Zurich, Switzerland: We had ourselves a day trip today Dear Readers. I am happy to report, with the antihistamine, the swelling on Dave's arm was greatly reduced this morning, but it was trying to swell and itch again by the time we returned to Zurich late this afternoon... but that is another story.
We were up early and to the Zurich HBF to catch a train to Lucerne, where we immediately changed to a train to the Alpnachstad train station to reach the steepest cogwheel train in the world to the top of Mt. Pilatus.
I think mostly because we were not on a guided tour group, we just had to wait our turn and caught the 3rd or 4th train up the hill. They left every 15 minutes or so (though I think it said every 30 minutes on the website - confused about this). Still, our wait time was less than 45 minutes. The train is ridiculously steep - some of the tracks are at 45 degrees - and how anyone thought to build this track seems either the dream of a mad-person or a genius (often these two traits come together).
We climbed to the very tip-top (not exactly a hike as it is paved with steps and a handrail) and I took this photo of the hotel and restaurant below:
We spent about an hour at the top of the mountain enjoying the views, snapping photos and sharing fries and a brew. A group of women singers were on the trail and they were singing (I have no idea what I am talking about) Tyrolean songs? Kinda like yodeling, but no one was actually yodeling. They were very very good and sang in gorgeous acapella harmony. Everyone (but us) seemed to know the songs (others were chiming-in) and after every song the women received a rousing round of applause... from all over the mountain top as the music carried far and wide. To me, it was lovely. (DT: If anyone starts yodeling, I'm jumping off the edge.)
Notice the cable line at the top left of the above photo? This is the line for the gondola we took from the top of Mt. Pilatus towards Lucerne below. I did not take photos of this few-moment ride. The car probably held 5 dozen people and we were all standing close together. This car stopped at an amusement area that was like something from the wild west, complete with an alpine slide, zip-lines, restaurants and all sorts of amusements for kids. We didn't stay long.
The second, and final, gondola ride was quite long and the cars were very small. Dave and I were in a car alone. The cars came around the line, the doors automatically opened, and you hopped-in. No one to help you. No one to give instructions. (This would never fly in the US, but really, any idiot could figure it out. We did.)
After exiting the gondola (allbyourownselves), we had to walk a bit to a bus stop and buy a train ticket (allbyourownselves) to old town Lucerne. We did it, and landed in gorgeous Lucerne on a beautiful warm day. Not a cloud. Not a breeze.
There are two famous wooden bridges over the Reuss River in Lucerne. The Chapel Bridge is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and has a water tower attached.
The other bridge is the Chaff Bridge. It is just a bit away from the Chapel Bridge, and has paintings in the eaves depicting death scenes, reminding us that death is inevitable.
May not have my facts straight, but I think the Jesuit Church was built to impress Catholics who were leaving the flock for Protestant faiths?
The old town of Lucerne is one block away from the train station, so it was easy to catch a train back to Zurich. 41 minutes non-stop. A train was leaving in 3 minutes, so we jumped on and I booked our seats (on my phone) as the train was leaving the station. Easy. There was only one quick stop along the way, in Zug. The train stopped in Zug, but did not restart. We sat there for quite a long time when an announcement came over the train cars stating there had been accident on the train and "someone had been injured" and this train could not move until there was an investigation. Dave could see officials looking under our train cars with flashlights. So scary. It was odd, was the train was in the station when the accident occurred? Did someone exiting the train at Zug fall? No further details, and the same announcement was read every five minutes to all passengers for one hour. The last line in the announcement, read in Swiss-German and again in English, thanking us for our patience... which was pronounced as passion... much to the amusement to all English speakers on the train (basically every one, even the locals) all dozen times we heard the announcement. We did hear sirens, but we were not allowed off the train - and it was sitting in a train station!
After an hour, officials came through the train, including a fireman shouting for us to EVACUATE. This scared me a little, but I seemed to be the only one who was alarmed. We left the train, but were not given any further instructions as what to do or where to go. Again, I grabbed my phone and used the Swiss train app to see when the next train to Zurich was due. Five minutes... with everyone from our stalled train lining up to board.. or in 8 minutes where no one seemed to care or notice. We chose the later train, boarded, found seats and it pulled-away on time. I have googled and have not been able to learn what/why happened. We were worried the ticket-taker might throw us from the train as our tickets were not valid on this line, but she walked right past us, assuming we looked like upright citizens, older American tourists and followers-of-rules.
It had been a very long day by the time we returned to our hotel. We wanted showers and we wanted cocktails! After a quick refresh in our room, we went around the corner from our hotel to a very nice-looking Italian restaurant. They seated us immediately and brought us drinks while we decompressed. It was 8p! We split a really nice Caprese salad - with a bit of lemon zest - and then I had the famed Zurich specialty: a type of veal stew with mushrooms in a cream sauce, served over rosti (aka a large latke). DT had his usual aglio olio and we both declared these meals the best of our time in Zurich.
Even with the mysterious accident and angst over the injured person, we had a great day visiting Mt. Pilatus (Colleen and Rick did this trip a few years ago and recommended we go), and I am pretty-sure my fear of trams and gondolas is a thing of the past.
Until my next update, I remain, your frazzled correspondent.
Pedometer: 14,000 steps