This morning, instead of being docked in Basel, ms Grace is docked in Breisach, Germany. The reason? One or more of the locks along the river is under repair and the traffic on the river made it impossible for the Captain to get the boat to Basel as scheduled. Nevertheless, by 7:30am, Maggie and her team have come up with a solution. Guests wishing to visit Lucerne will depart by coach from Breisach, which adds about 30 minutes to the drive. Guests wishing to visit Basel will also depart from Breisach.
ms Grace docked in Breisach, Germany
We board the coach for Lucerne at 8:30am and have concerns about the clouds, fog and cool temperatures. We were promised a clear, sunny day in Lucerne. What's up? The drive to Lucerne takes a good two hours and almost exactly at the time the coaches drop us off in town, the skies begin to clear and the sun starts to shine. Perfect!
Clear blue skies give views like this!
Our first stop is a visit to the Lion of Lucerne, a rock monument hewn in 1821 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. It appears to be a popular photo stop with tourists.
Lion of Lucerne
After the brief visit to the monument, we reboard the coaches for a short drive to the center of town. Our Tour Directors, Iris and Kati, lead groups on an orientation walk through Old Town Lucerne. Our first stop is Chapel Bridge, a covered wooden footbridge spanning Reuss River.
Chapel Bridge in Lucerne
Named after the nearby St. Peter's Chapel, the bridge is unique because it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries-old bridge in a 1993 fire. Subsequently restored, the Chapel Bridge is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge.
Interior paintings in Chapel Bridge
Kati pointed out to our group that it was virtually impossible to get lost in the Old Town of Lucerne. She also recommended a few local restaurants and warned us that the prices in Switzerland are very high compared to Germany. Tauck graciously gave each of us 20 Euro for lunch. As soon as Rickee and I began walking on our own, we came upon a sign that verified the high prices here. How about 27 Swiss Francs for a hamburger? And, a Swiss Franc is basically a 1:1 exchange rate with the dollar.
High prices in Lucerne
Rickee and I started exploring the Old Town, walking up and down the narrow cobblestone streets. There are more than a few chocolate shops, one of which caught Rickee's eye. We went inside and were going to purchase some Swiss chocolates, but it was taking forever to get waited on, so we moved on. Walking down the promenade along the Reuss River, we cross a few other foot bridges taking us back and forth over the river. We find a small souvenir shop and purchase our postcards and refrigerator magnet. When we inquired about a Thai restaurant, the shopkeeper at the souvenir shop was more than willing to make suggestions and even gave us a map showing us where her favorite Thai restaurant was located. It was pretty involved trying to find the place. We had to go underground to the train station, then back up on the other side of the street, locate the university, and then "turn right"? Just as we were about to give up the hunt, I stopped at a kiosk selling cigarettes and gum and asked the attendant if he knew where a Thai restaurant was nearby. He pointed to the right, indicating we were close. Sure enough, half a block down the street, we found Prik Thai restaurant!
Prik Thai Restaurant
The little restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived, but they had a nice menu. Prices were high, as we expected. We ordered spring rolls, Pad Thai, Red Curry and two Cokes. Turns out that was way too much food for two people. We should have just shared the order of Pad Thai. The food was good, but not as good as what we get back in Texas. For some reason, they really seem to tame down the spices in Europe. I even asked for extra spicy, and it was bland by Thai standards. The hottest thing we got was the bill! Oh well, our Tauck lunch money covered most of the cost.
Our bill for Thai lunch in Lucerne
As luck would have it, when we finished lunch, we noticed a lot of motorcoaches parked right across the street from the restaurant. Sure enough, both of the Tauck coaches were there, waiting until the 3pm pick-up time in town. It was about a 15-minute walk back to the pick-up spot, but the driver said we could ride back with him. Bonus! We climbed aboard and soon were leaving to go gather up the rest of the guests in the center of town. The drive back to ms Grace took a little less than two hours and we were back on board by 5pm. There was just enough time to get cleaned up before the Captain's Gala Farewell Reception. Chef Fenna has prepared a beautiful Swiss Cheese platter for this evening's festivities.
After the Captain's toast, it was time for the Farewell Dinner. Our late and huge Thai lunch has left us too full to even think about eating again. We skip the dinner and spend the rest of the evening packing for the trip home. Sadly, this is our last day aboard ms Grace. Tomorrow morning we fly home to Texas. It has been a wonderful 12 days aboard Tauck's newest boat, ms Grace. Watch for our full review of the ship and crew coming soon!
Chef Fenna prepares Swiss Cheese platter