Yesterday found us taking a train journey lasting less than an hour to the city of Luzern (Lucerne). Both Britain and the U.S. could learn a thing or two from the Swiss in regards to a highly efficient and well thought out commuter rail system; this was one of the smoothest and most comfortable train rides that I have ever experienced, as well as convenient.
Originally built as a lakeside fortress, with a breathtaking view of the alpine Pilatus mountain peak, Luzern is now a medium-size city divided between the old and the new. After a quick stop at the tourism information office located adjacent to the vast train station, Sarah and I were on our way to visit and photograph the landmark Chapel Bridge and octagonal water tower. Within the roof line of the covered bridge are individual paintings illustrating Swiss and local history; many depicting battles and very graphic beheadings. The bridge's water tower has been used as an archive, treasury, and even a torture chamber. A few yards beyond the bridge is the Jesuit Church, with its Baroque architecture and very ornate pink marble interior.
While strolling about the town we happened upon a small outdoor service being conducted by one of the local Catholic priests. It was the opening day of the outdoor Christmas market, and a blessing of both the market and its Christmas Nativity manger was underway. After a performance of "White Christmas" by the musicians who were present for this event, we had a very cordial conversation with the priest, who in turn introduced us to the local transport minister and invited us to join the other guests for some complimentary white wine and finger sandwiches. Later, Sarah and I found a tea room where we had a warming lunch of sweet potato soup and a salami baguette.
Dusk was quickly falling upon us as we boarded our train for the journey back to Zurich. Upon our return, we joined our hosts for a traditional Swiss dinner of sliced cold meats and cheese fondue. A very pleasent way to end the day.