The road from Lucerne was foggy this morning. We had a lot of ground to cover today between Switzerland and our final destination outside of Heidelberg. Our first stop was the largest waterfall in Europe by volume, Rhine Falls. Next we stopped for lunch in Germany’s Black Forest where we saw how cuckoo clocks, a local specialty, are made. We also got to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock, which was built right into the side of the building. Late in the afternoon we arrived in Heidelberg and immediately headed up the funicular railway to Heidelberg Castle. At the top Ziggy took us on a tour of the castle, which included a climb to the top of the world’s largest wine keg! We also got to take a ‘class photo’ of sorts with a professional photographer at the castle. The highlight of the day, however, had to be dinner. There happened to be a piano sitting in the corner of the restaurant, and after a stranger went up and played a single tune, it was open mic time for the students. Ava and Aiden took turns playing Billy Joel, Queen, Adele and other artists while everyone else sung along. What a spectacular way to end the night!
Today we let down our ‘Swiss guard’ and enjoyed a sunny day in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland. Stop number one off of the bus was a monument dedicated to the 800 fallen Swiss Soldiers who died during the French Revolution. It was a giant stone lion carved out of a rock-side over a pond. Students threw coins over their shoulders into the pond for good luck. As we rolled through town on our bus, Ziggy, our tour director, pointed out Mount Pilatus which we were to ascend later in the day. We walked across what had been at one point the oldest covered foot-bridge in all of Europe. Unfortunately it had been badly burnt by an errant cigarette butt in early 90s and what people walk across now is largely a reconstruction. We meandered through the morning markets and then divided up to explore during lunchtime. Some students opted to enjoy a local favourite – cheese fondue. After lunch we headed over towards the highest peak, Mount Pilatus. On the way over, Ziggy regaled us with tales of William Tell, the local folklore hero and expert archer. From the base of the mountain it took 40 minutes and 2 separate gondolas, one mini 4-person gondola, and another giant 45-person gondola, to reach the summit at 7,000 feet. At the top, the views were absolutely breathtaking. A stunning 360-degree view was possible from the peak, with treacherously beautiful cliff drops from all sides. We couldn’t stop taking photos! Back at the hotel we had a delicious dinner, and tonight we unwind again around the hotel before getting up extra early tomorrow as we have to cover a lot of ground!