Lucerne

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Empty ICE Car to Switzerland

There is no below-ground transport system in Lucerne but huge (some three sections long), clean buses seem to be everywhere all the time. As many times as I've visited this country I never fail to be amazed at the transportation system and how it meshes so well all elements: train, bus, automobile, bicyclist, boat, pedestrians, and even cable cars.

The McClean toilets in Swiss rail stations are worth the charge—CHF 1.5 (pissoir), CHF 2 (WC), CHF 5 (shower)—to be assured of a clean and well-maintained facility.

The Lucerne rail station, in an impressive building on the lake, is another routine Swiss marvel, flawlessly meshing rail, bus and boat. One floor beneath the departure and arrival platforms is a vast network of shops.

The standard of living here seems very high. Obviously, the Swiss are willing to pay for a wonderful transportation system and for their many social benefits. The national will seems strong. Immigration is strictly controlled and in hindsight it looks as though the decision to steer clear of the euro was a wise one. One problem: the franc became so valuable vs other currencies that Swiss goods and services became difficult to export. Last year the government stepped in limit its value but this is still a very expensive country. For a few days, however, it's worth it.

What things cost in Switzerland:

  • Ticket to see Skyfall in a Lucerne movie house: CHF 15 (about $16)
  • At the movies: one very small and very bad popcorn, and one bottle of water: CHF 8.5 (about $9)
  • Two pre-made sandwiches, two bottles Orangina, one plastic cup of tiramisu from Bachman at the rail station: CHF 22.9 (about $24)
  • Two senior tickets to the Picasso/Klee exhibit at Rosengart Museum: CHF 34 (about $36)
  • Amex is now widely accepted.
  • Getting cash from ATMs is no problem, but all machines we've used so far ask if you want to be charged in CHF or dollars. Choosing the “dollars” option no doubt means there will a charge for the exchange and the rate won't be as good as if you simply let your bank make the exchange. (DCC)
  • There seem to be no obese people in Switzerland.