We had spectacularly beautiful weather for our busy day of sightseeing. Before we left the house, the Alps were clearly visible from Brigitta and Peter's home.
My cousin Brigitta had purchased day passes for the three of us for unlimited use on the Swiss trains. We left the house at 7:15 and took the train from their town of Uster to the main train station in Zurich (about a twelve minute ride). She had timed it so that we were able to immediately hop on a train heading south to Lucerne (Luzern in German).
The journey took less than an hour, and a short walk from the Lucerne station took us to the city's most famous tourist attraction the "Kapellbrucke"... the Chapel Bridge.
The bridge crosses the Reuss River, and connects the city's "Old Town" and "New Town". It dates back to 1332 and is the world's oldest wooden covered bridge. The stone structure along the span is known as the Water Tower. (The tower does not supply the city's drinking water. It got that name simply because it stands in the middle of the river. It originally served as a dungeon.)
Today the bridge is beautifully decorated with flowers.
In the 17th century around 150 paintings depicting Lucerne's history were painted on triangular wooden panels under the roof. Unfortunately, most of them were lost in a disastrous fire in 1993. The bridge was rebuilt exactly as it was, but only about 30 of the paintings were salvaged and restored.
A view of Lucerne's picturesque riverfront from the bridge.
The church to the right was built by the Jesuits in the 1600s. In the background is Mt. Pilatus. The top of the 7000 foot high mountain can be reached by cogwheel railway or aerial gondola cars. But that was not on our itinerary for today.
My cousin Brigitta and I...
After about an hour, we headed back to the train station to continue our journey on the scenic Luzern-Interlaken Express.
We got off the train at Brienz, a pleasant resort town on the shore of Lake Brienz.
At Brienz we got tickets for what was to be the highlight of the day... the trip to the summit of the Rothorn via cogwheel railway. A little steam engine pushes the open passenger cars up the steep mountain.
It is an hour journey, passing through forest and numerous tunnels to the high Alpine meadows above the tree line, and finally to the rocky peak which stands at over 7500 feet.
Here, at the top, you see one of the engines, and the passenger cars.
The view from the summit is spectacular. If I were to make a list of the five most beautiful places that I have ever seen, this would most definitely be on the list.
The peak of the Jungfrau emerged from the clouds. With an elevation of over 13,000 feet, it is one of the most important of the Swiss Alps.
Proof that I was really there!
A picnic high in the Alps.
After descending the mountain, back in Brienz we walked a block from the train station to the lakefront pier. There we boarded a ship to take us across Lake Brienz. (Passage on the lake boats was also included in the train pass.)
We had a pleasant one hour cruise. The boat stopped at numerous little lakeside towns.
The boat reached its final destination at Interlaken at the opposite end of the lake. Interlaken is one of Switzerland's most popular tourist towns. It gets its name from the fact that it is located between two lakes... Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. We could have continued on another cruise across Lake Thun, but it was already late afternoon. The train station was conveniently located near the dock, and we hopped on a train to Switzerland's capital city, Bern.
A view from the train of Lake Thun as we head to Bern.
An hour later we arrived at Bern. It was early evening, and we wandered the streets of Bern's "Old Town". It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I would definitely like to return here and explore the city more thoroughly.
The main street in the Old Town is closed to automobile traffic. But pedestrians must take care, because the street cars run along the street.
The Swiss Parliament Building...
The Old Town is noted for its fountains which are topped with Renaissance allegorical statues.
The medieval clock tower...
The spire of Bern's Cathedral...
We spent an hour walking around, and then I treated Brigitta and Peter to dinner. We caught the 10 P.M. train from Bern to Zurich, and by midnight we were back at the house.
It was a very long and tiring day, but a wonderful day. My thanks to Brigitta and Peter for making it possible.