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.
Traveling at just over 150mph, we were far from Paris in no time.
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.
And then headed on to Engelberg, enjoying the views of the mountains.
Engelberg is a little town in the Alps right by Mount Titlis, and it is mostly known as a ski resort.
Our hotel was right on the side of a mountain, and there were excellent views from the hotel balconies.
We quickly unloaded at the hotel and then took a walking tour of Engelberg which included the local church.
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.
Engelberg is a timeless town. The man below was actually mowing his lawn with a scythe in the morning, grim reaper style.
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:
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.
We were just in time to see a cloud roll in.
Some travelers hiked through the cloud to the summit.
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.
There was also a cool cave path that wrapped around to the summit stairs.
By the time the cloud had enveloped most of the mountain, it was time for the cable car descent.
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.
Now it was time for lunch, which was when we found that…
Fueled up on lunch and five servings of ice cream, we were ready for our walking tour of Lucerne.
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.
The main event was the alpenhorn competition, to see who could sound the alpenhorn the longest.
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.