May 6, 2014 This morning, I awoke and looked out my window to this view:
So, there’s that.
Breakfast at Hotel Himmelrich was considerably better than dinner the night before, but was pretty basic. Toast, fruit, yogurt, pastries…very much a continental breakfast.
After breakfast, we loaded onto the coach and drove the windy road down into Lucerne. There were three “Optional Extras” that we could participate in today: An excursion up to the top of Mt. Pilatus in the Alps, a traditional Swiss lunch & folklore show, and a lake cruise around Lake Lucerne. Since I’d marked “#NoRegrets,” I was doing all three. The day would be pretty expensive (altogether, the excursions cost about 100€, or about $140 USD), but it would end up being one of my very favorite days on tour.
World’s steepest cogwheel railway
Those of us doing the Mt. Pilatus excursion headed to the base of the mountain on the coach, and then jumped off to board the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, which would take us to the top of the mountain.
The views on the way up were absolutely insane, but nothing compared to what was waiting for us at the top of the mountain.
Once we got to the hotel at the top of the mountain (Hotel Pilatus-Kulm), we scattered to take photos and enjoy the views all around us. Finally, the cold drove us inside, where we bought hot chocolate (and Canada bought beer), and some snacks, while taking in the scenery through the panoramic windows.
After we’d had our fill, we jumped back on the railway and went down the mountain. We drove back through the town and arrived at Stadtkeller for our traditional Swiss fondue lunch and folklore show.
Left to right: Dicky, Me, Kieran, Pat
I had an absolute blast at this excursion. I sat with my three favorite Australians (Pat, Dicky & Kieran) and indulged in beer, sausage, and Swiss fondue (which was absolutely delicious). With full stomachs, we turned our attention to the folklore show. The show was admittedly hokey, but when you’re drinking and laughing and having fun with new friends, it doesn’t matter – we had so much fun watching! Plus, it was all part of the Swiss experience and I wanted to take everything in. The show included alphorns, cowbells, national costumes, flag throwing and yodelling. The yodelling required volunteers from the audience, so a few people in our group got to perform onstage.
After lunch, we had free time to wander Lucerne for a few hours. We roamed across the famous Chapel Bridge, and went shopping for Swiss watches, chocolate, and clothes. Everything is pretty pricey in Switzerland (and you’re on a different currency than you are for the majority of the trip, which makes it easier to spend without realizing it), so I bought a Swiss Army knife and a skirt and called it.
After our free time, we met up with Jon Snow again, where he took us to the famous Lion Monument. It was jam-packed with tourists, so getting a photo was quite a feat, but we managed and then headed out to the docks for our lake cruise.
Ah, the lake cruise. We had all bonded pretty tightly by this point, but I look back on this cruise as being the moment that I knew I would stay in touch with these people forever.
We were given drink tokens, and Jon Snow told us that they would make an announcement once we pulled away from shore and the crew opened the bar. We all settled in on the upper deck to wait…except for Canada. We hadn’t even pulled away from the shore when Canada emerged, beers in hand. “This is our second one!” they said, and we all burst out laughing. Dicky started yelling “Canada…f*ck yeah” (Team America-style), and by the end of the cruise, he would shout the “Canada” call every time Canada emerged with fresh beer, and we would all respond with “f*ck yeah!” It sounds silly, but when you’re tipsy and hanging out with friends on Lucerne Lake in the middle of Switzerland, while on the adventure of a lifetime…it seemed to fit perfectly.
And so, that became our mantra, and soon the call was shouted out even when the Canada boys weren’t around. It became our identity on tour; a unifying chant that always reminded us that we were here with amazing people, having the time of our lives.
View from the lake cruise
After the lake cruise, we went back to the hotel for another included dinner…which I was dreading after the nasty we had the night before. It was pretty good this time though: garden salad and spaghetti bolognese.
Even though we were very sufficiently tipsy by this point, we went out to the patio for more beer and chats. Soon, we launched into a game of “Never Have I Ever,” where I learned more about my fellow Contiki-ers than I probably ever needed to know. Still, I cuddled up to Pat (who had quickly become my “Contiki boyfriend”) and enjoyed the crisp Lucerne air as we all laughed and drank and had an absolutely amazing night. #NoRegrets.