SWITZERLAND PART THREE
BASED IN LUCERNE



(Switzerland Flag)


(Switzerland Map)



FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2011:

On Friday morning we left Geneva. We changed trains in Montreux to the scenic Golden Pass Line.
The golden panorama train squeezes through vineyards and gardens on its ascent out of Montreux.
We got one last glimpse back at Lake Geneva.
View from Golden Pass train climbing out of Montreux, Switzerland View from Golden Pass train climbing out of Montreux, Switzerland View from Golden Pass train in central Switzerland

The map below shows the route we covered today.


Soon green pastures with grazing cows dot the landscape.
View from Golden Pass train in central Switzerland View from Golden Pass train in central Switzerland

I couldn't get a picture of the train so I'll borrow the one below.


Cozy chalets in the valley and on the slopes, above them peaks crowned with crags.
View from Golden Pass train in central Switzerland View from Golden Pass train in central Switzerland

We got off the train in Interlaken for lunch. After lunch we had to detour around a mud slide.
We took the train to Bern and changed trains there for the final train to Lucerne.
View from Golden Pass train near Interlaken, Switzerland View from Golden Pass train near Interlaken, Switzerland Interlaken, Switzerland

16 minute video of my panoramic train journey from Montreux to Lucerne.

Upon arrival in Lucerne we took a short tour of the city, our only stop was at the Lion Monument.
Bertel Thorvaldsen's famous carving of a dying lion is found in a small park just off the Lowenplatz.
The carving commemorates the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during French Revolution.
We then checked into the Renaissance Hotel, a very nice renovated boutique hotel in the heart of the city.
The Lion Monument in Lucerne, Switzerland The Renaissance Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland

2 minute video of my accommodations the Renaissance Hotel in Lucerne.

Friday evening me and a few others from the group went to a local restaurant for dinner.
There was also a local Swiss folklore performance during the evening which can be seen in the video below.
Folklore show at the Stadtkeller in Lucerne, Switzerland

27 minute video of Swiss folklore show at the Stadtkeller in Lucerne.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 19, 2011
Hello everyone,

Today we were on five different trains traveling from Geneva to Lucerne. Our second train was on the scenic Golden Pass line. Below is a picture of my group on the train as we were climbing out of Montreux. That is Lake Geneva out the windows.

View from Golden Pass train climbing out of Montreux, Switzerland

It was yet another beautiful day. Weather has been perfect everyday here in Switzerland and the forecast says it will stay that way until I leave on Tuesday.

View from Golden Pass train in central Switzerland

We took an hour break in Interlaken for lunch. We then had to take a slight detour on our journey. A mud slide closed the route we were going to take between Interlaken and Lucerne. So we had to take the train to Bern and then another train to Lucerne from there. Below is a picture of the beautiful lake near Interlaken.

View from Golden Pass train near Interlaken, Switzerland

We arrived in Lucerne at 4:00. It is surprisingly warm here. Sunday it's supposed to reach 90. Have not seen much of the city yet. My hotel is just a couple blocks from the lake and the main train station. It also has a large comfortable bed. YAHOO! The last four nights the mattresses were about an inch thick. Below is a picture of the Lion Monument here in Lucerne the only thing I have seen in the city so far.

The Lion Monument in Lucerne, Switzerland

Tonight we went to dinner. We walked to nearby Old Town where we walked across the historic Chapel Bridge. This is really a beautiful city. There was lively entertainment after dinner where we learned to yodel and play the alphorn.

Folklore show at the Stadkeller in Lucerne, Switzerland

The rail tour ends tomorrow and I'll be on my own again after that. I have plenty of activities to keep me busy through Monday. It should be a nice end to a great vacation.

Tim
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SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 2011:

It was a warm beautiful day in Lucerne on Saturday.
This would be my last day with the group. Our first activity was at Mount Stanserhorn.
From Stans we took the original old-timer funicular, which dates back to 1893.
When we arrived at the station called Kälti, we transfered to the aerial cable car that brought us to Stanserhorn.
Funicular up Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn Aereal cable car up Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn The summit of Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn

From the 6300 foot summit there are panoramic views over the magnificent Swiss Alps and Lake Lucerne.
Me at the summit of Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn View from the summit of Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn Lake Lucerne from the summit of Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn

13 minute video of my morning excursion up Mount Stanserhorn.

After leaving Mount Stanserhorn we took a horse drawn carriage ride through the Swiis countryside.
Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside

Our host Hans took us to his farm where we had fresh made apple juice and snacks.
Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside

It was a nice little outing. We returned to Lucerne afterwards.
Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside

13 minute video of my morning horse-drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside.

I had the afternoon to myself. I took a nice leisurely walk around Lucerne's Old Town.
The north bank of the Reuss River is home to the Old Town’s compact cluster of medieval houses.
Between the Kasernenplatz and the Mühlenplatz, the Spreuerbrücke or Mill Bridge zigzags across the Reuss.
Constructed in 1408, it is the oldest covered bridge in Europe.
Lucerne Switzerland Mill Bridge in Lucerne's Old Town Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town

I walked along the crowded Rathausquai. Since it was Saturday they were having their weekly open-air market.
Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town

Lucerne was voted the fifth most popular tourism destination in the world in 2010 by Tripadvisor.
Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town, Mount Rigi in background

The Kornmarkt dates to 1356, and as the name suggests, it was the city grain market place until the 19th century.
Grain was stored in the ground floor of the Town Hall, from 1438. The upper parts of the building were used as a
Town Hall from 1447 onwards. The Clock Tower is one of Nine Towers of Lucerne. Dating back to 1386,
it also has the oldest Clock (1535) in the city, but it chimes one minute before the other city clocks.
Jesuit Church in Lucerne's Old Town Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town Town Hall (Rathaus) in Lucerne's Old Town

Since the city straddles the Reuss River where it drains the lake, it has a number of bridges.
The most famous is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), 669 feet long wooden bridge originally built in 1333.
Part way across, the bridge runs by the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), a fortification from the 13th century.
Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Luzern's history.
The Bridge with its Tower is the city's most famous landmark.
The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne's Old Town Along the Reuss River in Lucerne's Old Town The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne's Old Town

The twin needle towers of the Church of St. Leodegar, which was named after the city's patron saint,
sit on a small hill just above the lake front. Originally built in 735, the present structure was erected
in 1633 in the late Renaissance style. However, the towers are surviving remnants of an earlier structure.
The church is popularly called the Hofkirche (German) and is known locally as the Hofchele.
Lucerne, Switzerland Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne, Switzerland

15 minute video of my walk around Lucerne's Old Town.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 20, 2011
Howdy folks,

It was another sunny and warm day here in Switzerland. This morning I went to the top of Mount Stanserhorn which is just outside Lucerne. The first half of the trip was by funicular and the second half by an aerial tramway. There was a good view from the top. The far off snowcapped peaks are the Eiger and the Jungfraujoch where I am going tomorrow.

View from the summit of Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn

Below is a nice view of Lucerne from the mountain.

Lake Lucerne from the summit of Switzerland's Mount Stanserhorn

Next we went on a horse-drawn carriage ride in the country.

Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside

We went to a real working farm where the owners treated us to fresh homemade apple juice and pastries. Everything was delicious.

Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside

As you can see in the picture below it was another ugly day.

Horse drawn carriage ride in the Swiss countryside

In the afternoon I walked around town. Below is the famous Chapel Bridge.

The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne's Old Town

Beautiful Lake Lucerne below.

Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne, Switzerland

And a closer picture of the Chapel Bridge.

The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne's Old Town

Getting ready to leave for the farewell dinner with the group in about an hour. It was another nice group of people. About half of us were from the U.S. and the other half from Australia and New Zealand.

More tomorrow,

Tim
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2011:

It was another beautiful day on Sunday. Today I would journey to the Jungfrau, the top of Europe!
You can plot my journey on the map below.


We made a short stop in Interlaken before boarding the train and climbing the mountain.
Interlaken, Switzerland Interlaken, Switzerland Interlaken, Switzerland

This is Switzerland’s most popular mountain railway excursion. Trains trundle through lush countryside
and coil spectacularly up across Wengen mountain pastures. The first place we passed on the train was
the beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley and Staubbach Falls.
Lauterbrunnen Wall and Staubbach Falls The Lauterbrunnen Valley, Staubbach Falls, the Jungfrau (top left) The village of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland from train

The Jungfrau Railway, which leads through the heart of the mountains and up to the highest train station
in Europe (at 11,332 feet above sea level), offers unbelievable views of the mountain giants Eiger,
Mönch and Jungfrau and of the longest river of ice in the Alps.
The Jungfraujoch railway View from Jungfraujoch railway Kleine Scheidegg Station

We broke the treeline at Kleine Scheidegg. In winter, the Kleine Scheidegg is the center of the ski area
around Grindelwald and Wengen. In summer it is a popular hiking destination, and is one of the passes
crossed by the Alpine Pass Route.
Kleine Scheidegg Station Looking back on Kleine Scheidegg Station Mountain lake near Kleine Scheidegg Station

Below is the view of the mountain peaks from Kleine Scheidegg.


The Jungfrau Railway leads from Kleine Scheidegg up to Jungfraujoch. It climbs nearly 4,600 feet in height
and covers a distance of more than seven kilometers in tunnels along the nine kilometer long stretch.
The train stops twice as it is tunneling through Mounts Eiger and Mönch. The picture on the
lower left is from the first window and the middle picture is from the second window.
Looking down on Kleine Scheidegg Station from first tunnel window Glacier from second tunnel window Me on top of the Sphinx

After tunnelling clean through the Eiger and Mönch we emerged at the Jungfraujoch, an icy,
windswept 11,332 feet above sea level, just beneath the Jungfrau summit.
The snow under the summit of the Jungfrau Mount Mönch Mount Jungfrau

It would have been impossible to of had a more perfect day of weather for this excersion.
I was very lucky.
The picture on the lower right is the Sphinx, where the pictures below that were taken.
Walking on the snow at the top of the Jungfrau View over of the Aletsch Glacier and Concordia from the summit of the Jungfrau Looking up at the Sphinx Observation Platform

In the interior of the summit at Europe's highest train station a lift takes visitors to
the peak with its observatory and the famous observation platform,
from which one has a magnificent view of the mountains and the Aletsch Glacier.
Looking toward Mount Mönch from the Sphinx Looking down on toboggan run from the Sphinx View over of the Aletsch Glacier and Concordia from the summit of the Jungfrau

Below is a view of the Sphinx from the air.


I walked through the Ice Palace before returning to the train for the trip down.
We got a nice view of the infamous Mount Eiger on the way down.
Ice Palace inside the jungfrau View from train on way down from the Jungfrau Mount Eiger

We were delayed a couple of minutes due to a large herd of cows crossing the track.
We once again changed trains at Kleine Scheidegg. From there we took a different train the
rest of the way down. This train terminated in Grindelwald. From there it was a three
hour bus ride back to Lucerne.
Cows crossing the track Grindelwald, Switzerland Grindelwald, Switzerland

31 minute video of my excursion to Mount Jungfrau.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 21, 2011
Hello,

Today I took a day trip to Jungfrau, Top of Europe. I set out at 9:30 by taking a bus to Lauterbrunnen (2612 feet) where I boarded a cogwheel train. Below is a picture of the climb out of Lauterbrunnen. There is a nice waterfall coming down the canyon wall.

The Lauterbrunnen Valley, Staubbach Falls, the Jungfrau (top left).

Below is another picture looking back on Lauterbrunnen but a little further up.

The village of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland from train

In the picture below you can see the train behind us as we were crossing the timberline.

View from Jungfraujoch railway

I had to change to another train in Kleine Scheidegg (6762 feet). Below is a picture looking back on the train station at Kleine Scheidegg.

Looking back on Kleine Scheidegg Station

Below is a picture of the last thing you see before going into a tunnel for 45 minutes.

Mountain lake near Kleine Scheidegg Station

Once in the tunnel the train stops about every fifteen minutes and you can get off and walk down short tunnels to windows for views of the mountains. Below is the view from the first window.

Looking down on Kleine Scheidegg Station from first tunnel window

The landscape changed quite a bit at window number two.

Glacier from second tunnel window

After about two hours on the cogwheel trains we reached the top, altitude 11,332 feet. Still completely underground, you walk through a tunnel and then up an elevator to the Sphinx, the highest observation platform in Europe.



Below is the view from the Sphinx.

View over of the Aletsch Glacier and Concordia from the summit of the Jungfrau

Next I walked to the Plateau. To get there you had to walk through an ice tunnel. It was quite a long tunnel through solid ice. Below are some carvings in the tunnel.

Ice Palace inside the jungfrau

On the other end of the tunnel is the Plateau where you can come above ground and walk out on the snow. Below is the Jungfrau (13,642 feet).

View from the top of the Jungfrau

Below is the Monch (13,475 feet).

Mount Mönch

I spent about two hours on top before coming back down. I had to change trains in Kleine Scheidegg again. I took a different route down from there. Below is Mount Eiger (13,026 feet).

Mount Eiger

We were delayed about five minutes for a herd of cattle to cross the track.

Cows crossing the track

Below is a picture looking down on Grindelwald (3393 feet) where I got off the train and returned to Lucerne by bus.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

It was an all day trip. I didn't get back to the hotel until 7:30. Tomorrow is my last day in Switzerland and I have another mountain trip planned.

Tim
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MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2011:



On Monday I didn't venture too far from Lucerne. I went to the top of Mount Pilatus just outside the city.
Above you can see a map of my Pilatus excersion.
Pilatus was named after a local legend which alleges that Pontius Pilate was buried there.
The first part of the ascent up the mountain was on a gondola.
Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland Gondola ascending Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland Gondola ascending Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland

For the second stage of the ascent we switched to an aerial cable car.
Gondola ascending Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland Aerial tramway ascending Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland Summit of Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland

The summit of Mount Pilatus is at an elevation of 6,982 feet.
Mount Pilatus Aerial Tramway Summit of Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland Aerial tramway ascending Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland

There is a nice view of Lake Lucerne and the city of Lucerne from the top of the mountain.
Lake Lucerne from the summit of Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland Lake Lucerne from the summit of Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, Switzerland from the summit of Mount Pilatus

I descended the mountain on the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway.
The railway terminates in Alpnachstad and from there I returned to Lucerne by boat.
Mount Pilatus Incline Railway Mount Pilatus Incline Railway Mount Pilatus Incline Railway

The boat ride on Lake Lucerne lasted a little over an hour.
Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne has a complicated shape, with bends and arms reaching from the city of Lucerne into the mountains.
Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne

I got off the boat in downtown Lucerne just a couple of block from my hotel.
After forty days in Europe it was now time to pack my bags for the return home tomorrow.
Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne Lucerne, Switzerland Lucerne, Switzerland

25 minute video of my excursion to Mount Pilatus.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 22, 2011
Hello folks,

Today was my twelfth and final day in Switzerland, and the sun was shining for the twelfth day in a row. It's hard to believe that I've spent 12 days in a country the size of West Virginia. It sure seems bigger than that. Today I went up Mount Pilitus which is right here in Lucerne. The trip started on a gondola. In the picture below you can see the climb out of Lucerne.

Gondola ascending Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland

The gondola ride took about twenty minutes.

Gondola ascending Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland

The next segment of the climb to the summit of 7000 foot Mount Pilatus was on an aerial tramway.

Mount Pilatus Aerial Tramway

Below is the view from the top.

Lake Lucerne from the summit of Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland

The view below looks down on Lake Lucerne.

Lake Lucerne from the summit of Mount Pilatus outside Lucerne, Switzerland

I spent 90 minutes on top and then went down on the other side of the mount on the world's steepest cogwheel railway. In the picture below you can see one of the cogwheel trains starting down.

Mount Pilatus Incline Railway

The incredibly steep ride down on the cogwheel train lasted about 45 minutes.

Mount Pilatus Incline Railway

The cogwheel train let you out on the other side of the mountain 12 kilometers from Lucerne. I returned to Lucerne by boat.

Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne

The boat ride on Lake Lucerne lasted a little over an hour.

Boat cruise on Lake Lucerne

Tomorrow morning I'll take the train to the Zurich airport. From Zurich it is just under a nine hour flight to New York. After a short layover at JFK it is home from there and back to work on Thursday. I hope I haven't bothered you all too much.

Until sometime next year,

Tim
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TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2011:



I was up before the sun on Tuesday for my early morning train ride to the Zurich Airport.
My American Airlines 767-300 departed at 10:10. We got a nice view of the airport just after takeoff.
The non-stop flight to New York's JFK Airport lasted about nine hours.
We got a really nice view of Cape Cod (center picture) shortly before landing.
Looking down on the Zurich Airport just after takeoff Cape Cod from 30,000 feet Korean Air A380 at New York's JFK Airport

Shortly after touching down at JFK the east coast had an earthquake.
I did not feel it, but the control tower was evacuated for a short while causing a delay
to all outgoing flights. Things were back in order rather quickly and I was safely
back home in Indiana only about a half hour late.
Downtown Indianapolis just before landing

39 minute video of my flights in & out of JFK and landing in Indianapolis.

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