Were you all good little girls and boys, and refrained from Googling the not-so-secret main attractions of Lucerne?
Just in case you did consult Google to ruin the surprise about Lucerne's lion monument and famous bridge, I'm going to cram a stick in your proverbial bike tires, and send you flying over your proverbial bike handles, causing you to land on your proverbial rump.
Why? Well, because I am going to start with pictures of Hof Church. Ha! Weren't expecting that were you now? Stick in bike tire. Mission accomplished.
And because I can be so mean, proverbially speaking of course, isn't it for the best that I start with the church to make amends to the Internet for my cruel threat? I think so.
If you are wandering around, snapping pictures of anything that does and does not move, and you come to this step, isn't it fair to say that your curiosity would be peaked?
45 Steps to God! Who knew it was so easy?
These doors were so heavy! It was crazy. I had to use all my strength to get them open, and even then I only managed an opening big enough to squeeze through. Please don't assume I have no muscle mass. Because you'd be correct.
Gilding's of Gold
I didn't know what to expect from The Hof. I wasn't sure if it would be like the Berner Munster, but when I stepped inside I knew I wasn't dealing with an abstaining Protestant church.
The Hof belongs to a Benedictine monastery, and clearly displays the golden wealth that lined Roman Catholic purses, received when mortal sinners paid to be absolved of the black stain on their souls.
Golden altars paid for by those who wanted to ensure golden souls.
And yes, yes, slap my hand. Because cynicism aside, these altars are incredibly beautiful and the detail is outstanding.
Light a penny candle.
But despite these golden distractions, there is one piece that your eye cannot avoid.
As I've previously mentioned here before, I haven't really ever attended church. And though I have seen crucifixion scenes of Christ, this one particularly disturbed me. Maybe it's because I don't think I've ever seen one in colour? Though surely that can't be the case? I don't know. But this one got to me.
Also, the stained glass window with the pyramid and the eye is creepy. And when I looked at it, I instantly thought: Dan Brown. Da Vinci Code. The Lost Symbol. Hidden treasure. Must locate. Am I standing on it? Quick. Do a shoulder check for fanatic albino monk wearing a cilice around his thigh and carrying a gun! Or a tattooed monster who might be flying towards you because you're in the way of the pyramid!
Pop culture is insidious.
I think if I had to choose, I would rather sit in a pew in the Berner Munster instead of The Hof.
Now moving right along (and because I can't think of a good transition) the next stop on our tour of famous Lucerne sights is The Lion of Lucerne.
A commemorative monument.
In his den, he lays to die.
This work of sandstone is probably one of the most powerful stone cuttings I have seen yet. Of course the Greeks have wowed the world with their hunks of masculine and feminine marble, that show all the sinews and tendons of the human body flexing under the mason's chisel. And though these have caused me stand in wonder, I have not felt moved by them.
When looking at Lucerne's dying lion, I do feel moved. How can you not when you look at the pain that causes his stone brow to furrow, the broken spear that painfully emerges from his ribcage, and the way he is collapsed protectively over the shield of a comrade.
The mighty can fall.
This was built in 1821, and it is meant to mark the lives of the Swiss Guards who were essentially massacred during The French Revolution. They were part of Louis' royal household, and when the French people stormed the gates the Swiss found themselves ill prepared with not enough ammunition after the royal family had reached safety. Those that weren't killed fighting, were massacred after they surrendered themselves.
But for the chaos of bloody war, this lion weeps his long cry of remembrance in the sanctuary of a quiet park.
Beneath his paw, is an inscription with the names of the dead.
Locals come here and eat lunch on the park benches and read a book, while eager tourists mill around and stare into the lion's anguished face, then throw pennies into the water, making wishes in wells that are already burdened.
And though you do not see a tear rolling down his cheek, when I look at his face I see weeping.
And I could stare at it for hours.
That Friday in Lucerne, I sat under the cool green shade of the trees, listened to the buzz of tour groups, ate my sandwich, drank my warm mineral water, and wondered if he'd ever smile again. Because though he is made of sand and stone, his lament is loud and it breaks the stillness of his surroundings.
When my last drop of water had been tipped from the bottle, it was time to head back to the train station, and back towards the bridge.
This bridge is very famous, and there's a good chance you've seen its image used before in marketing for Switzerland. But just in case you haven't, here she be!
Chapel Bridge, built in 1333
This bridge is touted as being the oldest bridge in Switzerland. But in 1993 much of it was destroyed by a fire, and had to be rebuilt.
I'm old, but new.
So maybe this tower isn't so terrible now, but in it's six hundred plus years of existence, here are some of the functions this tower has served: treasury, prison, watchtower, torture chamber, and today it's a guild hall for some local association. Hopefully not the local guild of "Ye Be Dead Meat, Yer In The Torture Chamber Now."
One of the nicest visual details of the bridge, are the flowers that are planted along the sides.
And inside the bridge, are paintings depicting Lucerne's history. Of course, most of the paintings are reproductions due to the fire, but the originals had dated back to the 1600's.
Never play with matches.
And when you're done soaking up Lucerne's cultural highlights, this city boasts some awesome shopping.
Not that I would know anything about THAT.
And since there's no pictures, there's no proof.
(A German farewell, that sounds like 'chews'. Or as I used to think it sounded like, "juice." So I was leaving people's doorsteps calling a farewell, "Juice! Juice! Juuuuiiiccce." Then Dan looked at me in confusion one night and said, "Are you saying...juice?" What? No. Never! Because that makes no sense! *insert nervous laughter as I use all my fingers and toes to figure out how many people I've said 'juice' to as I was leaving their company*)