The Black Forest, Germany and Lucerne, Switzerland

Saturday, September 10th, 2011:

The shadow of our bus as we head to the Black Forest

We are on our way to the Black Forest, think Hansel and Gretel.  I love the German country side, it’s gorgeous and I really appreciate the flower boxes that adorn every window on every house we pass.  Elzo says people in these parts take pride in the look of their property and you can tell.  I know I’m not in Austria yet, but I feel like belting out “the hills are alive….with the sound of music….!!!”  🙂

The woods are dense and the fog covers the trees, making me think I’m about to step into a fairy tale.

Fog lifting

And just as I had prayed the night before…the sun FINALLY came out and it was a gorgeous day in Germany!  Blue skies and green hills, a sight to behold.

Elzo tells us the winters here get rough and because of that some of these villages can be cut off to the bigger towns surrounding them during heavy snowfall.  A lot of the residents started doing wood work to pass the time during times like these.  Eventually they started to sell their products and here in the Black Forest of Germany you can find many wood work items, such as their infamous cuckoo clocks.

A lot of wood

We stop at this tiny shop in the middle of nowhere but it seems like a popular tourist spot except we are the only ones there, for now.  The owner of the shop is waiting for us outside with a tray of cherry wine. SO delicious and mind you it was only ten in the morning but I wanted more of that wine!  I wish I bought a bottle 😦  Josh bought a Nutcracker (that had to be inspected at O’Hare airport…apparently, the nutcracker is holding an ax and it was suspicious!) and also he bought a barometer, which he has placed outside near our garden. Now we’ll know if it will rain or not 😛  It too was inspected at the airport!

I bought a shot glass in the shape of a boot, which I found hilarious and a beer mug that I’ll be using for water.  Haha!  I got some really cute christmas ornaments too.  Another surprising find in the store was one of their workers who greeted us with a big Aloha!  She was from Waipahu but lived in Germany now and she was excited to see Hawaii people.  We were surprised to see someone from Hawaii all the way in the Black Forest of all places.  On the upper level of the store is a small cafe where Josh and I sampled the famous Black Forest cake.  Delicious, light and flavorful, it was a nice treat after that cherry wine.

Don’t you love how lush and green these hills are?

We boarded the bus and headed to the Germany/Switzerland border which wasn’t a far drive.  Soon we were driving through the Swiss countryside and headed to a pit stop for lunch, the Rhine Falls.

  I couldn’t believe that this was the same dreary river we had taken a cruise on the previous day.  For one, the weather was completely different.  While I was freezing on the Rhine cruise, today I was sweating and glad I wore a thinner and lighter t-shirt.

 Switzerland is not part of the European Union and doesn’t use Euros.  Yes, they will take it if you use it, but their currency is Swiss Francs.  Elzo warned us that Switzerland was the most expensive country in Europe and we found that out for ourselves when we bought lunch.

 The water is so blue and so clear and like in Germany, the tap water tasted so fresh!

Josh soup, this plate of chicken and fries and coke cost almost $30 u.s. dollars!! Grrr!!

We needed some shade after walking around.  

 The day was so warm that I was happy to see they were selling Gelato!  I had to have it and it was delicious!!  Perfect treat on a sunny day.

After lunch we headed to Lucerne and Elzo realized that since it was Saturday, the next day was Sunday meaning no shops would be open on Sunday.  Some people in our tour group were begging for a shopping day.  So he decided to take us to town, but first a stop to the Lion Monument.  For some reason I thought King Louis XVI had the swiss guards killed but that goes to show that when you don’t pay attention, you get the information wrong!  This lion commemorates the 700 Swiss Guards who had died while defending and guarding King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution.  Swiss Guards were mercenaries who served and guarded royal courts.  The Pope still has Swiss Guards that guard the Vatican.

The face shows so much sorrow. 

After visiting the Lion Monument we finally headed to our hotel.  We took our bags to our room then left once more to join Elzo on a walking tour.  Lucerne is a beautiful city and because the sun was out, everyone was out on the lake enjoying the outdoors.

Chapel Bridge built in 1333

We were in Lucerne on 9/10…but we found this writing on the wall…

Astoria

Pretty swans!

Another view of Chapel Bridge

 Hmmm…so despite trying to give us time to shop in Lucerne, we only had a few minutes to do so.  By the time we got to the street with shops, everything had closed up.  The stores close at 4pm.  Such a bummer!  Not that I really needed to go shopping.

There was a football “soccer” game playing and this pub was the place to be.  Day and night it was packed with people!

Heading off to a Swiss Folklore dinner

Following Elzo to the restaurant

This night we were treated to a Swiss Folklore feast.  On the menu?  Cheese fondue, 2 drinks, salad, steak with potatoes and cake.  The cheese fondue was pretty good, everything else was just okay but the drinks kept coming and both Josh and I were tipsy by the time the entree arrived.

Cheese Fondue

 During the night, the entertainment started and we got treated to yodeling, singing, dancing and lots of laughs!

Here’s Josh blowing the horn!  Good job honey!

Later on in the night the woman on stage picked Josh and I to go up on stage and do a little folklore dance.  I was worried I was going to fall of the stage!  LOL…I didn’t, thank God.  Later on the woman wanted me to come up on the stage and yodel and I refused.  I said no thanks and that another person needed a turn.  Of course later on she picked me to follow her in a very weak conga line.  Josh didn’t care, he was dancing it up!  Haha…

I think I know I’m in Switzerland…lol…

 It was fun times to be had by all.  We left the restaurant full and tired and laughing.  The night life in Lucerne was in full swing and almost all the hotels around had turned into a night club.  Our own hotel had a club upstairs in the penthouse, if I had known I’d have gone up to check it out.  An older couple in our group told us the next morning they had checked out the club and had one beer each, you know why?  Because two beers cost almost $25 U.S. dollars!!  Too expensive!

Our hotel was nice but kind of warm because they don’t use the A/C in the building.  To conserve energy, guests have to place the room key in a slot to get lights turned on and the a/c to work.  So Josh and I head to bed because the next day we would be going up Mount Pilatus and another long bus ride to Innsbruck, Austria.
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