Switzerland: Beautiful and complicated

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After a somewhat chaotic train and bus ride, we got from Lausanne to Lucerne. Although we ended up at first missing our train due to a taxi driver taking us to the wrong place, we turned it into an adventure, and I was proud that I could hold my own in a fight in French!

Despite the travel challenges, we made it to our hotel, high over Lake Lucerne. There is no doubt that Switzerland is both beautiful and complicated. The German, French, and Italian parts of the country barely communicate with each other, and the police keep translators in their police station in order to communicate with other parts of the country. On the other hand, the scenery is magnificent, the service impeccable, and the prices of almost everything are so high as to shock the British and the French! The one good thing is that local bus service is free for tourists.

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On the train, here I saw the signs for Basel. For most people, Basel is simply the name of another Swiss city, but yesterday was also Israel’s Independence Day, and it was in Basel that the first Zionist Congress took place. Attended by idealists who sought to bring the Jewish nation home, they were considered to be close to lunatics. Today, their vision is the twentieth century’s greatest success story. It was here in Switzerland where it all began. If I could not be in Israel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, then this was second best.

Many people told us that of the three cities we have visited, Lucerne is the prettiest. I would agree, the city is magnificent. There is a blend of classical European architecture with a heavy touch of both the aquatic and mountain. Buildings might be modern, old, Art Deco, or reminiscent of a fairy tale. Although the city is filled with tourists, including us, the Swiss are introverted on the streets, but incredibly willing to help once you turn to them and make it clear that you need help.

So, there are not a lot of smiles but there is a great deal of willingness to help strangers, and once the ice is broken, there is a great deal of personal warmth. Restaurant prices here are astronomical. We did find a wonderful local Italian restaurant last night, tucked away in a charming plaza, where even simple food was almost worth the scandalous prices.


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