What a difference today. If yesterday set us onto the course of vacation happiness, today gave us a hefty shove in the right direction.
I will admit being a bit on edge overnight – troubles sleeping. Would we be able to get the excursion we wanted – Mount Pilatus – or would be we be bumming around Zurich for another half day, waiting for the ship’s coach to leave? We ended up at the signup desk first thing at 8am and were first on the list (actually, for a bit, it looked like we wouldn’t have enough but everyone came through in the end). So off we went.
Met with Gubi, our funny Swiss-lady tour guide who took us to Kriens, at which point we boarded a small four-seat cable car which swung its way (mostly through clouds) higher and higher. Saw Swiss cows (standing on rising ground, their cow-bells bonging). Ascended a pinnacle a cable tower was anchored to, with the ground dropping away as we crossed it – gulp! Higher and higher until we reached a midpoint station, where we transferred to a 40 person gondola (like a cable car, but more people die if it falls) for the final ascent to the summit of the Timlishorn. Saw a mountain goat on an impossible peak as we soared higher up the cliff face, until we latched onto the final platform, a hotel at something like 7000 feet.
We wandered around up here for a bit – heavy clouds but occasionally we could see way, way down. We had lunch at the hotel (macaroni and cheese and onions – actually, I really rather liked this). Then some more climbing and hiking about before we boarded the cog railroad for the 47% grade down to the lake.
That was something. We followed another car down, and had to halt in a passing siding to let three up-trains get by. As they passed window-to-window, our guide laughing told us to tell the upbound tourists that it was snowing heavily on the summit – “There’s a foot of snow up there!” “Shouldn’t you dress warmer?” “You’re going to hate it”. Everyone in the other car gaped in shock and really looked startled at the news of their own frosty demise – joke’s on them.
Afterwards, we rolled over by bus to Lucerne, a beautiful town, if only a bit touristy. We checked out the must-sees: the Kapellbrucke Bridge and the Lion statue. Very interesting.
So now I’m writing this on my laptop, using a dodgy power converter in our stateroom, sloshy with wine and the aftergrow of new dinner friends as our boat thumps into another lock (so many on the upper Rhine). Tomorrow is Strasbourg, with a morning citywalk and an afternoon tramping around the town. I’ll let you know how it plays.