Europa IV, Vitznau MMXX

After a great experience in the Austrian Alps, it was time to head to Switzerland and enjoy their mountainside.

This is the fifth in a long series I shared throughout January. When you’re done here, make sure to also check out parts zero, one, two, three, and five.

And so, we embarked on the most ridiculous travel day we’d had since our transatlantic flight. We drove from Bad Aussee to Salzburg to take a train to Zürich. Our train went across Germany and Liechtenstein, and upon arrival we had to switch to a second train to Lucerne, where we’d take a ferry to Vitznau, and a third train up to our Airbnb, which was otherwise unreachable. Needless to say, it was an adventure.

I had been to Lucerne once before, as part of a trip with my friends Debbie and Fla almost ten (ten!) years ago. Honestly, I don’t remember how spent our time there other than going to a chocolate store or two. Either way, I thought of them.

Waiting for the ferry, we had some time to kill, and I went to take photos in the few blocks around the station.

I remember walking these bridges last time I was there.

Not all swans are graceful.

The ferry gave us some pretty insane views. I couldn’t stop taking photos. The fact that we were sailing right as the sun was setting definitely helped.

Ben, looking round.

Probably my favorite shot of the day.


And night.

Our first ride on the infamous Rigibahn.

The view from our place was pretty unbelievable.

The baths at Rigi Kaltbad were awesome. The naked sauna experience was odd, and we ended up taking turns so that everyone could be there comfortably. It was funny to think of the equivalent experience from the other perspective - a group of Europeans being super weirded out by the shy clothed crowd at a sauna in the US.

Zachary Redmond Hyman, hot tub technician.

There were no roads to get to where we were staying, so to get in and out we had to take the Rigibahn, which is the oldest cogwheel train system in the world. This was our stop. By the time we left Vitznau, the conductors recognized us as the “Mittlerschwanden people,” since the town is tiny and not so many people get on and off at the little stops.

We took the train up to Rigi Kulm, the top of the mountain. It was beautiful.


The ground was quite icy.

Zach, Hannah, Zach.

This is the one where I’m getting yelled at for asking people to pose for a photo while they are afraid of death. This is the new normal experience I have when we do hikes I guess.

After seeing these two little girls sliding down the icy mountainside, Ben had to go for it, too.

We wanted to hike all the way down, but unfortunately it had snowed too much and the trails were too icy. We thought of playing dumb, and made it this far. It seemed like going around this sign would be way too obvious, so we turned around and went on a less exciting trail.

At least we ran into cool kids on this other trail.

We had just been there!

The group took a deep breath once there was no more ice on the ground.

Always go to the restaurant with a view, right?

After lunch, the group split in half. Most people went back home on the train, the boring route, while Ben, Maizie, and I hiked the rest of the way.

The good thing about third wheeling your friends is that they end up with cool photos.

We walked past a bunch of farms, which made the feeling of being in rural Switzerland very real.

Of course, they had to pet the stray animals.

We were going to the right.

We got back home to a cold tub. The fact that it was fire-powered meant we had trouble with temperature control every time we wanted to use it.

Ben sent us on another public transit adventure to avoid getting dinner at the local hotel. The food was awesome, so probably worth it, but it was also at a different hotel, so…

Hannah’s friend and coworker Abby joined us in Vitznau for a night and came with us to Zürich after.

Our second ferry ride was also really cool.

Back in Lucerne, I took some more photos around the train station.

And then it was time for our last train ride of the trip.

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