Tung’s Travel Journal #8: Lucerne’s a lovely Swiss town that makes a tourist feel like a local

Sophomore Manson Tung, who spent March 25-April 2 in Switzerland and Germany on the school’s trip, contributed these travel blogs. 

I was not looking forward to Lucerne. It’s not internationally important like Geneva, it’s not the capital like Bern and it’s not an economic powerhouse like Zurich. Why were we bothering with this oversized village next to a small lake?

I found the answer I was looking for on Sunday, March 30, as I strolled around town.

My key to loving Lucerne was that while it was fairly tourist oriented, I felt like a local.

The second day I went to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant to have rosti (similar to hash browns but better). I ate my lunch facing Lake Lucerne, the lake that the town orients itself around and where the locals spend their Sundays.

I went down alley after alley not knowing where I was going, and I enjoyed every second of it. Lucerne is small, but its streets aren’t in grid formation. However, it’s small enough that if you just keep walking, you’ll figure yourself out of the mess in 30 minutes or less.

The comfort of knowing I was in one of the safest cities in the world gave me a theme-park high, one that unleashed a new sense of freedom.

Beachless and not warm enough for sunbathing, Lake Lucerne did not impress me at first. The true beauty of the lake, though, was the background. The lake itself isn’t that large, but the surrounding Alps with their snow-capped peaks and the low-rise cityscape of Lucerne more than make up for it.

The ubiquity of Swiss Army knives also makes this city special for me. Coming to Europe my only real requirement shopping-wise was that I wanted to buy my first Swiss Army knife in Switzerland. Boy, did I make that happen! I have three of them now, thanks to Lucerne and its ubiquitous Swiss-themed stores. (Knives, chocolate and watches are seemingly sold in every store.)

Lucerne was small enough to allow me to enjoy the city like a local, but still big enough to give me world options.

Culinarily speaking, it wasn’t a slouch, either; I had macaroons while walking along the world-famous covered bridge and ate a salmon tartare lakeside for lunch.

I also got to see flamboyant cars (Ferraris, Porsches, Rolls Royces, and Bentleys, for example) driving around in every direction, a highlight for any car aficionado.

Lucerne was the centerpiece of my trip, and I hope to see the rest of Switzerland soon.

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