This morning another bright and early start awaits us for this second last portion of the Busabout Hop On Hop Off trip around Europe as we get closer to the world famous beer festival, Oktoberfest. Today the journey continues from Lauterbrunnen where we have just spent four nights in one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Today’s trip is really short, only taking us around two hours to get to Lucerne.
If you’re visiting this site for the first time our Busabout journey began a couple of weeks ago in Spain in the Catalonian city of Barcelona. The great thing about the Busabout coach network is that it is completely flexible and you can start your journey from any one of their stops.
Although Busabout are best known for their flexible range of trips they also offer some impressive small trips and festival tours that are not to be missed. Along the way I have been fortunate enough to travel on the Busabout Iberian Adventure Tour of Spain and Portugal and also got to experience the craziness that is the La Tomatina Festival, also with Busabout.
Lauterbrunnen to Lucerne – 18 September, 2015
This morning we leave the impressive Camping Jungfrau and the Lauterbrunnen region that we have called home for the past five days. We’re not going too far today with our journey only taking about two hours to complete. On departure there were three Busabout coaches and a few Contiki coaches so it was a big departure day. Two of the Busabout coaches were off to Munich the next major stop on our journey, while the other coach was heading Nice via Milan. Lauterbrunnen is basically the central point of the network where the south and west loops meet.
With Busabout being popular at the moment as Oktoberfest is in full swing, two coaches were put on to deal with demand which was also the case when we traveled to Valencia for La Tomatina. One coach was going ‘express’ to Munich whilst the other would stop off at the optional stop of Lucerne.
Our journey to Lucerne is very scenic going around the sharp roads through the Alps and the various tunnels the Swiss are known best for. We even passed what looked like a Swiss Air Force base where two fighter jets took off just as we were passing by which was a cool sight to witness.
On arrival into Lucerne we are dropped off in a coach car parking area as the hostel drop off point is located down a dead end road so the coach would have had difficulty turning around. As we weren’t staying at the recommended hostel Backpackers Lucerne and it was only 10:00am which is too early to check into our hotel, we went our own way and headed for our hotel to drop off our bags so we could then go and explore some of Lucerne.
From Backpackers Lucerne it was a good 20 minute walk into the centre of Lucerne where our hotel was located. For our two night stay in Lucerne we are staying at the Ameron Hotel Flora which is conveniently located only a few metres from the main attraction in the centre of Lucerne, the Chapel Bridge.
Free of our luggage the first place we headed straight for was naturally… McDonalds for an early lunch but after that we went and checked out the Chapel Bridge which is the real attraction of Lucerne. The bridge was built in 1333 and what makes it unique is that the interior of the bridge is lined with paintings from the 17th century. Unfortunately in 1993 the bridge was caught a light and most of the bridge and those historic paintings were destroyed. The bridge was later re-built and the paintings that survived were restored. On this visit the bridge was undergoing maintenance works so the paintings were gone which was a bit disappointing.
Still feeling a bit under the weather we continued on towards the old city walls of Lucerne to gain some nice views of the area. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the entrance to the towers so we ended up walking up the hill adjacent to the walls and back down through the town. This really took it out of me and at this point even though it still wasn’t time we headed back to our hotel to wait until we could check in.
For the rest of the afternoon we relaxed in our hotel room which was located on the top floor of the hotel and was quite spacious. Our view from the balcony wasn’t anything special looking out to a central courtyard car park area which looked to be shared by all the buildings on the surrounding block.
Tomorrow we will head out of Lucerne for a day trip up to Mount Titlis where the main attraction is the cable car to the summit that rotates 360 degrees.
Lucerne & Mount Titlis – 19 September, 2015
Today is our final day in Switzerland on this European journey and today we will spend the day travelling from Lucerne to Mount Titlis, one of Switzerland’s high peaks. Before heading off this morning we will go and check out one of Lucern’s famous monuments simply called the Lion Monument.
The impressive Lion Monument was carved into this cliff face as a memorial to the Swiss Guards killed during the 1792 French Revolution that were in the French capital guarding the royal family at the Tuileries Palace that once stood in front of the Louvre. These days you would know the Swiss Guard as the people who protect Vatican City and the Pope. Measuring ten metres long and six metres high it is now one of the major tourist draw cards to Lucerne along with the Chapel Bridge.
Getting to the summit of Mount Titlis from Lucerne is quite simple by catching a train and a series of cable cars and gondolas. Catch the train from the main train station in Lucerne called Bahnhof Luzern and take the train on platform 13 to Engelberg which is the end of that line. The train will stop at six stations along the way and the route is quite scenic so the 40 minute travel time isn’t exhausting at all.
On arrival at Engelberg a free shuttle bus awaits to take tourists to the cable car station. Jump straight onto the bus and head here, you will have time to explore the small village on your return trip as you will most likely have to wait for the train anyway. Here you will pay your entry fee and make sure you have your Swiss Travel Pass with you to get a discounted rate, although you should have it with you anyway to travel on the train and yes Swiss trains have conductors to check your pass. The return price to the Mount Titlis summit is CHF89.00 but with your Swiss Travel Pass you get a 50% reduction making it CHF44.50 return. You can check out the current pricing structure here on the official website.
From here you catch a series of cable cars and gondolas to the summit. The first potion of the trip was on board a gondola which is good in that you don’t have to share with other people. You will arrive at a station called Gerschnialp where you board the first of three cable cars, however at the time of visiting a new gondola was being constructed from Engelberg to Trübsee and then to Stand eliminating the need to stop at Gerschnialp. This will no doubt take pressure off the cable car which is a lot slower than the constant cars available using a gondola and will mean only travelling on one cable car.
From Gerschnialp our cable car takes us to Trübsee where we board another cable car taking us to Stand. From Stand we take our final cable car, however this cable car is unique in that not only does it take you from point A to point B, it also rotates 360 degrees giving everyone in the cable car cabin equal time to view the surrounding landscape. If only it wasn’t a completely foggy and snowy day then we might have seen something. Even though there was nothing to see today the ride was still fun in that all of a sudden out of the fog comes the other cable car and then as you approach the summit a huge rock face appears as if you are about to crash into it.
Once you arrive at the summit there is plenty to see and do, you can explore the labyrinth of tunnels that run under the mountain by checking out the glacier cave, which has also been tunneled into the glacier allowing you to walk inside and see the amazing ice sculptures. The temperature inside always remains a constant -1.5 degrees and is a great way to get up and close to some ice even if the weather outside isn’t the greatest.
Mount Titlis is also home to the highest suspension bridge in Europe. You can walk across it to the other side of the ridge where you can participate in some snow sports down the slopes and catch the Ice Flyer chair lift to the bottom of the hill, or use it to get back up the top. Along the suspension bridge there is also a button you can push and camera in a box will take your photo to purchase, but surely in this day and age of everyone having a camera it’s an expense you can do without, but it’s still free to play around with.
Once we were done looking around it was time to make the journey back to Lucerne. When arriving back at Engelberg we walked the short distance from the cable car station into town for a quick look around as we had time until the train arrived for the return journey. There isn’t much to see but it’s worth checking it out even just to grab something to eat if you haven’t done so already.
Back in Lucerne it was a good opportunity to take another look around the Chapel bridge area of town. The weather was a lot better than it was yesterday. Along the waterfront police were fishing out bikes someone had thrown into the water which was drawing a large crowd of on lookers that found the situation quite amusing. The evening for us was relatively quiet finding something for dinner and chilling out at the hotel. The travel to Mount Titlis can be quite exhausting.
Tomorrow morning we jump back on the Busabout coach for the last time as we make our way to Munich for four nights, with the first night we will stay in a hotel and then for the next three nights we move to the Wombats City Hostel for our Busabout Oktoberfest adventure. I’m really looking forward to my stay in Munich for the world’s biggest beer festival as well as shopping for that perfect outfit.
PICK UP/DROP OFF POINT
Alpenquai 42, 6005 Lucerne, Switzerland
+41 41 360 0420
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