Fourteen Months Abroad – Lucerne, Switzerland

May 10.—I rose early this morning and took one more walk in Lugano. It was before breakfast and before L. was dressed. I walked to the top of the hill back of the hotel through a long grape arbor. The view from this point was fine. I could see mountains that could not be seen from the hotel. Then down the hill and through the same arbor I found a street covered with sharp stones and a villa. An old peasant woman was there, with wooden sandals on her feet, carrying a long, tapering basket, very small at the bottom and broad at the top, on her back. After returning to the hotel I looked over a waste basket in the hall for stamps. A gentleman who saw what I was doing brought me some stamps, then another came bringing me a box full. They were mostly common stamps but I was much pleased.

After saying goodbye to the Misses Dons and after a good breakfast we hastened to the railway station on our way to this city. I felt sorry to leave Lugano so soon, but was looking forward with much pleasure to our journey over St. Gothard Pass. Before leaving I took a long, lingering look at Lugano, the lake and the mountains. On the whole we think Bellagio has more attractions than Lugano, counting the fine grounds around the hotels, the nightingales and the picturesque towns on the opposite side of the lake. We should have remained at Lugano one day longer if we had felt sure that this would be a pleasant day, but did not dare wait. There was every reason to expect good weather when we left Lugano. The sun was shining and everything was lovely. Three young ladies whom we met in Siena came into our car to speak to us before we left the station—the Misses Firth and their cousin.

Here is L.’s account of our journey today.

“Soon after leaving Lugano, as we were winding among the mountains, we began to see beautiful green streams with their white foaming rapids, also broad flat valleys as level as lakes. Down the steep mountain sides on both sides of the train were pouring innumerable cascades, many of them small, some like mere threads of silver. Saw apple trees and cherry trees in blossom—large orchards of the former—also dandelions and buttercups and pink flowers. At one point there was a colony of log huts on stone foundations and in many places long lines of fence made of stone slabs set up in a row. We passed through many tunnels on this St. Gothard ‘s railway-some of them spiral. The Grand Tunnel is nine and a quarter miles in length. We were about sixteen minutes going through. Slow trains take twenty-five minutes. The center of the tunnel is 3,786 feet above the sea. Before we entered it we saw snow on a level with us. We ate our lunch in this tunnel. On emerging from it we found entirely different weather—heavy clouds and drops of rain instead of the fine clear air up to this time. At Fluelen we reached Lake Lucerne, or Lake of the Four Cantons, and soon were here.”

May 11.—I feel grateful to L. for helping me with my journal. We are at Pension Suter high up on “Gibraltar.” Left Lugano yesterday at 9:30; arrived here at 2:00 in the afternoon. Our baggage was examined on the steamer for Switzerland. At Lugano we were told they speak not only a mixed language, but have three different languages—Italian, German and French. Lake Lugano is partly an Italian lake, but the town belongs to Switzerland.

The day before we reached Lugano the people had celebrated the union with Switzerland of the Canton in which Lugano is situated.

The Grand Tunnel is straight and took us to bad weather. When we emerged from it and found an unpleasant change we were greatly surprised and disappointed. They tell us here in Lucerne that the weather is often quite different on the two sides of the mountain. We made the best of it. We could see the scenery quite well, notwithstanding the sudden change, up to perhaps about an hour before reaching here, and even after that it was interesting, although we knew that we were losing something. Some of the mountains could be seen dimly through the misty air. A carriage brought us here from the station.

The pension is on high ground and overlooks the whole city. A terrace is around the house and we have delightful views on all sides. Two sisters, intelligent and cultivated ladies, keep the pension, and own the house and grounds. One of them we met in Venice last October. She was a boarder at our hotel there and we frequently went sight seeing together. We much enjoy seeing her again.

This morning L. and I walked down the hill to the city. He went to Cook’s and I remained in a store for awhile, looking at views and picture postais. Then I found my way to a market which interested me. By and by L. returned and we climbed the hill to our pension. It is close to a grove of firs and other trees. The birds sing beautifully, not only in the trees but everywhere. They come about the pension to be fed and are quite tame. Magnolias and the flowering quince are in full bloom; lilacs are just beginning to bloom. In places where we have been the blossoms were old. Every-thing here is fresh and beautiful.

I walked this morning with L. to two of the curious and interesting old bridges which cross the river Reuss. From one of our windows we look down upon these bridges. Miss S. walked a short distance with us this afternoon to. show us the way to the “famous Gutsch” (Hotel Restaurant). It is on a hill which commands an excellent view of Lucerne and its surroundings. A lift carried us to the roof of the building where the view was fine. We then climbed to the top of the view tower by winding stairs. Here the view was magnificent. We could see the whole range of mountains, some of them snow covered. The Rhigi and Mt. Pilatus were very conspicious; clouds resting on them passed away while we were looking. The Rhigi, although called the most popular mountain in Switzerland, is not the highest.

We enjoyed our walk through the woods to the Gutsch. The trees were mostly spruce with a few beech trees. I gathered wild flowers on the way-violets, buttercups, wood anemones and a pink and reddish flower which blossoms here and resembles the ragged robin. On our way from Lugano to Lucerne there were many of these growing wild along the railway with other flowers. Here there are dandelions as well as crimson-tipped daisies. They are growing in the grass side by side or near each other. I am glad to see dandelions again. The woods are full of bird music. The black birds-the same birds we heard in San Remo and Bellagio—delight us. They seem perfectly happy, singing all the day long. Other birds are here and fill the air with music. We have heard very few song-birds except among the Italian lakes and on the Riviera. The birds in some parts of Italy are nearly all killed and were given to us to eat; I never touched them.

There are riots in Italian cities now—even in Milan, where we have been so recently.

May 12.-I had been looking forward with much pleasure to our journey over the St. Gothard Pass. I wished to compare it with the Brenner Pass in Austria. No mountain scenery will ever impress me as that did. There we had our first view of the Alps, but they were not the Alps of Switzerland! L. has kept saying, “Wait until you get to Switzerland.” In the St. Gothard Pass we were in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Were they finer than the Tyrolese Alps? We could hardly tell. We have gradually be-come accustomed to seeing grand mountains and we expected a great deal of the St. Gothard Pass. I fear we are somewhat disappointed. From the spiral tunnels nothing could be seen. Outside the car all was darkness. We knew we were going up hill, but could not realize that we were winding our way up the mountains like a corkscrew. It was like climbing a spiral staircase up a high tower. From the heights thus reached we looked down, away down, frequently upon the tracks already passed over, and could not believe we had been there. Beautiful cascades came rushing down the mountains. Ten years were spent in building the Grand Tunnel. When at the point of completion the workmen met exactly in the middle of the tunnel, having worked toward each other. “It cost one hundred and seventy-seven lives. Among them was the brilliant engineer, Louis Favre, who did not live to see the noble work he had begun completed.” In all there are fifty-six tunnels.

Yesterday was pleasant, but today it is raining again. L. is pleased to find at last the film of his lost San Remo olive tree. He just said he “was glad we had such a fine view of Monte Rosa from the top of the Milan Cathedral.” It is 15,217 feet high. Mt. Blanc is 15,734. From our window we can see a part of the old city wall or fortifications with eight different towers. There is nothing Italian about Lucerne. Many of the roofs of the buildings, instead of being flat, are steep and sloping. Swiss cottages are quite near us.

May 13.—I was up early this morning. Have spent the time in writing and in looking out of the salon (parlor) window at the mountains. Clouds are hanging over them but they are more or less visible. Some of the snow mountains can be seen below and through the clouds. There are patches of blue sky. Silverlike clouds hang over the lake.

Here I was interrupted by a lady who has been a missionary in Japan. She believes that Christ would make me well if I would fully trust Him to do so. I told her that I believed it was the Lord’s will that some of us should be ill. I wish I might have that perfect trust in my Heavenly Father that many have. I cannot believe that it is His will that I should have perfect health or that my dear husband should be strong and well.

After breakfast.—It has not cleared yet. I have a longing to go over the St. Gothard route again. I fear that I did not fully appreciate it, yet my eyes were wide open all the while and I did enjoy it immensely-this “line of communication between the valleys of Switzerland and the fertile plains of Lombardy,” where we saw women with bare feet working in the wet fields.

Afternoon.-We have been to the street market where I purchased linen thread. No such thread can be bought in America. We went again to the main part of the city by the old covered bridge which contains the series of paintings called the “Dance of Death” – see Longfellow’s “Golden Legend.”

We returned by the other covered bridge, still older, having been built in 1333. Paintings illustrating Swiss history are on the triangles of the rafters, one hundred and nine in all. We met five hundred Italians before crossing the bridge who carried red banners and wore red sashes. They were on their way to Italy to join the rioters. We were caught in the rain while returning home.

May 14.-After breakfast.—L. and I have been out on the terrace trying to see the mountains through the smoky atmosphere. Lucerne is not a restful place to visit, partly because we have to climb the long steep hill to this pension. The fine views we have from this high spot, however, more than compensate us for the trouble. From one point here we have a view of the hill country so that after all we do not appear to have reached the heart of the Alps. Yesterday afternoon a carriage was ordered to the foot of the hill for us by telephone. We went first to see the Lion Monument This famous lion, carved out of solid rock, is one of the most wonderful things in Lucerne. “In the shade of magnificent trees spreads a small sheet of water and behind it rises a perpendicular rock, in a recess of which lies the wounded lion defending even in death the charge entrusted to him.” This commemorates as we know “the heroic self-sacrifice of the Swiss Guards who were defending the French king against the Jacobins of the French Revolution in 1792. They stormed the Tuileries, which the Swiss Guards were defending and all or nearly all fell in the discharge of their duty,”

After seeing the lion we walked to the cathedral and heard the celebrated old organ on which was played the famous “thunderstorm” and other pieces. The church seemed filled with peals of thunder. Afterwards we climbed the hill to our pension.

We passed swans and ducks in their pretty little houses in the water, put there for the comfort of these beautiful creatures. Black swans are there as well as white, and white swans with black necks, and curious, beautiful ducks, very bird-like. They are too lively for ducks and are beautifully marked. These were near the boundary line between the lake and the river, where the lake ends and the broad rushing river (Reuss) begins. It rained hard while we were in the carriage.

Later.—I have been sitting on the terrace in the warm sunshine and looking off upon the great mountains of snow which lie directly in front and on each side. This delightful grove is carpeted with various mosses. Here we see the Swiss flags flying, as in Italy we saw the Italian.

May 15.—We have ascended the Rhigi! Yesterday after-noon a ride of one hour by the steamer Schweiz (Switzer-land) took us to the Vitzman Rhigi cog-railway. This carried us to the Rhigi Kulm (the summit) in another hour—five thous-and nine hundred and five feet. It was a wonderful ride up and down the mountain. L. said he “never wished to see anything finer.” The distant snow-covered mountains with innumerable peaks, some higher than others, stretching away to the limits of vision, were above and beyond the nearer mountains, the colors of which were exquisitely beautiful. Then as a complete contrast we looked down, away down, upon lakes, villages, farms, forests, green fields and a rolling country extending to the horizon. This is called the hill country of north-east Switzerland.

All the way up the mountain were beautiful wild flowers. They were almost within my reach as we ascended and descended the mountain but it was impossible to gather them. How I longed and hoped and almost prayed that I might find a few when we reached the summit, and I did. There they were—just a few dear little blue gentians which I hastily gathered and have pressed since our return. The only other flowers that I saw at the top were a few stunted dandelions and crimson-tipped daisies, both so small and dwarfed that they could hardly be recognized. I gathered with the gentians a few green leaves. Some of the flowers that we saw as we ascended were a deep, large blue bell flower, a yellow primula, red orchids, a sort of yellow clover head, butter cups, crow foots, wood anemones, violets, crimson-tipped daisies, dandelions, blue gentians and a red flower which grew in heads like a verbena. We saw many cherry trees in blossom and a few pear and apple trees. Although the weather was fine there was a distant haze which we regretted.

As I sit writing near our window the Rhigi is in full view, and is this morning without a cloud. It is the favorite mountain here to ascend. We had splendid views of Mt. Pilatus yesterday afternoon while on our way to the Rhigi. Our sail on Lake Lucerne was most delightful. The green water—so clear that we could see in it the reflection of the blue sky, clouds, trees and houses—was beautiful.

The shores of the lake are dotted with Swiss cottages, hotels and other buildings. One of our windows looks down upon the railway tracks; we see the trains moving back and forth, one going across the river to the right and the other winding to the left. The bells are ringing, which I enjoy.

Afternoon.—We are having very clear views of the mountains, and are seeing Lucerne today in its glory. It never could look finer, and the birds—especially the black birds—are singing beautifully ! I have walked about the grounds of Pension Suter, have sat in the summer house on the terrace, have used the glass on the mountains, have breathed the delightful air and have wished that all of our friends could enjoy these things with us. I have looked at the buildings on the Rhigi which we saw yesterday and at the one on the Strauserhorn and on Mt. Pilatus; at the steamers and small boats on the lovely lake below us, and have tried to take everything in, and now I write this to aid me in recalling all these things when we are far from here.

We have really had two springs so far, one in Nice and San Remo and one in Switzerland. I am writing in the parlor of Pension Suter. L. has been resting. He joined me on the terrace. We felt a little cool and came in here, and are both sitting at the large round table in the center of the room. I am going out again to drink in all this beauty.

Later.—I have been into the grove and have walked on the margin of the woods where I had a fine view of Mt. Pilatus and other mountains away round to the Rhigi. I looked down upon a rushing noisy brook. Yesterday I much enjoyed the mountain cascades and broad waterfalls.