As my colleagues packed up for their weekends and some headed straight out to socialise, I took a fam. trip to Lucerne, Switzerland, to check out its convention centre, KKL Luzern, which is gearing up to celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2010.
Leaving late Friday, a thunderstorm over Heathrow had caused widespread delays knocking on into our schedule. We took off two hours later than planned and lost an hour to time difference, so I arrived in Zurich just before midnight, local time.
Although I’m an Aussie, I’ve grown to think as a Londoner when it comes to (low) expectations of public transport. My train connection to Lucerne delivered me to my hotel room by 1.30am. As Christian Suss, the head of PR and promotion for KKL says: “Travelling from one side of London to the other would take longer than a trip from Zurich to the idyllic Lucerne.”
Lucerne is one of the rare cities that really does mirror the perfect picture postcard. Set on the fourth largest lake in Switzerland, the town follows the shoreline and up into the mountainside. Access to a great deal of the hotels is via an old-fashioned steamboat, which leaves the dock adjacent to the convention centre throughout the day.
The Swiss’ image of ‘expensive living’ is not without foundation, and most meals and drinks do cost a pretty penny. I suggest you banish those blues with a chocolate rush from one of the abundant stores, which offer free samplings. There are plenty of colourful local bars offering wine and schnapps tastings to the visitor.
Saturday night’s entertainment involved tickets to Swatch’s Blue Balls Festival ’09 (yes, who came up with that name?), which saw British singer Joss Stone and German-based Graziella Schazad play. A perfect illustration of the kind of incentives the venue and destination can offer, Stone belted out hit after hit to a packed out floor.