Blame it on Bollywood or our inherent love for nature but Switzerland has always been a leading destinations for us Indians.
My much awaited chance finally came this August. My dad and me headed to Lucerne, a hill station famous for Mount Pilatus. Our time bound tour meant we didn't have much time to spare for airport shuttles and taxis. Since we were travelling from Paris, we took the TGV (high-speed train). The train is a viable alternative alongwith low-cost flights.
Our first stop was Zurich.We bought ourselves a three-day travel pass from Zurich railway station. While one can buy a France train ticket in any country in the world, Swiss train ticket or pass can only be bought upon presenting your passport. Zurich is a business city and it boasts of the highest quality of life in all of Europe.With its posh surroundings and leather bags and accessories, one is easily reminded of ads for Italian brands.
At Lucerne, we stayed with my college friend, Rachna who is now settled there. She and her husband treated us to real Swiss hospitality.
Lucerne is a beautiful city in Central Switzerland with much to see and do. Steeped in history, this city offers a great shopping experience, some delightful sight seeing options, museums and restaurants. You must take a cruise on Lake Lucerne to look at all the beautiful houses and the incredible Mount Pilatus that provides for a sublime backdrop.
Legend has it that dragons once inhabited this mountain and the lake below. These dragons have a lot of myths surrounding them. It was also believed that the restless ghost of a Roman governor once found solace here.
Next day, we got up early to begin our trip to Mount Pilatus. There are three ways to reach Mt. Pilatus from Lucerne. Travel from Lucerne to Alpnachstad by steamer, and then mount the steepest cogwheel railway in the world, travelling through Eselswand. Or take public transportation from Lucerne to Alpnachstad and then the rack-and-pinion mountain train to Mt. Pilatus. Alternatively, one can take public transportation to Kriens, to Mt. Pilatus by aerial cable car. Lastly one can choose to walk.
We chose to go via Kriens, which is a suburb in Lucerne. The first leg of the journey was to go to the bus stop just outside the Lucerne train station, and take a bus to Kriens. From there, we took a five-minute uphill walk that took us to the base station of the aerial gondolas.We took a ride on the cable car from Kriens to Pilatus Kulm, which offers breathtaking views of the lakes of Switzerland and the snow capped Alps. The four-seat aerial gondolas go all the way to FrÃ¤kmÃ¼ntegg, from where one boards a large cable car that can instantly whisk you to the summit station.
At 3,020m, the dragon mountain commands a glorious view of the Alpine summits. host of hiking options on Mount Pilatus, as well as the mountain trails make this place a haven for enthusiastic hikers.
For those interested in staying at Pilatus, there are two hotels atop the mountain: Hotel Pilatus Kulm and Hotel Bellevue. I'd recommend staying overnight, especially in summer.
Besides, fond memories of the trip, we returned with a Swiss bell, a utility knife and loads of gooey Swiss chocolates.