Luzern and Gansabhauet

I have a 6 am flight tomorrow morning (because why not?), but I don’t want this post to go unwritten, so I will make this post relatively short.

Last Sunday was a bit of a double feature. There was an historic annual event in Sursee that I wanted to attend (more on that soon) and because it’s so close, I visited Luzern in the morning. It was a tiring day, which was also surprisingly warm despite the fact that I actually dressed appropriately for the weather we’d been having for the past few weeks.

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I got to Luzern around 11, so I really only had a few hours to walk around the city before I went over to Sursee. I started at the Kapelbrucke (Chapel Bridge), which is the covered bridge that you see in most photos of the city. From there, I walked around the Old Town and made my way up to the Musegg Wall. The views from the wall are supposed to be nice and for that reason and the fact that it was a beautiful day, I was surprised that there were very few people around the wall. Turns out that at least the part of the wall that I was at was not open to visitors. At the very least, that hike up the hill would have burned off a small sliver of the raclette from the night before.

From there, I made may down and crossed the Spreuer Bridge (another covered bridge in town.

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By this time, I had somehow taken up just about half of the time that I had in Luzern so I had to make some decisions about how I wanted to spend the rest of my time there. I found an Vietnamese restaurant that Yelp told me was open and even though it was significantly warmer than I expected, I have really been craving pho. The restaurant was also conveniently near the train station, so I could hop on the train to Sursee right after. So, I set up a quick itinerary that would end near the restaurant.

I started by walking through Old Town and made my way to the Lion Monument. I saw the monument last year when I was in Luzern for some meetings, but I really like it. I sat in the park, where for a brief moment I took in my peaceful surroundings. It was a very brief moment because a tour group rushed in and there was chaos everywhere. I left.

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From the monument, I walked along Lake Luzern towards the restaurant. Unfortunately and despite what Yelp told me, the restaurant was closed. I was still craving soup, so I ended up going to a nearby Japanese restaurant and had soup. The wait took forever, though, so I had just enough time to eat and get to my train.

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The trip to Luzern was short and the city was as lovely as it always is, but to be honest, it was just the opening act of the day. You see, I was on my way to Sursee to see Gansabhauet, an annual tradition in the town. Every year on Martinmas (St Martin’s Day), they hang a dead goose from a platform in the middle of the town and young men and women try to knock it down while blindfolded and slighted disoriented. I guess it’s like a Swiss version of a piñata?

When we arrived into Sursee, the town was incredibly quiet. After walking into the city center, I realized that pretty much everyone was waiting for the event to start. I should have known that there was a lot of food at the event. The wurst smelled good, but I really only had space for a cookie.

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The event started at about 3:15 and the crowd was packed as a procession walked through the town carrying the goose. I have to be honest, though, I felt a little bad for the guy when I saw him (or her?).

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They hung the goose up on the platform and we waited for the contestants to get prepared. Each individual is blindfolded, wears a mask, and is spun around a little to disorient them. This means that each contestant spends a few minutes getting re-oriented to try to figure out the best angle to knock the goose down.

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Typically, it takes quite a few people to take their shot at the goose before the goose is knocked down. This means that there are other games that children can participate in in the meantime. This year, it only took three tries. The first person didn’t get much on the goose. The second person almost knocked the goose down and the third person got the goose down pretty easily. Of course, I didn’t realize that knocking the goose down meant decapitating the goose (poor goose), but it was absolutely captivating and I kind of wish there were a few more rounds.

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There’s more to the festival after the goose, including a lantern parade and more food. Given that the competition didn’t take too long, it would have been a few hours wait until the parade, so I headed home and made myself some Kfood for dinner.

The event was admittedly a little surreal and I don’t think I would have ever expected to watch an event like this, but I’m certainly glad that I did.

And with that, I go prepare for my painfully early flight.

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