My husband and I arrived on a Wednesday morning to a grey, misty and cloudy day in Zurich. We easily navigated down to the station, boarded the train right from the airport and headed one-hour south to the medieval lakeside town of Lucerne.
Lucerne has a special place in my heart because I attended college here for two years in the mid-1970s. On Thursday morning, we awoke to a stunner of a day with a brightly colored robin’s egg blue sky and the nearby Alpine peaks poking out from a few wispy clouds down below. After a 15 minute walk along the lakeside promenade past the fairytale towers of Lucerne’s Old Town, we were onboard the lake steamer chugging our way to Alpnachstad, just three stops from Lucerne. Our fellow passengers on board were a global array of families, couples and friends anticipating an exceptional excursion.
Upon arrival at our port, we were a short walk across the street to the cog rail station where we embarked on the world’s steepest cog rail line. The reason the incline is so steep is purely due to Swiss ingenuity! To make the incline less steep would have meant more time and money and the builders wanted a swift return on their investment. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! So all 38 passengers climbed aboard the jaunty red incline carriage and upwards our chariot took us. Our journey truly reminded me of the “Little Engine That Could” saying, “I think I can, I think I can” all the way up 7,000 feet to the top of Mt. Pilatus.
Once we reached our destination, the “Travel Weather Gods” were smiling upon us as we not only gazed upon every peak in the near and even the far vicinity but we watched a small herd of chamois (called Capricorn by the Germans) play and nap just below one of the five footpaths available to visitors.
Our good fortune continued as we watched an elderly gent unpack a chubby instrument case, adjust his edelweiss-embroidered cap and reveal a real-life alphorn, which he began to play! Astonishingly – we heard another alphorn answer him and for several minutes, and they went back and forth with their harmonies reverberating through the hills. Talk about the memory of a lifetime!
After an exhilarating hike toward the actual tippy-top spot, we retreated to an outdoor café where we enjoyed the brilliant alpine sunshine with some homemade pumpkin soup and a glass of refreshing Swiss Chasselas– their very satisfying white wine from the Valais. The Swiss make amazing wines and keep all of them within the country – not wanting to share. I read an article titled “Swiss Wine – the Best Wine You’ve Never Tasted” which is very appropriate!
Once it was time to go back down the other side of the mountain, we took The Aerial Cableway Dragon – named because the medieval townspeople of Lucerne believed a dragon lived in a cave at the top of Mt. Pilatus. The first stop en route to the base is a station where guests can choose from various activities including toboggan slides, a ropes course, zip lines and many other fun activities that would make many teens and tweens very happy for a day. Here we switched to a four-man cable car to ascend to two more stations. Once we reached the very bottom, we were at a suburb of Lucerne called Kriens, then just a 10-minute bus, taxi or private car ride to your Lucerne hotel. For me, this was one heck of an exhilarating day!