A Swiss boat trip launches
Across the street from the central train station stands a tall, pale stone arch. It’s a remnant of the old station, burnt long ago, and the Swiss city of Lucerne rises behind it. The city spreads out below the gnarled giant of Mount Pilatus. It’s wide girth towers over the region, a kingly presence matched only by the more feminine grandeur of the Lake, whose fingers stretch between neighboring valleys, embracing villages nestled along the shores like suckling siblings.
I walked out of the station to finally meet a digital friend in person. Crowds bustled away from the trains. Clutches of tourists crossed the street to the Lake. I scanned the quay noticing many boats were waiting. Which one was mine? Then I recognized Ladina and knew the day was set. After happy hellos we boarded for a three hour boat trip to Flüelen.
The ship was narrow with two main decks forward and aft. A kind attendant pointed us upstairs to the first class seating area. We stopped at a cafe table near a window, leaving luggage and bags without worry. It’s the Swiss way. Outside long wooden benches waited for those willing to brave the fresh chill. We did repeatedly to better admire the passing views, then retreated inside for cups of coffee and more conversation.
The crew smoothly tucked the ship close to small wharves, stopping only long enough to drop or receive a few passengers. The route criss-crossed the water, following the shore where villages stood close, then silently turned away from land to slip across the lake to another stop. Some of the villages receive supplies this way but mostly the boat carried day passengers, many older with the hours it takes to make the full journey. As we entered the historic region, the tone on board shifted. Music had been playing lightly but it changed to more traditional Swiss style. Announcements centered on the historical sites along the way. They rolled out in several languages, with English in the mix. My American ears could follow along easily. I discovered that along the lake route, Swiss history is marked in stone and story. In the 1500’s, William Tell, according to popular legend, symbolized the struggle against the oppressive Hapsburgs. Five hundred years later, Fredrich Schiller embellished the myth in his play, “Wilhelm Tell.”
The boat trip stopped briefly at Rutli, where a petite chalet sat close to the Lake. On the roof peak a weather vane twisted, its three figures representing the men who, myth allows, vowed to preserve Swiss culture. The country’s history is full of battles. Major invasions have been repelled but the National personality, secure now, patiently endures invasions of tourists. Some, like me, were there to open ourselves to the calm grace of the country, the over-powering beauty and deep culture. Many come for more active adventures – hiking, skiing, para-sailing, rock climbing and more. Extreme adventurers don’t usually spend hours on a lake admiring views and sipping schnapps.
Too soon we’d reached the final berth and it was time to return to land at Flüelen. True to tradition, the train station was just a few steps away. Adjacent to the dock a monumental horn faced the ship. Happily there were no event crowds, so the horn sat silent. The peace of the ride, the day, went undisturbed. Ladina and I parted at the station, as she needed to return to work in Zurich, about 45 minutes away. My train left a few minutes later on a ride into the mountains and my next destination and task – to witness the rare beauties, foods and culture of Switzerland.
If you’re interested in arranging your own Swiss rail, bus, and boat trip, Swiss Travel System tickets and passes are available through www.myswitzerland.com/rail.
*My boat trip of Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Grand Train Tour was made possible through Swiss Tourism. All opinions are my own and pictures too, unless otherwise noted.
I hope you enjoyed the virtual boat trip and will share the story with friends. Here’s a couple of pins as well.
Your article brought back some great memories of my trip to Lucerne, Switzerland, a few years ago. Thanks for the great photos — many of mine were on a DVD that ended up not storing properly, so I’ve lost them.
It’s just too cruel losing pictures! Luckily we now have the Cloud. I back up redundantly still. Glad you enjoyed the post.
Beautiful! I’d love to get back to Switzerland and do a boat trip! Such a stunning country!
It is truly from just about any angle!
Hey, I’m ready to go- this looks like a gorgeous place!
I hope you get the chance one day, Sara. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh my goodness! This sounds wonderful! Lake Lucerne is already a sight to behold, what more experiencing it through a boat trip? 🙂
Thanks, Pinay, The trip was full of discoveries. I hadn’t known that the Swiss Travel Pass included buses and boats!
I can hardly remember my trip to this area in over 20 years, but I did remember how beautiful the lake and coastal towns were from taking a lovely cruise in the area. This really brings it all back again and I would love to revisit this area.
So glad to hear you’ve been there, Noel. I want to return when it’s all green and see more. Always more!
I love when you said – “without stress, it’s the Swiss way”! I’m visiting Zurich at the end of this year and I’m very excited for my first experience in Switzerland.
How exciting that you’re going! I was on a solo trip for the most part of 10 days and it was definitely low stress. More stories to come…
Wow, what a relaxing way to explore Switzerland, a boat trip on Lake Lucerne. I’ve always wanted to visit this place, it looks like a lovely place to do a day trip.
Truly beautiful and interesting, Janna. I hope you can visit one day.
Ahh Lake Lucerne what a beautiful setting for a lake cruise. I’m with you, I am not much of a extreme adventurer I would much rather spend my time on the lake, enjoying a little schnapps.
It was lovely but I did go night sledding in Interlaken. I’m often a both/and kind of traveler!
We were just in Lucerne yesterday as luck would have it. It is a beautiful Swiss jewel nestled up to the lake side. We thought about a boat ride but were heading in the opposite direction so only stopped for a walk through the old town and a bit to eat before driving up to Germany.
Sounds like you’re having a wonderful journey! Next time perhaps you’ll visit the lake.
So nice. Perhaps one day I will get the opportunity. Seems like quite an experience.
I hope you visit Switzerland one day.
Switzerland is one of the few European countries I have not been to and this looks like a lovely way to get a taste of Swiss beauty!
It’s truly full of wonders. Affordable if you look for that. Luxurious for everyone with all that beauty.
I have yet to get to Switzerland, but it’s definitely on my list! Glad to have a few suggestions here – I’ll definitely add Lucerne to the itinerary. Traveling through by boat sounds divine, as you described it. I’ll also bookmark RailEurope for when I plan how to get there!
I hope this makes your short list. Lucerne and that region has so much to offer.
I’ve always wanted to visit Lake Lucerne, and this seems like a brilliant way to do it! I love the details here, including the history behind William Tell.
Nice to see you here, Lillie. I need to return to the Lucerne region to see the city and spend more time on the water!
Beautiful scenery on this route. Love the chalet, and the grass is so green for winter! That looks like a very large horn–probably good there were no large crowds to test it out.
Thanks, Vicki. The horn was crazy big. Picturesque in all.
That sounds like an amazing boat trip! I’ve only been to Switzerland once and my first impressions was, expensive and beautiful! I hope to make it back someday 🙂
You are right – expensive and beautiful. I was fortunate to be hosted for the most part. That said the value for money was incredible and there are ways to make the trip more affordable.
Traveling to Switzerland has always been high on my destination wish list! When I do go, I’ll be sure to add cruising lake Lucerne to my itinerary! The scenery from the boat looks stunningly beautiful! I like that a bit of history is given during the tour as well. What a perfect way to spend the day. Thanks for the information!
Thanks for the comment, Heather. Definitely add a boat ride to your Swiss trip. It’s a unique way to see the villages, mountains and valleys from the water.
Such a beautiful part of the world! Your Swiss boat trip cruising Lake Lucerne looks absolutely idyllic. It’s fun to learn that rail passes are good for more than getting from point A to point B. This leisurely trip looks relaxing and comfortable.
It was a quick trip across the southern regions of Switzerland. So nice to just hang out and enjoy from the water for an afternoon.
I love boat trips! you get to see the country from another angle.
Right, Bernard, I really savored that unique, boat perspective.
I took a boat trip like this in Interlake and loved it. You can’t go wrong with any itinerary in Switzerland. Every corner, every mountain, every lake is absolutely gorgeous. I hope you are having a great trip.
I have had, Anda. You’re so right about how intensely beautiful Switzerland is. Beyond brochure!
I’ve been to Lucern but didn’t get a chance to go out on the lake, looks like a wonderful trip 🙂
I need to return to see more of Lucerne. Maybe we’ll cross paths!
I can never get enough of boat trips. I did this exact trip when I visited Lucerne (many years ago). I remember the beautiful scenery and the calm waters. It has been one of the most beautiful places I have been.
Glad to hear you went, Ruth. It will always be a lovely memory for me too.
Elaine, we stopped at Lucerne in December but only overnight so did not get to experience a boat trip or get to Mt Pilatus so thank you for sharing with #TheWeeklyPostcard and taking us along with you.
Thank you, Lyn. Perhaps you’ll get a chance to see more of the Lucerne area one day. Love my blogger buddies on the Weekly Postcard.
A cruise on Lake Lucerne – now that sounds wonderful. Switzerland is such a beautiful country and this area is particularly lovely. Thanks for sharing Elaine 🙂
Thank you, Lyndall. It was so unexpectedly gorgeous!