3 Hours in Zurich

 

As were heading from Lucerne to Basel, we stopped in Zurich for a few hours.  We had visited Zurich briefly pre-kids and I wanted to show them the Marc Chagall stained-glass windows in the Fraumunster Church.  These 5 large stained-glass panels were designed and installed by Chagall in 1970.  Each depicts a different story from the Bible including Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.  The windows are beautiful works of art and the peaceful setting of the church only helps to enhance their beauty.  Most importantly for those with kids, they can be easily seen and appreciated in a small amount of time.  

  Image via Zürich.com

Image via Zürich.com

  Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

We had passed a Sprungli chocolate shop on our way to the church and I promised the kids we would go in on our way back.  We noticed they had a nice cafe attached to the store and decided to have lunch there as well.  Jack and I each had a delicious spinach and bacon quiche which was served with a small green salad while Alan and Ava enjoyed some of the freshly made sandwiches.  Afterwards we headed into the store to pick up some Luxemburgerli, (the name of the company's trademarked mini-macaroons) for dessert and a few chocolate bars for later.

We still had a little time so we walked over to a toy store I had read about, Pastorini Spielzeug.  The 4-story space is filled with amazing toys, with an emphasis on those items that encourage imaginative play, i.e., no video games or electronic equipment in sight.  The dollhouse section could have kept Ava busy for days and almost all of the items were constructed of wood not plastic.  They had a huge arts and crafts section with all kinds of papers, pencils, and paints.  Jack enjoyed checking out the Legos and noting the sets he had not seen before.  If the kids were younger we would have spent a fortune on Playmobil sets but instead we spent our time reminiscing over the sets we used to have and those we wished we had known about.  

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Just walking around for the short time we did, we made a game of finding the best signs and markers on the buildings.  Zurich is such a beautiful city and I hope we can return one day to enjoy it more fully.

24 Hours in Lucerne

 

We just returned from two weeks in Europe and one of our (quick) stops was in Lucerne, Switzerland.  We had enough time to walk around and explore the town, have an ice cream or two, and take a refreshing swim in the lake at the local swim club.  

We chose to stay at the Montana Art Deco Hotel and treated ourselves to a room with a lake view.  I'm so glad we did because we had the most amazing views and a sweet little balcony to sit out on while taking in the Lucerne skyline. 

The hotel had been re-decorated a few years ago in the art deco style of Miami that includes a beach club-style bar with cabanas that overlook the Lake.  The hotel sits on a hill overlooking the city and is home to the world's shortest funicular (according to the Guinness Book of Records) to quickly take you down to street level.  The kids loved the novelty of it and it didn't seem to wear off even though we took it up and down several times during our stay.  

  Image via Trip Advisor

Image via Trip Advisor

  Image via Trip Advisor

Image via Trip Advisor

On a recommendation from the hotel, we had lunch at Cafe de Ville.  Located right across the street from the lake, it was surprisingly not filled with tourists and seemed to be mostly populated with locals enjoying a late lunch.  The menu is typical light fare such as salads, sandwiches, etc., and everything we ordered was delicious.  Keep in mind there is no kids' menu but this shouldn't be a problem as there is plenty of things on offer that appeal to kids.  In our case, Jack had a burger and Ava had a fantastic cheese plate.  Oh, and be sure to save some bread from the bread basket to feed the swans!

 On the balcony of the Cafe de Ville

On the balcony of the Cafe de Ville

We spent the afternoon on a self-guided walking tour around the city, exploring mostly in the Old Town section.  

For me, one of the best parts of our trip was the time we spent swimming in the lake.  Very near where our hotel's funicular drops you off, there is a swim club with access to the lake, Seebad.  One of the perks of our hotel is it offers to its guests free passes to the club plus beach towels to take with you.  The club was very busy and again seemed to be frequented by many locals as well as a few tourists.  There were two fairly shallow pools around which the club was built and access to the larger lake via a set of stairs.  There is also a cafe and the food I saw passing by looked very good.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I don't have any pictures to share.

Dinner that night was a serendipitous find, as we stumbled upon Istanbul while we searching in vain for another restaurant.  It turned out to be one of the best meals of our entire trip!  Everything we had was delicious and the waiter could not have been nicer to all of us, but especially the kids.  

After dinner, we walked home along the lake and stopped for ice cream at one of the many stands along the way.  Then it was back up the funicular and off to bed.