We arrived in Lavin around 7:00pm, at the home of Luke Brunner. Our host warmly welcomed us, then showed us to the small apartment in his home we rented for the night. We spoke briefly as we settled in, then my musician husband happily left with Luke to receive a tour of his workshop: Brunner Guitars. I opted out of the tour to check out how comfy the bed was as I snuggled in after our long day of driving with the bottle of wine purchased at Coop in Zernez , a bag of potato chips (also purchased at Coop!) and watched a comedy on Netflix!
Michael returned a few hours later overflowing with inspiration to build and create such beautiful instruments as the man he had just spent time with. Here is what Michael has to say about his visit:
“How dare I tread onto my wife’s blog. Well first of all, my dear Stephanie invited me in. Secondly I think I might have something interesting to contribute to her account of our recent Switzerland adventure.
The small town of Lavin in eastern Switzerland is not really off the beaten track but nor is it typically anybody’s main travel destination. Lavin was in our itinerary for one reason… to visit with Lucas Brunner, the guitar maker. Sometime last summer, I stumbled upon a YouTube video of Muriel Anderson playing a Dire Straits cover on an instrument built by Mr Brunner. My fascination with that video compelled to do a little research on the instrument builder, which might even have partially influenced our decision to spend Christmas in Switzerland.
For me, as someone who loves guitars and who appreciates fine craftsmanship, our one day visit with Lucas was a highlight. Stephanie chose to relax in our accommodation with her computer and a bottle of wine, while I spent a couple of hours talking guitars and woodworking with this craftsman. If I was inspired with what I had seen on that YouTube video, then I was completely in awe that evening.
Lucas Brunner’s guitars are unique in a couple of ways. I would invite anybody reading this to Google his harp guitars. The other very interesting innovation he has come up with is to build quality solid guitars with removable necks. I watched him tune up one of his guitars and then disconnect the neck from the guitar body. Of course it was still connected with the strings but a neckless guitar can be packed in a much smaller case. He then reattached the neck and strummed a perfectly tuned open G chord.
Lucas offers guitar building workshops to anyone with an interest in spending a few weeks of their life in this idyllic Swiss mountain village. It takes a lot longer than three weeks to build a guitar but he has designed his workshop so that one can leave there with a finished instrument. The basic shape of the neck is blocked out and the wood for the body is prepared for bending.
Stephanie enjoyed a little mini tour of the workshop the next morning and shared a little of my enthusiasm. Though I have a fairly strict (but not written in stone) travel policy of not visiting the same place twice, I will be returning here. A hand built Bruner guitar will one day be a cherished part of my guitar collection.” ~ Michael
In the morning we woke to a chilly -8˚C, skiers walking by our window on their way to their cars to spend a day on the alpine slopes. It seems every little village and town in Switzerland is host to travelers who either spend time on the slopes or time hiking the mountains. Luke’s small apartment for rent is booked with hikers for the entire upcoming summer months because Lavin is a starting point for hikes in the Swiss National Park.
As Michael settled our bill, Luke took me on a brief tour of his workshop. I enjoyed our conversation as it turned from guitars (that I know nothing about but appreciated why Michael was so excited!!) to spirituality. Luke Brunner is a spiritual man with a deep belief in God. He spoke of the power of God’s grace and how, when we let go and get out of our own way, trust in God and let his will guide us…..peace can be found. I was moved to tears from the gentle words of this humble man.
We said our farewells with Michael excited to return, eager to build a guitar with this talented guitar maker. Luke recommended that before we start our cross country drive to France, we visit the nearby historic village of Guarda. We did, and this award-winning village will be the topic of my next blog!!
But, before leaving Lavin, we had lunch at the Hotel Piz Linard. We missed breakfast and were quite hungry for a good meal. We were not disappointed!!! The food was DELICIOUS!!! My roasted chestnut soup left my tastebuds begging for more of the sweet, creamy, nutty soup. But then the hot off the skillet chicken cordon blu left us silent as we savoured each bite!!!
Next stop – Guarda….then France!
Love, Stephanie xo
Lunch at Hotel Piz Linard:
My Time = Wine, Chips and Laughter!!