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A Day in Luzern, Switzerland – Day 48
Thursday 17th September 2009 – Switzerland
After my best night sleep so far, I showered and made my way down to the breakfast hall where the hustle and bustle was in full swing again. It didn’t take long to eat what I needed and down a cup of coffee. I was excited today to be leaving France and heading for Switzerland.
A long walk back to the bus top followed the checking out procedure, and I was soon back in a familiar looking building where I had arrived in Strasbourg. This time, though, I was headed out.
I was early, and had time to sit, and was asked to show my passport to a group of police officers. There were many in force today throughout the station, sniffer dogs at the ready, and some people had their bags thoroughly searched. I was left alone though thankfully.
The train journeys were fairly swift, and the scenery was nice, but a layer of drizzle lingered in the air and gave everything that wet look, which just reminds me of England. The trees were busily shedding their summer skin in the form of brightly coloured autumn leaves, and there was a slight cool feel to the air. It seems summer has truly passed, and autumn is fighting hard to show itself. There was definitely a Switzerland feel to the place, if only I knew what that meant, and I was looking forward to seeing more.
A quick change over on the trains at Basel, and I was eventually standing on the platform in the Luzern station. First stop was the information place, grabbed a map and information on buses etc. next was money, as Switzerland operate on Swiss Franks. The cash machine only spewed out big notes, so I had to visit the Western Union bank to change to smaller tender. I also needed money for the toilets as I was a little desperate at that time. Last stop was the ticket office for the next two stages of the trip. Luzern to Locarno was no problem, but Locarno to Austria was looking like a mini nightmare. A train here, a bus there, a train, there, bus here. It was looking as though it might be a struggle. I was happy about the fact that everyone speaks good English though. Most signs and directions are in English, and a lot of advertising boards are also in English With this in mind I figured I might be alright. I could always ask someone.
I found the bus stop, but missed the bus by 2 minutes, surprise, but there were three every hour, so no problems. As I had a little time to spare, I took in the immediate surroundings and sights, and had a little wander. As I sat at the bus stop, a homeless guy approached in my direction. I couldn’t help but sigh inwardly as I knew he was headed for me. An outstretched hand, and a small dialogue in German from him was followed by a blank gesture from me with a tap on the pockets. He was persistent though and asked if I was English He then proceeded to talk in German at me, and a group of girls next to me started to translate for me. It turns out he recognised me, thought he knew me, and started to sing a song to me. It was at this point that the giggling girls walked off, the homeless guy soon followed to my relief. I don’t know, I do attract them!
I noticed a machine near the bus terminal, and wandered up to it. Luckily for me, a passer by explained that you had to buy the bus ticket here, so with a thank you, I began to process the foreign information on the screen to obtain my ticket. I was told I needed just 1 zone, so I chose this option and finished up with a ticket in my hand just as the bus arrived. I was a bit surprised to see people just walking onto the bus and sitting down. Not one person was checked for a ticket. Anyone could just get on and get off as they pleased. I did like the fact that the buses have both an audible and visual aid for each stop en-route, so you always knew where you were, and when to get off. Also, at the stop near the hostel, a voice prompt told the passengers this was the Youth Hostel stop, in English. This was a nice touch I thought.
The short walk to the hostel revealed views across a lake that I was destined to explore later in the day. For now, though, I just had to check in.
With my bag safely stowed away in the locker, I took this opportunity to go down to the lake, but there wasn’t a great deal to see. I decided to hop onto the bus back into the city and see what I hadn’t already seen, and to grab some dinner elsewhere. It would cost 18 Franks to dine with the hostel. I don’t know how much this is in English money, but I know its not cheap. One of the first things you realise in Switzerland is the price of things. Compared to the rest of Europe it is very steep. I was warned beforehand by a couple of people, and they weren’t wrong.
I took myself into a pizza place for, well, a pizza, and watched the footie on the TV screen, but was a little disappointed when the channel turned to snooker. The pizza came to 15 Franks, so I didn’t really save much money at all, but either way, I was fully fed for the evening. A trudge back to the bus stop followed, and I was soon on the familiar route to the hostel. The people in the pizza place were very friendly, even the people waiting had time for a smile in my direction. I’ve noticed this a lot in Switzerland so far, everyone is very helpful and very warm.
I was soon back in the hostel where I caught the last five minutes of a Barcelona football match on TV. The young guys already watching it moved aside so I could see better, even if it meant they had a poor view. I was very thankful, and not really use to it. One day previous and I was the village whipping boy, today I was royalty. Well, you get what I’m trying to say. After this I sat myself down on the bed, chatting to room mates and writing this diary etc. We had an issue with the light timer in the room, that is, it kept switching the light off, and we couldn’t get it back on. Oh the fun!
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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