Please click here to see our YouTube video of our favorite pictures from our trip to Switzerland.
After passing through the small country of Liechtenstein, and the scenic Swiss countryside, we arrived at Lucerne. Lucerne is situated on the northwestern edge of Lake Lucerne.
One of the most famous and most visited sites in Lucerne is the Lion Monument. This monument was created in 1819 by the Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen. It depicts a dying lion and is carved out of a wall of sandstone rock above a pond in a small park near Lowenplatz. It was designed as a memorial for the mercenary soldiers from central Switzerland who lost their lives while serving the French King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The inscription above the lion reads "Helvetiorum Fidei Ac Virtuti" - "To the Loyalty and Courage of the Swiss".
Our dinner was served at the Stadtkeller Swiss Folklore Restaurant located in Lucerne.
We were treated to a visual and gustatory taste of Switzerland! As we enjoyed a typical three-course dinner, including cheese fondue and drinks, we were entertained to a spirited presentation of Swiss folklore, alphorns, yodeling and traditional instruments. John was "volunteered" to perform on stage and learn how to yodel. And yo-oh-oh-del he did. Turns out, yodeling is best left to the professionals!
Lucerne may be Switzerland's most popular tourist destination. The scenery is breathtaking, the town is filled with medieval structures, shopping opportunities abound ("real" Swiss Army knives anyone?!) and the surrounding mountains and lakes offer lots of opportunities to get away from it all. We did not get that "tourist trap feel " in Lucerne. The things that make the city popular also make it worth visiting.
One must-see (and you couldn't miss it anyway) attraction in Lucerne is Kapellbrücke, the "Chapel Bridge". It was built in 1333. As you cross its 670-foot length, you'll see above you, 120 captioned and numbered triangular paintings from the early 1500s that chronicle the city's history. The paintings feature St. Mauritius and St. Leodegar, the patron saints of Lucerne. The bridge isn't as old as it looks. The Kapellbrücke was nearly destroyed by a 1993 fire, and much of what stands today is an excellent restoration. There are many graceful, but also combative, swans that glide around the bridge.
Lake Lucerne has a total area of about 44 square miles and a maximum depth of 702 feet. Its arms twist and turn through the mountainous Swiss landscape. Steamers navigate the tranquil blue waters and pass by some of the oldest communities of Switzerland. Mount Pilatus and other great peaks can bee seen in the distance. It was Ludwig Rellstab who likened listening to the first movement of Beethoven's opus 27 no. 2 sonata to "watching the waves of Lake Lucerne in the moonlight".
The colossal 7,000 foot Mount Pilatus looms above Lucerne. From nearby Kriens, we boarded a small cable car (just the two of us) and then part way up the mountain, we transferred into a large gondola filled with about twenty-five other people, and glided to the top of Mount Pilatus.
As we reached the top, we burst through the clouds into bright sunlight and a panorama of snow-capped Alps. At the summit, you can see over 70 peaks and five different lakes. The name Pilatus is supposedly derived from the myth that the corpse of Pontius Pilate was flung into a small lake on the mountain.
If you've ever wanted to shout from a 7,000 foot mountaintop, this is your chance. Breathtaking views not withstanding, you also might need to catch your breath after riding on the gondolas and aerial cableways. The sight-delights continue as you walk around the top of Mount Pilatus and tell yourself to remember this heavenly vista. The rugged peak of Mount Pilatus is deservedly the most famous lookout point of central Switzerland.
Other theories about the name:The mountain gets its name from the Latin "Spileatus", meaning - with clouds covered. In the middle ages, the Pilatus was also called "Mons fractus" (Latin) which translates to broken mountain.
Even if you don’t do any hiking at Mount Pilatus, the trip to the top is worth it.
You can even stay a night at the mountain at either the Hotel Bellevue or the Hotel Pilatus-Kulm. Sorry, they are not 5-star luxury. Just be sure to check the weather forecast when you are planning to go up. Otherwise, you run the risk of being encircled by 360 degrees of fog. Which means good-bye taking pictures; something Virginia can't even conceive of. Unfortunately, this fascinating trip is possible only from May to mid October. The best time to take this trip is in the months of July and August.
The Mount Pilatus weather is sometimes cloudy with fog. The temperature can either be very comfortable, and sometimes even cold. Therefore, wearing warm clothes is necessary at any time!We saw this runner as we were taking the cogwheel down. This is a natural outdoor paradise for hiking. There are mountain goats and cows everywhere. It's so charming and fun.
Mark Twain climbed to the top to see the sun rise across the Alps. But he was so exhausted, as he relates in "A Tramp Abroad", that he collapsed into sleep, from which he didn't wake until sunset. Not realizing that he had slept all day, he at first recoiled in horror, believing that the sun had switched its direction and was actually rising in the west. This experience continues to be one of nature's loveliest offerings in all of Europe.
We came down Mount Pilatus via the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. The bright red train is emblazoned with Mount Pilatus' trademark dragon logo. In medieval times, it was believed that dragons with healing powers lived in the rugged clefts and crevices of Mount Pilatus. On the way down we didn't see any dragons but we saw hikers, cattle, wildflowers and lots of interesting rock formations. The terrain varies from relatively flat to steep declivities covered with various types of evergreen trees. Some areas were foggy. We passed through narrow stone tunnels and over intricate bridges.