Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lucerne and Mt Pilatus

Having settled into our hotel in Lucerne, we made our way out to find something for dinner. 

On the way we crossed over the old covered bridge with the painted medieval panels. This made me very sad, as I had seen the bridge back in 1990, but since then a major fire had destroyed much of the old bridge. The bridge had been rebuilt, of course, but much of the artwork has been lost.
Lucerne's covered bridge and water tower
One of the remaining panels
And another
Remains of a scorced one
Inside the bridge, with the panels overhead
We settled down for dinner in the Rathaus Brauerie alongside the river, and Andy did his usual facebook check-in, saying that we were in Lucerne.  Minutes later he got a facebook message from friends of ours who had also been touring around Europe saying that they were also in Lucerne, about 5 minutes away on a the other side of the river. We were sitting at a table for 4, so naturally said they should join us. We all had a very enjoyable evening, which wouldn't have happened if we'd been able to find accommodation in Altdorf as originally planned.
The restaurant location by the river
Our friends, Sarah and Louise
Next morning we had a better look around Lucerne.
We woke up to this view of the lake
We wandered around looking at the painted murals on many of the buildings and interesting fountains.
Along the river
Along the river
Ornamental water fountain
Painted building
Another painted building
Yet another painted building

Then went up to see the Lion Monument.  It is a sculpture of a dying lion carved into the cliff which commemorates the members of the Swiss Guard who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.

After that we went to see the Glacier Garden, which is located right next to the monument. It is a showcase for some glacial potholes, created  during the last ice age when Lucerne was covered with glaciers. Sand and small stones were ground around by the movement of the glacier, creating great holes in the rock. It was discovered by accident in 1872 when the land owner was building a wine cellar on the site.
The Glacier Garden

The deepest pot hole

Glacier Garden
 At about midday we left Lucerne and headed off to Alpnachstad, where the rack railway goes up to the top of Mt Pilatus. It is the steepest rack railway in the world, with a maxiumum gradient of 48%. It was originally opened in 1889, and is the second highest railway in Central Switzerland.

The heat was stiffling, and when we bought our tickets we had about an hour and a half to wait until our allocated time. We found the only place we could where we didn't have to sit outside in the heat and blazing sun and had some lunch. Eventually it was time to queue up for the train. We boarded and then headed up the mountain.

Going up, passing a carriage coming down
I have to say, this was my least favourite mountain top (though the scenery on the way up was very impressive). There were enormous crowds, and the areas is dominated by an (in my opinion) ugly 1950s visitor centre and hotel.  There is a much more attractive older hotel,  but you kept seeing the horrible one. Also, the "view" back down where we had come from was not as impressive as other views, because you could only see a short distance.

View on the way up

View on the way up

View on the way up

Old hotel at the top

View from the top - not as impressive as others

View down the other side

Old Hotel

New hotel and visitors' centre

Lovely hut on the way down

Look at all the wild flowers

After we came back down, it was time to go off and find some accommodation.