Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Welcome to the Art Deco Hotel Montana

Funny. It doesn't look like Montana.
Day Five
Lucerne is so beautiful it hurts. We do the train/tram shuffle and check into the Art Deco Hotel Montana. As the name implies, it's an art deco hotel. Pretty cool. I throw my stuff in my room. Nice room. There's a knock-off of Michelangelo's David holding a towel by the shower. I think hotel management bought it on auction from the Rocky Horror collection.

We do lunch on the shimmering terrace restaurant. Shimmering, as in heat mirages over the hoods of cars on a hot summer day. I try to stay conscious. A nap would be nice. But sleep does not await. There is a schedule to keep.

We zip off to a humongous steel cage structure on prime lakefront property. The KKL Luzern.

Luzern with a "Z." Ja. I should mention we're in the German part of Switzerland. The German/Swiss have a chip on their shoulder. We are not in Lucerne, you see. We're in Luzern. We are not the !@#$# French. They don't say it. But they wanna say it. Even if they did, they'd say it with a smile. So, Luzern it is.

Achtung, baby. 

Anyway. The KKL Luzern. If the Van Wezel and the Los Angeles Convention Center had a lovechild, it might resemble the KKL Luzern, a glimmering glass-and-steel space below a dramatic, cantilevered roof designed by architect Jean Nouvel. Beautiful, yes. But equally functional. Nouvel’s Swiss army knife of a building comprises bistros, restaurants, intimate meeting spaces, and a vast concert hall boasting state-of-the-art acoustic design. The place is, basically, a big ear.

The charming director of the place gives us a tour -- then realizes we're exhausted and sends us back to our hotel.

Shower. Nap. Human again.
Rocky Horror called. He wants his statue back.

We stroll around the city. There's a covered bridge (actually a recreation of a covered bridge that burned down in 1993 -- I was no where near it at the time). At the bridge's other end, we emerge and walk into a cathedral. Our tour guide apologizes that a high school band is probably practicing. She hopes we won't mind.

It's not a high school band. It's a world-class orchestra. Soaring music. A gift from the Lord above.

I don't mind.

Switzerland is like a photo in a newspaper made up of halftone dots. From far away, it looks like one simple thing. Look closer and the simplicity breaks up. What looks like one thing is really lots and lots of really complicated bits.

Lucerne and the other cities I've seen aren't patchworked with parking lots. The sweet public transportation system saves a lot of space and helps Swiss cities stay people-friendly.

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