Monday, 10 July 2017

Dragon Mountain

Another day we got the train to Lucerne and then, on another railway, up the side of a mountain. So we could walk around in the clouds in a place called Pilatus. 

Apparently the Pilatus Railway is the world's steepest cogwheel railway. I'm not that big on engineering stuff, I was just hoping whoever built the thing knew his stuff.

There wasn't a lot to do up there other than find a seat and have our (packed) lunch. I heard an older American man complaining to his younger Asian wife, "They want 10 bucks for a sandwich up here? I can get a perfectly good sandwich at home for $3". I think "home" was somewhere in the mid-west and I dearly wished he'd stayed there. 

His wife attempted to explain that he was looking at the majesty of the world-famous Alps, but I don't think he got the message. 

I was thinking of the stereotypical idea of age and money vs youth and sex; I suspect neither thought they got a great bargain. I hope I'm wrong.

Jane and I were taken with the black birds zooming around. One young Asian woman was wearing a white veil, I guess to signify she was on her honeymoon (and why exactly one would wish to do this is beyond me). 

Her new (young, Asian) husband took photos of her with this black birds perched on her shoulder and arms, feeding from her hands. I don't think I like any wild birds well enough to do this sort of thing, but obviously she did. 

Bill was able to tell us these birds were choughs, related to other black birds, ie crows, ravens, jackdaws, etc. Their red beaks were distinctive, but I mainly liked how they sailed through the clouds.

I thought at first that the tiled outline (and the stuffed animals in the shop) were more basilisks, but then I read that we were visiting the Dragon Mountain, so these were definitely dragons, not basilisks.

After we had climbed to the highest point to look down at clouds, walked through a cliff-edge tunnel to look at clouds, taken our photos next to the snow and eaten our lunch, we queued to get on the railway car back down. 

It turns out our tickets were actually to get a cable car down the other side, but Jane didn't figure she could cope with that so we settled for the front railway car instead. 

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I was happy with that decision (but just imagine the photos I might have taken!)

Obsessed with dragons.

At one point the driver (far too young for this job, I felt!) spoke to me in German. When I looked blank he asked if I spoke German and I said no. 

He apologised, saying he thought I did. I took this as a complement for some reason. I never did know what he was saying, as he then addressed his comments to the woman sitting next to me, who did speak a German.

I got a crick in my neck trying to look over my shoulder at the front window of the car. 

I sat with my back to it, thinking if I sat on the other side I would have photos full of people instead of scenery. 

I worked out that actually, the only ideal place to sit in the front rail car is the driver's seat.

Having survived the journey up and down Dragon Mountain, we had a coffee and some apple torte. It wasn't particularly nice I'm sad to say, but the coffee was excellent and it's hard to mess up ice cream.

After that treat we headed off for our next adventure (hint: water).

"Edward Locher (1840-1910) created a special cograil system for the 48% gradient of the steepest cog wheel railway in the world, the Pilatus Railway, opened in 1889. His system was based on a horizontal grip: the so called 'herring bone' cograil, gripped on both sides by two horizontal cogwheels. Guideplates mounted below the cogwheels prevent dislodgement and at the same time regulate the movement of the vehicle on the track."

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