Switzerland 05-06: Rigi

After failing to get here on Saturday, I was determined to make it up this mountain.
If I’d been doing exams, I wouldn’t have been able to leave so early, not that I can remember what time I did go. Probably pretty early, as it takes over an hour to get to Neuchatel from Les Verrieres.
I got the train to Olten, changed to the Luzern-Milan train and stayed on there all the way to Arth-Goldau, which I was pleased to realise was in Schwyz canton – another one ticked off on my list.
There are two ways to the top of Rigi, both rack railways. There’s one up from Vitznau and one from Arth-Goldau and as Vitznau didn’t look too easy to get too, I took the obvious route.
The platform for Rigi was at the end of one of the main platforms and up some stairs. I bought my ticket in English, because I have no idea how to do it in German, although I don’t like using English abroad.
At first I thought I was going to go up in an open wooden carriage but that train didn’t seem to be running and we were herded onto an ordinary one.

You could see exactly where you were going because the summit was to our right and we were going to go round in a sort of U shape to get up there.
It’s not the highest mountain I’ve ever been up but you could feel the mountain coldness in the air and while I was on the train, I was very glad I’d brought my coat.
It took around half an hour to get to the top. At the station below the top, the line from Vitznau came in, on red trains. The Arth-Goldau ones are blue.

The view from the top was incredible. There were patches of light mist, but you could see for miles. I could see the Oberland giants and billions of peaks to the south-west behind Lake Luzern.
And Peedee’s amazing zoom:

Behind Lake Zug on the other side was flat land for miles.

I sat on the grass for a while and looked out at the view. There was only one problem. Peedee’s guidebook said there is snow on the peak even in summer. Of course there wasn’t and it was far too hot for a fleece jumper and a long coat. Ick.
Then I walked down behind the little chapel into a field, for lack of a better word, with a fence around the edge. A sort of bump-shaped field. And when I looked over the fence:

A 1000 metre sheer drop.
I guess I knew there was a drop like that somewhere because you can see from the ground that Rigi looks like someone sliced the end off with a sharp knife but it’s quite scary when you’re looking straight down it.
Then I couldn’t find a seat on the train on the way down so I stood behind the driver and looked out of the front.

And also thought that if he was to die right there and then, I could probably drive the train down to the bottom…

Switzerland 05-06: Kandersteg

I’d been planning to go to Rigi or Titlis today, but when Peedee came in at about 6.30 to say she and Jemma weren’t coming, it was pouring down with rain and a mountaintop didn’t seem like such a good idea.
I did the orthographe exam, once we managed to get into Neuchatel and then decided from the Swiss map at the station that Kandersteg might be a good idea as I’d never been there.
Train to Bern, train to Spiez, train to Kandersteg. Easy.
It wasn’t quite as I expected. Of course, it was a misty gloomy day and I know people come here to ski rather than to spend time in the village, but everything seemed a bit dead.
The mountains around were very pretty, but I couldn’t see a lot of them because of the mist.
There were lots of rivers coming through the town and on the sides of mountains, a lot of Swiss flags.

I took Peedee’s camera with me and I’ve always known it’s a better one than mine, but I’d never fallen in love with it. The zoom is incredible. It can get in closer than I can actually see. I can use the thing as a telescope!
See flag?

See flag?
I did a circuit of the village, turning left, past the bottom of the Oechinsee chairlift, back down to the turning, along the main road, then back across the fields towards the railway. I wondered why there were so many trains full of lorries, and then I saw a couple of camper vans which were obviously being used. Dead or being-delivered ones do not usually have bikes attached to the back. Finally I figured it out. It’s the Lötschberg rail tunnel, the only way to get onto the main east-west road across Valais.
As I was wandering along the track back to the station, the clouds parted above me and the horn of whichever mountain it was appeared like Mount Olympus.
I got back on the train and intended to get off at Frutigen, since I’d be back pretty early otherwise. But I didn’t bother. And I didn’t stop at Spiez or Bern either. I’ve seen them both.