Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What are men compared to rocks and mountains? - Lake Lucerne and surrounds

 See that room on the top left with the balcony? That was our room in this cute little hotel in Vitznau. I'm so glad we ended up staying in this darling little town instead of in the much larger Lucerne. The hotel was right across the street from the bus stop, the ferry dock and the cogwheel train that ascended Mt. Rigi.

This was the view from my hotel window. Don't you just want to breathe in that mountain air?
 This is the electric cogwheel train we rode up the mountain side of Mt. Rigi.
It was a short hike from the train station up to the summit. Despite how it looks in this picture, we did opt for the young man (steeper) trail.
 The scenery was green and gorgeous and we could hear the sheep and cow bells from animals fathoms below us. It was so peaceful at the top that we actually snoozed on the grass for a bit.
Seriously, why does my hair have to look so horrible on vacation?
After we went down the mountain on the other side we took the ferry back across the lake. The views from the lake looking up were just as breath-taking as from the mountain summit looking down.
 The next day we tackled a different peak - Mt. Pilatus (which is pronounced like pilates with a tus on the end.) This is the famed Golden Round trip which includes a ferry ride, two cable car rides (one much steeper than the other, and a very steep cogwheel train ride back down the mountain.

We stopped halfway up to do this:
 You sit on a sled like the one below. I loved it because that red joystick in the middle controls your speed. We went down two times. The first time I was fairly cautious - I'm not a fan of uncontrolled speed. Geoffrey was much faster. The second time I was braver and faster. And Geoffrey maxed out his speed, never using the brake at all. It was a blast. If you ever get the chance to do one of these courses, take it!
 Her's a portion of the course. It was pretty long. When you reach the bottom you get hooked backwards onto a tow rope and pulled back up the hill.
 The top of Mt. Pilatus is rockier and less lush that Mt. Rigi. We took an invigorating 45 minute hike from the observation building to a summit look out.  The view was different but you could still hear the bells from sheep so far below they were just specks on the hillsides. But the clanking jangling bells came up through the air unmuffled.
In the cogwheel train going down we chatted with a group who had hiked the mountain in just over 3 hours. It was a great day for it. But I glad we had taken the cable cars.
I like being on top of mountains. I'm not a mountain climber by any means but growing up in a family whose vacations usually involved mountains gave me an appreciation for the peace of a mountain top.  Standing on the summits of these two Alps reminded Geoff and I of standing on the peak of Huayna Picchu in Peru. Literally being 'above it all' helps you keep perspective. And I'm tickled to have the bells to remember too. Like listening to the underwater whale song while snorkeling in Hawaii years ago,  multisensory memories just stays richer and stronger in my head.

I love that line from Pride and Prejudice. What are any of us compared to the majesty and vast permanence of rocks and mountains?

Edited**** Today in Rothenburg I bought a bell that sounds just like the sheep bells on the mountain. I clanged every bell in the shop and only one had just the right sound.  Can't wait to find the perfect place to hang it.

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