The ascent to Mt. Pilatus seemed relatively easy after our journey to the Jungfrau, requiring only a leisurely and scenic boat ride on the lake of Lucerne to the town of Alpnachstad and a short walk to the base station before hopping aboard the world’s steepest cog railway. It’s about a 30-minute ride to the top of this mountain, which is 7,000 feet or so high, and two hotels and seven restaurants await you there.
I had taken this ride before long ago, too, but the Hotel Pilatus-Kulm has been renovated since then, and the Hotel Bellevue added, so it’s all more modern and more accommodating for tourists. In fact, my fellow travelers and I saw the opportunity here for business meetings (seriously), and, for those well enough off to afford it, destination weddings; there’s plenty of room and the views are hard to beat.
Me and friends atop Mt. Pilatus.
Clouded view of Lake Lucerne.
We enjoyed a lunch of salad and Alpine style macaroni (served with an apple puree) and delicious meringues with whipped cream and strawberry sorbet before actually taking the not too strenuous walk to an old weather station for our photo ops, waiting for clouds to blow over so we could see the lake and Alpine meadows below.
Descent by cable car.
Further descent by gondola.
Then it was back down via both a cable car and a gondola. We joked with one another that we have taken just about every form of transportation there is on this trip. In fact, the efficiency, cleanliness and ease of the justly vaunted Swiss transportation system were a constant matter to marvel over during our entire visit. The trains and buses we (and the Swiss) took everywhere were simple to figure out, accessible and (with the help of our Swiss rail pass) just a breeze to use. Of course, Switzerland is a much smaller country than the United States, but you couldn’t help but wish we could emulate them in this way.
View of Hotel Montana from the boat.
Our last night in Lucerne demanded yet another delicious meal, this one at the Restaurant 1871 at the Grand Hotel National, a magnificent edifice built—naturally—in the year 1871. To top off our trip with a dinner of beef filet, polenta and a dessert including a hot, fudgy sort of torte and other sweet treats, followed by an evening listening to jazz back in the Hotel Montana’s “Louis Bar”—named, fittingly, after the great Louis Armstrong—was a perfect “Auf wiedersehen” to this beautiful little country and to each other, after coming together as strangers and parting as friends.