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The dragon's back

The dragon returns

(Keystone Archive)

Another season of boat travel on Swiss lakes has begun. Travellers can choose between dragon boats and 100-year-old steamers.

The Lake Thun region in the Bernese Oberland last year celebrated the return of the lake's mythical dragon - in the form of a ship. The Dragon Boat is now back for another season due to popular demand.

The fire-breathing monster comes complete with a small play area for kids under its large tail and a "dragon menu" in its restaurant. A number of special children's events are planned on board throughout the season.

The boat, like all vessels on Lake Thun, makes a stop at the Beatus Caves, where, according to myth, a dragon once lived.

Steamship centennial

On Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland, the steamship "Unterwalden" is celebrating its 100th year in service.

Every Saturday evening in July and August, a sound and light show will entertain guests as the boat pulls into the historic ports of Lake Lucerne. The spots include the chapel dedicated to William Tell, which will be floodlit while the story or myth attached to the place is brought to life over headsets.

A journey on the boat alone is also a trip back in history and worth the price of the ticket.

Before being installed in the boat, the ship's engine was shown as a prime example of Swiss engineering at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. A fourth bulkhead was added in 1913 to stabilise the vessel to meet more stringent shipping regulations after the sinking of the Titanic.

The Lake Geneva Shipping Company boasts the largest fleet of paddle steamers in Europe. They cruise Europe's biggest freshwater lake in and make stops at picturesque Swiss towns and villages and even cross the lake to the French spa town, Evian-les-Bains.

Traffic is expected to be abnormally heavy this summer on lakes Neuchatel, Biel and Murten. The "Three Lakes Region" is playing host to the Swiss National Exhibition, Expo .02, which begins in mid-May.

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