Lucerne & Mount Rigi

We were told that it has only rained around Lucerne on one weekend this Summer.  As it turned out, these were the four days we picked to visit!  This turned our mountain retreat into a slightly wetter experience than we were hoping for.

We had arranged to meet two other families for a short break in a remote part of the Swiss Alps.  The aim was to spend a bit of quality time together, away from the usual hustle and bustle of London.  Our group was made up of seven adults and seven children.

Our journey to the Airbnb involved a plane, a train, a ferry, and a cogwheel railway, via an extortionate lunch in Lucerne, and a bank breaking grocery shop in Vitznau (elevation 435m), at the base of Mount Rigi.  The accommodation itself was a property comprised of three separate houses in Mittlerschwanden, with a small outdoor pool and an outdoor wood fired whirlpool.  With time on our side that night, we took the opportunity to cook, eat, drink and plan our activities for the next couple of days.

Tip: The Swiss Railway (SBB CFF FFS)  have a useful smart phone app that can potentially make journey planning a lot easier.

Then the rain started!

With little other choice, we made the decision to not be defeated by the weather.  The group split up, with most of the women and children taking the cog railway up to Rigi Kaltbad (1433m).  I opted to attempt the hike, with my three year old, but she fell asleep along the way, and so after about two hours of trekking, I got on the cogwheel train at Freibergen.  We all reunited for an unexpectedly fair priced lunch at Rigi Kaltbad Swiss Quality Hotel,  and the children were happy to be allowed to spend some time in the playroom.  I would have loved to have used this time to visit the spa there, but instead, I completed the hike up to the summit at Rigi Klum (1748m), while my husband stayed back to watch the children.  This final climb to the summit took us about an hour, along a paved path.  On a clear day, you can enjoy a view of 13 lakes and numerous mountain peaks, but… nevertheless, the walk itself was rewarding and blissful.

By the third day, we had fully accepted that it was going to rain.  With the children happily playing together indoors, we fired up the hot tub, instead of dragging them out.  That turned out to be a good move.  The guys had fun burning the wood, the children enjoyed the warm bubbles below and the cool drizzle above, and as the fog started clearing, we all appreciated the beautiful setting.  After lunch, we were determined to explore a bit more, so this time, all 14 of us took a short hike up the mountain again to Höhle Gruebisbalm, a natural 100,000 year old cave behind a waterfall.  To be honest, at this stage of the trip, we weren’t expecting much, but, the rain stopped for just long enough to gift us some pretty stunning views of Lake Lucerne.  The kids actually relished the outdoors, and the recent precipitation meant the force of the cascade was palpable.  We came home rejuvenated, and treated ourselves to one final evening in the whirpool.

Our flight home was scheduled for 21:15hrs on Sunday, and thankfully, the skies remained dry.  This gave us roughly five hours to look around Lucerne.  We deposited our luggage in the lockers at the railway station, where we also grabbed a quick lunch, and then set out on foot.  Having already spent a small fortune on basically just transport and food,  we felt that the best use of our limited time, would be to visit free attractions only.  We walked in a circular loop, taking in the Löwendenkmal, (Lion Monument) together with it’s space age public toilet, then up the panoramic elevator in the Lucerne Löwencenter to Fluhmattstrasse.  From there, we went onto the towers of Museggmauer, the medieval city wall, before crossing over the wooden Spreuerbrücke (The Spreuer Bridge), and past  Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge),  back to the station.

In the end the rain may have restricted our views, but it didn’t stop us from benefitting from the peace, tranquility, and natural splendour of the Swiss mountains.