Pilatus - Lucerne, Switzerland
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that as a Canadian I’ve never seen the mountains in Alberta or British Columbia, but in all fairness, I’m from Toronto and Calgary is not a short bus ride away. Lucerne, on the other hand, was conveniently located only a three-and-a-half-hour journey from Strasbourg (my exchange city).
Like most trips during my exchange, this one was planned last minute. We took a three-hour FlixBus from Strasbourg to Zurich in the early hours of the morning on a cloudy Friday in February. For some reason, it didn’t dawn on me until I got there that Switzerland was going to be expensive. The short 40-minute train ride from Zurich to Lucerne was about 22 Francs or “big money – Swiss Frans” as one of my friends better explained.
When we arrived in Lucerne I was immediately and undesirably disappointed. The clouds were so low, and the air was so gloomy that it was impossible to tell the city was surrounded by mountains. In any case, we had the whole day to spare and a plan to set out.
The rest of the first day, we spent our time visiting the Lion monument, the Kapellbrücke and exploring the streets of Lucerne. In general, it was cute and unaffordable. A small meal at the grocery store that left me hungry afterward was about 15 Euros and trying Switzerland’s famous fondue was simply out of the question for us. We did, however, manage to buy a unique box of coloured chocolates from a little sweet shop.
Our hotel (Hotel Falken) was right in the city, and the five of us sneakily managed to squeeze into a room for four. We were surprised though when we entered the room and it looked more like a porn scene than anything else. We ran to the manager and he offered us unlimited free drinks in response to their lack of tidiness.
The main purpose of this trip was to see the mountains, and luckily with clear skies on the second day we were able to take a cable car up Mount Pilatus. The cost for the cable car was about 60 Euros. It started in Kriens and included stops on three points on the mountain (Krienseregg, Fräkmüntegg, Pilatus Kulm).
The first stop in Krienseregg was charming. It had a playground and restaurant, but the views were just starting to make themselves known. Fräkmüntegg, the second stop, was our first taste of magic (most of the pictures on the blog are from this point on the mountain). We decided to hike down the hill here as well and this allowed us to explore the mountain. Just don’t forget, when you go down you have to climb up…. which can be difficult in the snow.
Situated 2131 metres about sea level, Pilatus Kulm offered a complete panorama of the mountains. Because the sky was so clear we could also see all the way down to the lake and enjoy the frozen view.
During exchange, I visited over 20 cities and I can truly say that walking on Mount Pilatus is definitely one of the top experiences. If you’re ever in Switzerland and find yourself in Lucerne make sure to go up the mountains, it's one of the best things you'll ever do.