Day 29 - 12/6/19 – Wengen
Cloudy again today over the mountains, but decided to go to Grindelwald. Took the train down to Lauterbrunnen, changed for the Interlaken train, getting off at Zweilutschinen, and on to the train to Grindelwald. It was still cloudy over the mountains, so we decided not to go up to First. Walked through town to the Glacier Gorge, a nice walk along the river. I counted 49 tour buses at the station going up to Jungfraujoch! The gorge cost 19 CHF each, almost didn’t bother, but then changed our mind. It was great – a steep, narrow canyon with the River Lutschine rushing through, waterfalls, accessed by a walkway and tunnels at the base. There was a web net out over the river you could climb on, but we didn’t! We watched a guy on a swing in the canyon, the walls are 300m high – crazy! Decided to walk back to town instead of taking the bus, and had our picnic on a roadside seat at a bridge over the river. Took the train to Interlaken for a look around. Walked around the Old Town, and on the way back to the station ended up in a street with all Indian and Pakistani restaurants, so had dinner at Restaurant Tandoori – the waiters were watching Australia play Pakistan in cricket, and we (the Aussies) won! Passed the casino, lovely grounds. Took the train back to Lauterbrunnen, and another back up to Wengen.
Day 30 - 13/6/19 – Wengen to Luzern
Train down to Lauterbrunnen, and another to Interlaken Ost. Again, the view of the Lauterbrunnen valley coming down from Wengen has to be one of the most beautiful views ever. There was a big music festival starting in the fields just out of Interlaken towards Wilderswil, the Greenfield Festival, from 13-15 June, heaps of young people at the Coop getting supplies, and around the station being bussed over to the site. We were on the train to Luzern, and almost at Brienz, when hubby suggested we get off and go up Brienzer Rothorn as the weather was clear and he knew I was disappointed that we didn’t go up the other day due to the rain and cloud. So we got off the train, and walked across the road to get the rack railway, built in 1892. It cost 40 CHF each return, was a special deal with a drink voucher for the restaurant at the top, usually 46 CHF each return, with the 50% discount with our STP. Left our luggage at the rack railway station, cost 2 CHF each bag. The trip took about one hour through gorgeous scenery, forests, mountains, fields, wildflowers, snow, and lake views. Had a wander at the top, and hot chocolate in the restaurant with our vouchers. It was amazing – so glad we jumped off the train impulsively and went up. Picked up our luggage and just missed the train to Luzern, the next one was in an hour, so sat near the station on the lake and had our picnic. From Brienz to Meiringen there were gorgeous waterfalls in the valley, the train ascending after Meiringen. Down into another lovely valley past Brunig-Hasliberg, so green, with scattered farmhouses, and still seeing snowy mountains. Came through a tunnel and in front of us was another gorgeous turquoise lake, and more waterfalls in the impossibly green valley around the village of Lungern. Passed through the village of Kaiserstuhl at the end of Lake Lungernersee, all gorgeous green rolling hills with another lake further on. There were little animal statues on the side of the train tracks – an otter, eagle, dog, and squirrel. Giswil was a fairly large area in the base of a valley. Another lake past Giswil – Lake Sarnersee. The train runs right next to the lake for ages. The Sachseln area has nice spots on the lake – BBQ and picnic areas, kid’s play areas, a swimming pontoon, and lots of seats along the lakefront. Not much snow through this valley, just high mountains on the sides, some rocky, some forested, and some high farmland. After Alpnachstad is the southern end of Lake Luzern. Took about 1.5 hours to Luzern. Walked to our hotel, the Hotel Central B&B, only one block from the station. Lovely room, the breakfast area/lounge is open 24/7 with tea, coffee, water, and usually fruit and croissants available, and you can bring in outside food and eat in using their cutlery and crockery. There's also a small balcony with a few tables and chairs overlooking the street. Had dinner at Wok King – quite nice, and a pretty large meal. Went for a walk along the bridge over the lake, and had an ice cream sitting by the lake watching the sunset over snowy mountains. Had a bit of a walk through the Old Town, and back over the lake to our hotel.
Day 31 - 14/6/19 – Luzern
Off to Mt. Titlis today. Took the train to Engelberg, and walked over to Mt.Titlis cable car station. There were heaps of tourists off to see where a lot of Bollywood movies were filmed. At Trubsee on the way up, as we rose above the cable car station, the lake was right there underneath us, gorgeous, still half frozen, surrounded by snow and mountains, and a large valley on the lower side. The final cable car up rotates. Amazing views at the top, could see small valleys down between the mountains. On the viewing platform were life-size cut-outs of the male and female stars of a Bollywood movie. Went over to the Cliff Walk, 3041m above sea level, 500m off the ground, and 150 steps across a metal suspension bridge – had a bit of a swing up when the wind gusts came! Walked up the snow slope to view down the other side, could see a valley down below. Walked through the Ice Cave. Back down in the cable car and got out at Trubsee, walked over to the lake, and had our picnic on a bench next to the lake – a gorgeous view of the snowy mountains and half frozen lake right in front of us. While looking at the mountains, we heard a big bang and a heap of ice exploded off a rock ledge and a waterfall started – snow melt water must have built up behind the ice, and then broke through, amazing to see. The reflections of the snow and mountains in the lake were beautiful, enhanced by the ice on the lake. We walked a bit further around the lake to see the view down the large valley on the lower side, yet another gorgeous view. Back down on the cable car, and walked back to Engelberg train station. We decided to get off at Stans and go up to Stanserhorn. The funicular was a little open sided carriage, built in 1893, and you could stand outside at the back, which we did on the way back down. Up through fields, then on to a double decker cable car with an open top deck, free with our STP. We stood up the top, amazing views of Lake Luzern, towns, fields, and rolling hills. A hiking trail zig-zagged up the mountain underneath the cable car. More amazing views at the top, which had a restaurant and viewing terrace. On the way up to the lookout was a little enclosure for some marmots, watched them for a while. We didn’t expect the amazing views out to the other side once we’d reached the top – the ascent view was of the lake, green countryside, and over to Mt.Pilatus- and then from the top out the other side, over green countryside to snowy mountains . We could easily see Mt.Titlis, and even down to the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. Back down to Stans, and train back to Luzern. Had dinner of chicken and salad from the Coop back at the hotel on the balcony. There was plenty of merriment in the street tonight, heard lots of drunk singing!
Day 32 - 15/6/19 – Luzern
Off to Mt.Pilatus today. Went to take the boat to Alpnachstad, but the staff said to beat the crowds catch bus 1 that was waiting to Kriens, i.e we did the ‘golden round trip’ in reverse. Once at Kriens, we bought tickets Kriens to Pilatus to Alpnachstad, cost 36 CHF each with our STP discount of 50%. Took the cable car up, it was really cloudy as we neared the top. Once at the top, we got some views over the other side, but the cloud was coming in more. There were musicians on the terrace – alpenhorn players, and two other groups playing a double bass, accordions, and singing. Hubby walked up to the top lookout, while I hung on the terrace and watched the musicians. We walked along the path at the back side of the mountain, a level path, but next to a sheer drop. There was a closed gate not far along, as a huge boulder had fallen on the path ahead. Went through the Dragon Cave, great views down the valleys and a little church on a steep craggy mountain with snow clinging to the sides below us. We kept going instead of walking back through the cave, the trail got really steep, there were steps and railings, another sheer drop, and near vertical steps in one spot. Took the world’s steepest cog railway back down to Alpnachstad on the lake, again, gorgeous views down to the lake, about a 40 minute trip. Had our picnic on a seat on the lakeside, and took the boat back to Luzern, about 1.5 hours. Then took the train to Zug and had a wander around the lakefront. There was a triathlon on, an Aussie girl was first out of the swim, so we cheered her on! Walked through the Old Town – lovely architecture. Saw some beautiful roses, some with about a dozen blooms on each stem. Zug is the richest canton in Switzerland, and saw evidence of this as we waited for the bus back to the station – heaps of BMW’s and Mercedes driving past. Took the train back to Luzern – on the river just outside of Luzern there's a rowing course set out. Had burgers and chips for dinner at the Holy Cow stall in the station.
Day 33 - 16/6/19 – Luzern
Weather was cloudy so decided not to go up Mt.Rigi. Ended up going to Liechtenstein for the day! The train went on the north side of Lake Luzern through Meggen – the day’s route was Luzern, Meggen, Kussnacht am Rigi, Arth-Goldau, Sattel-Aegeri,Biberbrugg, Samstagern, Pfaffikon SZ, Rapperswil, Uznach, Ziegelbrucke, Flums, Sargans, Vaduz, Malbun, and return most of the same way, on the Voralpen Express. It looked cloudy over the mountains and Mt.Rigi looked to be totally covered in dark cloud. Very pretty around Meggen – the lake, and forested and farmed green hillsides. Passed from Lake Luzern to Lake Zug. Passed a little lake in a valley just past Arth-Goldau. Big rocky mountains ahead on the sides of the valley. Through rolling farms, and forest countryside around Sattel-Aegeri, and saw a horse-drawn carriage in the street. Saw a cable car up to Mostelberg. Lots of grapes growing in the area approaching the lake near Pfaffikon SZ. Crossed Lake Zurich to Rapperswil. There had been a Blues & Jazz festival here on Friday and Saturday. There’s an old castle in town right near the lake. Hardly anyone on the train so far, we’d had the carriage to ourselves for 99% of the way. The train follows the lake again after Rapperswil, and there’s a walking and bike path all along the lake. Snowy mountains were coming in to view from Ziegelbrucke, though it was still really cloudy. Travelled along the banks of Walensee lake, the water a beautiful light turquoise colour. There’s a walking path all along this lake too. Rocky cliffs rise behind the lake, great shapes, rounded like logs stacked vertically next to each other with little green plateaux on top. Saw a ruined castle just past Walenstadt, and waterfalls in the valley after Flums. On two separate occasions two police officers walked through the train looking around. There was another castle on a hill past Mels. At Sargans station we changed to a bus to Vaduz in Liechtenstein, crossing the border in the middle of a bridge over the Rhine river - there was a Swiss flag, then the Liechtenstein flag, no customs formalities. Our STP covered the buses in Liechtenstein as well. Liechtenstein, at 25km long and 12km wide, is the sixth smallest country in the world, and has an open border with Switzerland, but not Austria – Swiss customs control the border with Austria. They have an economic agreement with Switzerland, and the Swiss franc is the official currency. Passed Gutenberg Castle on a hill at Balzers, built in the high middle ages (1000 – 1250), on the way to Vaduz. Walked from the bus stop in Vaduz to a tourist info stall, from where a little novelty town train goes to sightsee through the town. As there was no customs stop, there was no passport stamp, but the stall sold souvenir ones for 3 CHF, so I got my passport stamped! Took the novelty train, went through town to the residential area (Liechtenstein population ~38,000), stopped for a photo at an old stone and red building in the midst of a vineyard, with a stone fence along the street – missed the commentary so don’t know what it was. Vaduz Castle looms over the town from the hill above, can’t go inside as the prince and his family live there. The country is called the Principality of Liechtenstein, ruled by the prince, and has been a hereditary monarchy since 1719. The novelty train went around the edge of town and back to the tourist info stall – wasn’t that great, cost 10.50 CHF each, not really worth it, but a cute ride anyway! Wandered around the pedestrian area, some good sculptures in the streets, and had our picnic on a seat. Took the bus up the mountain to Malbun, about 30 minutes of hairpin bends. The corners are so tight that cars have to wait ‘til the bus finishes the turn. Malbun is quite small, seems to be mainly a ski area. Had a little look around, and took the same bus back down 20 minutes or so later. Great views of the river, valley, and mountains on the way back down. Walked back through the pedestrian area to check out the Parliament building, statue of composer Josef Gabriel von Rheinberger, and the Cathedral of St. Florin. Took the bus back to Sargans station, and the train back to Luzern – most of the same way back, but along Lake Zurich from Pfaffikin SZ to Thalwil, through Zug and Rotkreuz, about 1 hour 50 minutes from Sargans to Luzern. Walked through the Old Town and had dinner at a noodle restaurant. Walked over to the lake, bought ice creams, and sat and watched the sunset and the full moon rising over the mountains behind the lake - so beautiful.
Day 34 - 17/6/19 – Luzern to Zurich
Off to Mt.Rigi, leaving our luggage at the hotel. The Weggis cable car was down for maintenance, so we took the train to Arth-Goldau via Meggen and Kussnacht am Rigi. There were some lovely waterfalls on the way up in the cogwheel train from Arth-Goldau, with 3, 4, and 5 levels of cascades, some falling into little pools. The trip to and from Mt.Rigi was free with our STP, ~45 minutes up, and ~ 30 minutes down. There were about five stations on the way up, and about seven on the way down to Vitznau. Again, gorgeous views from the top to snowy mountains over green fields, wildflowers, Luzern and Zug lakes, with the tinkling of cowbells. It would have been great to have more time to do some hikes on Rigi. Wandered around for a while soaking in the views, and had our picnic on a seat at the top. Took the train down to Vitznau on Europe’s oldest mountain railway, opened in 1871, in open sided timber carriages. On the way down is a huge Swiss flag stuck on a steep rock wall, which can be seen from the lake as well. Got straight on the boat back to Luzern, about a one hour trip. Back in Luzern we walked from the pier through town to the Lion Monument, a 10m long sculpture of a dying loin, carved in 1820 into the rockface in a little park, with a pond in front of the lion, and lovely trees on the sides. It was made to commemorate Swiss soldiers who died defending King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Walked to the Museggmaur wall and walked along it – the top of the old city wall dating back to 1386. Great views from the wall over the city, lake, and to snowy mountains. Climbed up inside one of the towers. Walked through the Spreurbrucke, a covered wooden bridge built in 1408. It has paintings on the inside roof panels, The Dance of Death, showing the effects of the plague, lots of skeletons depicted. Lovely views down the river with buildings on the sides right on the water. Had a look inside the Jesuit Church built in the 1670’s, next to the River Reuss – beautiful. Walked through the Kapellbrucke, a lovely 14th century covered wooden bridge with flower boxes all along both sides, with an octagonal water tower attached. Walked through the Old Town, little cobblestone streets and squares, with drinking water fountains, and some frescoed buildings. Walked back to the hotel to collect our luggage, and took the train to Zurich, about a 45 minute trip. Had to take two trams to our hotel, the H+ Hotel Zurich, quite a nice room. Had dinner at Restaurant Singapore across the road, quite nice. Phil Collins is playing a concert in a stadium across the road from our hotel tomorrow night.
Day 35 - 18/6/19 – Zurich
Our STP had expired yesterday, so we bought a 3 zone transport 24 hour pass, which will get us around the city and out to the airport tomorrow, 13.60 CHF each versus probably about 20 CHF each if we bought point to point tickets. We bought them from a machine at the tram stop, with help from a lovely local man who spoke English. Caught the trams into the city, and walked around the Old Town. Had a browse in Fine and More, a beautiful whiskey shop - they had beautiful glassware, some like laboratory glassware (round bottom flasks, condensers etc), and beautiful bottles of alcohol. The girl serving was lovely, and she was very knowledgeable about the products for sale. Took a tram back into the main shopping area to buy some chocolates to take home – from Laderach, where they packed the chocolates in a cooler bag for me, Migros, and the Coop for Lindt balls. Took the trams back to the hotel. Had dinner at the kebab shop next door, watching everyone heading to the concert.
Day 36 - 19/6/19 – Zurich to Singapore
Checked out and took the two trams to the station, and caught the train to the airport. Flight was at 11.45am. Had a window seat. The views as we left Switzerland were amazing – beautiful lakes and valleys in between vast snowy mountains. Oh Switzerland……stunning to the end!
Part 1 of this trip report: www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/5-week-trip-report-mayjune-2019-days-1-7