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6 Hours in Lucerne

Sometimes when you revisit a place after many years of absence, you are disappointed because it is no longer what you remember it to be. I find this to be true of many cities in Europe where overtourism has transformed these once peaceful towns.  It doesn’t mean these places have lost their charm. It’s still there but it is a bit challenging to appreciate what you see when there are so many people around you (even in November) and the cacophony of herded tourist groups makes you want to run in the opposite direction.

But that’s just my view. It’s been nearly two decades since I was in Lucerne where I had walked around the quiet city streets and ended up at the beautiful Jesuit Church. This same Church was my first stop on a recent day trip from Zürich. And it is everything I’ve imagined since that last visit. The white walls with its Baroque ornamentation are not exuberant as other Baroque churches in Europe tend to be. Rather, the decor livens up the stark white walls. I love to sit…

University of Zurich Faculty Law Library

In what used to be the courtyard of the University of Zurich Faculty Law Library, Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, created the additional space the library needed in unconventional fashion. He built a modern wing in stark contrast to the staid building designed in 1908 by Hermann Fietz. Calatrava's design consists of 6 oval rings around an elongated glazed skylight which illuminates the galleries and courtyard. The rings are lined with maple wood that add a rich tone finish to the design and define its space between the glass dome and the white stone floor of the ground floor.

The glass domed copper roof floods the library with natural light.
Study spaces are formed around the balustrades on each gallery, taking advantage of natural light. 
A closer look at the graceful curve of the dome.
The galleries float above the courtyard.
Horizontal windows cut across the outer shell of the galleries.
Rather than cover up the original courtyard, Santiago Calatrava decided to keep it and tur…

Geneva, Capital of Peace

In the city that boasts 1000 delights, there remains hundreds of discoveries to make. So each time I pass through Geneva, there's always something new to discover. Recently, I visited the European headquarters of the Palais des Nations where important discussions are held throughout the year to keep the fragile peace that binds our nations. 
In front of the United Nations building is the wooden sculpture, Broken Chair by Daniel Berset, a Swiss sculptor. It is a reminder of the victims of landmines, cluster bombs and the ¨desperate cry of war torn populations¨. Rising to a height of 39 feet tall, it dwarfs visitors who pose by those long legs. Broken Chair was crafted by Louie Gèneve. 
Melancholy is the most poignant sculpture I've ever seen. Nothing speaks of emptiness more than the gaping hole through which one can see the peaceful lake in the background. Melancholy was created by Romanian artist, Albert György, who experienced this void when his wife passed away. 

The Jet d'…

The mountains are calling

The Swiss Federal Railways makes it easy for visitors to travel anywhere in Switzerland with its vast and efficient coverage of the country. Even the remotest villages in the mountains can be accessed through a network of trains and cableways. So it was an easy decision to combine my trip to Lauterbrunnen with Wengen and it turned out to be a good decision.

It was warm and sunny in November when I captured this view of the Jungfrau (above).


Wengen sits at the foot of the Jungfrau mountain range, 1,274 meters (4,180 ft.) above sea level. It is a quiet, car-free village with less than a couple thousand residents. This count balloons to 10,000 or so during the ski season when the alpine village hosts the annual International Luberhorn Downhill Ski Race. Wengen is the gateway to the Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe at 11,333 ft.


A cable car dangles above the valley on its way to Männlichen where spectacular views of the Eiger and Mönch await. The Eiger is famous for its treacherous North Face whi…

The Names of Zurich

How much of Zurich can you see in an afternoon in late fall? The surprising answer is, a lot! I was in Zurich to catch a flight back to the U.S. and had a few hours to sightsee. After checking in at the hotel and reviewing the city map the receptionist gave me, I hurried down to Bahnhofstrasse and followed the busy shopping street towards Lake Zurich. My first stop was at Augustinergasse, a cobblestone street with overhanging balconies. It is in the Alstadt or Old Town which is the historical center of the city. Some of the most important landmarks like the Fraumünster, the Grossmünster, Peterkirche and the guild houses are found in the Alstadt. 

The stained glass windows by Marc Chagall in the Fraumünster was at the top of my "must see" list. As luck would have it, a rehearsal for a music concert was in progress during my visit so I lingered and enjoyed the performances of two gifted singers while studying the works of Chagall and Giacometti. An added bonus was the crypt whe…

The Rocky Wall of Lauterbrunnen

Staubbach Falls Surrounded by towering rock faces and snow capped mountain peaks, Lauterbrunnen has one of the most dramatic settings in the Bernese Oberland. Free falling Staubbach Waterfall rushes down nearly 300 meters off the face of the cliff to the valley below. It seems to disappear behind a group of chalets on main street leaving a trail of wet spray. Staubbach is only one of 72 other waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen.  

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe traveled to Lauterbrunnen in 1779 and was impressed by what he saw, enough to write a poem ¨Spirit Song over the Waters¨. Here´s an excerpt from the poem:
“Down from the lofty
Rocky wall
Streams the bright flood,
Then spreadeth gently
In cloudy billows
O'er the smooth rock...”  

Lauterbrunnen Valley To get a good view of the valley, take the train to Wengen, an alpine village above Lauterbrunnen with an elevation of 1,274 meters (4,180 ft.).
Some visitors to Lauterbrunnen have expressed their disappointment with the low volume of water flowing do…

Iseltwald -Brigadoon by the Sea

The village of Iseltwald is a quick 15-minute bus ride from bustling Interlaken. But those few minutes through a winding, one lane highway that manages to squeeze two vehicles going in opposite directions, make all the difference in the world. I felt like I arrived in Brigadoon as fog hovered over green hills that roll down to the lake. Yes, the setting of the musical, Brigadoon, is the Scottish Highlands. And I´m in equally magical Switzerland.

Lake Brienz is like a mirror reflecting the surrounding mountains and valleys that is home to a few hundred residents.


The streets were so quiet as I walked around the village in early afternoon. Were the locals taking a siesta? But this is not Spain! The only noise I heard was from my camera as I clicked away, trying to capture this sleeping beauty that will awake in winter when skiers descend upon the village. How lucky I was to observe the smoke curling out of the chimney of this wooden church without the selfie crowd!

Chalets line the water´s…

Zero Visibility and Disappointment

Lake Thun Interlaken as the name suggests, means between lakes. So I was watching the passing view carefully as the train raced closer to the valley between the lakes. And suddenly the shimmering, crystal clear waters of Lake Thun came into view. Heaven!
Jungfrau It was fascinating to watch paragliders drop anchor on the Höhematte under the shadow of the Jungfrau. They make it look so easy to land on the green lawn of the park.
Two Lakes Bridge, Harder Kulm The opportunity to see all three peaks, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, from the summit of Harder Kulm was something I felt I couldn't miss. I had been observing the funicular climb up the steep side of the mountain from my hotel doorstep. It takes approximately ten minutes for the ascent to the summit (1,322 meters above sea level) by funicular. But in those 10 minutes, the clouds rolled in and swiftly wiped out the view. 
Coffee anyone? After waiting for thirty minutes in the cold mountain air for the fog to disperse, I decided to wa…