Our first destination in Switzerland was Lucerne, the beautiful town along Lake Lucerne and surrounded by the majestic Alps on all sides. The canton of Lucerne is one of the 26 cantons in the country, the cantons being members of the Swiss confederation where ordinary citizens regularly participate in every level of politics and are involved in policy decision making and all other issues at a national and sub-national level. We chose one of the many superfast trains in Europe that took us from Paris to Lucerne in about 5 hours with a changeover in between. As we entered Switzerland, the scenery outside seemed as though someone had suddenly upped the colour contrast ~ the trees seemed greener, the water in the rivers clearer and flowers bloomed with myriad colors which simply appeared so much brighter. Switzerland has always conjured up images of postcard perfect scenery in my mind; with neatly laid farms, tiny mountain villages and glacier covered Alps, and rich cities that boast of a modern and idyllic way of life. In Switzerland, I realized the place was all of that and so much more.
At Lucerne, the train station is located just outside the famed Lake Lucerne and it is famed not without reason. The lake was blue for as far as our eyes could stretch, ducks and swans swam in the waters and beautiful ferries welcomed tourists for a ride to enjoy the mesmerizing views. Although we had our luggage with us, we still spent quite sometime strolling along the banks of the lake ~ on that early September afternoon we walked past fashionable ladies in their high boots, elderly women with their pets ~ big and small and tourists like us simply trying to grasp the beauty which the town had to offer. Lucerne is a small town, spread mainly on both sides of the lake and the entire town can be explored on foot in a couple of hours. A light refreshment bought us back to the streets to enjoy the evening by the famed Chapel bridge which is an iconic wooden footbridge decorated all along with flowers ~ no pictures can ever do justice to the night views of the sight! There are many little things to enjoy in the town ~ the Lion monument, the churches, little shops that dot the streets and of course not to mention the fancy cars that zoom past you! You do not need any other reminder that you are in one of the richest countries in the world. Yet a sense of calmness prevails. Going to Switzerland from France, it was not difficult to comprehend the quality of the life which the Swiss people enjoy; the country’s per capita GDP is among the highest in the world with citizens enjoying a quality of life which is privy to people in only a handful of North European countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Despite this wealthy and orderly way of life, there was no arrogance in their way of dealing with the hordes of tourists that folk their towns and cities, there was no honking on the roads, every car stopped to let the ignorant tourist walk by and almost anyone you approached had a minute to spare to answer your questions. We settled for dinner at one of the many restaurants along the lake, letting us enjoy the night views for as late as we wanted.