Lucerne and Rigi (Luzern und Rigi)

Yesterday, Jessica and I took a train trip from Zürich to Luzern, then a boat trip to Vitznau, a train up to Rigi’s summit, did a small hike, and then took a different train back down to Arth-Goldau before heading back home.

Helix is still afraid of trains, so he held down our fort after we took him on an early morning walk!

Bahnhof Luzern

We arrived in Lucerne’s train station to much fanfare. There was a live band that had commandeered some escalators and were playing many different songs. We were totally caught off guard and have no idea what they were celebrating, but it was really cool to see! We realize Carnival is celebrated here, but it’s still too early for that. Well, at least as far as we can tell. We had to take a picture from outside because it was absolutely packed inside the station.

Band Playing In Bahnhof Luzern

Once outside, we were in full tourist mode along with many other people.

Cory And Jessica In Front Of Welcome Sign

Lucerne (Luzern)

We had some time before our boat. That afternoon was cold with low clouds overhead, so we wandered in the city along the river. The first stop was walking by the Kapellbrücke along the Reuss River.

Panorama of the Kapellbrücke

Panorama of the Reuss River

There was a local market set up with all sorts of produce, and even handmade pasta!

Handmade Pasta

Also, marinated sardines ripe for the taking.


We also spotted a sign that we are pretty sure means “No Swimming” but really looks like “No Ladles”.

No Ladles

We admired the buildings’ artwork. Several of them were painted with depictions of various scenes. We aren’t the most culturally aware, so we could not always tell which depictions were historical, religious, or both.

Painted building in Lucerne

They even had a painted fountain. As typical Americans, we had no idea no idea of its cultural significance until the internet told us it was Fritschi Fountain.

Fritschi Fountain in Lucerne

We ate at a small local cafe. While Swiss German is still foreign to us, the way it sounds is starting to sound distinct from High German. And surprisingly, it has a sound that can almost be described as prettier or easier on the ears than High German. We (and by “we”, Jessica insists I point out I mean “I”) fumbled through some High German while ordering.

After the food, we were ready for our ferry ride across Lake Lucerne.

Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee)

It was cold, but one of the most beautiful ferry rides I could have imagined. The lake was extremely calm, save for the standing waves created by the wind. The sunshine streaked through the clouds, and the Alps emerged from the background as we approached Vitznau. We met another couple, the man being a Swiss from Lucerne and the woman from Israel, and enjoyed having a short chat during the boat ride. We still couldn’t imagine how the rest of the trip would turn out.

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne


We began our trek up Rigi at 438 meters (1,437 feet) above sea level in Vitznau. There they have a train all the way up the summit, and it was definitely rustic:

Rigi Train

The incline was seriously steep. The Swiss trains are known for either going through extremely long tunnels, or up super steep inclines. It would be interesting to see all the engineering considerations that go into each of these rail lines, but that’d be for another day.

We passed by the low cloud layers, and emerged at a wonderful sight. A land above the clouds. It felt like a Miyazaki movie.

Mountains Above The Clouds

And finally, after seeing some sheep and lots of small communities huddled in the snowy hillsides, we emerged at the peak. It is 1,748 meters (5,734 feet) above sea level. The train climbed 1,310 meters (4,298 feet)!

Rigi Kulm Sign

And man, the views were breathtaking!

Panorama of Rigi Kulm Station And Alps

Panorama of the Alps from Rigi

Rigi's shadow cast on the land

Landscape near Rigi

The Alps And Pilatus From Rigi

We even caught the sunset.

Sunset Viewed From Rigi

Panorama Sunset Viewed From Rigi

We caught the last train from the summit. It was so crowded with sledders and skiiers that they had to bring a second train up the mountain to handle the extra passengers. We were lucky and had boarded the train early. The people across from us also spoke a little English, and helped translate the train driver’s messages when he informed us all of the delay.

Thankfully, we were able to rest on the train ride home. It was a lot of physical activity and a barrage on our senses. I think we are still processing the beauty and wonder of the land, in our own ways.

Published: Jan 14, 2018 17:55:13 EST
By: Cory Slep