We thought the rail trip to Lugano was very pretty, but it was nothing when compared with that to Lucerne. It was not a very long train and yet it required three engines to pull us up the mountains. There were interesting spots every minute. I used to think the spiral on the way to Auckland was wonderful, but that is entirely eclipsed by the marvellous engineering over the Swiss mountains. Four times within a few miles we were able to look out and see the line below us. We had looped our own track in the same kind of spiral. In one other place we did a double spiral as we could see the railway twice below us.
We passed scores of waterfalls and we went through many tunnels. When we emerged from a tunnel there was a rush from one side of the train to the other to see the scenery, for there was always something good. We felt the temperature getting lower as we went higher. Then we came to the snow.
We did not know the names of the many white peaks, but they were all beautiful. We saw glaciers and we heard the crash of avalanches. It was undoubtedly the most beautiful train journey I had ever made.
At one station I saw a dog harnessed to a cart and was able to get a snap from the window of the train.
There were other interesting little spots which I took in the same way, but it was impossible to get good photos. when the train was travelling so quickly. The trip only took four hours, but it was brimful with interest.
Lucerne was found to be very prettily situated on the shores of the lake. It is much larger than Lugano, but otherwise they are very much alike.
The next morning we were up bright and early to get ready for the special day. This was to be a trip to the world famous “Pilatus”.
We went by boat to the village of Pilatus and it was very beautiful with the reflections of the pale green foliage of the spring season. The day was very bright and warm. Because we were going to a high mountain several of the group took fur coats, but they were sorry before we went very far.
After leaving the boat we got on board the Funiculare railway. Then the thrill commenced.
The mountain is only 7,000 feet high, but some of the grades were 47o from the horizontal and the whole distance was less than two miles. We had a steady climb at the beginning, but it did not last long and in a couple of minutes we were sufficiently high to look down on all the surrounding country.
We had to pass through several short tunnels and over a number of bridges. The engineers who built the railway deserve great credit for it is certainly a great piece of work.
We were only on the railway for a little over half an hour, but it seemed very much longer.
It was one of the beauties and wonders of the trip to sit in comfort in a train and go right to the top of a mountain.
This is the summertime, but there is still plenty of snow at the top.
As soon as we arrived lunch was served in the hotel and it was a first class 4-course dinner.
Then we walked around the pinnacle.
Even here the comfort of the public is considered, for the walking was quite easy and where a climb was necessary a tunnel was made.
I went round a further pathway where there had been an avalanche which had blocked the path. I found two men working with snow shovels clearing away the snow.
Here was a good chance for some exercise. Much to the amusement of these men, who could not speak a word of English, I took off my coat and took one of the shovels from them. I found I was not in good form, for after about 20 minutes I wanted a spell.
The return ride on the railway was just as thrilling as the journey up. When we reached Lucerne we were tired and sunburnt, but we all felt that we had thoroughly enjoyed the unique outing.
[to be continued]