Sunday, August 2, 2015

Excursion to Mount Pilatus

Our First Avalon Excursion

We'd had a wonderful day in Zurich on our own, but now it was time to let Avalon take over with the excursions.  We pre-booked the Excursion to Mount Pilatus and had been looking forward to this tour.

We boarded a bus headed at the Movenpick Hotel  with several of our fellow passengers.  Our checked baggage was in the storage compartments and our hand luggage (mainly cameras & computers) were with us above our seats.  This is the reason why the cruise line had requested carry on bags without wheels.

Gondola Ride

Mount Pilatus (2132m / 7000 ft) presents its visitors with a thrilling ascent by cable car, spectacular summit views of the 10.000 ft. Bernese Alps (Eiger, Monk and Jungfrau) to the south and Lake Lucerne to the north, followed by the steepest cog-wheel descent in the world.
In 1868 Queen Victoria made the excursion riding on the back of a mule.

When we arrived at Mount Pilatus, we were given a card which we'd need to insert in several turnstiles  during the tour.   To make it easy to identify the group, we were also given Globus Mount Pilatus baseball caps.

Click images to enlarge
The view from the gondola was spectacular.  There had been some cloud cover, but the visibility was improving as time went on during our visit.   Once to the top, we had free time to explore from the observation deck and the caves (which we highly recommend).   There was also a restaurant and shops, all of which we visited.   You are actually inside the hotel lobby when you get off the gondola.

Mount Pilatus Caves

In medieval times, it was believed that dragons with healing powers lived in the rugged clefts and crevices of Mount Pilatus.  Read more

We spent about 30 minutes exploring the caverns taking pictures framed by the openings.  If you get chilled, you might want to bring a light jacket or sweater as it is cooler inside the passages.

Don't miss this part of the excursion.   It is also possible to climb stairways to get even a higher vantage point if you are so inclined.

 Enjoying a Snack

Our guide said that the barley soup and apple strudel were very good.  She also suggested having a cup of Swiss hot chocolate.  We took here advice and tried all three of them.  They were very good indeed.

After our snack, we had just enough time to check out the gift shop before it was time to meet for the descent via cogwheel railway.

Cogwheel Railway

The descent from Mount Pilatus isn't by gondola.  It is via the world's steepest cogwheel railway with the maximum grade of 48% and the average of 38%.  It takes approximately 40 minutes to complete the descent.

Tip:  If traveling with someone else, we'd suggest sitting across from each other so that you can take photographs in various directions, if so inclined.   The best view isn't always ahead of you, as you can see from our photos.

Next Stop - Lucerne

We boarded our bus for a short ride to the city of Lucerne for the second part of the excursion.  We'll discuss that in our next post.

This is day one of the cruise and I'm already smiling in a picture. I posed in front of the famous Lion Monument.  For those that know me, I'm not a big fan of being in pictures, so I rarely smile in them. When I do, that means I'm really enjoying the trip.

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page: 

Pilatus - Gondola
Pilatus - View
Pilatus - Cave Tunnels
Pilatus - Cogwheel Railway

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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