Gotthard Panorama Express to Luzern and beyond
By this stage, with three panoramic trains, numerous regular train trips and a few lake cruises under our belts, the trepidation with which we had started our Swiss Adventure was no more.
We were growing increasingly eager to get to Konstanz to meet up with our son, his partner and our new grandson. But first we had a few more touristy must-do things on our list.
Departing Lugano after a most-enjoyable five night stay we hopped on a local train to Bellinzona to connect with the Gotthard Panorama Express. We had elected to do all the panoramas in 1st Class. Our carriage on the GPEX was only a third full.
It was a pleasant and scenic two-hour trip to Flüelen accompanied by an interesting commentary on the history of the Gotthard line. There was even a light and picture show in the actual tunnel. I can't say the scenery was mind-blowing but it's easy to become blasé when constantly surrounded by wonderful views. One thing that stood out was the number of freeways running along the same route.
Transfer to the lake steamer was pretty seamless. A crew member showed passengers where to stow their luggage and we settled in to enjoy the cruise. We had already paid the class upgrade so we could sit on the upper deck but people seemed to roam around the boat at will. It was a lovely sunny day and the lake was full of yachts. We met a charming gentleman, a retired SBB official, who was on a day-trip from Zurich. Between his limited English and my wife’s school-girl French we learned a good deal about our surroundings.
On arrival in Luzern we found the main station directly across the road from the steamer terminal. A short walk and we were at the Hotel Continental Park; a very nice hotel with modern rooms and in a surprisingly quiet part of town given its proximity to the station.
Over the next few days we: did the Golden Tour roundtrip Kriens - Pilatus - Alpnachstad; visited Rigi via Arth-Goldhau and Vitznau; took a train ride to Engelberg; toured the old city; found the Lion Monument and the Glacier Gardens; visited the Rosengart Collection; and, the Swiss Transport Museum.
If you catch the #1 bus to Kriens make sure it is pointing south-west rather than north-east. You'll get there eventually but starting off in the right direction speeds up the process. In the Transport Museum I got to drive the Bernina Express - well a simulation thereof. In the Rosengart Collection we came to the conclusion that Picasso is best consumed in smaller portions. The Mirror Maze in the Glacier Gardens had us lost for a while. Personal opinion of course, but the Spreuerbrücke (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Spreuer_Bridge) appealed more than the Chapel Bridge. Further than those few observations I won’t bore you with a lengthy description of all the places we visited but will let a few selected photos (attached below) do the talking.
There is a Tourist Information office (get a map for the self-guided city tour) at the north-eastern end of Luzern Bahnhof and a shopping mall including two supermarkets on the lower level. Keep an eye out for Bobby and Fritz and try their currywurst. Their footpedal-operated sauce, mustard and mayo dispenser takes fast food to a new level.
At the end of our four-day stay we set off via the Voralpen Express to St Gallen and then finally on to Konstanz where our family lives. Konstanz is in Germany but only just (much to the confusion of our Swiss Salt SIM card). It has a charming old city and better yet it is on the shores of the Bodensee - we don’t like to get too far from water.
Kreuslingen in Switzerland is only a three-minute train ride away. So were easily able to use our Swiss Travel Pass for a day trip to the amazingly popular Rhine Falls, a train ride along the southern shore of the Bodensee to Rorshach and then a 50%-discounted boat ride to medieval Lindau and return, and a river cruise along the Rhine to picturesque Stein am Rhein. We also visited the island of Minau which is a giant park where the butterfly house is a particularly impressive indoor tropical paradise.
All the sights and scenes during our trip were great but nothing topped spending time with the kids and meeting our new grandson - he’s a smasher!
Our five days in Konstanz flew by and before we knew it we were packing our bags to press on into Germany on the Black Forest Railway for a short stay in Gengenbach. Then it was onward to Frankfurt to catch the flight back home with a whole new set of memories. Reluctant travellers no more!
That’s all for this trip folks. Thanks for following.
ps If anyone plans to visit the Black Forest from Switzerland we can highly recommend Gengenbach. Quaint little town slightly off the beaten track and one of a number of villages which offer the KONUS Card for free bus and train transport all over the Black Forest Region. You won’t get a KONUS Card in any of the major cities. Gengenbach even had a mini-zoo with a couple of emus!
For earlier editions of The Reluctant Traveller’s Swiss Adventure see
Part 1 - Initial Report (https://goo.gl/8bw51n), Part 2 - Basel to Brig (https://goo.gl/626K1i), Part 3 - The Glacier Express (https://goo.gl/K9hHfR), Part 4 - The Bernina Express (https://goo.gl/LTkZjT), Part 5 - Lugano and Surrounds (https://goo.gl/ZE5daC)