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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Awesome Alpine Adventure: Day 6- Luzern/ Lucerne

Day 6 continues with us arriving in Luzern (Lucerne) Switzerland and having the afternoon to wander around and get  settled into our hotel.
Favorite picture for this post:
"The Dying Lion" by Lukas Ahorn, Lucerne Switzerland
  I picked this monument of the Dying Lion because I had seen it used in advertizing and felt it was such a moving tribute to those Swiss soldiers who had given their lives for the French King during revolution.   It was raining when we were there and it felt only fitting that the heavens were shedding tears for it too. 

The hotel we stayed at was the Grand National. Here's a side view. 
The Grand National Hotel, Lucerne Switzerland
 This was what was facing the lake and is along the promenade.
The Grand national Hotel, Lucerne
 The outside of the room we were staying in.  We didn't have a balcony just a window, but later we visited our friends suite and they had a balcony which was great for viewing the fireworks they shot off the last day we were there but that's another post.
Also on the front of the hotel they had these beautiful statues.
 Our room was very lovely too.  
 The view from the windows was quite nice too.
the view from our room in the Grand National Hotel, Lucern
Some images of the lobby and sitting areas.

    The group arrived in the afternoon after taking that memorable train ride on the Glacier Express.  By now my husband and I were past the jet lag stage of the trip and wanted to see as much as possible.  We had the whole afternoon and evening free so we could do what we wanted too. We got the brochures that they handed us and flipped through them.  We picked out a restaurant that we thought we would enjoy. We decided we would walk around first and then go there.  One of the things I really wanted to see was the Dying Lion memorial.  When people think of Lucerne they usually uses the bridges and walls  as the keepsake image for the city but I feel this tribute could be used just as well.  So we walked there first but it started to rain but a little bit of rain wasn't going to stop us.  As we walked we would duck into some stores and look at things there also.  Here are some of the things we saw as we walked along. 

 The central train station.
The front of the central train station, Lucerne

 The Cathedral or Hofkirche.
The Cathedral, Lucerne Switzerland

 The restaurant we wanted to eat at but you had to have reservations even though no one was sitting at the table we saw, and were turned away.  Which was just as well because we got a call from some other people we were traveling with and they invited us to join them at another restaurant.
 Another view of the Dying Lion.
 This was a typical street scene - Lowenstrasse.

 Schweizehofqual street.

 Some unusual duck along the Carl-Spitteter  Quai

 Some building the Kapellplatz.  I couldn't figure out what this was but looked like a church of some sort.
 I just thought it was interesting to see the stucco's on its wall.
  Here's it all together.
  I really liked the art work on the walls of the buildings.
The area is now by this fountain.
The Fritschi Fountain, Lucerne Switzerland
 The streets were narrow in the old part of town and I was glad the cars were not allowed to go there.
 The old town square.
House of the "Zu Pfistern' Guild

The town hall
 The water tower bridge- this is the image most people use with Lucerne.
Chapel Bridge/ Kapellbrucke
 It was getting dark so this wasn't the best image but it was on one of the building along Rathausq.
 The sun setting on Lake Lucerne along the Carl-Spitteler-Quai
 This is looking along the shoreline of the lake. 
night time along the Carl-Spitteler Quai
That's it for this day.
The next day we took the ferry for a ride on the lake.  We had to walk to it and as I we walked I took a couple more photos that I thought would be best to be included here.

 This is the rail transportation center.  The ferry was right across from.

There's more to come....

PS:  I do want to thank the group that took us on this awesome adventure and all the wonderful people we got to know while going on it.  You know who you are - THANK YOU.

Also I have to thank my husband for wanting to explore this town with me and making it so interesting to see.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Awesome Alpine Adventure Day 6: Glacial Express

Day 6: the Glacial Express Train from St Moritz to Andermatt and then the bus from Andermatt to Luzern/ Lucerne Switzerland.
Photo capturing the day:
This is the Glacial Express train entering the tunnel that then takes us across a very famous bridge and gorge of the Landwasser Viadukt.  They say the bridge is one of the most photograph feature of the whole trip. 

My favorite one as a rockhound/geologist.
Headwaters of the Rhone River

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the train ride the one thing that just totally captivated me and made it so interesting to experience was seeing the headwaters of the Rhein and the Rhone Rivers.    It was  not what I expected.  The water went into a lake and then some of the water would go to the left and some to the right.  If it went to the left it was in the  Vorderrhein river and if it went right as we were facing it - it entered the Rhone.  The photo above shows the start of the Rhone River.
Here is the  Vorderrhein River. 
Headwates of the Vorderrhein River

When I was taking these photo's I didn't know that this was the headwaters to the two major rivers until the trains comments came up.   I'm just glad I got what I got.
This is the lake that the glacial runoff waters were melting into. 
Here it is going over to the Rhein:

And here is another one of the Rhone river starting.

How much coooler can that get?   It was the first time I've seen the headwaters of not one but two major rivers. Seeing things like that made this trip so totally awesome. But I'm getting ahead of myself and  should start with the beginning of the trip.

   I was really looking forward to this train ride on the Glacier Express.  We started of at St Moritz along the Inns rvier  then it stopped at Celerina, Samedan, left the Inn river and went through the mountains to  Bever, Preda,  Bergun, Filisur, Tiefeneastel, (here was the Lindwasser Viadukt over the Abula river and then saw it merge into  the Hinterrhein river), Thusis, took a right turn (east)  to Chur saw the Rhein river, got to Chur and then backtracked  to were the Hinterrhein and the Rhein mereged, then continued along the Rhein (Vorderrhein - don't know where it became the other), stopping at Rheinschlucht, Disentis and Oberalpass, saw the headwaters of the Rhein river and the Rhone river  near this pass, then got toe Andermatt and disembarked from the train to take a bus.  The bus then took us from Andermatt along A2/E35 to Lucern/ Luzern Switzerland.
      The train ride was about 4 hrs and it included an optional lunch with it.  The ride from Andermatt to Lucern was about 1hr.  What a way to spend the day!  It is by far one of the prettiest, most civil way to travel there is.  The seats we had were very comfortable and the way the train was made was for maximum viewing pleasure. The biggest problem was with all the windows there was a lot of glare and reflections so most of my photo's had reflections from the train in them.  With cropping and some editing I was able to get quite a bunch of photos that I'm pleased with.   Despite this I wouldn't have changed a thing about the train.  I loved how open and airy it felt - so different from traveling in a plane.   To me this was definitely the best way to travel.  What was also so great about this trip too was they gave you headphones and as we were traveling they would make comments about the different places.  They would light a sign and you would know they would start to talk in a little bit.  They had about 10 different languages to choose from so most people could listen to it and understand what was being talked about.
     This gives you and idea of of what I'm talking about.  We had just gone over this famous viaduct - and you can barely see it in one of the windows but its very hard to see because of all the reflections and glare from the windows. 
There were a couple of times when I thought the reflections made the photo kinda artsy almost like a collage, like this one with my hands getting in the photo too as I was trying to get image of the bridges over the Albula River.  I could see if I was an artist I could submit this as a intentionally designed work of art when all it really was a unintended accident with the way I shot the camera. 

Now on to some other images of the trip.  This was what the train looked like from the outside.

There were amazing mountains to see.  

 As we were traveling they told us this was the region were the movie Heidi was filmed.
 This looked like an anticline to me but from the distances I was seeing it I couldn't tell for sure.

 Here's another shot of the roads crisscrossing each other.

And U shaped/ glacier formed valleys with quaint towns nestled in them.
It was interesting to see the debris that had come down off the mountains and how the villages were built away from them yet trying to stay close to the water.

 There were historical places to see too.  Just look at the location of this 
 There were green glacial feed waters. 

And interesting erosion along the rivers.   Plus the rivers were braided which is so typical of glacial rivers since they have such a heavy sediment load.

 It was different being at the end of the train and then be able to see the beginning as we would do some of the curves in the track. 

There was scenic pasture lands. 

The wildflowers were in full bloom.

 They told us that most of their power that they use is hydroelectric.
 Just look at how the rocks were all different angles.
I just liked the looks of this picture.  I thought the lines made it different. 

I know these aren't the best pictures but there was some very interesting erosion features along the
Rhein river.

IIt made me wander what this rock was composed of.  It almost seemed like it may have been a volcanic ash. 
I thought this was interesting you could see the water run off and then it hit this dark patch and you couldn't see the water and then the water came out again.  I figured this had to be a remnant of a glacier or maybe it is an active glacier.

This one had a glacier at the top of it. and was just next to the other picture that you can see.
The higher we got the more we saw glaciers coming off the mountains.

 Glaciers melting into the water, and water evaporating out. 
 The cloud cover so low you couldn't see anything.  Then it started to rain.
 But every once in awhile something would peak through.  This looked liked a glacier hanging wall water fall.
 We got to Andermatt and got on the bus and started to head toward Lucerne.  The road we took was very windy and the type you were glad you weren't driving. 
 This area is called the devils gorge and when you are on  it you can understand why its got that name.
 The switch backs were something else and it didn't help that it was raining.
 Here's what it looked like. 
 Here's one of the roads that was built up for the switch back.

And finally coming into Lucerne. 

I know these aren't the best pictures but they were the only ones that I got.  I write this blog partially to keep track of my trips so I've included them because they all meant something to me at the time I took them.  All I can say is it was an incredible time and if you ever get the chance it is definitely worth the money to ride the Glacier Express from St Moritz to Andermatt Switzerland.

PS:  I do want to thank the group that took us on this awesome adventure and all the wonderful people we got to know while going on it.  You know who you are - THANK YOU.

I also have to thank my husband for putting up me on this trip.  I was so captivated by everything and wanted to capture it all with pictures.  I'm sorry if I got annoying but I'm so pleased with the images I got.  Thank you for being so understanding.  Thank you for providing this experience.