High speed trains, ultra-tall mountains, and rainy days in Switzerland

Early on July 1st we went to the train station to take the high speed train to Switzerland for the next, less urban phase of the trip. There we were to travel through the Alps, go to the top of Mount Pilatus, tour Engelberg and Lucerne, and eat at an Alpine Lodge.

We will need to fuel up with this bagel smuggled in from an American Panera.

Traveling at just over 150mph, we were far from Paris in no time.

Like the Seine cruise, the train was very relaxing.

So, so, relaxing.

We got off at Lausanne, Switzerland and drove by beautiful mountains and blue lakes to Brienz.

At Brienz, some of our travelers wanted to see how cold the water was.


While I was willing to accept reports from our travelers that the water was chilly, others preferred direct experience.

Safely out of the lake filled with snow melt.

We took some time to interact with the local wildlife.

And then headed on to Engelberg, enjoying the views of the mountains.

I half expected the cast of “The Sound of Music” to come running over those hills.

Engelberg is a little town in the Alps right by Mount Titlis, and it is mostly known as a ski resort.

Engelberg – home of great scenery as well as a local coop that sold food and drinks that were actually affordable.

Our hotel was right on the side of a mountain, and there were excellent views from the hotel balconies.

Not THAT view…

…THIS view.

We quickly unloaded at the hotel and then took a walking tour of Engelberg which included the local church.

Daniel was able to recognize that this church had been built in the Rococo style. He must have had an amazing teacher.

After the breakneck pace of Paris, the Switzerland phase was more relaxed. We actually had time to just hang out at the hotel the first evening and do things that we couldn’t do often in Paris, like “sit down” and “rest.”

The next morning, we were to head up to Mount Pilatus. Unfortunately, these dark clouds below over our hotel gave us an idea of what we were in for. We would eventually travel INTO a similar cloud.

Pro tip: clouds are made of water.

Engelberg is a timeless town. The man below was actually mowing his lawn with a scythe in the morning, grim reaper style.

I feel so much less manly about my own lawn care now.

Mount Pilatus was a short bus ride away from Engelberg. We pulled up to the base of the mountain, which was at about 1400 feet. At the visitor’s center, we found some clear directives about how to use the toilet:

These need to be posted in the restroom at that Paris McDonald’s.

This prompted a lengthy discussion about restrooms. Based on the level of interest of many of our travelers in the conversation, this, finally, was the information they had come to Europe to learn about.

We would be going up Mount Pilatus on the Alpnachstad side, traveling on the steepest rail car line in the world. Later, we would make the trip back down on the cable cars to Lucerne.

At this point, it looked like the weather was going to turn in our favor.

The views on the way up were absolutely amazing. Every picture taken looked like it should be on a postcard.

There were actually two ways up on this side of the mountain. The rail car…

…Or walking.

Tempting, but I think we are good in the rail car.

40 minutes later, we made it to the station located just short of the summit. 

We were just in time to see a cloud roll in.

Look! A mountain! Or the Lock Ness Monster! Go home, Nessie!

Some travelers hiked through the cloud to the summit.

Protip verified – cloud was made of water.

Back in the station, there was a gift shop that was even more expensive than every other expensive shop in Switzerland. The items there were surely an authentic representation of Swiss culture.

Actually, there were cow bells everywhere. All of the cows on the mountainside seemed to be wearing bells, and the ringing could be heard echoing up the mountain.

There was also a cool cave path that wrapped around to the summit stairs.

Briefly, this church was visible from the cave path. And then, clouds.

I’m on top of a mountain! Really! You have to believe me!

Finally! Blue skies!

By the time the cloud had enveloped most of the mountain, it was time for the cable car descent.


We had to say goodbye to the mountain, but remember…

We’ll always have Pilatus.

Is that the cast of “The Sound of Music” again?

After being in that small cable car, it was time for some yoga.

In Lucerne, we first visited the famous lion monument, constructed to commemorate the deaths of members of the Swiss Guards during the portion of the French Revolution when a mob stormed the Tuileries Palace and placed Louis XVI under house arrest.

This picture both documents our visit to the lion and serves as proof that no travelers were lost forever in the Pilatus cloud.

Now it was time for lunch, which was when we found that…

Swiss Francs are confusing. A 5 franc coin? Honestly?

The travelers solved the Swiss Franc mystery in time to purchase mass quantities of ice cream.

Fueled up on lunch and five servings of ice cream, we were ready for our walking tour of Lucerne.

Which conveniently started in this overed bridge, shielding us from the intermittent rain.

Apparently, the couple to the left sees teenaged girls jumping on covered bridges all the time.



We saw a number of cool things in Lucerne.

And the coolest of all, the famous Lego Character Pyramid of Lucerne, built to celebrate awesomeness.

Then we had some free time to do some shopping at, say, the local H&M or explore.

We drove back to Lucerne to get ready for dinner, which was at an Alpine Lodge at the top of a nearby mountain. The main course was a pasta served family style.

Cheese, macaroni, bacon, and potatoes in one dish?!?! Switzerland, you are amazing.

The main event was the alpenhorn competition, to see who could sound the alpenhorn the longest.

Brian led the way.

Having led the way, Brian then served as alpenhorn coach to the rest of us. If all of his post-high school prospects somehow fall through, he can definitely fall back on a career as an alpenhorn instructor.

Witness the awesome power of the alpenhorn:

Disappointingly, it was too rainy to walk down from the lodge. In search of something to do, Brian asked if he could go pet the cows when we returned to Engelberg. Let this incident serve as a reminder to us all of the dangers of elevation sickness.

One thought on “High speed trains, ultra-tall mountains, and rainy days in Switzerland

  1. Pingback: The Bluest of Blue Glacial Lakes of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies | Endless Odyssey

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