Thursday, June 20, 2013

After our wonderful morning in downtown historic Luzern with our Go Ahead Tour Group, we caught a ferry boat and took the long way around to Mt. Pilatus. The cruise itself was over an hour long so we got to see a lot of the beautiful local homes and villages on the edge of Lake Luzern. (click on the photos to see the larger version)
It began to rain shortly after we set off but it didn't seem to deter many of us from sitting out at the back of the boat and taking in, or taking photos of, the gorgeous view of the mountain.
We were totally charmed by the ornate boat houses. Here in the US they tend to be very utilitarian buildings but the Swiss make them mini works of Architectural Art.

 We were there in late May and still the snow was thick high on the Alps. 
 As with the rest of Europe, there are little reminders in the form of turrets and towers of their Medieval past everywhere.
 We arrived at the Pilatus-Bahn early in the afternoon, none of us really sure what we were going to experience. All we had been told was to remember that Queen Victoria had done what we were about to do on horseback.
 Then the train arrived in the station. You suddenly get a very clear idea of what we are about to do! The angle is just impressive.
 This is what is called a "cog" railway. The train literally "steps" it's way up the mountainside. Straight up the mountainside.
 You begin your travel at the edge of the lake where Spring is everywhere then travel up through an almost rain forest section before you arrive in the tundra.
 As you keep rising in altitude the tundra becomes more and more frozen and barren.
 Snow clouds moved in and, for a short while, snow fell thickly and the mountainsides were almost completely obscured.
 The view from the top affords you a look at Lake Luzern and much of the valley below. The valley you were just in a few thousand feet ago!
 A few of our group continued up to the very tip top of the mountain but then headed back down again when the snow got too thick to see anything.
 There are actually hotels up at the top along with restaurants and gift shops. So you can stay up on the mountain winter or summer. In the winter you can toboggan or tube and in the summer you can rope walk or zip line on the mountain. There are plenty of hiking trails and lots to photograph from the top.
Yes, those are wicked looking icicles in that cave. This is actually a walk way to another part of the hotel that was blocked off due to construction while we were there.
 To get back down to the bottom you take a series of cable cars. The first set are actually very large and hold about 40 people at a time. You stop at a way station about half way down and transfer to much smaller cars that only hold up to 4 people at a time. Unfortunately it was pouring by the time we left the mountain and our view was completely obscured.

Next week we'll head to Innsbruck. We were only there for a day but we saw such beautiful things while we were there!


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