Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saving the best for last - Lucerne!

We caught our 1pm train to Lucerne where Erika picked us up. She took us to her amazing house, a three story mini-mansion in the heart of Lucerne with a nice, large garden. We stayed downstairs in our own place near the office and just viewed all the photos she had around the house.
She told us the funny story about her 8' replica in her stairwell. As one of the European McDonald's owners, she was told that they wanted to feature her at a convention so she did a photo shoot thinking that her photo would be on a regular sized poster. She was shocked when she walked in and saw a "bigger-than-life" size photo of her.
Erika is a remarkable woman who has battled breast cancer three times! Her home is decorated in pink, even her new refrigerator! So cool... literally!The view of Lake Lucerne from her house. It's quite spectacular. On a clear day, you can see the white-capped mountains in Interlaken. Her home is within 15 minutes walking distance to downtown and the main train station.
We walked to downtown and found a rooftop bar and talked to catch up after the last 15 years since we last met in Paris in July 1996. The distance and time haven't changed us. It felt like we just caught up where we left off.

We dined at a nice restaurant on the river called Balances and our meals were all great with special service from the waitstaff. What a fun evening!
Russ enjoyed fish on top of risotto whereas I had the grilled prawns atop spinach. yummy!
Yes, we saw a swan with her ducklings in the lake on our walk home. There are actually a lot of swans in the lake and they can get aggressive towards tourists who feed them.
19 July
We took our time to wake up, set some fruit and tea and then go on a nice hike up in the hills surrounding Erika's house. It was a nice morning with blue sky and warmer weather. We even passed by the Lucerne golf course so I posed like I was playing.
There are great trails just leading from Erika's to the surrounding hills and rest benches like this one to gaze at the view.
At 1pm, we were dropped off at the ferry station to go on a steamboat to Weggis, a small-town near Lucerne, right on the lake. With our Eurail passes, we were able to ride on the steamboat's first class section for free!
Everything was so scenic there, even though it was cloudy and rainy. I liked how they accepted pets anywhere.

In the evening, Erika treated us to THE traditional Swiss restaurant called Old Swiss House. Of course, the owner and servers knew Erika and we had Mr. Bean as our attentive waiter. He looked and acted alot like the actor.

My gazpacho, veal with mushrooms and chocolate mousse were all fabulous and Russ' lobster bisque, table side veal wiener schnitzel were the best we've had as well. The cozy atmosphere, antique decor were all great and it was the perfect last evening in Europe. thank you, Erika!!!
20 July
We woke early and Moses, a wonderful and kind friend and McDonald's manager drove us to the Zurich airport. The Swiss Air counter staff couldn't give us the boarding passes for out Vienna - Tokyo flight and the flight from Zurich to Vienna was two hours late due to mechanical problems. When we finally arrived in Vienna, we had to wait in line again for our boarding passes. After half an hour, we got our passes and got into the Austrian Air lounge which had nice food and drinks.
We boarded our Tokyo bound flight after having to get new boarding passes once again and made it back safe and sound.

Another great journey!

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