About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mount Pilatus and the Golden Round Trip

This morning we woke up to skies that were much sunnier than yesterday.

We headed over to Starbuck's for breakfast, then over to the marina to catch a boat. We were headed out for the Golden Round Trip - boat, cog railway, gondola, bus - up Mount Pilatus and back.

Chapel Bridge

We spotted this empty bus near the boat docks and the display board made us laugh.

Mount Pilatus is the backdrop of Luzern. According to legend, it is named after Pontius Pilate, whose body is said to be in one of its lakes. The more likely scenario is that 'Pilatus' is the Latin word for 'cloudy'. It is also said that the mountain is home to dragons.

The first leg of our Golden Round Trip was by boat. We boarded and found seats the port side. The boat portion would take us to Alpnachstad, about a 90 minute ride. For this portion of the trip the skies were fairly clear and blue.

It was still a bit cloudy as we left Luzern

I tried to snap a picture of us during the boat ride.

A beautiful day for sailing

We arrived in Alpnachstad and headed to the cog train station. This cog advertises itself as the steepest in the world.

Goats on the mountain

This cog advertises itself as the steepest in the world, reaching angles of 48%.

The higher we went, the more we became fogged in.

Once at the top we walked around to check out the views. Pilatus was living up to its Greek definition - cloudy! There are two hotels at the top, a couple of very expensive restaurants and a cafeteria.

If its foggy, wait for 30 seconds and it will be much more clear...then foggy...etc

Brandon wanted to see what it is like to be a Swiss cow.

Lunch time. We chose the cafeteria for lunch and ended up having some really tasty food.

We enjoyed some traditional music while we ate lunch

After lunch we headed up to the highest point of Mount Pilatus, Esel. Esel means "donkey". In the pre-cog railway days visitors summitted Pilatus on the backs of donkeys. Even Queen Victoria took a donkey trip to the top.

On top of Esel, all we saw was this!

Our guidebook tells us to look down the mountain to see impressive anti-aircraft defense systems built into the rocks. Modern military missiles point to the skies from here.

We could not see much beyond the bird on the wall.

I did catch a brief glimpse of the hotel below...

...and then it became this within a minute.

Brandon was not tall enough!!

After seeing all we could see - or not see - on Pilatus, we started the third leg of our Golden Round Trip. We took the gondola down to Frakmuntegg. At this transfer point, partway down the mountain, we found an alpine slide. WE LOVE THESE!...and try to ride on each one we find.

It was a bit of a hike up the hill to the start house. They didn't allow backpacks or cameras on this slide, so Katrina volunteered to sit and wait first. Wow! This slide had to have the slowest moving line in all of Switzerland. The Swiss are a timely and precise nation. Someone forgot to tell the people on this mountain. I think we were in line for about 45 minutes.

The ride was thrilling though. All of the previous slides have been on a single rail. This one was more of a luge type, running free in a metal channel. The course is called "Dragon Speed" and is about a mile long.

By the time we arrived back at the top, it had taken over an hour for one ride. Katrina decided it wasn't worth it, so we headed down to the next gondola.

Late in the day Pilatus began to clear up

The next gondola took us down to Krienseregg. We stopped here to take a break, let Brandon play at the playground he spotted and have a snack. Katrina enjoyed some french fries. I had a banana split. Brandon just played in the park. The sun was out at this lower elevation.

It was getting late. The last gondola down the mountain would leave at 6:15pm. It was now 5:30pm, so we caught the gondola down to the town of Kriens, where we caught a bus back to the main station in Luzern.

Riding the gondola down to Kriens

Once back in town, we decided to take a break in the room for awhile, before heading out to dinner. The Golden Round Trip was well worth it, but was also very tiring.

We decided to have fondue for dinner this evening. The restaurant that was recommended to us ended up being full with reservations. The waitress was kind enough to point us in the direction of another fondue restaurant - as if they are hard to find in Switzerlan. Fondue is found in almost any restaurant. Katrina and I shared a pot of fondue. Brandon had fish and chips.

The restaurant where we had dinner is on the ground floor of this colorful building.

Old Luzern is full of interesting painted buildings like this.

After dinner we wandered around town taking pictures before retiring in the room for the night.

Swans in the river. Locals say they were a gift from the French king, Louis XIV, in appreciation for the protection his "Swiss guards" gave him.

Most serious pictures are required to be followed by a silly goofy picture...according to Brandon.

Tomorrow we head to Interlaken.

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