Our month in Switzerland is over and it is time to move on. We have had a wonderful time. Our house-sitting experience was fantastic. We were nestled in the mountains with 360° views. We lived in a large, spotlessly clean and uncluttered penthouse apartment with high-end appliances, enjoyed weekly house cleaning service, drove a very nice car, and had the company of two really friendly Bengal cats (who shed very little).
While rooting around for Switzerland rainy day ideas, we discovered the Musée International de la Croix‑Rouge et du Croissant‑Rouge (International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum) in Geneva. We were at once excited and disappointed; excited because we have been proud Red Cross volunteers and wanted very much to visit, and disappointed because the museum was in Geneva, a three-hour drive away.
Zug, about half an hour from Stans, was really just an afterthought for us–a quick visit on one of our last days in the area. Zug Tourism offers an online self-guided walking tour through the old town, so we grabbed the phone and went wandering. Right from the start, we were delighted.
If you’ve been following along on our Swiss journey, you might have noticed that one clear theme is modes of transportation. Our first view of Switzerland was concrete in the form of overpasses, underpasses, snow sheds, walls, and tunnels. So many tunnels.
We had attempted a day trip to Rigi the week before, but missed our bus stop and by then it was too late to get back to the right one so we could board a boat across Lake Lucerne. Fate was with us, though, because at the time we would have been up the mountain that day, the clouds had rolled in and views would have been obscured. Instead, we enjoyed that bus ride for the adventure it was, and picked a much better (both sunnier and warmer) day for what turned out to be a wonderful excursion.
We hadn’t planned to go to Basel, but on a drizzly day with hopes for a clearer afternoon, we made the 1 1/2 hour drive to check it out. Between Christmas and New Year’s, on a wet weekend day, we didn’t expect it to be very busy or much going on.
Taking the fast northern route, Bern, Switzerland’s capital city, is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Stans, where we are staying. But the longer south route looked much more scenic.
This country, or at least the part that we have seen so far, is webbed with gondolas. With so many mountains around us in the Alps, taking a ride up one peak opens up a world of mountain tops. Depending on the weather, mountain tops might be all you see, with bands of clouds, like cotton batting, concealing the valleys below.
We flew into Zurich a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t seen anything of the city except the highways and tunnels leading out of it to our house sitting home in Stans. So, on a day that didn’t bode well for views from mountain tops, we drove about an hour to this city to wander about. Continue reading “Stans: Day trip to Zurich”
Though, as close as the night before, this day trip just about didn’t happen (see TripBits, below), we ended up having a lovely time and were so glad we had persevered.
As we poured over the map and checked out the towns along the way, trying to decide how far to take the train, we came across a Rick Steeves posting with the headline Lugano: The Sunny Side of Switzerland. Continue reading “Stans: Train to Lugano”
We drove to Luzern, about 20 minutes away, and parked under the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern (the Culture and Congress Hall, also known as the KKL). Up the escalators and outside we easily found the large archway that was our meeting place for our Free Walking Tour. Our guide was a future secondary school teacher, and hardy. As we waited for the tour to begin, in a breezy 4°C in the shade, my hands freezing inside my newly purchased ski mittens, her bare hands and ankles made me shiver all the more.