8.30 am. Wife is upset at yet another early morning train. She wants to sleep. And I don't?
11.30 am. We are in Switzerland. No passport checks. Europe is truly an open space. Our first haltage is Basel. The station has luggage lockers where we store most of our bags and set out to explore this city. We noticed the language switch on the train. In France, the announcements were made in French and English. Here, it became German, and then English.
I loved the small trams here - seen so many of them in Bollywood songs!
Basel Train Station
1 pm. Take the train to Lucerne. I love the Eurail Pass. We can take any train we want.
2 pm. Lucerne! Already I am loving it. The air is crisper, less polluted. Lakes and mountains all around.
The streets outside our hotel
like being inside a Hans Christian Andersen novel
3.30 pm. Walking all over this small city. Full of pedestrian streets, lovely old buildings and scenic mountains and lakes and DID I MENTION THE MOUNTAINS AND LAKES!!
A view of the Chapel Bridge and River Reuss.
There were even swans right by the lake!
5.pm Walked to the Dying Lion Monument. Carved right out of the mountain stone, this is incredible.
The famous carving of a dying lion by Bertel Thorvaldsen is in a small park just off Lowenplatz. The carving was made to commemorate hundreds of Swiss guards killed by the mobs who stormed the Tuilleries Palace in Paris during the French Revolution in 1792.
8.30 am. Man, these Germans eat everything at breakfast! Lucerne in Switzerland is the German-speaking part of Switzerland and the language is so great to hear, so manly! Full of ich! nasht! glost! Dishoom! (the last part may have been added by me)
Back to breakfast. Oh boy, what a spread by our hotel! Now for the tourism.
Today was going to be all about Mount Pilatus. First up is a 90 minute cruise to take us to the base of the mountain.
10.00 am. We get up to take pictures across the other end of the cruise boat, for just one minute, and some (brown) family take our seats.
Me: "These brown people are ruining this country!"
Wife: "And you are ..."
Me: "Why, Canadian, of course!"
There was a river INSIDE the lake. You can see clearly the two streams of water that don't mix. Always fascinating to see that.
I want to live here.
It's very green, clean and serene.
11.30 am. Our first view of Mount Pilatus!
We would be heading to its peak (hidden amongst the clouds) soon.
12.00 pm. It's amazing that it's the same scenic beauty that is present in, say Bangladesh or India, but somehow it looks better in Switzerland. The Swiss have preserved the natural beauty, and transformed it into a very pleasurable tourist experience. It's so efficient, hardly any waiting in lines, English signs available everywhere, and people are so hospitable.
The base is called Alpnachstad, and the peak of Mount Pilatus is called Pilatus Kulm. The cogwheel railway that takes one there is the world's steepest cogwheel railway.
Soon we are on our way, and the views keep getting better.
Soon, we start seeing clouds at our level!
Me: "Wife, look! That cow! It's eating grass!"
Wife: "Last time I checked, ALL cows eat grass."
Clearly, I was a bit TOO much smitten with the scenery.
The cows had bells on their necks.
It has become a distinctly Alpine scenery by now.
1 pm. The ride took close to half an hour. We are now at the peak.
This is unlike anything I have seen before. You can see clouds all around, or even BENEATH you, and you are not on an aircraft. We are literally walking on clouds.
Is that a cable car sneaking its way through the clouds?
Wife: "Look! There's a Swiss alpenhorn player. Let's take a picture with him."
Wife: "This is a great picture."
Me: "Should I tip the guy?"
Wife: "We are brown people, remember?"
From the peak (where there's a restaurant AND a hotel - the Swiss know their tourism) level, you can hike up another few hundred steps to get to the top of the mountain. We decided to do so.
Me: "Man, if someone falls here they won't even find his body!"
We were there just 15 minutes ago!
Mt Pilatus is also a military installation due to its Resteraunt View photoclear view to the Swiss borders. Apparently, this top of the mountain is fake, and "opens" to let helicopters etc fly in.
Swiss people were crazy about outdoor sports. They were paragliding down the mountain!
I am sorry to say England, but the best Fish 'n Chips I had was in Switzerland, right at the peak of Mt Pilatus.
After lunch, we took a walk through the carved-out cave view tunnel called the Dragon Walk that cut through the mountain stone, to short climbs to nearby peaks.
After a fantastic 3-4 hours, it was time to take the cable car down. This cable car would take us halfway, where there was an amusement park, and we take another smaller cable car all the way down.
We descend through the clouds.
5 pm. We are at the amusement park. It's time to try the luge.
After the luge it was time to take the smaller cable car back to Lucerne.
The ride back was over and through some beautiful villages.
And that was two beautiful days in Lucerne. Our next destination - Zurich.