This morning we awoke with our heads in the clouds, our toes, too. As you might expect, it took a bit of work to get up so high in the world.
Two days ago we left before breakfast was served at the Seminary and rushed through the cobbled streets of Salzburg to catch our train to Lucerne, Switzerland. We couldn’t take a nap, because we had to keep looking out the windows. Austria was beautiful, as was the tiny country of Lichtenstein.
We had to make a quick, but very important stop along the way, Heidiland! Johanna Spyri’s story of the little girl Heidi growing up in the Swiss Alps has been translated into over 50 languages and loved by children around the world, including me.
I am sure I wasn’t the only “child” who dreamed of running up the mountains calling, “Grandfather! Grandfather!” I am pretty sure the Japanese woman we passed on the way down the mountain was on the same pilgrimage we were.
The bus from the train station in Maienfield to Heididorf (Heidi’s house) only runs on Saturday’s and Sunday’s, neither of which would help us. With heavy packs in tow we followed the steep, windy roads that wound through the village.
We liked how there were wells with fresh mountain water. The locals are lucky to have such delicious water.
It was quite a hike up the hill, but when we got close I tossed my bag and ran. Kevin had fun watching me become a child again. There really isn’t anything super special about Heidi’s house, but it is that transformation of becoming the girl in the story.
“Oh yes, this is how I thought Grandfather’s house should look like!”
” Is this Peter’s house? ”
“There are the goats! One is even climbing on the wall to nibble leaves off a tree. How funny!”
We got some great exercise before we sat down in the train again, but it was difficult to put Heidi away. We talked about the books until we pulled into Lucerne’s main train station.
On our way to our hotel we came upon an unusual covered wooden bridge with a tall tower in the center. The Kapellbruke, Chapel Bridge, is a Lucerne landmark. The tower was built in 1330, the bridge in 1365. it crosses the Reuss River diagonally. We took our time crossing, admiring the paintings, oohing at the clear water, along the way.
Our hotel faced a medieval clock tower. We were too tired to wander, so we called it a night.
We hopped out of bed the next morning before the tourists came out. We loved the painted buildings, and the chocolate we bought from Lindts after we split a quiche.
We wished we had more time to explore, but we had to get our heads in the clouds. Besides being located on the shores of Lake Lucerne, the town lies at the base of a dragon.
Mount Pilatus ‘ summit is 7,000 feet above sea water. An old legend says the the mountain is cursed with dragons. Near the peak is the hotel Pilatus-Kulm, built in 1890. Every room in the hotel has a magnificent view of the Alps.
Other than hiking there are a couple of routes to the hotel. We chose the Golden Round trip. First, we took a boat across Lake Lucerne.
Then we took the steepest cogwheel train in the world up the mountain slope. There were a couple of cows with huge bells around their necks watching us. Later in the fog we realized how useful those bells could be for the farmer to find his heard.
It was really, really steep.
This is what we saw when we got to the top.
We hiked quite a bit on the dragon trails. The scenery kept changing as quickly as the weather, shifting every second.
The landscape was unworldly.
It was fairly sunny on one side of the mountain and completely shrouded in clouds on the other side.
Watching the sunset I felt like Merlin swirling the clouds with my magic wand. The sun shone through in spots. Some of the clouds shone like castles in the sky.
Very few people stayed overnight on the mountain. It is so quiet here, except for the distant sounds of cowbells and the chirping of birds. We can hear the snow melting.
Dressing and out the door by 6am and we were still too late for the sunrise. The clouds had rolled back. The mountains seemed endless.
We got to see some ibex on our early walk, from a distance. We watched some lucky hikers that had just completed a very tough trek get close to the herd. They sat down to eat breakfast and watch the animals. We were a bit jealous, but realized they had earned their spot.
It was hard packing up and leaving, but we decided to cut out before the crowds showed up. We caught the 9:15am cable car to take us back to town. The cable car went down, down, down the other side of Mt. Pilatus. We switched cable cars a third of the way down, it stopped to let people on and off at a campsite two thirds of the way, so it took awhile to reach civilization again.
It has been a very magical experience in Switzerland.