was freaking out and wording out a nasty TripAdvisor review in her head (I can’t read her mind but I know my mom) but the staff helped her out in time. I laughed so hard I dropped my taco.
After the not-so-dramatic rescue, we headed out to Lucerne’s second most iconic spot, the Lion Monument aka China itself.
Gruffalo and lion.
This massive rock sculpture of a wounded lion is supposed evoke feelings of melancholy, but any somber feelings I had derived from marveling at the hordes of people elbowing each other for a good selfie. It was simply unfortunate that no one fell into the pool below.
We escaped once again to the Glacier Garden (CHF15, free with Swiss Pass), and at last, there were no other Chinese about! (because presumably one had to spend money to get in). Apparently, they were supposed to build a wine cellar here, but when they dug into the ground they found a bunch of glacier-grinded rocks and holes that were apparently fascinating enough to warrant a museum.
But at least we got a picture with a toy mammoth…well, almost.
Boredom then turned to delight as we entered the Hall of Mirrors — obviously inspired by Spain’s magnificent Alhambra — although how that relates to alpine geology I have no idea.
Someone forgot to comb her hair again.
Our fun ended prematurely when our two year old accidentally ran into one of the mirrors, injuring his nose. According to the lady who works there, people collide with the mirrors all the time and not just overactive toddlers. This place is a lawsuit waiting to happen. They should be lucky we’re nice people.
We went to Bourbaki Panorama (CHF12, free with Swiss Pass) after the toddler calmed the eff down, and this was slightly more engaging than the Glacier Garden to anyone who isn’t a trained geologist. Again, no Chinese. We are on a roll here!
The Bourbaki is a panorama theatre, which was all the rage in 19th century Europe before movie theatres were created. These 360-degree paintings were pretty amazing, mainly because of their size and accompanying soundtracks.
Inside the Bourbaki.
This one tells the story of the events that led to a major war that involved some 87,000 French soldiers led by Charles Bourbaki. After trudging through the snow famished and tired, they surrendered their weapons and experienced some Swiss hospitality — only to be charged a hefty bill for it later.
Uh huh. Sounds exactly like the Switzerland I know.