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Saturday June 6, 2009


            I woke at 5:05 AM and again at 6:30 and took this photo from the window of our room.  A beautiful misty morning across the lake.  It is amazing that I awoke without an alarm, knowing I had to be at the meeting early today.

            I got up at 6:45 AM and at 7:15 I got on AOL and emailed my accountant that everything went well at VP Bank.  I dressed and at 7:45 AM took the funicular down to the lake-level street where I caught a bus to the KKL Convention Center (below.)  It is beautifully situated right on the lake and their is a harbor attached to it.

            At 8:20 AM Dr. Urs Thomann was to open the meeting with an introduction but he called me that he would be late due to a traffic accident on the Carones highway.

 

            He finally arrived (below left) and the meeting got started even though behind schedule.  The facility is beautiful with extremely (too) comfortable chairs.

    

            At 8:35 I presented my 20 minute lecture entitled "New instruments: Haag-Streit Lenstar 900 versus IOLMaster and Galilei for IOL Power."  At 10:00 we took a 40 min coffee break and continued with lectures until it was time to break for lunch at 12:20.

            Since we had 70 minutes for lunch and I don't eat lunch, I had prepared in advance and went into the restroom and changed from my suit and tie into my running outfit and headed out into the pouring rain to do my run.  I ran across the big bridge and got on the fantastic tree-lined trail that runs along the lake.  I have done this on previous visits but in the sunshine.  This was a little grueling.

            I came across this excellent map of Lake Luzern and, located along the running trail, an interesting bronze memorial to honor (zu ehren) Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler (right) (1845-1924,) a Swiss poet awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1919.  His works include both pessimistic and heroic poems ("Prometheus and Epimetheus".)  He studied at the University in Zurich and then in Russia and fought the inclination of German-speaking Swiss always siding politically with Germany.  He died here in Luzern in 1924.

 

            The bronze doesn't look much like his photo.

     

            I wound my way back to the KKL center and changed backed into suit and tie after drying off all the rain water.  At 1:35 PM I had to moderate a 45 minute segment which included an excellent presentation by Dr. David Seal of London on a very large European study on endophthalmitis (devastating infection inside the eye.)  At 2:15 PM I gave my second talk for 25 minutes on "IOL Power for LASIK Eyes."  After my lecture Dr. Preussner spent a considerable period of time peppering me with questions.

            The rest of the program was excellent and the meeting concluded at 5:45 PM.  At 5:50, Dima and I found our way to the restaurant downstairs (below) and both of us enjoyed a good Eichhof Swiss beer.

   

            Marcia found her way to the pier area and at 6:10 PM we all got on the boat to take us to dinner in Weggis.  Thankfully the rain slacked off and the steamy clouds were lifting across the mountains.

 

            It wasn't quite nice enough to sit outside so we enjoyed the hour-long boat ride inside.  Here is a shot of Marcia (L,) Urs and his wife Isabel with Dima (R.)

  

            During the trip, one of the girls running the boat was nice to me and gave me two free beers.  I had to drink them quietly because they were not serving any drinks on the trip.  The boat finally docked at 7:30 PM and we made the short walk to our  dinner at the  Relais & Châteaux Parkhotel Weggis [Hertensteinstr 34, +41-41-392-0505.]  It is a 5-star hotel with a 1-star Michelin restaurant.

  

            It's a beautiful place.  Above are the shots I took in the evening and below are stock photos of it lakeside in the daylight and their opulent bedrooms.

            Below are stock photos of the dining room we were seated in and their outside patio.

            The highlight of the evening was the lecture by a Swiss wine expert, Mr. Stadelmann (standing, below) presenting on Spanish wines.

 

            He started with the whites (Spanische Leichtigkeit, below.)  We were given Casa del Vino "Gabo do Xil" Blanco '08 (left) from Bodegas Telmo Rodriquez and then Valdeorras "Clos d'Agon" Blanco '06 (right) from Bodegas Clos d'Agon.

     

            Then we were given the reds (below) which were Catalunya Finca Valpiedra "Tinto Reserva" '05 (left) and Rioja Mauro "Tinto Cosecha" '06 (right)  as well as Castilla y León Aalto "Tinto Cosecha" '06 and Ribera del Duero "MR" Dulce Blanco '07 from Bodegas Telmo Rodriquez in Malaga, Spain.  They were all excellent.

    

 

               

            We had their pre-selected dinner which was paired with the wines.  For starters their was tatar of avocado with melon [Avocadotatar mit Melone,] shrimp with octopus [Gamba und Tintenfisch] (below left) and baked cod with chorizo on paella [Gebackener Kabeljau mit Chorizo auf Paella] (below right.)

  

  

        We got a chance to meet a lot of very nice people.  The only entree I remember or photographed was the duo of black pig with apple sherry sauce and Spanish potato dumpling (below left) [Duo vom Schwarzen Schwein mit Apfel-Sherrysauce Spanische Kartoffelklösschen.]  It was excellent, even the bread (below right.)

  

            Marcia was having a good time and enjoying the company of our host and old friend, Urs Thomann (below left.)  Below right, Dima (sitting across from Marcia) seemed to be enjoying the dinner and wine as well.

 

            Finally for dessert they served us first a plate of "multiple tastes" followed by a lukewarm sheep cheese on fruit bread with Olive tampenade [Lauwarmer Schafskäse auf Früchtebrot mit Oliventampenade.]

 

            We finished this fantastic dinner and at 11:30 PM we re-boarded the boat back to the city.  We walked with Dima around the lake to the funicular that takes us up the hill to the hotel.  At 11:50 PM we had an Irish coffee and a Limoncello with Dima at the hotel bar (below.)

            Dima went out to his car and gave me my big bag of pills he was nice enough to bring to Italy with him when he was with me at the ASCRS meeting in San Francisco.  I moved them to our BMW.  These are all the vitamins, fish oil, etc that saved a lot of room in my bags coming over.

            We gave up and went to bed at 1:15 AM.  What a delightful evening thanks to our friend Urs.


Sunday June 7, 2009


            Today we have been in the EU for one week.  I awoke at 8:50 AM and at  10:30 I got up.  I saw this much prettier view of the lake than yesterday's.

            The Palace hotel below us is on the lake and we stayed there on one of our previous trips through this area.

 

            Below is a nicer shot of the KKL Convention Center.  By 10:50, instead of taking the funicular,  I left from the front entrance of the hotel (below right.)

  

            I walked down the hill (below left) toward the city hoping I would find the Hofkirk for church.  This is an interesting way to mark the addresses by putting the street name on the number.

   

            I lucked out and found its tall spires sticking up from the trees and headed straight for it.

        

            At 11:00 AM I attended Mass at St. Leodegar im Hof (Pfarrkirche) or the Hofkirke.  St. Leodegar (or St. Leger) was born about 615 and was martyred in 678 at Sarcing after first having his eyes drilled out (left: from a Bible dated 1200) and his lips and tongue ripped out.  He became the Bishop of Autun (right,) a town in Burgundy which was founded during the reign of Augustus Caesar. In the Middle Ages, it was a Count of Autun who became the first Duke of Burgundy.  Autun marks the easternmost extent of the Umayyad Caliphate Islamic campaign in Europe.   Leodegar developed difficulties with Ebroin, the Frankish mayor of the palace of Neustria, which led to his demise.  It was all due to the conflicts between the Merovingian and Carolingian kingdoms and is rather complicated - click the links to read about it.

            When I got to the front entrance I noted these beautiful carvings on the entrance doors.  They probably are Sts. Leodegar and Maurice.

          

            The church is quite nice inside.

 

            I have never seen pews like these anywhere.  The wood sort of surrounds you giving you a place to rest your elbows and separates you completely from the person next to you.  The pulpit (right) is carved completely out of wood and quite beautiful.

     

            There is a side altar on each side of the cathedral and they are pretty spectacular.

 

            The statuary was also quite nice with a statue of of St. Leodegarus (below center) and St. Mauritius (right) (St. Maurice: remember him from the church in Vienne, France Vienne and more to come in Magdesburg, Germany.)

   

            They had these very nice memorials to people on the wall.  I am not sure who they were.  The one on the left is from 1651 and the one on the right, 1864.

    

            I stepped outside the church into the cloister area and they had this beautiful sculptured artwork on the wall.

        

            As I climbed down the long flight of stairs, I was eager for a cappuccino and noticed these interesting buildings on the right which looked like they had a cafe.

  

            I wandered over and at 12:05 PM I ordered a cappuccino at the cafe at Hotel Rebstock [St. Leodegarstrasse 3, +41-41-417-1819, hotel@rebstock-luzern.ch.]  It looked like a good, reasonably-priced place to stay.  They also own the Hotel Hofgarten [Stadthofstrasse 14, +41-41-410-8888.]  This cup (below) they served it in was the largest cup I have ever seen a cappuccino put it.  It caused it to taste a little weak and wasn't really all that great because of it.  Byside it is my trusty Palm where I record everything we do and my red Nokia phone with a Euro chip.

 

            After relaxing a while, I left there and explored some of the souvenir shops near the church and at 1:55 PM I bought a pin for 6.5 CHF.  I walked back to the hotel and on my way I came across this sign for the Kontaktbar.

            I walked past the Grand Casino (below left) and the Palace hotel we stayed at previously and that was seen from our balcony.

  

            Below left is the front of the Casino that faces the lake and on the right is our Montana Hotel up on the hill.

  

            As I got closer to the hotel I photographed the vending machine where I bought my bus ticket yesterday and the bus I took yesterday happened to come along.  You show them your ticket (inset,) but I never have seen anyone ask for it.

    

            I arrived at the funicular entrance and got a chance to photograph it.  It is quite nicely done.

 

            After it arrives, you get in the train car and it rumbles its way up to the first floor (reception/dining) which is one flight below the other main entrance.

     

            Here is the hotel dining room where we had dinner the night we arrived.

            At 2:00 PM I went up to the room to change and discovered we had our room changed to #206 and everything was moved for us.  At 3:00 PM I felt I needed to rest and took a nap at 4:20 PM.  Meanwhile, Marcia was having lunch at Hogastro Martini Stube and had gulasch soup and salat.

            At 6:00 PM I woke up and I headed out at 6:30 PM for my run down the same hill I went down this morning and headed toward the Altstadt.  It was quite a nice run and I had a chance to see the many shops along the route.  This is a very livable city.  Along the lake, I came across the "Dragon" and a bunch of swans.

 

            The views over the lake to the Hofkirke are just lovely.

 

            I headed for Luzern's most famous attraction, its wooden bridge.

 

            Another shot of the KKL Convention Center.

            When I finished at 7:00 PM I was dying for some water so I stopped into Grendel 19 [Grendelstrasse 19, +41-41-410-5222] where I had a beer last trip.  I enjoyed a bottle of Rhäzünser sparkling water but it cost me almost $5.

 

            After relaxing a little and watching the people going by, I decided to walk around and explore.  I went behind a metal fence and came across this tiny park called Gletschergarten (Glacier Garden) with a small pond backed by a large rock cliff.  Then I saw the the Lion.

            It was carved into the rock like at Mt. Rushmore.  It is called the Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument.)  Its really neat right in the heart of the city.  It commemorates the Swiss Guards (right) who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace (left) in Paris.  They were hired to guard Versailles and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and paid with their lives.  An alternative view of the Guard is here.

  

            The monument is dedicated Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti  ("To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.")  The dying lion is portrayed impaled by a broken-off spear, covering a bent shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy; beside him is another shield bearing the coat of arms of Switzerland.

            The inscription below the sculpture (below) lists the names of the officers, and approximate numbers of the soldiers who died (DCCLX = 760), and those that survived (CCCL = 350.)  Interestingly, two of the latter became very high military in Napoleon's army.

            It is interesting that since 1506, 70% of the Commanders of the Pontifical Swiss Guard were from Luzern.  The initiative to create the monument was taken up by Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, an officer of the Guards who had been on leave in Luzern at that time of the massacre.  He began collecting money in 1818.  The monument was designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, and it was carved in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn, in a former sandstone quarry.  Mark Twain (1835–1910) praised this sculpture as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world."  Here is a quote from his book.

       The Lion lies in his lair in the perpendicular face of a low cliff — for he is carved from the living rock of the cliff. His size is colossal, his attitude is noble. His head is bowed, the broken spear is sticking in his shoulder, his protecting paw rests upon the lilies of France. Vines hang down the cliff and wave in the wind, and a clear stream trickles from above and empties into a pond at the base, and in the smooth surface of the pond the lion is mirrored, among the water-lilies.

       Around about are green trees and grass. The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion — and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.

– Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad, 1880

            Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) (below left) is famous for his sculpture of Copernicus in Warsaw (center) and his Christus in Our Lady Church in Copenhagen (right.)  The latter may look familiar because a copy of it is in the main Mormon church in Salt Lake City and used on the LDS website.  Another copy is in the entry of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

        

            Below is the monument description they had in English (left.)  After I left, I passed a souvenir shop that had these "Lion" plates (center) for sale at 18 CHF ($17.)  This wall (right) had a nice pastel and inscription saying "At one time for 500 years one could buy good optical glasses in the Theilinghus".

   

            I then came across these maps of the city and lake.  The blowup on the right shows the dam at the base of the lake that it being updated.

  

            Heini, here, makes a wide selection of tortes.  This sign in their window was hard to pass up.

            I then came across this cute little place, the Old Swiss House (below left.)  It looked interesting enough for me to go in and check it out.  They really were not open but a man came up to me and told me they would be open for dinner later.  I made a reservation with him.  I told him that I would be changing my clothes before I came back.  Of course Luzern has a little train tour.

 

  

            At 7:30 PM I walked back to the funicular and when I got back to the hotel, I found Marcia relaxing in the bar lounge where we had the reception party on our arrival.

            We changed and headed out for dinner.  We walked all the way to the  Old Swiss House [Löwenplatz 4, +41-41-41-06171] for dinner at 9:00 PM.  Below is the shot I took of it.

            Here is a postcard they have of the building and photos of Hanny Buholzer-Blättler and her son Philipp Buholzer who own and run the place.

     

            As we enter, Philip greets us and recognizes me as the guy in the running outfit earlier.  His mother Hanny's sister married a Busch (more on that later.)

  

            He seated us at a very nice table and Marcia and I started with a bottle of Féchy Roitelet '07 Swiss wine, which was very good.  We then browsed their menu but we were definitely going to have the house specialty...

     

      

            ...which is their special Wienerschnitzle that is prepared at your table.  I started with the Hummer (lobster) cream suppe.

 

            Our waitress comes out to show us the veal slices accompanied by the stove, two pans and this huge block of butter.  I hope, Dr. Taw, my cardiologist doesn't see this.

  

            She first dips the veal into the egg-Swiss cheese batter pan and then into the pan with bread crumbs making sure it is thoroughly covered on both sides.

  

            After she drops it into the hot pan, she prepares the other one.

 

            She kept adding more butter.

 

            After it was cooked to a golden brown, she plated it and then cooked the egg noodles that accompanied it.

 

             It was great, but not the best Wienerschnitzle we have ever had.  For dessert, Marcia had a chocolate mousse and a glass of 1858 Port.  Our dinner wasn't cheap (250 CHF = $115/each.)  Below is a stock photo of Swiss francs (CHF): a 50 and 10 note and the various coins.

 

            We chatted with Philip and before we left...

 

            ...I took a few shots of their wall of fame which included the actor Lex Barker (with his cigarette,) the Three Stooges, Raymond Burr, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (with Hanny,) and Richard & Pat Nixon.

       

            The cute one was of Hanny (looking like a teenager) with Neil Armstrong and his record of the 1969 Apollo 11 flight from the moon signed by him, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins.

   

            They also had this 1964 photo (below left) of the replica of this building ("Old Swiss House") which is in Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL.  Never having been there, I looked it up and its still there but doesn't look exactly like the original with that big tower attached to it.

  

            It overlooks giraffes and gazelles grazing on their Serengeti Plain.  August "Gussie" Busch Jr. (the 2nd in line) had it built in 1964 as a Valentine's Day present for his third wife, Trudy, whose brother owned Switzerland's Old Swiss House.  During a 1949 visit to Switzerland; a still-married Gussie was smitten by a 22-year-old beauty (Gertrude "Trudy" Buholzer) handing out menus at the Old Swiss House restaurant in Lucerne. The couple married in 1953 and divorced in 1978.  He died in 1989.

            Once considered one of the finest restaurants in Tampa, it was closed in 1983 for renovation and reopened in 1990 as the Crown Colony House [3605 E. Bougainvillea Ave, 888-800-5447] serving American cuisine, thus shedding its Swiss history.

            We said our goodbyes at 11:15 PM and then took a leisurely walk and I showed Marcia the Löwendenkmal.  It was much too dark to get any photos.  As we walked back, I took this night shot of the Cathedral and our hotel on the top of the hill.

    

            We then walked back to the funicular that carried us up to the hotel and got to bed at 12:45 AM.

KJH                                                   Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #6 

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

KHofferMD@AOL.com                        RETURN TO INDEX

Luzern, Switzerland

2-12-2010

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