Monday, September 5, 2011

On Top of the World - Mt. Pilatus near Lucerne

Yesterday, my husband and I spent four hours on a train traveling to the city of Zurich, Switzerland. I find the train system here very efficient and fast. We were also able to see the beauty of the countryside as we rode along. After settling into our hotel, we prepared for the 9 and 1/2 trip today to Mt. Pilatus.
According to our tour guide, we would travel by bus to Lucerne going through the beautiful Swiss countryside. Then, we would take a short walking tour of this historic city followed by a trip up the mountain Mt. Pilatus at 7000 ft. After we had spent time on the mountain, we would return to Lucerne for a one hour boat ride across Lake Lucerne before boarding the bus back to Zurich.
Unfortunately, the day was rainy, cool, and not too pleasant. However, we were prepared with our umbrella and rain ponchos. We walked to our meeting place and joined 22 other people for this adventurous tour. Our guide told us that rain or shine they go to Mt. Pilatus. In fact, once we arrived, we found out that 60% of the time, the mountain is socked in with clouds and often rain.
Our stop in Lucerne took us first to a monument to fallen soldiers who had fought for a king over a cause that did not gain anything. Only 35 soldiers survived this battle. A great lion carved into stone stood in somber remembrance of those fallen in battle. Then, we took
a walking tour of the old city of Lucerne. We walked across two wooden foot bridges that have been in existence since Medieval times. One river we crossed had beautiful blue, pure water flowing in it, and we saw dozens of swans who make their home here. How graceful and beautiful are these snow white birds!
Following our walking tour, we had a short time to go and enjoy some delicious cappuccino in a local cafe. We also had a chance to do some window shopping. The cost of things is very high in Switzerland. A cup of coffee from McDonald's cost about $3.50 per cup (small size). However, the coffee and chocolate in Switzerland are outstanding!
We boarded our bus again to make our trip to Mt Pilatus. After a short ride, we prepared to ride part way up the mountain in cable cars that seat four people. We were lucky to ride with our tour guide so we were able to learn even more about Switzerland. It was so amazing as we climbed higher and higher over the city of Lucerne into the mountains of the Alps. Our guide told us that farmers bring their cows up into the mountains (high up) for at least five months during spring and summer. The grazing is better for them here, so the farmer stays with them alone in small cottages. Bells are put around their necks and we could hear the cows as we ascended the mountain.
We rode the cable car up to a second station and changed to a Gondola that held all 22 of us. We stood the rest of the way up...a steep climb to be certain and a breathtaking view. When we reached the top, clouds obscured any and all views. Some of our group had come to hike down the mountain but decided against this due to the inclement weather. Since there was little to see and it was VERY cold outside, we settled in to enjoy a Swiss macaroni dish with apple sauce in the restaurant at the top. There is also a hotel at the very top of the mountain...what an interesting place to stay!
Just before we were to descend, there was a brief clearing around the top where we could see some of the view. It was beautiful and awe inspiring. We were grateful for this moment. Then we boarded the world's steepest cog wheel train for our descent. This train goes down the mountain at a 48 degree slope. When you board, it is like boarding a stair step seating arrangement. The views were sensational. Unfortunately, my new camera decided to die at just this time so we were not able to take as many pictures as we wanted to. I am not certain what happened but we believe it should hold out for one more day here in Zurich before we return home.
When we reached the bottom of the mountain, we boarded a lake cruising boat and took a leisurely hour long trip across Lake Lucerne. It was peaceful and the sky was beginning to clear. We spent our time on the boat having a great conversation with a couple from Ohio our former home state. They were traveling Europe too and we had a wonderful time getting to know Tom and Carol Coco. God is so good to give us the opportunity to make new friends as we have traveled.
Tomorrow, our final day in Zurich, we will tour this city and see the sights. It is a half day trip which is good for us because we must be up and ready for our flight home at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday. It has been a whirlwind trip in many ways and one we will never forget. I will write more tomorrow evening if I have the opportunity. Again, I have posted pictures on Facebook. When I return home, I will upload to my Flickr account to share with you all.

Please feel free to leave your comments. I always enjoy reading them.

No comments: