Christmas on the Rhine: Day 3 (Mt. Titlis, Switzerland)
February 26, 2013 § 2 Comments
* Photos not mine. I would post my own.. but.. oh well. These are all accurate to what we saw, though.
There’s nothing quite like climbing over a thousand meters above the earth and sailing over pristine white snow with only mountains and forests all around you for miles. It’s like a completely different world up there and you can lose yourself just watching the pure, untouched whiteness all around you. And then you step out on the snow, and you look out over the edge, and it’s like you’re on top of the world and nothing’s going to stop you.
I can say without at doubt that my family’s decision to spend a day up on the mountains of Switzerland was one we would never regret. My grandparents had decided they would stay in Lucerne for the day and relax on their own, leaving us free to do whatever we wanted for the day. And so, naturally, we thought a visit to the famous Mt. Titlis was a must.
We took the train from Lucerne to Engelberg, which was about 45 minutes to an hour, and then when we got to Engleberg, we took a shuttle bus to the base of the mountain. From there, it was a long cable car ride all the way to the top!
I believe there were about 3 or 4 stations along the whole route of the cable car and you can choose to get off at any of them. Each of the stations have slightly differing activities. If I remember correctly, the first stations you’ll get to is where the kids and beginner slopes are. After that, there are various slopes with varying difficulties and one station that had the toboggan and sledding slopes! Oh, and one thing that would have saved us some stress on the way up: being the inexperienced skiers we were, we got into the cable car without any ski equipment. Now, that doesn’t really sound like too much of a problem – except we were surrounded by both tourists and locals alike who looked a lot more like they knew what they were doing. And that was when we realized we hadn’t thought to ask if there would even be any ski rentals further up the cable car. So, to save you all some worry, there are. I’m not too sure for each station individually, but we know for sure that once you get to the top of Mt. Titlis and suddenly find you want to ski, you can rent some equipment up there without taking the long ride back down the mountain.
So, anyway, after a while, the cable car ends and you transfer to the Rotair to get to the peak! The Rotair is like the cable car, except it’s bigger and (like the name suggests) rotates. There’s no seats or handles or anything much to hold on to on the way up but don’t worry, you won’t really need it. It was little unpleasant, though, to be crammed up against the glass by a huge crowd of Chinese tourists with barely enough room to stand. With the walls rotating. Right, one more tip, the walls move so be careful of standing too close or getting anything snagged or you’ll be dragged along the whole circumference of the Rotair!
Once you get to the peak, there’s a sort of center with a restaurant, theater, gift shop, and strangely enough, a luxury watch shop where you can buy a Rolex or something (no idea why you would want to do that at the top of a mountain but, okay). Climb to the top floor and you can go out on to the peak and enjoy the wonderful views (and cold wind – bring a scarf, glaring sunlight and snow in your eyes – bring sunglasses)! It might have been because it was December but it was quite chilly up there and I highly recommend shoes with good treads unless you want to be slipping on the ground every two steps. Seriously though, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and a wonderful feeling to just be surrounded by so much pure white.
So, after spending some time out in the open, we went back inside to thaw out and visit the glacier caves! The glacier caves are free and actually much warmer than outside because there’s no wind but again, be careful with slipping on the ice (although there is a mat on the ground for you to walk on)! There are some ice sculptures and interesting formations you can walk through so just have fun with that but try not to touch too much ice.
So, yes, they pretty much look like that except without the wires and I think they look much better in person. And really, part of it is really the experience. It’s not very big so we took a loop and decided to go grab some food at the restaurant (you get very hungry walking on ice).
The restaurant has a self-service area and an a la carte area that have pretty similar food so just decide if you’d rather grab quick food or sit and rest your legs. The food’s pretty good (or we were just very hungry) and it’s nice and warm and cozy and you get some fantastic views from the windows. I don’t really have much photos for it (hey, we were hungry) but I’ll just say, go ahead and grab a bite, relax a little!
After that, we were pretty drained so we decided to head back down. We stopped at one of the stations for a quick round sledding down the hill since we didn’t have time to ski anymore. Take note – everything starts closing at around 4 pm! So get started early if you want to have enough time for everything! We tried to sneak in a quick ski at around 3 – 3.30 but the guys wouldn’t let us on anymore so, again, if you want to maximize the slopes – start early!
So then we just came back the way we came, ran to take the train back to Lucerne at around 5PM and made it back in time for dinner with my grandparents! All in all, a wonderful day and definitely a must visit if you come to Switzerland. On to Day 4!
Day 2: Zurich, Switzerland >> Day 4: Basel, Switzerland