It had been a few months since our last trip, and the travel bug was starting to bite again. Luckily, Grayson took a week off sandwiched between two long weekends, and we had a 10-day family vacation on the horizon. Switzerland and Austria, here we come!
First up – Switzerland! And another check on our Bucket List. To be honest, Switzerland was added at Grayson’s insistence, in part because that is where Penny’s ancestors hail from. I spent a lot of time planning the trip (because that’s what I love to do), and we landed on the mountain town of Luzern to spend our time. I was nervous about all the travel with Max, no longer the sleepy infant but a wormy, squirmy, noisy almost-10-month-old. We flew from Amsterdam to Zurich, and besides Mom trying to make him take a nap (geesh, Mom!), Max did great. After a couple hours in the incredibly impressive Zurich airport/train station, we took a 45-minute train ride to Luzern through the Swiss Alps. And again, besides the time Mom smashed his head on the overhead luggage rack (ow, Mom!), Max did just fine. As long as he has everyone’s attention, he’s happy to smile, laugh and flirt away. A good start!
I am so glad Grayson put Switzerland on our list. It is so breathtakingly beautiful, clean, and charming and it is now in my top five – an unlikely favorite. Luzern is a sleepy mountain town in a valley of the Bernese Swiss Alps. I found us an Airbnb in Old Town, and we decided to walk from the train station since it was a beautiful day. Even with all our stuff, it was a scenic quick walk, and of course, the first dog we see is a Bernese (ah, where’s Penny?!). Our apartment was on the sixth floor of a building, with two bedrooms, living/kitchen, and a great little balcony. I honestly think we had the best spot in the city (even over the hotels!) with a spectacular view of Mount Pilatus. With Max, what we are looking for in lodging has changed quite a bit, so a spacious apartment with kitchen and a great spot to hang out during naps is just right. The timing of our trip seemed perfect for us as well; after the main ski season but before the real summer season started, we didn’t have to fight tourist crowds anywhere and the weather was perfect in the 70s.
Even with Max behaving relatively well on the trip, we were still ready for a little happy hour. After a quick nap, we grabbed a drink and a bite at a cute little restaurant called Mill’Feuille on the river near our spot. We also stopped at the grocery store and picked up supplies to make dinner. The next day, we walked through the town to the Dying Lion of Luzern rock relief, symbolizing the 600+ Swiss Guards massacred in 1792. Mark Twain called it the “saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world,” and it really is. We enjoyed walking through the little mountain town, shopping and enjoying the sun by the lake and river. We walked by the historic Chapel Bridge a dozen times and criss-crossed over the River Reuss on several other quaint bridges as well. Grayson bought Max his first Swiss Army Knife “from the source” (very appropriate for a baby, I know). We also picked out a private Swiss bank for Max to use should he ever need it in the future!
The next day, we had booked a half day tour up to the peak of Mount Pilatus. Max loved the cable car ride up most the mountain, and he had no idea what was happening as he leaned on the bubbled glass of the gondola laughing to the peak as we seemed to rocket off cliffs of rock and all the adults gasped over and over. Mount Pilatus got its name from Pontius Pilate, the man who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. When Pontius died, nobody wanted his remains. Finally, someone threw them in a lake on the mountain, and locals still believe it is haunted. The view from the top, in the middle of the Swiss Alps, was unreal. Max got hit by a snowball by his dad (meant for me), we saw paragliders and had lunch at the top. After the cable car ride back down, we took the scenic way back to town via boat across part of Lake Luzern. Max was a trooper and made some new Irish friends, who liked him more as the day wore on (and the more beer they drank).
On Mother’s Day, Max woke me up before sunrise. He went back to bed, but I stayed up and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the balcony, watching the sun come up over the Swiss Alps. I had a great day with my boys, shopping the local weekend market and having champagne with real Swiss Fondue. For dinner, Grayson picked us up some of the yummiest Indian food I’ve ever had. And of course – some Swiss chocolate for dessert! It was a perfect last day in one of my favorite places.
After four unwinding days in Switzerland, it was time to move on. Which brings me to the most questionable travel decision I made on this trip – a 7.5-hour train journey from Luzern to Austria. Uff-da, and stay tuned.