Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

Chapel Bridge, LucerneAfter a few days being pampered by an auntie in Bern, we caught one of Switzerland's excellent trains to Lucerne, just an hour away. A previous day trip to Lucerne had left a lasting impression and we were keen to return and discover a little more of this lovely city.

Despite being told by the very helpful staff at the Tourist Office (located at the railway station) that our pre-booked hotel was 'quite a long walk', we decided to accept the challenge.  Forty-five minutes later, after a scenic walk (with constant snow falling) along the lakeside footpath, we arrived at the lovely Hotel Seeburg. Wheeling a suitcase through snow, even on a footpatch, is not an easy task, and we were relieved to finally have made it.

 

After checking in to our rooms, one of which looked directly out over Lake Lucerne, we headed back downstairs for a late lunch at the See Restaurant before visiting the Verkehrshaus (Swiss Transport Musuem), a 15 minute walk away. The Musuem boasts an impressive display of all things automotive - trains, planes, automobiles, cable cars, boats and more - and is very interactive.  We only had two hours at the Musuem due to arriving late in the afternoon, but it would be easy to spend three or four hours here.  There really is something for everyone.

 

lake-luzern-300

mt-pilatus-300


Returning to the hotel to get ready for dinner, we then caught the local bus, which leaves right outside the hotel, for the 15 minute ride into the old town of Lucerne.  A cosy cafe served us yummy Swiss fare and we then braved the chilly night air (with snow still falling!) for a quick walk around the old town before returning to the warmth of our hotel.

With one full day to spend in Lucerne, and the lake views not so great due to low cloud (and it was still snowing!), we headed back into town for some serious shopping and to check out the famous Chapel Bridge.  The warmth of the shops lured us in on many occasions and we managed to part with a few Swiss francs to help the local economy. Despite just about every second shop selling Swiss watches, you wouldn't believe how difficult it was to find one I really liked!  I did manage to overcome my indecision, though, and now have a lovely Swiss watch as a memento of my holiday.

A lunch stop at the restaurant in the Manor department store soon had us re-charged and we then headed to the Chapel Bridge for the obligatory photos.  After a bit more shopping, and buying some food for our dinner, we returned to the hotel weary but happy with our day's outing.

Our day of departure from Lucerne dawned and the sun was actually shining.  It had finally stopped snowing and we could see Mt Pilatus directly in front of us across the lake, which was a nice way to end our time in Lucerne. After a leisurely breakfast, we caught the bus back to the railway station for our journey to Munich.  A 45 minute trip to Zurich (where we changed trains), was followed by a journey of just over four hours, through the gorgeous snow-covered countryside of Switzerland, Austria and Germany.  We arrived at Munich at 5.30 in the evening and caught a taxi to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Munich City Centre, and enjoyed a quiet evening after a delicious and relatively inexpensive meal at the hotel.

Having endured temperatures of around -5C each day since we arrived in Lucerne, Munich was proving to be no different, but even when out walking, dressed appropriately, we didn't really feel the cold.  Luckily, there wasn't any wind, so the cold was quite bearable.  The one thing we did notice, though, was when you went inside.  We had to strip off layers of clothing - coats, gloves, scarves, beanies, etc. - every time we went inside a shop or the hotel.

 

flamingoes-300

munich-christmas-market-300


On our first full day in Munich, we spent the day shopping for last minute gifts and stocking up on some favourites that we can't buy in Australia.  The Munich CBD, centred around Marienplatz, was a 25 minute walk, or two metro stops, from the hotel. Marienplatz was also the location for the annual Munich Christmas Market and it was lovely to wander around the stalls, with snow falling, and take in the atmosphere of a German Christmas.  We found most of the goods to be over-priced, but it was great to visit just the same.

As our holiday plans had changed due to the hospital stay in France (see previous blog), we weren't going to make it to northern Italy to visit some other relatives, so they decided to come to Munich to visit us!  Arriving early evening, we enjoyed dinner with them, again at the hotel restaurant, and spent the last day of our holiday visiting the Munich Zoo (I've never been to a zoo covered in snow before!) and visiting one of Munich's beer halls for a traditional lunch - and beer.

All too soon it was time to head to the airport for our flight home.  With the Holiday Inn Munich City Centre located above the Rosenheimer Platz subway station and on the same line as the airport station, it was an easy trip to Munich International Airport for our return flight.

Our winter holiday in Europe was one we will always remember.  There were many highlights, many places we have vowed to return to, and lessons learnt along the way (make sure more than one member of your travelling party is nominated to drive the hire car, for instance!).  And even though we haven't even been home from Europe for a month, plans are already being formulated to return!

Until our next trip, happy holiday planning!

It's always sad to write the last page of a travel diary as it just serves to confirm the inevitable - your holiday is officially over! And so, it has taken me a while to write the final instalment of my travel blog from my most recent overseas sojourn. Our trip ended on a snowy note with record December snowfalls in much of northern Europe and for a little while it even looked as if our return flight might be delayed due to the snow. It wasn't to be, however, and after our time in Lucerne and Munich, we were again on our way home.....and already planning our next European adventure!