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Classes have been done for about a week, and I’m spending my sweet time traveling through a few more countries before we head back for the U.S.

Our first stop was to Lucerne, Switzerland! We were welcomed by a very kind Airbnb host, Hena, who resided in a quaint suburban neighborhood surrounded by fall-colored trees and mountains! We had read on the Airbnb website that he provided breakfast, and it was outstanding—freshly baked bread from a local bakery, locally jarred jams, and “cheese from the mountain.” It was one of the cutest ways we could have been greeted on our journey.

The next day, we made our way down to the center of Lucerne and used our Eurail passes to get a free boat ride throughout Lake Lucerne. Luckily for me, the boat was large and smooth enough that I didn’t get any seasickness as I usually feel on lakes. If I had to make recommendations for anyone going to the Swiss Alps, sailing down Lake Lucerne was a must-see. It looks just like a postcard.

As we were going about, we suddenly made a stop at a lakeside town called Vitznau, at which point everyone on the boat started getting off. We asked the shipmates if this place was very popular, and after a few laughing nods of “Yes, Vitzanau. Very, very popular place for tourists,” we got off and bought a trolley ticket to ride up the Swiss Alps.

You may be wondering, “Is it smart to randomly buy a trolley ticket on a stop that you didn’t even know was popular?” Well, not to fear, we did do some research ahead of time and found that, depending on the vehicle/hike, many Swiss Alps ascension experiences were hundreds to thousands of francs (about the same value as euros), and this climb with a Eurail pass and student ID card was only 30 francs. Within the first five minutes looking out the window of the trolley and watching the snow-capped mountains grow ever more massive in the distance, I realized that I got a huge bargain. The vastness of the mountain valleys, the crispness of the air—it was so freeing. My friends and I got pretty creative and silly too, taking several pictures looking out beyond the cliffs onto the cities and lakes. Definitely one of my top five favorite moments on this trip.

When we returned, we explored the city a bit. The scenic wooden bridge featured in many pamphlets about Lucerne is actually a bridge built in the 1300’s (although, you could never tell it was that old from how nicely it has been kept)! The shopping was wonderful, and to be honest, we occupied most of our time looking at cute little trinkets in the souvenir shops. We found wooden clocks, music boxes made to chime “Edelweiss,” and, of course, a whole range of Swiss army knives. Everything was quite on the pricier side, including the food and drink we got along the way, but if you were going to spend time and money on a quality experience, I must say that Switzerland’s charm is worth investing in.

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