Friday, September 16, 2011

Mom's Birthday on Mount Rigi

It was recently Mom's Birthday, and Dad bought her a Happy Birthday Ticket, which gives you unlimited access to the whole Swiss public transportation network for an entire day. For our destination, Dad recommended Mount Rigi, the quintessential Swiss mountain. He helped us figure out a route involving two big trains, one boat, two cogwheel trains, one more regular train, and finally our little train, the Flippie, to get back home.

An added benefit of the Happy Birthday Ticket is that the conductors wish you a Happy Birthday in the language of the region, so sometimes the conductors spoke French, sometimes Swiss German, sometimes Italian, and also English. Mom got the gist every time. The only national language Mom did not hear was Romansh.

After we rode the cogwheel train from Vitznau all the way up the mountain, we spent a full hour and a half just sitting and looking at the view. We watched a woman take off on her first parachute ride. Lots of people talked to me, both in Swiss German and in English.

It was foggy to the southwest, so we couldn’t see Lake Lucerne, but we had a perfect view of the craggy Alps poking through the sheet of clouds. We could see the top of Pilatus, too, which was neat because lots of tourists were wearing Pilatus baseball caps. We learned that Mark Twain visited Rigi and James Fenimore Cooper, too, which really excited Mom because she loves the Natty Bumpo tales.

A man was playing an alpenhorn, which we’d never heard before. The sound seemingly echoes off the wind, and I took time for reflection while listening to the music of Swiss mountain people.

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