Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Years 2014 in Lucerne

We've been incredibly lucky to celebrate the new year in different places over the last few years.  From Lanzarote (Spain) to the French Pyrenees and now in Switzerland.  It's not a bad life.  And when the new year comes, it's nice to reflect on all that's happened over the past 365 days and to come up with an idea of what you'd like to see over the upcoming 365.

Since we're coming up on our 4th Spain-iversary this week, I'm actually going to skip the recap since I'll cover it there.  Instead, I'll tell you what we did for New Years...

Well, we skied.  Which means we left the hotel at 6:45AM for the 7AM train and then skied until almost 3.  Back to the hotel at 5 and out the door again at just after 6 for a fabulous fondue dinner at Restaurant Pfistern (  When I booked the reservation though, I forgot to say we wanted to eat outside which is one of the cool things about this restaurant.  They supply blankets and you just cozy on up outside while you eat with a beautiful view of the River Reuss.  But given it was barely 30F outside, I'm ok that we ended up inside too :)

Restaurant Pfistern for New Years.  Not only a great meal but a beautiful building.

Believe it or not, they have outdoor dining in the freezing cold with blankets to keep you warm!

By the time we finished dinner around 8 we were pretty tired.  We didn't do much (ok, any) research on activities for New Years Eve so we had no idea what would even be available to do, much less with kids.  And honestly, the streets were pretty quiet at 8PM so not sure if everyone was at dinner or private parties or just getting ready for the big night.  And so since the kids were a bit tired and cranky, we just came back to the hotel.

I should have put a little more effort into celebrating but damn it, I was tired.  But today I felt guilty for not doing anything.  As I scrolled thru my facebook seeing all these great family celebrations, I felt like a total slacker.  But after skiing for 3 days straight, I needed to be lazy.  So each of us took our respective ipads and went into a corner and just did our thing.  Aidan turned in at 10:30 without any prompting (we told the kids there would be no bedtime and they could stay up as late as they wanted) and Liam made it til 11:30.  I actually think Liam could have made it til midnight if I didn't keep dozing off mid conversation with him.  I finally just told him to lay his head on my shoulder and chat and next thing you know, he was out.  Josh went to bed at 11:30 with me, but then managed to wake up at 12.  I think this is the first time ever that Josh was up later than me on New Years!!

We knew that pretty much everything would be closed today, New Years Day, and we were right. Though there were even fewer restaurants open than I would have expected.  Josh wanted to take the bus and cog train up to Mount Pilatus which looks amazing.  But given my struggle with tiny little Montserrat's cog train, I knew that there was no way I could do it.  The cog train at Pilatus is the steepest in the world and honestly, look at that picture below and tell me you wouldn't freak out that not only is it the steepest, but the damned thing hangs off the edge of the cliff!!

Do you see that train hanging over the edge???  I DON'T THINK SO!!!!!!

And so with the trip up the mountain out for today (and we didn't even know if the railway or gondolas would be running on a holiday), we had to pick another option.  Since I took one for the team with the skiing, Josh was cool with us not going up to Pilatus (though I could tell he was disappointed and to be honest, I was too as it looks like there are amazing views from what I've seen online...I just couldn't do it).  In the end, we did a 2 hour boat cruise around Lake Lucerne.  While it didn't have the ariel views of Mount Pilatus, it was still breathtaking.

Mount Pilatus

Liam before the cruise of the Lake

Aidan before the cruise

Aidan took this great picture of us

Lucerne as our boat pulls away

Mount Pilatus

One of the stops along the way

Another stop (we didn't get off the boat for any of these stops - they were more for people heading to other destinations)

One side of the lake was covered in snow, the other mostly in grass!

Loved this building (looks like a castle to me) on this peninsula with the mountain in the background.  The picture does not do it justice.

Lucerne as we return

We did some walking around town after the boat cruise, had lunch and booked dinner reservations (again at Pfistern which was fantastic) while we were out and then went back to chill for a bit before going back out to dinner and then the fireworks!

Aidan had been begging for chestnuts all week and finally got them...

Chapel Bridge

Lucerne in evening

Harbor lit up

One of the bridges lit up for the holidays

I found it odd that the fireworks wouldn't be on New Years Eve, but given that we were exhausted then anyways, it actually worked out better that we didn't have them then but instead on New Years Day. We left the restaurant moments before they started and just barely made it but the kids loved every moment! 

Very happy boys!

Given our late departure from the restaurant, we didn't get the least obscured seat as far as picture taking, but it was still a great spot right on the water!

Fireworks videos

Before I finish up on my Switzerland posts, I have just a few other things that I forgot to cover in my other Lucerne post - just some random stuff we noticed while we were visiting...

1.  We did not see one single bike lock.  I have never been anywhere in Europe or the US where there were so many bikes and not one single lock.  I think that speaks a lot to the safety and honesty of this country.
2.  Every menu we saw had a meat "disclaimer" that listed what country each type of meat (chicken, beef, veal, etc) came from.  Never seen this before either.
3.  Outside the city, it seemed that village after village were connected by bike paths / walking paths. This is a country that spends a lot of time outdoors and it's obvious they make it easier to do so by creating these massively long paths.
4.  Unlike many of the cities we've been to in Europe (including Barcelona), there were no metal security shades that went over store windows at the end of the day.  Again, honesty and safety.
5.  Not every country in Europe has inexpensive healthcare.  Whereas I pay less than 2 euros for ibuprofen here in Spain, it cost me almost 11 CHF in Lucerne (and for a lesser strength too!).

All in all it was a great trip as a family.  While I know we travel regularly with the kids, on this trip I really noticed how much they are growing up and how much easier it's getting to travel with them.  The travel itself is never hard with them, it's more about the "I'm tired." "I don't want to go there...." "Why do we have to do that?" kind of stuff.  And they are doing that less and less and starting to go with the flow more.  It's not to say they don't ever whine, they do.  But they seem to be enjoying it more and more.

Our last day was on the 2nd and we spent the day wandering around just a little bit more before heading out to Basel to catch our flight.  It was our only day where it was really cloudy (though by lunch it cleared up) but it put this beautiful city in a new light for me and was still equally beautiful!

So many buildings in the old part of the city have beautiful paintings / frescoes along the outside

Have you ever seen a public fountain with water so clear???  Me either!  And they were all like this!

Throwing in some dirty change - can't keep that water clean forever!

So this picture came out terrible but I have to say, it was the highlight of this trip for me.  We came out of a tunnel on the train and suddenly there was this MASSIVE rainbow, the biggest I've ever seen and I could see the entire thing.  I actually was able to see where it touched the ground on the left.  But of course, by the time I got out my camera, the fields were gone and the trees and buildings were obstructing my view, and of course, the train was moving.  But it was probably one of the most magical moments I've had in a long time.

We had a great start to our new year and are just about to celebrate our 4th year here in Barcelona - new post coming soon!

Besos y Feliz Año Nuevo!


  1. Hi Julie, my husband and I are going to move to BCN this summer for his work and I found your blog by searching for "BFIS parents" blogs. Our kids have been accepted to BFIS and I have been reading what you post for a few weeks now and find a lot of the information you post really useful. I still have a ton of questions about the school, relocation and areas to live in BCN. Do you think you will have time to answer some of them? I would really appreciate if you have a few minutes, i can send you an email. Thank you very much in advance.

    1. Absolutely! Send me an email to - I'd be happy to chat!! :)