We made so many memories last summer in Europe, we decided to do it again this year. Well, really the airline’s revenue management team decided for us by releasing a bunch of bookable business class seats between Philadelphia and Zurich. There were enough that we could get two award and one upgraded economy ticket round trip.
The seating for the flight was the ‘new’ cabin on American Air’s 767. It’s not the biggest plane, or the layout with the most personal space, but it was ideal for flying with a toddler. Even during takeoff and landing, you could easily reach over and give her toys, snacks, etc.
We decided for the long flights to take and use our travel car seat. If you’re going to do this on a premium cabin, make sure to check ahead. Some of these seats don’t accommodate it well, and may have airbags in the seatbelts making it unsafe. This configuration, however, was fine.
Baby Flyer had a great flight! She loved getting special treats- like refills on her orange juice, and her own ice cream after dinner. The flight crew was great, and got her a special pasta from economy that was more kid-friendly, but even dressed it up and put it on a business class plate. Admittedly, we didn’t sleep much, but she got in a few hours, and was in a good mood on arrival.
Since we landed there by default, we took a couple nights in Switzerland to shake off the jetlag. We decided on Lucerne, and we booked an Airbnb in town, close to the train from the Zurich airport. This stop was all about kicking some jetlag, seeing the city, and enjoying the lake views.
It’s generally a good idea when flying east to Europe to not make too many ambitious plans in your first city. Honestly, this is a good idea on any trip with little kids.
To get there from Zurich, you can buy tickets on a nonstop train at the airport station (Zurich Flughafen) or buy them in advance online. Pro tip- if you book in advance, you may be able to get ‘super-saver’ tickets online through the website. You can only see if they’re available once you put in your desired day and destination, and then the option will be shown if it’s possible. It’s a big savings- basically half off! The only twist is that they’re not flex tickets, so you need to plan in some time in case your flight is late.
We made our train, and after about a 50 minute ride through fields and mountains, arrived at the central station in Lucerne. Here’s where we’ll just say… it was hot. Europe was in the middle of a historical heat wave nearly our entire trip. We’re not totally unused to the heat, living in Los Angeles, but I don’t think it’s what we expected months earlier when booking the tickets. Luckily, we’d gotten organized, paring down luggage, and finding ways to get everything more portable.
Our Airbnb was about 15 minutes’ walk from the train, and was a perfect set up. It was probably one of the most professionally run properties we’ve stayed at. Everything was clean (down to the swiss chocolates on the pillows) and modern, and the host met us promptly. There was a book full of things to do, local restaurants, and detailed instructions about all the appliances in the apartment.
They even had an oversized pack n’ play crib and a high chair for us! Even better, there were fans in every room. This was a minority amenity, which we would learn the hard way later in the trip.
As advertised, Lucerne and the surrounding area are beautiful! It’s also safe feeling and clean. I don’t know that I’d test it out, but the locals claim you can drink the lake water. In any case, it’s a beautiful clear blue, and surrounded by city and mountains.
One of the best ways to see the area is to take one of the many cruises or ferries that travel the lake. There are plenty of ticketing and tour options, but we went to the source and booked from the source. Be sure to look at their sale/deals if you can book ahead. We found there were significant savings for our “Panorama Yacht” tickets.
After the boat, we walked through part of the old town, and made sure to cross the Chapel bridge, which is arguably the most photographed part of the city. It did not disappoint.
Afterward, we went to Rossini, which was a great recomendation from our hosts, and it was amazing! Hand-made pasta, and generous portions of everything. They were great and flexible with the menu as well.
One benefit of the heat wave, was that the lake was much warmer than average. Our host let us know where the best public beach for families was, and we grabbed our bathing suits and headed over. It was a perfect way to cool off after exploring the city! Cool, but not cold, and remarkably clean and calm for a large lake boardered by a city.
For our second night, we had dinner at Made in Sud, courtesy of great online reviews. The thing about yelp, Trip Advisor, and the like, is that you have to keep in mind that people review based on the price point. No place is this more pronounced than in Switzerland, where the savvy traveler is always looking for quality for a good deal.
Made In Sud is a perfect example. I have to say right off that the food and service were great, especially for the entirely reasonable price point. The owner and servers made us feel welcome, and were great with kids. However, if you’re looking for super high-end ambiance, there are plenty of other places you could find in Lucerne. However, I doubt you’d want to chase small children around them, and you’d probably pay at least double for the privilege. As an added bonus, there’s a small playground right around the corner from the restaurant for any little folks who get restless waiting for the check.
Too soon, we were headed back to the Zurich airport to catch our flight onwards. Even in a heat wave, we had a fun time checking Lucerne out, and I’d definitely keep it on the “to re-visit” list for the future.
Up next – An economy flight to be jealous of & three nights in Prague.