Grandmother’s travel journal: Lucerne & mountains of Switzerland in 1952
Sunday 16th August
Went to Mass at a Church in Bingen that was erected to honour St Roc, the Saint who delivered the town from an epidemic. It was the Saint Feast Day and thousands were there in celebration, also the Papal Delegate. Each year the town celebrates St Roc for a week and holds a wine festival.
We had lunch near a monument that was erected after Franco-Prussion war 1870. It was a tremendous monument and I got pictures and story of it. The town of Rudesheim, a world-renowned “wine town”, was a mass of cafes all selling wines which violin and accordions supplying music. Unfortunately, it was raining.
The city of Dusseldorf, visited previously, had many lovely shops and first quality goods but prices were very high.
Left Bingen for Baden Baden, passing along part of Rhine Valley whose sides were terraced and planted with many grape vines – many women working in fields and the farms a mixture of orchard and vegetables. Visited an old castle of Rheims family about 12th century – very tiny chapel and very old furnishing, inlaid cabinets and books all handwritten.
Passed through Haig and saw 1000-year-old cathedral which is in a wonderful state of preservation, wonderful altar at side in bronze-like material and all hand carved. Quite a lot of bombed areas around Haig. Stayed just out of Baden Baden at place called Rasttat where once the Peace Conference Prussion Francs Pact was held.
Wednesday 19th August
Came into Baden Baden. Visited casino, a most palatial place comprising cabaret theatre and gambling rooms. This place world-renowned spa and pleasure resort and certainly crowded with fashionable people and wealthy ones. Big race meetings are held here. Drank the spa water at the “Trinkhalle” – it tasted rather salty.
Visited the funicular railway, a height of over 2000 feet, which afforded view of surroundings. Met some Australians who gave us tips re accommodation etc, a Mr and Mrs Frazer, Sydney. Continued on over border – no trouble with customs.
The farming methods are most primitive. Many women and children work in fields with men. They use cows, oxen and horses to pull their implements. Sometimes see a cow and horse being led by a lady and pulling a single furrow plough while the man controls the plough. All available ground is under crop or fallow and many people can be seen weeding and hoeing the ground.
First night in Switzerland we stopped at a place called Ittigen, about 15 miles from Lucerne. Had our own picnic meal in the bedroom and next morning the usual continental breakfast which we have become accustomed to now of rolls, butter, jam and coffee. John had to go to bank to change currency and while there met a man who had a winery in the town and who invited us to go over it.
Our visit was very interesting and we sampled various wines and finally he opened a bottle of champagne in our honour. It was a Swiss champagne and a bit on the dry side, however we said we would buy a bottle. When departure came, not only did he present each of us with a small bottle of wine, but also would not accept payment for champagne. We learned a few tips on wines of different countries. Pommard is the leading French wine, Chianti the most popular everyday Italian wine, and Swiss wine is a white wine.
Came on to Lucerne and after some searching finally booked our accommodation at the pension Villa Maria. Lucerne is certainly a lovely city and surely the place for watches, nearly every shop sold watches of all makes. Jewellery is plentiful – very varied but pricey as are most things including food.
The lake of Lucerne is very lovely and we went up to Mt Burgenstock and from there by an outdoor lift up the mountain side from where we could obtain a magnificent view pf the lakes and Lucerne. The beauty of the scene is just too magnificent to describe. The water of the lake is a glorious blue and even when the sky is cloudy it still looks as glorious a colour – it is really uncanny. The lake is surrounded by tall pine and fir trees and of course there are villages dotted all round. We had quite a long walk before getting into the lift through tall pines, ferns etc, and looking over edge of path the mountain dropped sheer to the water’s edge.
The cows grazing on the slopes higher up were all equipped with very, very large cow bells and the musical tinkles which they gave forth were delightful to hear. The cows are all of a light fawn colour – don’t know what the breed. There was a restaurant on the mountain top – which is usual in all these places and we had coffee and a Swiss sandwich which comprised two pieces dry bread and a cold salami-type sausage, however, we ordered some butter which improved things – the cost was high so we are cautious now.
Next interesting trip was to Mt Engelberg and from there up to Mt Trubsee and finally to Mt Titlisee at 10,000 feet. To reach this height we went by funicular rail then by flying fox cabin and then by air chair right up through the clouds – it was so cold but we were well rewarded on reaching the top. It was surprising to see so many lovely flowers growing all over the mountain top – there were large flowers like marigolds, Delphinium and marguerettes, also a glorious lake.
As the clouds moved we could see masses of snow on the top, which also we could see from Lucerne. It was all a grand experience, especially the trip through space in the different flying fox conveyances. Coming down it was intensely cold and we could not see far ahead as the clouds were quite thick. The resort is popular with winter sport enthusiasts and on a mountain very high up was erected a cross – also as Mt Trubsee there was a little church. Mt Trubsee was 6,000 feet up and Mt Titislee 10,000 feet. Took quite a few snaps of the snow-capped peaks and also the lake.
Went to the Casino in Lucerne one evening – the whole building is for entertainment, dancing, theatre, restaurant and gambling.
Went to Mass at a Cathedral where the building was surrounded by a courtyard and then a graveyard under cover – they appeared to be family tombs covered by large slabs of cement.
Left Lucerne for Innsbruck, Austria on 24th August 1952 and unfortunately it was a very wet, cloudy day so could not appreciate scenery through Alberg Pass but it was a terrific pull with car and could only go slowly as thick cloud obscured vision.
Stayed overnight at a pension in St Jacob Valley – very ordinary place used by skiers in winter, however had a good night’s sleep.
Most mornings we were rewarded by bright sunshine and a lovely view of the valley and also snow on the mountain tops. The tinkle of the goats bells amused us and the animals were a variety of colours and most had a black line down their backs and across shoulders. They look such quaint animals.
Catch up on the series:
- Travelling through time: exploring similarities of grandmother’s travel journal and my own
- Grandmother’s travel journal: To London to visit the Queen
- Travelling through time: London, York and hotel bars with men
- Travelling through time: Grandmother’s trip to Ireland in 1952
- Travelling through time: Last days in Ireland in 1952
- Travelling through time: Dancing in French streets in 1952
- Grandmother’s travel journal: Brussels, Antwerp and Rotterdam in 1952
- Grandmother’s travel journal: Amsterdam and Marken in 1952
- Grandmother’s travel journal: aiding refugees in post-war Germany
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