Friday, April 29, 2016

Europe Trip - A Magnificent Day in Mount Pilatus

Our EUR 69 spent for the Eurocity train ride from Milan to Lucerne was worth every penny. The 3.5-hour journey was magnificent. The first part of the journey was full of Italy's greeneries and it changed to the wonderful Alps when crossing the border towards Switzerland. In this train, I saw falling snow for the first time. It was magical.

We reached Lucerne Bahnhof Station after the sun set. The first thing that we did was finding food to eat and we realized the foods here were much more expensive than sold in Italy. We just had simple dinner in a Thai food kiosk and it cost similar to the restaurant food in Italy.

We then walked to our hotel in Lowencenter, Ambassador Hotel Lucerne. Again, we overshot the entrance because of the not-so-prominent signboard. We checked in and settled down for the night.

The receptionist was very attentive even though her expression was really plain. She told us that most restaurants were not opened at that time since it was a public holiday (Good Friday). The next day, Saturday, was not public holiday but all the shops would close at 4:00 pm. The day after, which was Sunday, was another public holiday (Easter Sunday) and all shops would be closed.

So, yeah, maybe we picked the wrong timing?

The next day, we planned to visit Mount Pilatus. After we had our breakfast, we checked with the receptionist on the weather up there. She told us it would be a great day: sunny, 3 degree celcius. Great!

Mount Pilatus is located west of Lucerne overlooking Lucerne Lake. The peak is at 2,128m above the mean sea level. There is no need to worry as how to climb that high since all the facilities are well taken care of. You only need to pay!

From Lucerne, we took a bus to Kriens. In front of the hotel, there is a bus stop and ticket machine. We just bought the ticket from the ticket machine and hopped on to the bus. The bundle tickets of six cost CHF 14.3 (~SGD 20).

The bus journey was about 20 minutes and we reached Kriens, a town which is the terminus for the cable car.

Walking towards the cable car terminus

The ticket to Mount Pilatus cost CHF 57.6 (~SGD 61) per person. It includes the cable car rides up to the top of the mountain. The first cable car (they call it gondola) took us to Frakmuntegg and the aerial cableway took us to Pilatus Kulm.

If we came in the summer, we could take other route called Golden Trip. Golden Trip is boat trip via Lucerne Lake to Alpnachstad + world steepest cogwheel railway to Pilatus Kulm + aerial cableway to Frakmuntegg + Gondola to Kriens + Bus to Lucerne. Since we were there in the winter period, the cogwheel railway was not in operation.

Waiting for the gondola
We are ready!
Getting high
Still high
And higher
Even higher
And we reached Frakmunstegg

Frakmunstegg is the transfer point from the gondola to aerial cableway that can bring the visitors up to the top of Mount Pilatus. It's worthwhile to stop here and spend some time. In summer time, the adventure park is open whereby the visitors can enjoy the rope park, 60-m slide, and toboggan. When we were there, none of these were opened.

White and green
Stepping out, snow!
The closed suspension rope park

First selfie with snow!

After spending sometimes here, we went back in to continue our journey to Pilatus Kulm, The aerial cableway is called Pilatus Dragon Ride. Why Dragon? According to a legend, a cooper lost his way at Mount Pilatus. Being discovered by two dragons, he thought his life was coming to an end. To his surprise, the dragons did not eat him instead letting him stay at their den throughout the winter. As the winter was over, the dragons flew out of their den. One of them brought the cooper to fly high and lowered him on a flower-carpeted meadow. He then returned to his village and shared the story with everyone. The story became so famous until he head it embroidered on a silken tunicle that could be found in the possession of The Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne.

 It is said that a huge shadow can still be seen at night occasionally. Do you believe it?

Before taking The Dragon Ride
Inside the Cableway
Lake Lucerne

Another tale said that the ghost of Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate chose this place as his resting place. He was rumoured to commit suicide after being punished by Tiberius Caesar for condemning Jesus Christ. Upon his death, his body was thrown into the Tiber but then great flood brought the body back. Then the body was sunk in the Rhone but it still failed. In the end, the body was sunk in the Lake Oberalp besides Mount Pilatus. The ghost finally rest in peace.

We were greeted by a snow wall when stepping out of the cableway. We then turned left to walk along a cave/walkway by the side of the mountain.

Feeling the snow for the first time
The aerial cableway
Cavemen and cavewomen
Above the clouds!
The carpet of green forest and the white clouds
Enjoying our time

It was cold but sunny. After circling the perimeter of the mountain, we went inside and got some warmth before proceeding to the peak of Mount Pilatus, Pilatus Kulm. There is spacious veranda with a hotel and restaurant before the stairway that lead to the peak. We climbed up and enjoyed the scenery from the top. It's magnificent!

Found a mountain sheep
Pilatus Kulm Hotel at the back
About 2000m above the sea level
Climbing up
Many many people climbing to the top
The view from halfway up
Continue to climb
Finally reach the top, see the crowds?
My love forever
The view from the peak
Another side with the lake
I love the skyline so much!

After spending around 15 minutes at the top, we decided to walk down and close our journey here. One of my biggest bucket list have been ticked, finally. Seeing and feeling the snow.

Auf wiedersehen

Next - Lucerne, The Pretty Lady by the Alps

Love is in the air,
Little Feet

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