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Together We Stand | Luzern

When the initial plan for the visit to Switzerland was set, Lucerne was identified as a central city where multiple attractions are based in the vicinity. As a result, multiple days were allocated to explore the area, hence an additional time to bond with any Rotaract clubs based in Lucerne. When the list of available clubs in Switzerland was scrutinized, we found RAC Luzern, which is a community-based club located in Lucerne. The next step was to get in touch with them. A simple message to the Facebook page of RAC Luzern was warmly greeted by the President-Elect Rtr. Milena Aregger. Rather than being limited to a typical meetup, she invited us to visit her home in Lucerne for a traditional Swiss Dinner!

On the eve of the dinner, we managed to have a glimpse of the city of Lucerne. Lucerne is a city mixed with both modern and medieval architecture. Bordered by the picturesque Lake Lucerne, this city’s attractiveness is heightened by the Mount Pilatus, which stands tall in the outskirts, which is being proudly spoken by the locals. Lion’s Memorial has been built to commemorate the Swiss guards that were killed during the French revolution.

Museggmauer or the City walls is another historical attraction situated within the city. There are 9 watch towers within Museggmauer, which provide a panoramic view of the city. It is fair to say that the Kapellbrücke or the Chapel bridge situated in Lucerne city center is the most popular attraction out of all. A covered wooden footbridge spanning across River Reuss add a sense of antiqueness to the city architecture and is the oldest of its kind in Europe. 

Around 6.15 pm in the evening on 19th April, we were picked up from the Lucerne Railway Station by the Director – Program, Rtr. Monica Odermatt. After driving through the streets in the city, we moved to a highway. Rtr. Monica explained how the highways in Switzerland work. Apart from the normal speed lanes, there is a fast lane on the highway as well. An annual toll sticker has to be purchased for passenger cars, trucks and pasted on the windshields. If you break the speed limits or highway rules, the fine will be sent to your home through an email. One unlucky passenger car provided us a live demonstration on how automated speed cameras capture over-speeding on the highway. After a half an hour drive through the outskirts of Lucerne, we reached Milena’s home.

Rtr. Milena gave us a warm welcome and accompanied us to the dinner table. We were joined by Rtr. Sarah, the Director of IT & Finance of RAC Luzern. The table was coloured with Raclette Cheese, Pizza ingredients, vegetables and Easter bunnies. We were provided with a detailed introduction of each food item and ingredient on the table by Rtr. Milena. A variety of Raclette Cheese such as peppered, smoked, paprika, garlic were available on the table. Boiled potatoes, cornichons & pineapple were also available to be consumed with Raclette Cheese. Rivella, the famous Swiss juice was available as a beverage. Monika & Sarah helped us in preparing our dinner and demonstrated how to melt Raclette Cheese in the specially made grill.  

During the dinner, we discussed about the service rendered by the two clubs, along with the administrative structure. Being a club focusing primarily on fellowship, Rtr. Milena explained about the club service activities of RAC Luzern. Similarity, we emphasized on the community service activities and other avenue project that are being organized by RAC Alumni Mora.

After conversing about club activities, the discussion moved into personal lives. Milena is a nurse at a hospital in Lucerne by profession, Monica is a caretaker of senior citizens at an elders’ home and Sarah is a dancing instructor. It was nice to get a glimpse of their lifestyle in Switzerland as it was totally different to the ones of us Asians. Rtr. Milena elaborated about her visit to Sri Lanka in last November. She has stayed two weeks at a resort in Weligama and has enjoyed surfing during her stay. We were glad to hear that she knows about Mangroves and their importance in preventing coastal erosion.

After a sumptuous dinner, Rtr. Milena accompanied us to her home garden. She introduced the vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit plants in the garden and even prompted us to check the fragrance. The kind of plants found in her garden was quite unique to us as we do not see those varieties in our locals. She explained about the crop season and how well her mother maintains the home garden. Rtr. Milena then picked a few leaves from the peppermint plant and prepared peppermint flavoured tea for us. Hands down, that was one of the best flavoured teas that we have ever tasted.

Gifts, tokens and letterheads were exchanged between the two clubs. RAC Luzern had prepared a set of valuable gifts which we are very thankful for. As the dusk turned into the dark, we bid adieu to the lovely Rotaractors from Lucerne.  Rtr. Monika was very kind enough to drop us back to Lucerne Railway Station after we bid farewell to Rtr Milena.

It was one of the best hospitalities we have ever experienced during a Rotaract International visit.

Happy reading!

Penned By: Rtr. Himantha Alahakoon

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