I was due to meet with a customer in Zurich on Monday of this week, but unfortunately it had to be rescheduled at fairly short notice.
As I’d already bought a non-refundable train ticket – if you buy them a little in advance you can get a day ticket for the whole of Switzerland for less than a return ticket to Zurich, which can be very handy – I decided to head across to Zurich anyway. I used the morning for another meeting – luckily the person I wanted to catch up with was in the office – and then took a minor detour on my way home.
The fine city of Luzern – known as Lucerne in French, but in English I tend to use German names for Swiss cities I think of as being primarily German-speaking – is a mere 45-minutes by train from Zurich.
I arrived a little before noon, and decided I had to be back on a train at 1pm to get home in time for my afternoon meetings. Thanks to TripAdvisor I found a simple Thai restaurant near the station, and was served and fed within a record 10 minutes. Perfect!
My plan for the remaining 50 minutes or so was to see the two historical wooden footbridges across the River Reuss in central Luzern.
I have a passion for wood as a material: I love wooden structures – and also love that we’re increasingly using CLT as a building material – and even drive a car that’s partially made of wood. Seeing old wooden bridges is a real treat, especially when they date back as far as the 14th century.
The first bridge I visited was the Kapellbrücke or Chapel Bridge, the larger of the two.
It was originally built in 1360 but was then tragically destroyed by fire in 1993 and almost completely rebuilt in 1994. Besides such catastrophic events, wood does need regular maintenance, of course: if you look closely at the above picture you may see scaffolding on the left hand side of the bridge. They’re currently replacing various structural beams, for instance.
It is the longer, more physically impressive of the two bridges, but I have to say the less charming. They’ve done a fantastic job of rebuilding the bridge, as you can see…
… but knowing it’s really only about 25 years old somehow does take a little of the shine off it.
The second bridge, the Spreuerbrücke, is quite a bit smaller. It was built in 1408 and then partially destroyed in 1566 and the 1870s. So it’s been rebuilt, but mostly sometime after 1566, so it’s still very old.
Much like it’s larger sibling, the Spreuerbrücke contains many historical paintings, but these all depict Death in its various forms. Which is all very cool for Terry Pratchett fans like me.
The paintings were made in the early 17th century, and a good portion (45 of 67, apparently) are still there.
It’s just gorgeous.
Even for people who aren’t wood-mad, this is a great experience. Luzern is one of Switzerland’s most visited cities, and it’s obvious why.
The walk from the second bridge to the train station took me along the River Reuss. I couldn’t tell whether this was a changeable lock or a weir, but there was a whole load of water rushing through a wooden structure.
I had a lovely walk around Luzern in my quick stop there.
I was back at the station with about 5 minutes to spare before hopping on my train to Bern and then onwards to my village.
It was a great way to spend the middle of my day: I was able to rattle out a few emails – and catch up with some reading – on the train, and was home in good time for my afternoon meetings. Maybe next time I’ll get to go through the Gotthard Base Tunnel to Bellinzona, but that’s something for when I have a full day to spare.