Flight to Zurich, Train to Lucerne
We arrived at Zurich Airport and got on the shuttle that would take us to our baggage. On the shuttle we were greeted by the sounds of yodeling and cows mooing over the loud speaker. Our first introduction to Switzerland; very entertaining, to say the least, after getting very little sleep on the flight over.
We caught a train from the airport to Lucerne which was very easy because there is a train station right at Zurich airport. From Lucerne we started our ascent 2,132 meters above sea level to Mount Pilatus. I was a bit nervous about this part of the trip due to my paralyzing fear of heights. After about 5 minutes of staring at the floor of the gondola I decided to look out the window and eventually became comfortable enough to enjoy the spectacular views.
Ascending Mount Pilatus
From base to summit we went from no snow and complete cloud cover to lots of snow and sun. We literally traveled through the clouds for about 10 minutes on our way up which was a very different/claustrophobic feeling. Before you make the final ascent to Pilatus in the cable car, you need to get off the gondola at another station (takes about 20 min to get here). At this station there were lots of fun activities offered such as sledding and tobogganing. We took a quick look around because the views were amazing and then took the cable car up to the peak. This is only about a 5 minute ride but it is straight up.
Once at the top we were faced with more spectacular views of several mountain peaks and a heavy layer of cloud cover below the peaks. The clouds gave a very surreal feeling that you were looking out into the ocean. It gave the illusion of not being quite as high as we actually were – which was helpful with my heights issue.
We received a tour around the hotel and business center that sits at the top of Pilatus. The hotel offers luxurious rooms with spectacular views of the mountains. The rooms were actually a lot cheaper than I expected too at 160 CHF (about $180 USD) per-person, a night in a double room. After the tour we had lunch at one of the 3 restaurants they have at Pilatus. My favorite part of the meal was the delicious fondue and local wine.
Walking around Lucerne
After a scenic trip back down Pilatus we checked into the Hotel Floral in the city center. This is a very clean and modern hotel and is in the perfect location to see all of the sights of Lucerne. We were escorted on a walking tour around the city.
My favorite part of the tour had to be Chapel Bridge and all of the 17th century paintings it holds. Chapel bridge was built by monks in order to fortify the city. I also loved seeing all of the beautiful architecture and painted buildings around the city. Lucerne really is an extremely clean city and you always feel safe.
Swiss Hash Browns – for Dinner!
After our city tour we went into Wirsthaus Taub to thaw and enjoy a Swiss meal. The food at this restaurant was really good. My favorite part was the entree which was Swiss hash browns. This was basically a skillet filled with sliced potatoes, tomatoes, bacon, Swiss cheese, and topped with a fried egg. It sounds like an American style dish but it tasted very different. The cheese is more pungent (in a good way) than any ‘Swiss’ cheese I’ve ever had. The bacon also tastes a bit different than what I’m used to. I think it was smoked a little bit less.