day 15_july 30, 2008

These images were taken from the hill above the Grand National Hotel on the North side of Lake Luzern. In the image above, across the water towards the left is a low, dark building with a green copper roof. That is the KKL museum and performing arts center designed by Jean Nouvel. In the middle image, below, you can also see the KKL and in the background is Mt. Pilatus. It is possible to take a gondola up to the top; elevation 7,000 ft. In the image at the far right, below, there is a Swiss flag, red and white cross, almost in the center of the photo. This is the Grand National Hotel where we are temporarily staying. Also, if you see at the far right of that photo, up the hill, a large, white castle building. That is the Chateau Gutsch. The Luzern folklore is that Michael Jackson was interested in buying it so he could create another Neverland. The apartment that we ended up finding, and loving, is at the base of that hill, below Chateau Gutsch.

Please note: click on any image to enlarge!

day 13_july 28, 2008

These two images are taken from the north of Altstadt, Luzern. Just beyond the long fortified wall and over the hill. It is very easy to go from a dense ‘urban’ area to a more open and pastoral setting. Single family homes are not the norm here. There are a lot more multi-family buildings and apartments. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see these community gardening plots scattered about.

The walking and bicycle trails are wonderful. As we were walking in the partly wooded hills here we could hear all these bells chiming and dinging. What is that? Where is it coming from? In the small picture above you can see a cluster of cows. That’s it. The free range livestock each were a bell around their neck attached to a worn leather strap. And the sounds they make together as they mull around is captivating. As I ride home from playing squash at night I know I am in good company with either the sheep or the cows.

Today we also looked at another apartment. This one only two blocks from the curry colored building we looked at earlier. A world apart, though. Part of a mixed use development. The apartment was on the 4th floor of a 6 level building that housed a major shopping center below. We almost settled for this and I am so glad that when we called back to apply they said that they had “a nice Swiss couple” that was interested and were waiting to hear back from them. It was on a very major street that would have been loud at all hours and the outdoor space was considered seasonal. Which meant that you could close up the large windows and essentially it was just another room in the apartment. We were getting a bit worried about finding a place at this point. It’s almost August when everyone goes on holiday and there really wasn’t much stock on the market to look at. The apartments typically turn over at the end of September and March.

day 4_july 19, 2008

Another view from the terrace at the Grand National Hotel. Beyond those alps, a long way albeit, is France and a bit of Italy. In the summer, here, no one day is consistent weather wise. Always be prepared for the brief downpour because it will happen. The day can start out clean and clear, not a cloud in the sky and then…the alps release the clouds and boom. Thunder and lightning. Then it will clear up again for a pleasant evening on the terrace.

Today we had an appointment to look at our first apartment option. The location was good. In Altstadt, very close to Andrea’s office. About a 7 minute walk. The building was old and painted a wonderful curry color. Lots of large window and wrought iron balconies. The actual apartment was a disaster. Definitely not up to Andrea’s standards, cleanliness wise. I thought it was pretty nice. I will admit, though, after looking at the kitchen and bathroom it was a deal breaker.

day 3_july 18, 2008

ok, the image on the right is a bit more realistic of the scene. This was the routine that Ashtyn and I followed in the evenings while we were at the Grand National Hotel. After a busy day of running errands and getting a feel for our new surroundings we would stake a claim on the terrace. Watch the tourists walk by along the lake and appreciate the idyllic setting we now inhabit. Almost Disneyland-esque. Everything is so perfect and clean. Historic and modern. Needless to say, even though there is a book on the table not much reading was happening during these times. Unless I got lucky and Ashtyn was having a nap. After a while, Andrea would come down from the office and she would also get a chance to unwind.

day 1_july 16, 2008

We made it to Luzern! The flight from Boston to Zürich was smooth and went by quickly because it was a red eye so we all tried to sleep through most of it. When landing in Zürich, though, I was exhausted. Still one more leg to complete and that is the 50 minute train ride to Luzern. It was close to 1pm local time as we were crossing this bridge and heading to the Grand National Hotel. For the next six weeks we will be living out of these bags.

Luckily our room was ready. It was also welcoming with fresh flowers and fruit. I promptly, with Ashtyn, staked a claim on the big, comfortable bed and didn’t move for several hours. Andrea, on the other hand, was running on adrenaline. She freshened up and headed to the office. Not a far distance…only two floors up. In the early evening we had a light dinner at the local Rathaus Brauerei, where Andrea was relaxed but preparing for the next few days. Let’s see, what’s the order…cell phones first then bank accounts, register at the immigration department, set up health insurance, and start the legwork on finding an apartment. Oh yeah, Andrea has to start her new position, too!