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Old 03-09-2013, 05:32 AM   #46
zanzibar138
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
: Funny.....I thought we WERE Austria and there are plenty of kangaroos here!





Lovely pictures of Innsbruck Old Town and Lucerne. Can't wait to see more of Lucerne.
As much as it was still a lovely place to visit, Lucerne wasn't my favourite. It was just a bit touristy for me. We certainly had some amazing experiences though

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More great updates you are really spoiling us! Austria looks so beautiful... But that ski jump!!!! Looks terrifying!
Yeah I can't imagine ever feeling the desire to launch myself off that thing on a pair of skis I can't speak for the rest of Austria, but Innsbruck was incredibly beautiful

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Originally Posted by Minnie Sue Oz View Post
Wow! The scenery is simply breathtaking and I can imagine it was just wonderful to see it all picture perfect!

DD loved your pics of the wolf at the zoo! And that ski jump............I got dizzy just looking at the pictures!

I love travelling on trains and the view has been nothing but spectacular!

I really am thoroughly enjoyong your report and I can't wait for more!
It was just like being in a postcard MinnieSue! Of all the animals at the zoo, it was the wolves I really wanted to see. I've gotten a bit into wild dogs since meeting our friends dingo.
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Old 03-09-2013, 06:11 AM   #47
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Day 7 - Take Me to the Clouds Above

Lucerne

Today we just allowed ourselves to wake up in our own time (knowing that Mum is an early riser of course). After getting ready, we tried out the hotel breakfast (the only one that was actually included in our room rate). The breakfast room was nice, and there was a good variety of food. This morning I couldn’t resist re-living my childhood eating the Honey Wheats, then had some cold meats and of course I had to have Swiss cheese!

On today’s agenda was going up Mt Pilatus. This one was about 2km high. It was overcast, but we thought we may as well go anyway, so we made our way over to what appeared to be the bus station. Dad thought we needed a bit more information, so we found our way to the tourist information desk inside the train station. The lady there was very helpful and said we could buy round trip tickets there, but showed us what the view from the top was like before we decided whether we wanted to go or not. There was no view down the mountain through the cloud, but there seemed to be some blue sky up there so we decided to go for it. We were given instructions and maps and were on our way!

We had to catch the bus from across the road to where the main bus hub seemed to be. It was very easy to find and, most conveniently, one pulled up just as we arrived. We just walked onto the bus, didn’t have to show or validate our tickets or anything, and found some seats. There were a lot of stops with the word ‘Pilatus’ in them which was a bit confusing, but we eventually found the right stop and got off. Along the way it had started snowing very lightly.



We followed the signs to Mt Pilatus from the bus stop, and walked up a bit of a hill and past a school before coming to the cable car entrance.



We figured out that we needed to swap the tickets we had been given at the tourist information place for proper cable car tickets, then we were off! This one was nice because it was just us and we could sit down.









It didn’t take long before we were up in the cloud and couldn’t really see much.



We made our way nearly to the top of the mountain, then had to transfer to a big cable car for the rest of the trip. On the last section of cable car the visibility was very bad, and we thought we were going to crash into a pile of rocks on more than one occasion!

When we finally arrived at the top, we made our way to the viewing platform. There wasn’t much to see there – all cloud – so we climbed a little staircase to a bit higher viewing spot. I was a big wuss again and it took me a long time to climb just a few sets of stairs! There was another group of people coming up just after us who were clearly locals and just about ran up the stairs. When they got to the top one of them draped a Swiss flag over himself and did a song and dance routine for a video camera lol!

The cloud was very thick, but was moving quickly and before long we found a spot of blue sky!







We stayed up there for a while and saw bits of blue sky come and go, but not much else. So we thought it might be time to head down again. And that took even longer than getting up!



There was so much snow around, we took some photos of the snowed in fences at the bottom of the stairs. There was still snow falling from the sky too!





We did a little bit of exploring back on the relatively safe, flat part, and found one of the hotels up there. Back in the warmth of the station, we found a little cafeteria style place for some morning tea. Then Mum checked out the gift shop before we started on the return journey. When we got off mid-way to transfer to the other cable car, we went out and explored a little bit. We found the start of some toboggan runs, and the rope course that is open in summer.





There were even people using the toboggan runs, although we wondered how on earth they could see where they were going in that cloud! In the lobby there was a display of the different snow toys you could hire.



Back down at ground level, it was very cold, and still snowing very lightly. We made our way back to the bus stop and were glad to get on the bus into the warm! When we got off the bus we made a quick dash to our room to fix our layers and have a bathroom break before continuing on with our sightseeing. The plan for the afternoon was a self-guided walking tour of Lucerne, using a map that we found in one of the brochures at the hotel. We rugged up and set out.

Continued in next post...
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Old 03-09-2013, 06:21 AM   #48
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Day 7 - Take Me to the Clouds Above

Continued...

The tour left from the tourist information desk at the train station. The map had a little camera symbol where you were supposed to stop and take photos. I was following it very literally to start off with! First stop was the arch in front of the train station.



Then we were to continue walking in that direction until we reached the pier on the lake.





Next stop was the Chapel Bridge, which of course we’d already crossed the night before. I hadn’t taken any photos from this angle though.



Then we were to walk around the back streets a little, and past an old church.





When we got back to the river, there was another old covered bridge across. There was also remnants of the paddle wheel power supply the city used to rely on.











It was here that we realised there was a city wall around the Old Town! It was very exciting for me as I love the idea of city walls, and I hadn’t been expecting to see any. It was a bit hard to find exactly where we were supposed to go, and we were all very surprised to see a herd of cattle in the paddock in the middle of the city lol! We were all very careful on the snowy path, even though there were a group of teenagers along the way using the snow for sliding just for fun.









It was kind of difficult to know where we could cross the wall to get back into the city – I thought we might have to wander the whole length of it at one point lol! But eventually we found our way in and ended up back in the Old Town. We thought that was as good a point as any to stop for a bite to eat. Eventually we found a cafeteria style place, of the same chain that we stopped at for afternoon tea the day before. We only just managed to find a seat as our lunch was ready.

After filling our bellies, it was time to continue with the tour. There were a few windy bits around Old Town, which we decided to skip, having explored a bit the previous afternoon. So we went straight onto the Lion Monument. It took a while to find, and for the last couple of section the map hadn’t been that useful (it was more cartoon style than an actual map), but we managed to find it in the end.

I had never realised that the monument was over a pool of water, so I thought I’d better include the water in my photos. It must be there for a reason. Maybe because it's a nice place to go for reflection? If it wasn't for the group of kids playing a game there it would have been quite a solemn, thoughtful place.





There was a bit of a museum thing at the monument, which we decided to skip. It was getting fairly late and Dad still needed to shop for his Swiss army knife lol! So the next stop was the big church that we could see from our room. The church was beautiful in an entirely different way to something like Notre Dame. It was solid and stable, with just a few carvings at the main entrance.





From the church there was a nice view back towards the lake.



Mum had her eye on a shop for Dad’s Swiss army knife, it was like a big department store for tourists in the Old Town area. It had several floors of crazily expensive watches, jewellery and bags, and one little section of reasonably priced souvenir type stuff. Dad bought his white Swiss army knife, and I bought one for DH, then we both had them engraved which was pretty cool. It was a mission buying it though, we had to show our passports and fill in forms – it took about 10 minute just to put the transaction through!

Eventually we made it back to the hotel to have a bit of a rest before dinner. We went to an English pub style place in the same area we were in the previous night, where we all had fish and chips. Yep, very Swiss of us lol! Then it was back to the hotel for some packing and getting organised for yet another move the next day.
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:29 PM   #49
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On a clear day, you can almost see forever from the top of Pilatus.

What a lot of snow and cloud. Was it super cold too?
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Old 03-09-2013, 06:20 PM   #50
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On a clear day, you can almost see forever from the top of Pilatus.

What a lot of snow and cloud. Was it super cold too?
We actually felt colder when we got back down the bottom of the mountain! Maybe it's because we were expecting it to be sold cold at the top, or maybe it's because the snow was insulating us a bit But however you look at it, yes it was super cold

We pretty lucky that at least we got up Nordkette on a clear day. But we all said we'd like to go back to Pilatus in better weather.
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:42 PM   #51
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Day 8 - There's Real Snow Falling from the Sky!

Lucerne – Montreux

This morning I jumped out of bed enthusiastically and went to the window to see whether it was still snowing. It was! And it was getting heavier! We realised that the locals were probably sick of snow by that stage, but I was loving it! While Mum and Dad were having their showers and getting ready, I just sat on the window sill watching the snow fall.

When we were all ready we went down for breakfast again. This time I thought I’d try their scrambled eggs and ham. Not nearly as good as the café in Innsbruck, but pretty good for a hotel buffet breakfast. I had some more Swiss cheese too! And some fruit and yoghurt, though it did feel kind of strange having a cold breakfast when it was snowing outside.

After breakfast we went back up to our room to collect our luggage and check out. There was a bit of a mix-up, as I had assumed since we booked through Expedia that the hotel was pre-paid, but it turns out it wasn’t. Anyway it was all fine in the end, we settled the bill and walked across the road to the train station. We all enjoyed the novelty of walking in the snow, and I’m sure the locals thought we were insane.





There was a bit of confusion about our train. I had assumed we were looking for a train going to Geneva, and we couldn’t find any sign of one. We couldn’t find an information stand for the station, so we went back to the tourist information place. The lady there told me we would have to transfer at Lausanne, and gave me a timetable, then told me how to find the train information place if we needed to. Once I had the right information, it was quite easy to find the train to Lausanne, so we didn’t end up needing further instructions.



The scenery changed a lot on just a short train trip. There were areas of heavy snow, no snow, mountainous areas, flat areas, then as we were coming into Lausanne it started to get very foggy. We realised there was a big lake on one side of us, and we could see some terraced vineyards on the other side of us through the fog. Somewhere along the way (I think after Bern), they changed from German to French as their main language.





We were a bit confused as to what we needed to do in Lausanne, so Dad had asked ticket person on the train. She gave us quite detailed instructions and we found out that it was going to be a tight connection. We got ourselves organised as soon as we figured out we were coming into Lausanne, so that we could be off the train straight away and looking for the next platform.

Turns out that being in first class was a bit of a hinderance to a fast transfer, as we had a long walk from the front of the train to the tunnel to the next platform, then had to walk all the way to the front of the next train too. The train was already there and Dad was getting very edgy, he just wanted to get into the first carriage we saw and make our way to the first class one through the train. I knew we still had another few minutes though, so I just kept walking until we got to the right carriage. We just had time to stow our luggage, take off our coats, and sit down before the train started moving.

It was a fairly quick train ride (about 20 minutes) with the lake on one side and the vineyard terraces on the other. It was lovely scenery.



Finally we arrived in Montreux, and it was still snowing!



I had of course printed out a map of the walk from the train station to the hotel, but I think we missed our turn-off. We got there in the end anyway, and still only took about 10 minutes. We checked in and were given a room on the 12th floor! Luckily the lift was big enough for all 3 of us and our suitcases, though it was still a bit of a tight squeeze.

Our room was a decent size for 2, but a bit squashy for 3, and I was concerned to see that it was only set up for 2 when we arrived. There were 2 sets of towels and toiletries, and there was no spare bed, and no couch. We figured they’d be around later to set up the extra bed, and if there was no sign of it when we got back from exploring we’d ask. The views were nice – would have been amazing on a clear day.





We’d planned to visit Chateau de Chillon this afternoon, and we decided that it looked like a nice walk along the lake (it wasn’t a short walk though, about 4km to the castle). Along the way there was a display of vegetation sculptures which were great!







We were all a bit hungry, so we thought we’d better abandon the lake for a while to see if we could find a nice café for some lunch.



We found one in a shopping centre about 5 minutes walk away. This was a good find – there were a couple of cafes, a pharmacy and a supermarket, in close proximity to our hotel. We also found an electronics store where we bought the adapter thing that we needed for Switzerland. We had croque monsieurs for lunch and made our way back down to the lake to continue our walk.







I had to run past this one with my eyes closed! I don’t know what would possess someone to put a giant spider up a tree like that!







We passed a small vineyard which turned out to be for the castle’s private use. You could buy the wine at the gift shop in there apparently.



We could see the castle not too far off. It looked like it was going to be pretty small.



It even still looked pretty small when we arrived! (For a castle I mean, you expect them to be massive things).





Continued in next post...
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:49 PM   #52
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Day 8 - There's Real Snow Falling from the Sky!

Continued...

We paid our entrance fees and picked up a map for self-guided tour. We didn’t bother with the audio. As usual I was the navigator, and it took me a while to get the hang of the map! But eventually I figured it out and we were on our way. We started off in a room with a model of the castle, and some information about it. Parts of the building date back to the 11th century!



Next up was the wine cellar and a storage area. I loved how it was just built right into the rocks, and the rocks had kind of become part of the castle.







We came out in a room where they kept prisoners chained to those pillars.



Then there was an optional part called ‘the Crypt’. There wasn’t much information down there, and it was pretty dark and poky. It was great fun to explore! We only just fit up the stairs on the way out!



We came out in a courtyard, and were to start our exploration of the middle tier of the castle next.





These rooms were mainly banquet halls and sleeping quarters for highly regarded people of the time, and were elaborately decorated.











There were lots of cool little secret passageways and hidden stairs built in.



Next up on the tour was one of the towers. We got some nice views from up there.







We came out through the chapel into another courtyard.







Then it was back inside to a kitchen/meals area for less important people, and some more storage. There were also some more models of the castle in this area. Mum was very concerned when I read that this whole area had collapsed hundreds of years ago and had all been re-built.





Continued in next post...
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:54 PM   #53
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Day 8 - There's Real Snow Falling from the Sky!

Continued...

Next up was the defence line, and some more nice views.

















We were getting close to the end of our tour now, which finished up in the big middle tower. It was a bit hairy climbing up, the stairs were steep and narrow, and the edges had been worn off from hundreds of years worth of use. It was well worth the climb though, and they had a bit of a display on each floor for encouragement!











And so with a careful climb back down the rickety stairs, our tour of the castle was finished. We had been surprised at how much there was to see in there, since it looked so small from the outside. It took us a good 2 hours to get through the whole lot. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and agreed that it was a very worthwhile place to visit. Unfortunately for Mum, since we had taken so long to get through, the gift shop was closing up. There was another unofficial one outside that we had a quick look at, but didn’t really see anything good.

So then it was time to begin the trek back to the hotel. When we first started out, I saw a small track leading down to the water, and decided to see where it went. Mum decided to come with me, but I think Dad had had enough of little old stairs! It just went down to the bottom of the castle, and we couldn’t get through so we went back up.





Dad did come down to the ‘beach’ with us.







On the way back we noticed this crazy steep cable train going up the mountain.



And saw the Freddie Mercury statue that we had missed when we left the lake in search of food on the way out.



We went back up to the room to rest our feet while we decided what to do for dinner. While we were there housekeeping came in to make up my bed. After another long day on our feet, none of us could be bothered going far for dinner, so we just went to the hotel restaurant. We decided against the raw mince, or horse steak, and went with a much safer sounding fish dish. It was very quiet in there, but it was still early. More people were coming in as we were leaving.

Then it was back up to the room for a relatively early night.
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Old 03-10-2013, 03:48 AM   #54
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I love poking around in castles like that. Looks like you had a great time!
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:08 AM   #55
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Hi Zanzibar Love the photos and train travel. You've done a great job capturing the cities. By the end of the trip did you need an extra suitcase just for all the maps you managed to pick up?
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Old 03-10-2013, 04:32 PM   #56
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Quote:
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I love poking around in castles like that. Looks like you had a great time!
We did Next time I'll add a few more castles to the itinerary.

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Hi Zanzibar Love the photos and train travel. You've done a great job capturing the cities. By the end of the trip did you need an extra suitcase just for all the maps you managed to pick up?
I was actually very restrained, managed to throw out a lot as we went. It was a shame, but I always save so much stuff from trips and it just gets stashed in a drawer never to see the light of day again. Having said that, I did pick up every Disney brochure I could and brought those home
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:45 PM   #57
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Great updates!!!

I'm now adding Innsbruck and Lucerne to my 2014 trip wish list

Your photos are fantastic, and it's so nice to think about snow during this heat wave we are experiencing...
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:58 PM   #58
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Day 9 - Climb Every Mountain

Montreux

Today we were off to our last mountain, Rochers-de-Naye. This mountain was up around the 2000m mark again, and we were going to go up on the cog railway. We awoke to yet another overcast, foggy morning, and dressed in all our layers. First stop was breakfast, and we headed to the little shopping centre that we’d found the previous day. We went to the other café we’d seen, and had a yummy breakfast or crusty bread, croissants, juice and coffees. Then we set off to find the train station.



We found the Golden Pass desk and bought our tickets. They were nearly half price in winter. We were quite early for the next train, but we decided to just sit and wait at our platform. It got quite chilly! But a guy turned up with his ski equipment and started to get organised for his trip up the mountain. It was quite fascinating watching him.



Soon enough the train arrived and we all boarded. It was actually quite busy! We took off up the mountain – it would take us nearly an hour to get to the top.



There were some great views on the way, which was just as well since we could hardly even see each other when we got to the top lol!









There were a few little stations along the way. This one was at about 800m, and seemed to be the terminus of the really steep cable train that we’d seen the day before.



You can see how steep the train was in this photo from the angle of the window!



And as we climbed higher, the snow got thicker.





Amazingly, we started to see ‘frozen trees’! It was just like a winter fairytale!





There were heaps of these little fences around. We figured they were meant to help stop avalanches or something.



There were crazy people in ski gear getting off the train at stations all the way up, and disappearing into the thick fog. By the time we got to the top, we could hardly see our hands in front of our face! We checked out the viewing area, but there really wasn’t much point. We couldn’t even see if there were any tracks to other viewing areas!







It didn’t take me long to realise that we weren’t going to see any marmots up there! Even if we could actually see, they were all fast asleep. But there was a display in the station with information, pictures, and even stuffed marmots, which would have to do us until our next visit. For those who are interested, here’s what they look like!



After checking out the marmot display for a while, we checked out the gift shop and cafeteria, then headed back down to catch the next train back to the base. I was pretty tempted to buy a little marmot toy, but I couldn’t justify the expense.



Continued in next post...
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:06 PM   #59
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Day 9 - Climb Every Mountain

Continued...

Our trip back down wasn't as peaceful as the trip up. There was a group of teenagers in our carriage who were being quite loud and obnoxious, proving that teenagers are the same wherever you go in the world lol! Nonetheless, I was enjoying the view of the ‘frozen trees’.







There was a station and massive building that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, but I’m sure with less snow around it would look much less isolated!





Before long we were approaching the halfway station and we started to get views of the city again.









From there the journey went quite quickly and before we knew it we were back at the station getting off the train. Even though the top of the mountain had been too cloudy to see anything, we had all enjoyed the train trip, the views from the train, and the novelty of seeing so much snow and ice around. We'd like to go back in nicer weather though one day to experience the alpine garden and marmot sanctuary.

From there, Dad was pretty keen on checking out the Old Town, which he’d seen signs to before when we were on our way to the train station, so we followed our noses and after a few blocks there it was. It was completely different to the other Old Towns we’d seen. This one was more residential with just a couple of restaurants but no shopping or anything. I think Dad had been expecting something else lol!







Dad had then decided that he’d had enough and was keen to get back to the hotel. We passed a couple of souvenir type shops, which Mum and I went and had a look at. Dad waited impatiently outside in the cold. We bought a few things – I got a Swiss army picnic set (which has a fork and spoon as well as a knife lol!), a small knife in a pouch, some chocolate Swiss army knives, and a Christmas tree ornament (though it was difficult to find one!).

We found a little café and went in for a spot of afternoon tea. Mum and I had waffles with chestnut cream, which was yummy! Dad had a caramel crepe, which he said was pretty good too. While we were eating I was eyeing off the pet shop next door, and when we were finished I went in to have a look and see if I could find any souvenirs for our dogs and cats. I was tempted to get the dogs some cool collars, but not for 60 Swiss francs each…

From there, Dad went back to the hotel so that Mum and I could keep shopping at our own pace. Turns out we were pretty much done after that anyway, but we wandered for a bit more. We saw some really ski boot shaped slippers which I was pretty tempted to buy, but they were so bulky they would have been awkward to get home. I also saw a beautiful pair of boots which were 270 Swiss francs so I didn’t bother to try them on. I can’t stop thinking about them though and think perhaps it might have been worth the splurge (I did come back with $400 to spare).

Anyway, we thought we’d stop by the supermarket on the way back to the hotel and get some chocolate. It took us a while to decide lol!



When we got back to the room, we found that Dad had bought a bottle of wine on the way back, so we had a glass of that and some chocolate, and relaxed for a while before thinking about what we might do for dinner. We thought it might be nice to have fondue while we were in Switzerland, so made our way back to the Old Town area where we had seen fondue on one of the menus.

It was actually a really flash place, and quite a few people were dressed up for dinner there. We were asked if we had a reservation, which we didn’t, but since it wasn’t packed they were able to seat us anyway. From the outside you could have sworn that there wasn’t another person around for miles lol! We ordered the beef fondue with a mushroom and herb broth. It came with a potato dish on the side, kind of like scalloped potatoes. It was really quite fun cooking the meat, and with the flavour of the broth it was really yummy! Mum and I like ours well done, so it took a while. We actually ran out of gas and they had to bring us a new burner lol!





We were all far too full to consider dessert, so we waddled back to the hotel and prepared ourselves for the early morning train ride back to Paris.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:04 PM   #60
Aussie Wendy
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All that snow and fog-quite a different experience for an Australian! Glad you enjoyed yourselves regardless. We love poking around castles exploring all the different levels and always spend far too long in them so especially enjoyed your pics. I am always heading off following little paths that lead nowhere and making already tired "followers" walk twice as far as we retrace our steps!

Did the second bridge in Lucerne still have the macabre Dance of Death paintings? (or was it carvings-been too long I forget). They stand out in my memory as well as the lion monument.
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