Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Switzerland - Lucerne and Appenzell

I have now arrived in Mainz, Germany and will spend today wandering around including visiting the Gutenberg Museum as this is where the printing press was invented. This evening I will travel half hour by train to Frankfurt Airport for the flight to Hong Kong and after one night there fly onto Auckland and Dunedin arriving home on Saturday night. Not the best part of a trip to Europe.

I developed a cold on my last night in Paris so, while I managed to keep going for the hiking near Interlaken described in my last message, I decided to take it easy in Lucerne. I spent Thursday cruising on the lake. The journey up to the head of the lake and back took 5 and a half hours and I stopped off for an hour to have lunch at the water’s edge and wander around the small village of Fluelen. The ferry back was a paddle steamer.

I think the upper parts of the lake are more scenic).

On Friday I returned part of the way (just 40 minutes) on the ferry then took the rack railway up Mount Rigi (1798 metres or 1364 metres above the lake). Two photos show part of the many views from the top.

Not sure which of these characters represents me climbing to the very top of gipfel.

You can catch the train back to the top of the cable car but I walked down a very easy road  even though it went down 440 metres.  The view descending to the lake at Weggis.

From there it was back on the ferry but I got off at the Transport museum where I had lunch then spent a lot of time in the railway section.  There was a very good demonstration of building the St Gotthard tunnel, travelling in the dark on a small rail car and learning of the life of the, mainly Italian, workers.  I quickly took in the road, air and boat sections but bypassed the planetarium. All transport, even into the future, is covered. I walked back along the lake to my hotel and then after a rest toured some of the city walls and bridges.

Saturday was spent crossing Switzerland by train to the eastern area of Appenzell. I stayed at Wasserauen in 2008 and find it a lovely area. There are very few international tourists but lots of locals visit to walk.  Staying 3 nights provides a card for local transport and one trip up and down on each of the cable cars plus visits to museums.

When I arrived at the hotel in Wasserauen, where I had stayed before, it was a bright sunny day, the garden restaurant was full and as I ate my lunch there were literally dozens of paragliders landing in the field next door. There is a paragliding school there.  I went up the Ebenalp cable car next to the hotel with some of the paragliders but took the hard way down. I had wanted to do this on my previous trip but being early May, it was snowing lightly and was ill equipped. The view from the top shows the lake to which I hiked the next day.

The track down goes through a cave and past a cave chapel then a guest house on the cliff edge .

The guest house is 20 minutes down from the top and over an hour from the bottom so not suitable for my luggage. My hotel is more suitable for me and has probably the largest and nicest room on my travels.

Sunday was not so nice but remained fine. I travelled free by train then postbus around to Schwagalp on the other side of the mountain and went up the highest but not free cable car to Santis (2503 metres) but it was cloud covered. However there were some good views on the way up and down. I had originally considered hiking down from there to my hotel but, on rereading the notes that commented on the knee jarring number of steps and the fact that cables assisted the nerves, I decided against it. I saw the track heading down into the mist but returned the long way round.

In the afternoon I went up to Seealpsee

 previously viewed from above and could see Santis was free of cloud up on the top right of the photo. However there was a lot of snow up there and this climb of 300 metres from my hotel was enough for me. I went up the road but returned by the forest path which probably went a little higher passing many cows in their summer pastures.

Monday was wet and, being Monday, the museums were closed so was largely a wasted day in the towns of Appenzell and St Gallen.  As it was fine in the afternoon I did go up one of the other (free) cable cars to Hohen Kasten(1794 metres) but I was the only tourist up there and the view on the other side into Austria was mainly hidden. However I was there in fine weather in 2008.

Tuesday morning was also wet but thankfully fine as I walked to the railway station. I travelled right across Switzerland to Zurich where it was a clear day then onto Basel and into Germany and Mainz.


Fran said...

Brian, I have been thinking about your travels and all the rain!

I know that you are not a Facebook person, but I am. Almost every day I post a different "cover" photo. Yesterday, I happened to post one of my visit to Lake Lucerne, so today's post really made me smile... such memories.

Davis said...

Now I am feeling envious of your travels. Sounds as though you had a good time!