There’s a lovely Alpine lake in the small town of Cham, Switzerland a short distance from Lucerne.

After hours of utter calmness, the wind picked up like a banshee when I sat to start this blog. 

Last night, we walked there and had a drink before going to dinner. It is a huge lake and three different hunks of the Alps show up in the distance. A friend we were dining with had been to Cham a number of times. Our walk was the first he discovered the lake! It is that thing of seeing what is around you, of exploring. Depending on where you stay in a city, your view is of buildings and streets. Change hotels and an entirely new city can be discovered—even one as small as Cham (around 14,000 people).

Upon our arrival at seven-thirty, an elderly man was swimming in the lake—with the water a brisk 50 degrees. He waded out, went into the building and came out shortly attired in dress clothes including a vest and tie. He and his wife strolled off, arm in arm.

Due to the wind, I relocated to the hotel. Our room is along a wide canal running through town. There’s a charming walkway along the canal to the lake. It’s a nice room to hlounge in except that a backhoe has been operating throughout the day. The work on a foundation for a new building is a mere hundred yards away, so it is quite loud. Have you ever watched one of those machines at work and thought: really? It doesn’t look like what they’re doing is logical. But then, I’m not a construction worker.

Relaxing into the place

Our friend took us for a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant he has eaten at before. Does our reputation for loving Italian food proceed us or does he love it, too? I indulged my love for ravioli. The pasta was filled with the seasonal special: spargel (asparagus), served with chunks of spargel. If I ever die in the middle of an Italian meal, you will know I went out happy.

Spargel Ravioli!

Spargel Ravioli!

I’m trying to take a lot of my sister’s I-Spy pictures. Those snaps help me remember the moments more than those of buildings and such. Not that I don’t love architecture, but the picture I snuck of the old man with the cane reminds me to tell you the story. I saw an elderly man on the river walk. I passed him, smiled, walked aways, and sat, moved to a different bench and sat. He finally arrived to where I sat. It was a quarter of a mile, but he did it. He smiled and offered the Swiss greeting. It’s something like “Gertz-ing.” He smiled at my response and my reversion to the German, Guten Tag, for good day. He sat and rested and then he walked off in the other direction, perhaps making a big circle.

Pictures like his remind me of the characters who cross my path.

Like the photo I took last night of the tiny Fiat in the entrance to the restaurant. They lifted it in through the windows for the sheer fun of it! I’m not big on kitschy things that don’t serve a purpose. But give me a reason—a Fiat in the Krone Restaurant in Cham for the humor—and I’m delighted.

Cham is relaxing and easy to stroll. People are nice, smiles are welcoming.

Then there is the impression Lucerne makes on visitors.

The city is beautiful, clean, and the streets are crazily disordered because of the age of the place. The people are nice and helpful. There is a lot of English spoken here—they embrace tourists from everywhere.

Switzerland is extremely expensive, even compared to Italy. Even compared to the tourist areas of Milan and Florence. A small cup of coffee lakeside was the equivalent of $5.50. I only had one.

We had Chantal as our waitress today at the Casino Lucerne’s outside eating area. She was delightful. Has been to the US because her grandfather lives in Columbia, SC. She went to NYC for two or three days. Overwhelmed by the bigness of the place. She was charming, with dimples and a big smile and very good English. I think she could have sat with us and visited throughout our very good meal.

Because of the politeness of people, we were shocked as we strolled along the river when a man behind us ordered us out of the way. I turned, took in his getup involving both  a cane and a mini scooter kids put one foot on and push themselves along with the other. He was telling me I could jump in the river and swim and Alex would come in after me. Obviously, he had not met my non-chivalrous husband. But we laughed.

The man got ahead of us to the steps and gathered his things to go up. I asked if he needed help. He said, “No no. For 100 francs you can help me.” 

Lucerne is enticing and eager to have you relax into the pace of it. Nothing is too much trouble, the flowers are lovely, the food scrumptious, and the people—never forget to take time to visit with the locals and learn their favorite things about their city.

Other snippets of people and place:

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Read: About those left turns