Hi Forum folks, here is part 6 of my trip to Switzerland
Day 11: After awakening and seeing nothing but blue skies out the window, and after a nice breakfast downstairs, I grabbed the everywhere bag, water bottles and all, and headed to the station through the busy, bustling sidewalk along the river and made my way on the train to the small village of Engelberg. Seemingly In the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains, a very pretty little village. Here, there is about a 10-minute walk to the valley station for Mt. Titlis. Or one can take the shuttle bus from the train station. I chose to walk as I was too impatient to wait for the bus. I was very excited since I was looking at brochures and the like for months about Titlis. Like the gondola’s in Zermatt, (similar to the sky-rides at amusement parks) one gets on, the door closes, and on the way up I went. Through the lush green country side, leaving the village behind, getting smaller and smaller. The first stop, Gerschnialp, came and went and I got off at the second stop, Truebsee. I walked around a bit before getting back on and taking it to Stand, the last stop where one changes to the big gondola, The Rotair, which actually rotates on the way up the sheer cliffs and steep mountain wall up to Mt. Titlis. What a beautiful ride these both were. Stunning scenery. Just beautiful to see. And I wasn’t even to the top yet! Upon arrival to the top, one discovers 5 levels of things to do.
A Restaurant, lounge. Souvenir shop, group restaurant, photo op shop, and a passageway to the glacier itself. I actually didn’t see any carvings of any kin, unless I just plain missed it. I walked the few hundred meters or so through and came out on the cliff walk, which led up to the bridge. The Titlis Cliff Walk.. The highest suspension bridge in Europe. At 10000 feet, I took my time climbing the cat-walk-like-stairs to the bridge, stopping at each level to take pictures, and again, not trying to go so fast as to get dizzy or lose my footing. Once on the bridge, what an amazing sight. Breath taking. On one side, the cliff, on the other side, air. All the way down. Some 500 meters off the nearest ground. It is listed in the top ten of the world’s most scary bridges. I can see why, but it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Even when I did look straight down, through the metal grating that was the floor of the bridge. The thing that struck me more than anything was the fact that it was moving. That was a little bit of an eerie feeling. Not a lot, but I could feel it moving under my feet. But having my camera and taking a video of walking the entire length kept me busy. Trying not to drop my cell phone, people bumping into me, etc. I was surprised at just how many people were on it. And it is only one meter wide, with a wall, or railing on either side constructed of wire. Interesting, very interesting. The scenery is just stunning. Just hanging out several thousand feet above sea level, looking at sheer cliffs, the glacier and the surrounding mountains just took my breath away. After being on it, I realized it was basically constructed of cables. Hmm. Switzerland, land of cable cars. A mere drop in the bucket for the Swiss. On the other side of the bridge after a few meters was the Ice Flyer, which is a 6-person chair lift that goes directly over the glacier, I passed on this, and made my way around through the snow, and over the glacier, to the main viewing area.
What a beautiful place. After exploring the many different levels of things to do I went to the restaurant/cafeteria area to get my “summit beer” which I took up to the lounge area and relaxed. Taking in the scenery from the three different windows, each one facing a different direction I relaxed and enjoyed my beverage. Other people were also relaxing, some napping, some taking photos, etc. One could see other peaks from here as well, like the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch. A nice experience, overall. But I have to say that after all the hype and looking forward to this, it wasn’t as great as I expected. Maybe I was spoiled by Zermatt and Wengen, but I am glad I saw it. The weather certainly couldn’t have been better. After about what I guess was an hour and a half to two hours, I made my way down the Rotair, to the gondola’s and back down to Engelberg, where I could see the train station and how to best get there. I made my way back to Lucern and did some more walking around before heading to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. The food at the Hotel des Alpes was very good. Right there on the quay overlooking the bridges on the river. Lucern really Is a great walking city. After dinner, Mr. Pickwick was calling me to end another beautiful day in Luzern.
Day 12: It looked promising while eating breakfast, but after the train ride to Stans, the clouds just didn’t go away. In fact, they got heavier, and it rained while I contemplated going up to the Stanserhorn. The train line ended here and after about twenty minutes, I got just got back on the train, all the while hoping that the clouds would leave. I was hoping to go back up to the top again with good weather, but it was worse that the day I arrived in Switzerland and took the Cabrio double-decker cable car up. So, back to Luzern where it was cloudy with some very light rain. I walked along the river towards the old wall that used to protect the old town. A lot of steps going up and as I walked up, I realized I was actually outside the old town. The more I walked the more I realized I wasn’t getting back in. any time soon. So, I walked until there was an entryway back into old town and made a left and made my way up to the Lion Monument. Lots of people there taking photos and such, and I did the same.
I walked back towards the lake and discovered the Old Swiss House right down the road from the Lion. What a beautiful building. “Old Swiss” is perfectly named. Across the small plaza from Angelo’s pizza, I decided to eat at the Old Swiss House instead. (The weather started to clear at this point). I had an appetizer and a phenomenal lobster bisque. Quite expensive, but very good soup. Over 50 Fr for the appetizer, soup and a beer. There is quite a bit of history in this house, (now restaurant) including ties to the Anheuser-Busch family of the beer brewery fame. After the Old Swiss House I made my way back to the Hotel des Alpes where they were holding my big bag after I had already checked out. I put together all I needed to get me through the night on Mt. Pilatus. I stored my big bag in a locker at the train station and got on the train to Alpnachtstad. Here is the cog railway up to Mt. Pilatus.
About 40 minutes or so later, I arrived at my palace in the sky, the hotel Pilatus Kulm. This was essentially the coup de’gras for my trip. Nothing, except maybe the Matterhorn, was I looking more forward to seeing on this trip. For a little over 300 Fr, one gets not only the room, but a magnificent 5 course dinner, breakfast the following morning, the ascent/descent tickets (not fully covered on the STP, although I believe it was last year). Not only that but, at 1800 hrs. they had a welcoming cocktail for all the guests that arrived that day. That included a drink as well as assorted nuts, chips and fresh gruyere cheese that was made from the cows, whose bells that one hears outside on the mountain. Wow!! After the last descent (I believe about 1700 rs, maybe 1440), there is no one on the mountain, save for the guests. There are two hotels up there, the Kulm and one called the Belvedere, which is a round building, that looked like it was encased in stainless steel. The reception desk is right there as one comes off the cog railway (or the cable car that goes up the opposite side of the mountain from Kriens.) I checked in and put the big bag in the room and went out with everywhere nap-sack and just was in awe, as the scenery, again, was just amazing. Hiked a few trails close to, and up and around the hotel itself. (Upon checking in, the receptionist gave me a card with a wi-fi password, and on it was the time for the sunset and tomorrow’s sunrise). So, I did some exploring, had my cocktail and cheese and waited as the skies yielded another awesome sunset over the Alps. What a beautiful, peaceful, absolutely, unbelievable experience this was shaping up to be. Thank goodness the weather broke and the clouds from earlier had left. To be able to just walk around at 7000 feet, to see the lakes below, Luzern in the distance, with the light still there after the sun went down, was simply amazing. I had dinner with some folks that I met at the welcoming cocktail hour and enjoyed some more cocktails after dinner in the lounge. After setting my clock to 0630 for the sunrise, I went to sleep with what was the biggest smile on my face. What a night. I slept very well this night.
When I was a kid my family visited Mt. Pilatus, and one distinctive memory that I have always had since 1971, was that of looking through some sort of hole the rock and seeing a church way down below. Just sitting there perched on the side of a green hill, so far away, so far down. For an 8 year old little boy, it just seemed so amazing to me that this little church was even there. As I explored the paths around the hotel this night, along the Dragon Walk, I was climbing down steps that were built into the side of the mountain, basically a tunnel and emerging out into the light, I saw that church down below. It is hard to put into words, the feeling of seeing that now so many years later. What a truly wonderful experience. Like the Gornergrat several days earlier, this is something I just can’t recommend enough to anyone. I’m so glad I decided about a half year ago to book this hotel.
More to come in part 7