In continuation from the previous post – Basel.
So after spending the night in Basel peacefully, we woke up early morning and got ready in time to get ourselves some breakfast which was quite elaborate. Then after settling the bill, we moved towards our next destination, only to realize that we hadn’t checked the tram connections the previous evening. So we missed the train the we originally planned to board. Fortunately, I had looked up on the internet, long before our journey, about other connections and noted them down (one of those times when you are thankful for smartphones!). So after some running around in circles, we managed to get the next train to Lucerne. Now the route was really not as great as shown in the Bollywood movies (which are probably the main reason why Switzerland sees so many tourists from India). So my travel companion R was getting a little bit disillusioned. Also, the weather did kind of look depressing, which added to our disappointment.
And then there were some problems on the tracks which delayed the train. With all these omens, I was not hoping for a lot. Then we reached Lucerne. The connecting train to Engelberg, was in about half an hour. So we just looked out of the station where some fair was set up. Didn’t find anything interesting so we moved back inside the station. Now I had been wanting to get inside the Swiss supermarket Coop (read Co-op as in short form of Co-operative). There was one store at the station so we went in. I found that they had a good collection of salads which you could mix and match and pay by weight. So I filled up a box for myself as I was beginning to feel a bit hungry.
Then we rushed out in order not to miss the next train (good thing at the supermarket was the presence of self- check-out counters which made things faster once you understand the mechanism).
Now we got to the second leg of our journey and suddenly like magic, the landscape changed and we started to see the beautiful hillsides which have fueled the fantasies of so many Bollywood lovers. It was absolutely fantastic and several cameras started clicking, a normal action, considering that train had a lot of tourists from Asia :). Yours truly, of course, was one of those clicking away.
It was like a desperate attempt to capture the flying moments (alright, the passing scenery)!
Then after about an hour of going through the scenic route, we reached Engelberg.
We got down and saw the beckoning mountains. We had to exchange our Sbb ticket with the pass for the cable cars at the station.
Then we boarded the bus standing outside which took us to the base of the mountain called the Trubsee. And then the vista before us was just breathtaking and I understood in an instant why it has been so popular with Indian filmmakers…you see Bollywood essentially produces three kinds of movies – realistic movies, art movies and then the whole over the top romantic movies with rich people who don’t have to worry about rising prices, paying rents and bills and other things that occupy the waking hours of middle class people. Now except for the art movies (I personally don’t understand them), all movies have music and dance sequences in them. If it’s a realistic one then foreign locales are part of a dream sequence and if it’s the other kind I explained, then foreign locale is part of the story line – not of a dream.
If you wish to, then you can look at one of the songs from an iconic movie (third variety) from the 90’s which was shot in probably Jungfrau/Bern. But there is another scene in that movie, which I read was shot at The Little White Chapel somewhere around Titlis!
Now when I had told my mom about the trip two days back, she was quite happy that I was going there. Why? Because she and my dad were on a Europe trip with their friends two years back and the trip included Jungfrau and Titlis. So it was a place about which she could tell me from her visit. You see the trip was organized by a tour company and therefore, the tour covered all the popular places. I guess she never really understood why in my so many trips to Europe did I not go the places which the majority of people in India know of. My preferences usually have been to go to some picturesque small village here or some historical city there, instead of places which are flooded with tourists from all around the world. No, it’s not that I dislike those places – they have lovely sights, that’s why they are so famous. It’s just a bit overwhelming for me to to run from one attraction to another in such places without really enjoying anything in the limited time that I get to travel.
Anyway, back to my story.So we started from the base in a cable car which we shared with another couple. We got talking and I asked where had they come from to visit. And to my surprise, they told me that they lived there in a house where the cable car had the first stopover! So the cable car was their regular mode of transport and not a touristy thing. That must be cool – isn’t it!
So we also got down at the first stopover to look around and found that there were hiking trails from there. We saw many people equipped with the hiking gear ready to explore the mountains. We didn’t have the time or the luxury of doing that. So after capturing a few pictures, we went to the top using the next cable car called the Titlis Rotair – which was a cable car with a rotating platform, to give the visitors a 360 degree panoramic view of the valley and the snow covered peaks.
And now a vista of snow at the Glacier Park welcomed us. It had rained earlier but when we reached, it was all sunny and beautiful. We thanked the heavens for that as we were dreading the whole time that it would rain and we won’t be able to see anything.
We went towards the ski lifts (this place is a popular skiing place in winters) and they had big chair lifts which are called Ice-Flyers. 5 people could sit in one chair. Our company was made annoying/funny (however you want to take it) by one couple where the husband was hen-pecked by his wife. You know the kind – “yes dear, no dear”, while the wife is shouting away “you idiot, you don’t understand anything”. So you are moving in the air looking at the panorama and a bit scared too as the chair is a chair with nothing on the sides, and you jammed by the handle in the front. And the whole time listening to the jibber-jabber of that wife. The experience seemed to get over as soon as it started. There were long queues for that else we might have taken another go at it. Then we saw some people also sliding down the slopes in sleighs. Didn’t feel warmed up to the idea (literally and figuratively). Also saw a suspension bridge called the cliff walk. But now I don’t remember why we didn’t go there – may be just worried about the time!
So we went to the ice-cave which had beautiful ice-sculptures in it. The floor was quite slippery though, and suddenly as in an animation film, there R was – splayed flat on her back! The scene was quite funny and I would have clicked a pic if I wasn’t worried that she might have hurt her back badly. But the layers of clothes that she had (for getting cozy in the cold) protected her back! The cave had a blue glow which, I read later, was the effect of refraction.
After coming out from there, on my behest, we went to get ourselves some ice-cream at the Move n Pick counter. The server was a charmer – he greeted us with a “Namaste” and some other Indian greeting. In so many years of seeing Indian tourists, he must have picked up some words! After taking some more pics around there, we then decided to get down for we were also afraid of missing the train back from there. In retrospect, we needn’t have worried but then it’s like a “better safe than sorry” situation when you are in a foreign place with not a lot of money with you!
After coming down, we had time to look at the souvenir shops, walk back to the train station (bus wasn’t needed), sit at the benches outside and have some thing to eat and yes, buy some chocolates – albeit at a supermarket, and then getting lost on our way back from the supermarket to the train station (I have that tendency to get lost – you would know by now if you’ve been reading my previous posts) and then making a run for the train!
We went back the same scenic route, and even saw a para-glider this time on the way!
Reached Lucerne, had some time to kill before the next train so went out to grab some coffee – a Starbucks was visible close by. Then took the train back to Basel, where we had some time to again stroll the streets of the city – this time with some rain to accompany us. Took in in the last sights and sounds of the beautiful city.
Back at the station, we got a bit confused about the train but finally managed to get into the right one, slept intermittently on the way back. Reached our hotel in the wee hours of the morning, tried to catch a wink and before we knew, it was time to get up and get ready for office!
And now all this feels like I was telling you about a dream – isn’t it?
P.S. I must tell you this – I drafted this post and then somehow auto-save didn’t work and I lost all the work when I accidentally closed the browser. You can imagine the frustration. I hope I did justice to the post even though I had to rewrite a lot of it…