Rigi Kulm

Next was a cruise on Lake Lucerne (actual name, Vierwaldstattersee, or Lake of the Four Cantons) to be able to access Rigi Kulm (Rigi Summit). Sounds like something out of Tolkien, but is one of two majestic, Alpine peaks (the other is Pilatus) near the city that are must-sees.

The Swiss are renowned for their mountain transports--cable car, rail, cog rail. Used to use steam, elaborate pulley systems. Rigi this year celebrated the 150th anniversary of its Queen of the Mountain, Europe's first mountain railway. They were only taking her, the No.7 Engine (built in 1873), out at special times during the year, so we took a modern line from Vitznau, after our boat docked.

As we keep discovering, children and dogs are taken everywhere you want to go, and our first Alp was no exception. After the congestion, barks, and hissy fits, things got sorted out, infant grievances and teen angsts assuaged. The cog rail train up was breathtaking. Hikers on the paths along the tracks. Cows (with cowbells!) in meadow after meadow.

Once there, it was cooler but so clear and bright. As we admired the views, others knew the routine and saved tables with the best views by putting items on them, folding chairs back, or installing their oldest companion at them. We did our best. Jan rested while I braved the slow cafeteria line. After that, we took the easier of two long hikes to the very top. The panoramas were awesome. Legends pictured and identified the 160 or more peaks you could see from different points--including the Jungfrau trio that we would visit later while staying in Interlaken.

As the signage says, at the top of Rigi is a cone covering the measuring stone that was the point, starting in 1903, from which all of Switzerland was surveyed, using triangulation to measure every rock and crevice. Pretty amazing. There's also a huge rock from China nearby, a goodwill thing. I imagine there's a piece of Rigi somewhere over there.

Taking the boat back, we had heard that another town on the lake, Weggis (sounds a bit like Vegas), was worth stopping to see. Unfortunately, hiking to the old section from the dock area was going to be too much after the day, so we opted to see the Mark Twain memorial (he had stayed there at one time and extolled the area) and then have a drink at a lovely place along the shore before cruising back to Lucerne.