After five years, we have returned to Lucerne, Switzerland. We are staying in the same hotel that we stayed in last time. Why? Jef loves the breakfast buffet. It’s one of the best I have seen in Europe. In case you want to check it out, it’s called Hotel Anker. It’s not far from the train station or the water and bridges. We arrived around 7pm last night and the only thing we wanted to do was eat at Rathaus Brewery. It was as good as we remembered.
We had cheese pie, rotisserie chicken with an herb cream sauce and potatoes, and a pretzel with cheese. The beer there is also phenomenal, you can see what little is left in the picture, it is very light and refreshing. All that food was delicious and we may go again before we leave Lucerne. If you can grab a table outside it’s wonderful to sit by the river and take in the view and people watch as well.
In the morning, we enjoyed our hotel breakfast buffet and headed to the train station. We decided to buy a Swiss travel pass for four days. This is an incredible deal. You can take any transportation (train, bus, boat) and you even get free admission to over 500 museums and three mountains (Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Stoos). If you want to travel to other mountains you get a 50% discount. Since it cost $60 one way from Zurich to Lucerne, this is definitely worth the money if you want to do some traveling in Switzerland.
Even though we thought we visited Rigi last time we were here, it was a beautiful day to take the boat and travel up a mountain. We were not disappointed. The boat ride was calm and the mountain views were glorious. The only difference from our last visit was the ridiculous amount of people doing the same thing. I was so surprised how many people were on the boat and crowding the train.
We were shocked at how many people were on the boat. It was a newer boat and it did not have enough seats for the number of passengers on board. We mistakenly sat in first class and our ticket was checked about a half an hour into the ride. I don’t think they checked the second class tickets at all. There was also only one bathroom on board that I could find and it had one toilet. I hope there were more on the first floor, but I didn’t see any. We were lucky to find seats at the back of the boat after moving into second class. The trip to Vitznau to take the cog railway to the top of Mt. Rigi took about an hour.
The number of people rushing to get on on train was so overwhelming that they stopped checking tickets and just let people on the train. We were very lucky and had seats on the open air car. We were not next to the ”window”, but close. It is a very steep climb. We were sitting backwards and I could feel the pull of gravity as we ascended. I didn’t take any pictures on the way up because I just wanted to enjoy the views, especially seeing and hearing the cows.
Even though the train stop says Rigi Klum (which is the top), you still have to hike a good 15 minutes or more to reach the actual top of the mountain. It is a bit chilly, so make sure to bring a jacket or sweater. The climb is also very steep, but I saw a man with two canes conquer it so unless you have health issues, it should be no problem. There is also a longer route that is less steep. You should definitely go up the top no matter how you do it.
You can take the train back down, hike down, hike part of the way and take the cable car or you can be lazy (like us) and take the train to the cable car. We were going to hike and then discovered it was at least half an hour. There are a few places to eat at Rigi Klum. We opted to grab a panini and hot dog right near the train. There are also more options up at the restaurant. If you wanted to hike a bit, there are offerings at every stop we saw. The stop for the cable car is also where they have a very nice spa retreat. It looks amazing. There is also a hotel on the top and I’m guessing places to stay on the way up.
The cable car squishes as many people as possible. I was lucky to actually sit down, but there was a guy right over me, shoving his selfie stick in the front and once in my face. It made the way down less fun. I was not able to see the very front view, which can be pretty scary since you go straight down the mountain. The beauty of the scenery should take your mind off the steepness quickly.
At the end of the cable car ride, you need to walk down into the town of Weggis. There are also places to eat and get snacks here. Our boat ride back was on one of the older steamer ships. You can watch them work the engine and see the water wheels through windows inside. They were built in 1901! Apparently we sat in first class again on the way back, but for some reason, the steward checked all the tickets but ours. He didn’t kick out another couple that didn’t have the right ticket either. It was a relaxing ride back.
When we docked, we decided to head to Zug for the afternoon. The boat docks are right next to the train station, so we did not have far to go. We stopped at Coop for some drinks and snacks first. The train ride to Zug only took about 15 minutes. There are lots of trains that go there on the route to Zurich and the Zurich airport so you don’t have to wait long. Jef found a medieval castle for us to visit while we were there.
Castle Zug is the oldest building in Zug. It was built in the 12th century. It is now a museum and houses some interesting items, but more interesting to me was the preservation of the building. We arrived an hour before closing and didn’t see anyone else there while we toured. We got in free with our Swiss Pass and they wanted us to put our backpack in the locker, but we did not have any Swiss money. They were nice enough to give us a token to use instead. The beauty of the building was the coolest thing to experience (in my opinion). I enjoyed seeing the rooms that they recreated to look like long ago. The front desk gave us a guidebook that told us some history on the families that lived there as well as Zug history. It was very interesting and helpful considering there was only one display that had English.
We walked around the town a little bit and found some beautiful plazas. When we wandered near the lake, we found a random enclosures with birds from all over the world. That was neat find. We saw a snowy white owl, scarlet ibises, and a kookaburra that yelled at us. Even the Post Office was a sight to behold.
We enjoyed our trip into Zug. It was not as breathtaking as Mt. Rigi, but it was a fun way to spend the afternoon. Tomorrow we are headed to the Italian section of Switzerland. It’s tough for me in the German area because I understand very little German, but I could figure out some Italian because of my knowledge of Spanish and French. I look forward to checking out a new area of Switzerland.