Bannalp – An Insider’s Tip Near Lucerne + Alphorn
When thinking about Switzerland, the images which usually come to mind are the romantic scenes country life, beautiful old architecture, cheese and chocolate every where. But for me, the most exciting thing about the country is the sheer numbers of gondolas, funiculars, unique trains and cog railways. We love these unique forms of transportation, and always make sure to visit as many as we can.
I’m being serious! Here are just some of the crazy transportation methods we’ve employed on our past travels:
So during our visit to Lucerne, we had to go at least on a Gondola ride. Our friends suggested the one at Bannalp Lake, where the ride takes place in a smaller, vintage gondola and is reasonably priced compared to others nearby. It was a great suggestion! The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, although the crowds were significant, on this last Sunday before the start of school. We almost turned around when we saw how packed the parking lot was, but stuck it out. In the end, the crowd was dispersed pretty evenly around the lake, taking advantage of the many hiking opportunities in the area.
We embarked on the gondola leaving the valley station, and it was a swift, beautiful ride, which dropped us off 1600 meters above sea level. The summit is at 2800 meters, so we were just over halfway up the mountain! Once you disembark the gondola, you can walk up a tiny slope alongside a dam, to be greeted with a picture-perfect alpine lake.
For this excursion we hadn’t planned any big hike because we had a dog in our party. So our goal was to take a leisurely walk around the lake, with frequent stops to take in the scenery, and to let the dog swim and run around. And this was exactly what we did. It was just what we needed to take our minds off things from the last couple of months of constant work. If we return, we’d love to stay over-night in one of the huts, and complete a longer hike.
While we were on our last break, sitting on a bench facing the summit, the most Swiss thing imaginable happened. This guy shows up with an Alpine horn! The first thing which went through my head was, how did he get that thing up the mountain? It wouldn’t fit in the gondola! (Later, I learned the answer: the Alpine horn is detachable.) My other instant thought was a fervent wish that he stop right in front of us, and start playing. And believe it or not, that’s what he did! So we got a free Alpine horn concert while overlooking a lake and a beautiful summit.
We were in Swiss Heaven; I’m not sure that it’s too audible in the video, but the horn player left little breaks so we could hear the echo of the music bouncing off the mountain. Beautiful! We saw him throughout the rest of the afternoon setting up his horn and playing a couple of tunes for other lucky, surprised audiences. It was the perfect background music for our last stop. An alpine hut where we drank beer, talked, listened to the music, and looked out over the sparkling Bannalp Lake.
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