Planes, Trains, and Aerial Automobiles

We decided to take a weekend trip to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary. Luckily this coincided with Adam’s parents traveling in Amsterdam and they were willing to spend a few nights alone with the kiddo so that we could have some baby-free time. After looking through several potential destinations, our only limitations being they had to be direct, relatively short flights, we settled on Lucerne Switzerland. Neither of us had traveled to Switzerland before and we were excited to visit a new country together. We also were enticed by the pictures and recommendations our friends had given about Hotel Pilatus-Kulm. It is a hotel at the top of Mt. Pilatus, only accessible by funicular or cable car. Declaring our continued love for each other after ten years of marriage on top of a mountain? Done.

Really trying to make the most of our baby-free weekend we book the very first flight out of Amsterdam – while it required us to wake up before the sun we were excited to just be on our way. We make it to the airport without a hitch and luckily had already checked in online as the security lines were wrapping around the entire check-in area. I’ve written before about my perception of how country’s handle lines differently. From the micro-efficiency of Munich, the free-for-all in Rome, the we line up everywhere in London. I’m still a bit confused about the Dutch…while the line was clearly delineated, there seemed to be an unspoken rule that you gather in groups and just acknowledge who was in front of you and then sort it out once you reach a bottle neck. We had one old woman who used Adam as her personal leaning post, would casually walk ahead of ten people, just to wait until her spot in the line caught up to her again. It was a strange sort of chaos that had equal parts of ‘who cares’ and ‘don’t worry I know you are ahead of me’. My American was definitely showing as I would fiercely guard “my” spot by making sure I took up as much space as possible. Deep breathing was my friend.

We made it through security having shown no form of ID and only scanning our boarding passes at automated gates. We make it to our gate right in time for boarding and voila! One hour later and we’re landing in Switzerland with no one knowing if we were actually Adam and Mandy! I brought my passport for nothing!

Train travel is something I look forward to, it’s not very common for me in the States and I visualize it as being a less stressful form of travel than air. The bigger trains in Europe tend to be nice, spacious and have wi-fi; a necessity when you don’t have unlimited data overseas. Switzerland, on this particular day, did not provide for a stress free experience. The automated ticketing system is easy, finding the train timetables a cinch, but for the love of pete when you force people to disembark a train and rush them onto the next one, assuring us it is correct, at least scan our tickets. This way when you – the conductor – realizes we are heading to Lucerne, not Bern, you could have easily directed us to the next platform when our first train – you know, the direct one, – decides it’s had enough and needs a break.

Ah well. We didn’t realize this until we arrived in Bern – it was a crazy packed train and we made some nice conversation with our neighbors. We were slightly curious when we kept getting further from the mountains. We got a little worried when we realized we could see the words “Luzern” in approximately zero of the destination names. We decided to get off the train at Bern when we put two and two together and realized we had just ridden over an hour in the wrong direction.

(Forgive the general shittiness of the above picture, it accurately reflects my mood at the time)

As we are walking to the next platform to await our real train – which didn’t depart for a half hour – we are heartily cussing out the conductor, kicking ourselves for not insisting that we check the train destination before boarding, and feeling generally foolish. As we get onto the next train Adam points out that hey! We got to see Bern at least!

Bern can go F itself.

Thank goodness for good weather and beautiful scenery because the balm my salty heart needed was provided once we disembarked in Lucerne. The crystal clear water, soaring snow covered mountains, and quaint tiled roofs. We had the most delicious lunch on an old steamboat The Wilhelm Tell and a breathtaking ride up two gondolas and massive cable car to reach our final destination: Mt. Pilatus.

Being from Denver I had expected to be excited about the idea of being on top of a mountain but I truly underestimated just how beautiful I would find it. Something about the ridiculous lushness of the valleys below, a glistening blue lake in the distance, surrounded by the jagged swiss alps was simply breathtaking. A perfect place indeed to celebrate a decade of marriage.

Mountains have become the norm for me, and here I am discovering them all over again. The cure for the salty heart, indeed.

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