This particular day, we were going to fill our stomachs. We headed to Broc to the Nestle Cailler Chocolate Factory. They had storage lockers there for our bags. The tour was wonderful. We enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to everyone. We then got on the train to Gruyeres. We went to the Maison du Gruyeres where they also had free storage lockers. We had a good time on the tour and afterwards both of us were ready for lunch! Cheese Fondue! My relatives specifically told us to eat cheese fondue in Gruyeres and raclette in Zermatt so we followed their directions. They did not steer us wrong. We found a quaint restaurant a block or so away and the fondue was incredible! The wine and the meringues with double cream made it that much more wonderful!
Our next stop was the Chateau de Gruyeres that looked so lovely from the train! We walked to the Chateau. We enjoyed our walk but made it more difficult for ourselves having just eaten our large lunch! It is a bit of an uphill climb but definitely, doable. The gardens inside the castle were gorgeous! There is a pretty street outside the castle with plenty of restaurants so maybe next time, we will try one of those and eat our fondue after the uphill climb.
We took the train to Montreux where we stayed on the 4th floor of a bnb with exceptional views of Lac Leman, Chillon Castle and the Dents du Midi (a beautiful mountain peak). We took a taxi to this bnb as it was going to require a bus ride and two funicular rides to reach it. We also decided against venturing out that night and ordered a pizza instead. We really enjoyed our pizza on our balcony looking at the lights around Lac Leman.
Thursday, we took the Golden Pass Panoramic to Lucerne. We were fortunate enough to reserve the front row on the first car of the train so we were looking out the panoramic glass in front of us. It is a five hour train ride and not once did we get bored with the miraculous scenery! The views were amazing. We commented that life couldn’t get any better. We were enjoying the view of the lakes and the mountains. Then, we started seeing the waterfalls. Then, it did get even better – two Swiss fighter jets took off from Meiringen! Spectacular! We arrived in Lucerne around 3:00 and walked to our hotel a few blocks away. We then explored Lucerne – I discovered that it is my favorite city! So, so beautiful! We went to the Chapel Bridge, the Sleeping Lion Monument, the Bourbaki Panorama, Old Town and the gorgeous Hofkirche which is the most beautiful church I have ever been in. We ended up eating dinner along the River Reuss gazing at the Chapel Bridge. There were many times we had to pinch ourselves, wondering if this was really happening!
Friday, we took the boat to Alpnachstad to go to Mt. Pilatus. Lake Lucerne is breathtaking! We enjoyed every single boat ride we took. This may have been our most spectacular day of all. Upon arriving at Alpnachstad, we walked right up, showed our Swiss Travel Pass, and got in line for the cogwheel train up to Mt. Pilatus. We got on right away. I learned from this website that we should take a downhill facing seat with our left shoulders against the window for the best views. They were right! We enjoyed the cogwheel train ride very much. The people riding up with us all spoke English and were very nice. The views were spectacular upon our arrival at the top. We walked to the viewing point where we could see the city and all the lakes. It was so beautiful. Then we walked to the other side and my mouth dropped open! The snowy mountain range was beyond spectacular. We couldn’t get enough of it. There was a man playing the alpine horn up on a ridge so we took a hike up there. We walked back down to the restaurant and had a wonderful outdoor lunch, gazing at the mountains, listening to the alpine horn and marveling at the hang gliders right above our heads! Can life get any better than this? We don’t think so.
My research told us to take the cable car down to Frakmuntegg. We did and it was awesome. We took a bit of a hike and found the alpine luge that we had heard about. At the luge, you sit on a sled and go down the alpine course with all the twists, turns, tunnels and straightaways. If you ever go to Mt. Pilatus, do not leave without doing the luge! We loved it and it was so worth the 8 Swiss Francs per ride! I was screaming on the way down. When you are done, you pick up your sled and carry it 20 feet or so and they hook you up to the ski lift and pull you back up the mountain. As I was being pulled up the mountain, I was exhilarated from the luge ride down, the snowy mountain peaks were in front of me, I could hear the cowbells of the cattle off to my right and I actually started tearing up from the beauty of it all! At that time, all I could think of was our three adult children and wishing that they could experience this!!! Once, we got to the top my husband and I looked at each other and in unison we said “Again?” So we did; it was just as much fun the second time!
We sat down for maybe half an hour enjoying an ice cream and watching others on the luge. We took the gondola down to Kriens and walked a bit to the bus that took us back to Lucerne. The bus trail was really well marked so we had no problems finding the bus. We had enough time to go back and put our feet up for half an hour before we headed out to an Oktoberfest. Before we decided on dates for our trip, we looked for some unique things we would like to do and this was one of them. The Oktoberfest was at Lucerne’s Regional Ice Center which was a short bus ride away. We arrived there, to find everyone in their regional German clothes. We did feel a bit out of place in our blue jeans. Our beers must have been 64 ounces. We also had big pretzels and my husband had ham and I had chicken for our main course. We had no idea what we were ordering so we just blindly pointed to something on the menu.
There was a great German band playing. The first hour we pretty much kept to ourselves and just watched. After that, everyone around us realized we were Americans and starting talking to us in English. We had so much fun with our new friends! The next two hours were spent dancing on our benches. What a blast! I reluctantly pulled my husband away from the festivities as we had an early morning the next day. One of those days that we will never forget!
On Saturday, we started the day with the farmer’s market along the River Reuss. I so wish we were staying in Lucerne for a week as we would have stocked up at the farmer’s market. So many vendors selling flowers, meats, cheese, bread, pasta, olives, etc… We bought some cheese, sausage sticks and croissants and took it with us. We also bought some wonderful breakfast pastries. We got on a train headed to Schupfleim. People were packed in the second class carriages while we enjoyed a leisurely ride with our first class Swiss Travel Passes.
This is another one of those events we structured our trip around. We were headed to an alpine descent. During the summer, cheese makers take their cattle up high to graze in the rich alpine pastures. An alpine descent is a festival celebrating the return to their farms. The cows that produce the most are ornately decorated with flowers and paraded through the streets. The parade also included alpine singers, yodelers and alpine horn musicians. They also had regional food for sale. My husband enjoyed his sausage and I loved the Swiss macaroni and cheese dish. This festival attracted great crowds. This day was definitely something very different for us. We had a great time.
We then took a train to Stans and took the Cabrio Stanserhorn to the top for a candlelit dinner. The unique thing about the Cabrio is that it is a cable car but you can stand on top of it! I thought it would be really scary but it wasn’t. It was just wonderful! Once you get to the top, the views are wonderful. You can hike up a little bit more, or just relax in one of their chairs. We made reservations for dinner and we were not disappointed! I think it was a four or five course gourmet dinner. We loved every bit of it! I think the ride up and the dinner was approximately 100 Swiss Francs each. Of course, any drinks and coffee are extra. It was fairly expensive but we don’t do that kind of thing very often so it was well worth it for us! The middle section of the restaurant revolves which is where we were sitting so every time you looked out the window it was a different view. I did not ride on top of the cable car on the way down. The thought of riding up there in the dark spooked me a little bit. By the time we took the train back to Lucerne it was pushing midnight. Another miraculous day and evening!