Tag Archives: luzern

Hike, Gondola, and Scare the Elderly at Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

I don’t usually make old ladies cry – but when I do, it’s because I’m standing atop a mountain on one leg.

I befriended a lovely Australian girl, Lauren, at a barbecue in Lucerne. We immediately connected on a few levels – we both were in transcontinental relationships, we both loved hiking, and we both loved peanut butter. Thus, plans to hike Mt. Pilatus together were the next logical step in our relationship.

We bought bus tickets and proceeded to take the bus in the completely wrong direction… twice. After finally making it to the right destination, we ascended up Mt. Pilatus for four hours, passing few people. The serenity and beauty of our surroundings overcame us and helped some silent moments between feel simply peaceful.

Treescape trail

Treescape trail

lauren pilatus

Lauren trekking the first part of our climb!

gondola ride switzerland

Guess what I wished for? (a snorkel set)

Guess what I wished for? (a snorkel set)

We were short on time, and took the gondola up the most taxing part of the climb. At first I was apprehensive – after all, I wanted to conquer this mountain with my own two (albeit short) legs! …But I must admit the views from the gondola made my moral compromise completely worth it.

Beautiful view from the gondola

Beautiful view from the gondola

Bobsledding in Pilatus

Bobsledding in Pilatus

gondola pilatus

gondola ride switzerland

Excited to embark on the second leg of our climb!

gondola in the coulds

View from the gondola ascending into the clouds

We got off and watched young children squeal and tourniquet themselves on the rope climbing course. I snickered when they fell… but only because I was jealous. Unfortunately for my short self, the course has an age requirement rather than a height requirement like most child-targeted places.

rope walking pilatus

Unfortunately this section is only set up for small children – else I would have totally been here.

I've got friends in low places... This is why you wear your seatbelt, kids

I’ve got friends in low places… This is why you wear your seatbelt, kids

Atop of the mountain, we witnessed a genuine Swiss alpenhorn player jamming out while clouds passed us by.

Horn blower must be winded pretty easily up here

Horn blower must be winded pretty easily up here

In the background, an announcement played.

“Smith family, please meet your family at the food court.”

Lauren: Did that just say, ‘please feed your family at the food court?’ Isn’t that a bit rude?

Me: Yeah, it is. Some jerk on a megaphone calling out families who have emaciated looking kids…

The announcement droned on. “…Please meet your family at the food court.”

We climbed along every viewpoint of the top of the mountain. Lauren mentioned that she has a small fear of heights but I didn’t think much of her statement.

snow in pilatus

A little bit of snow hanging in there!

pathway pilatus

Lauren had trouble going down this pathway, so we took the gondola instead

lauren and I pilatus bible verse pilatus switzerland chantae pilatus

pilatus

Lauren and I enjoying the view

clouds in pilatus

Clouds rolling over the mountain

I saw the edge of one of the most popular viewpoints as a perfect photo opportunity, and proceeded to climb on top of it.

Old lady: Oh my God!!! Oh my God!!! THAT GIRL!!! THAT GIRL!!!

On top of ledge, I looked around… what girl?

The old lady began crying. “You are going to give me a HEART ATTACK! GET DOWN! GET DOWN!”

Lauren’s own fear of heights kicked in pretty strongly and she asked me to get down as well. I obediently complied.

The old lady wasn’t done. “What if a bee attacked you? You could have fallen!”

Admittedly, I felt really bad for scaring her.

chantae pilatus

…but her tears were still totally worth this picture.

We trekked down in a hurry in a strong attempt to beat the sun setting behind the mountain. Luckily, we made it back on the bus just in time with sore legs and a strong sense of accomplishment. Pilatus was exactly the type of experience I wanted in my Swiss adventure.

Wood Switzerland Lucerne

A rustic cabin stores winter’s wood below the mountain.

Gondola Switzerland

Beautiful gondola scene

dandelion

Obsessed with gargantuan dandelions

switzerland crow

Crow relaxes on top of Mt. Pilatus… not a bad place to rest your wings

Switzerland Pilatus Cross

Attack of the Lovebirds in Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne is beautiful. I could leave my post just with that statement and splatter pictures everywhere, but everyone knows I’m way too long winded for that. I took the very expensive train and was picked up by my Swiss-German couchsurfing host and his Canadian girlfriend.

A beautiful meeting point at the center of the city.

A beautiful meeting point at the center of the city.

In the evening, we all pitched in to eat legitimate Swiss fondue. At fondue restaurants in California, you are able to dip everything in cheese or chocolate and call it “fondue” – meat, strawberries, wood chips, you name it. In Switzerland? Don’t even think about corrupting the dish with anything other than cheese and bread! The Swiss men laughed in my face after I asked where the rest of the dippers are.

Dipping anything but bread in here? ... that's a fonDONT.

Dipping anything but bread in here? … that’s a fonDONT.

The thick cheese for fondue

The thick cheese for fondue

The next day, we walked along the guard towers that granted spectacular views of the quaint city and I even befriended a yak. One of my resolutions this year was to make friends from all places, other species included.

Canadian girl: It’s cool that they put the “Electric Fence” sign so that the yaks know to stay away.

I was pretty confident that the sign was there for the literate humans.

Yaks and other assorted llama type creatures

Yaks and other assorted llama type creatures

Guardian of the yaks

Guardian of the yaks

Beautiful city of Lucerne

Beautiful city of Lucerne

Little did we know, these cakes are drenched in alcohol. No wonder Swiss children are so calm after sweets.

Little did we know, these cakes are drenched in alcohol. No wonder Swiss children are so calm after sweets.

I attended a barbecue put on by one of my host’s Swiss friends. The mixing of Canadians, French, Americans, and Australians at the event kept people speaking a large amount of English – good for me, as my German let alone Swiss German could use some serious work. I was happy to meet such a friendly and eclectic bunch of people, if only for a short time.

A pig made an appearance at the BBQ :(

A pig made an appearance at the BBQ :(

After the barbecue, we all emigrated to a festival put on by the city – with multiple stages around the lake. We settled at a comedian singer’s stage. I couldn’t understand the lyrics, so I falsely laughed whenever those around me would laugh. The Swiss have a stoic reputation, so I wonder if this comedian was a genius of hilarity in order to get an entire crowd of Lucernites laughing. Everyone I encountered instantly became my new friend, and the jolly spirit of everyone was nothing short of contagious. The night concluded with a grand firework display over the lake – perfect for me since I’d be missing the 4th of July at home!

When in doubt? Befriend strangers!

When in doubt? Befriend strangers!

Misunderstood funny man at the festival

Misunderstood funny man at the festival

Fireworks boomed over the lake

Fireworks boomed over the lake

My host couple got into a bit of drama with one another but made up for it copiously and loudly during the night… and the morning… and the afternoon… so much so that I no longer felt very comfortable around them. At some point, I wondered if the sound was coming from their room or from a pack of wild basset hounds on the hunt for for a tasty meal.

...no comment.

…no comment.

While the lovebirds were busy on their own, I ran into Josh – someone I met in the previous city – and his super friendly girlfriend. We went around the guard tower walls once more (and I waved hello to my friend, the yak) and concluded the day with a stroll alongside the lake. We stopped for ice cream at one of the many creamery stands, each of us enjoying a different flavor of lactose deliciousness.

My second stroll along the city walls

My second stroll along the city walls

How is this anything but spectacular?

How is this anything but spectacular?

Inside one of the beautiful cathedrals - a soft and feminine feel, different from most cathedrals!

Inside one of the beautiful cathedrals – a soft and feminine feel, different from most cathedrals!

Switzerland is beautiful, there’s no getting around that.

lucerne lake

Funhouse style buildings are everywhere in this city

Funhouse style buildings are everywhere in this city

The pig outline of the lion's den - a message from the architect.

The pig outline of the lion’s den – a message from the architect.

I was sad to return to my host’s home because I felt that things had been becoming pretty awkward. I was encroaching on their snow-globe of newfound love!

The next day was perhaps one of my favorites of the entire trip… but it deserves a post of its own, so be patient my little interwebz readers.

At the end of my day, I was locked out. I skyped and remained glued to the perimeters of the apartment leeching their wifi. When will you be home? I said. Whenever we are done with our date, they said. I was beginning to think A. The host couple abhorred me, B. The host couple has a bizarre exhibitionist type fetish, C. The host couple had no idea that hosting people in couchsurfing requires the visitor to be at the host’s house.

I gave a rushed goodbye and caught the first train out to Zurich, sad to leave such beautiful scenery but excited to see what my last stop in Switzerland had in store.