February 26, 2018, 3:24 am
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Captivating Lucerne

BY MONICA MACASAET

If you feel you’ve never been a nature person, you’ve always loved cities, you don’t like bugs – then I would challenge you to go to Lucerne.

Some nature photos online always had a feel of being slightly “manufactured,” that it couldn’t possibly look like that in real life. 

A good camera and a good filter can always warp reality just to this side of the impossible. 

Then, one of my old friends moved to Washington, and she had been posting pictures of mountains for the past year, and I felt a real craving for what she had been experiencing. 

Along with her move, she had become more mellow and grateful, and her posts would always convey a sort of awe and wonder. 

This same calmness was also present in my good friend in Switzerland, who loved just sitting down and listening to the bubbling of a river, take four-hour cruises in a lake, and would also post pictures of beautiful mountainscapes.

“Can we go here?” I would comment on her pictures. “Do I need to buy outdoor shoes?”

“No!” she said, “We’ll take a train to Lucerne, then a boat, then another train up the mountain. People bring their dogs there. Sneakers will be fine.”

The first mountain we went to was Rigi. 

As my friend said, it’s literally that easy to get there: You get on a train, then a boat, then another train. 

The boat has several stops all along the lake depending on which mountain or sight you want to see. 

You can see Pilatus on the (wonderfully serene) boat ride. 

There were indeed dogs in the train with us. 

You’d see – again, to my surprise and disbelief and delight – elderly people with backpacks and walking sticks hiking up trails and along the mountain.

You can see the city and lake of Lucerne on the way up. It’s unreal and breathtaking. Especially if you’re afraid of heights.

On the day we visited Rigi, I was swept away from the view just stepping out of the train, but we went farther up and just a little bit away from the tourist trails.

(Another tip: go opposite of where the tourists are; the view is still good if not better, and not crowded; besides, there’s space for everyone.)

You can see a valley with a lake, tree-dense hills, and snow-capped alps in the distance. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it was awesome in the true sense of the word: awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping.

There’s this room in the Museum of Modern Art in New York where they have a huge three-panel painting of Monet’s water lilies.  When you step in, everyone is quiet, because the painting demands that kind of awe and attention. 

It’s the same with Lucerne and the views it offer.

People were not just calm, but calmed.  No one was on their phones save for the mandatory pictures. 

How can you be worried about work and emails in a place like this? 

How wonderfully insignificant you feel – how wonderful it is to be taken out of your own head for a while.

Bask in the glory, indeed.

We ended up going to Lucerne twice, and now I understand why those nature pictures looked ever so slightly fake: it’s because it can’t capture reality. 

There’s another dimension that can’t be captured – the sense that you want to go down on your knees and bask in awe and worship, because you realize how small you are.

We took a cable car going down and winded up in another quaint city by the lake, and just hopped on another boat that took us back to the main terminal. 

It’s as easy as it sounds to get around. Though they did pack us like sardines in the cable car and it slid down pretty fast.

We went to Flüelen on our second trip to Lucerne; it was the farthest stop in the round-trip boat ride around Lake Lucerne. 

From here you can see the beautiful Lake Uri, and my friend googled a restaurant called Oberaxen on top of a mountain – we took an old-fashioned looking but very stable cable car up, up, up. 

It’s a family-owned place with good coffee and decent lunch, and with a great view of the lake and mountains. 

We walked around a bit and heard some bells; we followed it to see some cows on the other side of the mountain. 

We sat by a shade and relaxed a bit before heading back to the town to catch a train going back to Basel. 

Again: we planned all of that on the same day; if the weather is willing, you can be spontaneous in Switzerland and discover a mountain.

Lucerne was a turning point for me, not just for this trip but for what I joke as my “peak experience” in life: Nothing can beat this.

I guess, in a way, we’re all nature people deep inside. God created the world and sat down and saw that it was good. It was good: God Himself enjoyed it. 

We were meant to enjoy and commune with nature. I’ve stated more than a few times in the past three weeks of these entries that I’m amazed at how much we can receive from nature, how we can commune with it. 

That’s one of the most important things I brought home from this trip: to commune with the nature we have around us. 

We may not be as good a steward as others, but it’s something we can hope to aspire: picking up after ourselves, thanking God for our sunny weather, taking walks around parks, visiting our lush provinces. 

We have much to be grateful for. 
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