Picture yourself waking on a cold morning to a hot cup of delicious cafe au lait, strong coffee with rich cream and sometimes a touch of chocolate. The fresh hard bread, butter and jams served with the coffee provided something you would want to write home to Mom about.
Then a morning stroll through the beautiful city with shops to please the most discriminating shopper and smiling sales staff who often speak as many as four languages. I remember visiting a tobacco shop and being greeted in English by a beautiful young sales clerk who also greeted others in their native tongue, be it German, French or Italian. How did she know what their nationality was? I mean they might have some small give-aways by dress or style, but generally it was hard to see it clearly enough to start the conversation without being sure.
After a hearty lunch starting with soup and then faire that was close to German in taste, it was off to beautiful Mount Rigi. A travel bus took us to the foot of the mountain where we boarded a special train for the ride to the top. On the way up we passed beautiful Swiss farms, colorful with farmers waving at the train as they smoked a traditional Swiss pipe that resembled a small saxophone. The train made several stops, picking up young people carrying their skis. The ski slopes started at various levels and the young skiers, ruddy complected and smiling clonked up the aisle in their skis and when the train stopped, the skiers just hopped out the door and disappeared. Looking behind them it seemed like about a seventy degree angle downhill but I'm sure it couldn't have been that steep. But some of the skiers looked like they couldn't be older than seven and they flew down the slope with reckless abandon, fearless and as good on their skis as one is likely to see. I'm sure some grew into future Olympians.
After five intermediate stops of short duration, we reached the top of the line. From there, it was a walk uphill about two hundred fifty yards to the cafe at the top. We learned quickly to walk in the edge of the snow not on the clear macadam walkway, for the black ice was quite heavily present and one slip and you would find yourself not stopping until you reached the small train station where you recently disembarked. The slow walk up was worth it, however, for it was there that the almost surrounding picture windows and the outdoor raised patio offered some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever witnessed. The picture including herewith, while a good one, just can't give justice to the real McCoy. And then there was the native drink, called gluhwein, a fruity, sweet wine concoction that was served piping hot. It hit the spot after coming in from the cold.
In the evening, dinner with wonderful spatzele and schnitzel or other native faire was served with salad and a rich broth. It's no wonder that Swiss chocolate is so creamy, for that broth was loaded with rich cream and was delicious. But the piece de resistance was the chocolate delicacy served after the main meal. It was kind of like a tiramisu, but with a rich chocolate base and a topping of a rich and sweet cream with chocolate and crushed nut topping that was to die for. And then the music started and a band dressed in traditional Tyrolean attire played lively music with nearly everyone in the room dancing or singing or both as the spirits were flowing free.
That was just an example of one day and we were there for three, but don't take my word for it. If you get the chance, visit it in winter or summer and you won't be sorry. Heck, you could even ask for it from Santa and set it up to go whenever you want. And I'll close with another beautiful picture of the area, this one in warmer weather. Pretty, isn't it? You betcha'.
Boat ride, anyone?