Completing the Golden Circle
near Lucerne, Switzerland  (May, 2004)
My best old Army pal, Zach, and his lovely wife, Cathy, arrived in Thalwil for five days, and the four of us spent most
of our time together on the road, visiting local landmarks.  On one of those days, we traveled to the Lucerne area for
an attempt at the fabled "Golden Circle" available to tourists of the adventurous sort.  The trek involved riding what is
reputed to be the "world's steepest cog-wheel train."  We began the trip by driving Zach's rental car from Thalwil to a
start point near the village of Alpnach, nestled on a finger of Lake Lucerne.  Tickets in hand, we boarded a specially
constructed passenger car equipped with sharply angled seating (to keep one sitting level) for a one half-hour ride to
the top of Mount Pilatus ( where spectacular panoramic views stretched to all points of the compass.
After photographing scenic vistas from every conceivable vantage point, we joined about forty other people on a large
gondola that transported us down the back side of the mountain to a middle station where we exited and transferred
to four-person cable cars for the remainder of the ride to the bottom.  Once on flat land again, we strolled for fifteen
easy minutes down an asphalt path to a municipal bus stop and caught a short ride to the Lucerne main train station.
Opposite the train station are the passenger ferry docks where we purchased tickets for a one-hour-and-thirty minute
boat ride across Lake Lucerne back to the start point where we had left the car.  The entire Golden Circle took us
less than three hours, providing a perfect combination of exercise, fresh air, and exciting new shared experiences.
Start point of the cog-wheel train ride.  See the sharply angled red passenger car?
Exhibit showing flat "cog" wheels that turn on a middle train track.
The train began service in 1889 with steam power, which required
a stop halfway up the mountain to take on water.  Later, it was 
converted to a more powerful and efficient form of electric power.
Early on the train ride, with a view up the track we will climb.
A car ahead of ours climbing steeply.
Looking back at a car behind ours . . . and steep terrain we have already covered.
Cathy and Irmi posing on top of the world.
Climbing to the top.  Left to Right:  Zach, Cathy, and Irmi.
Top station and gondola down the back side, with Lake Lucerne in background.
Four-person cable cars.  Downtown Lucerne and the lake are at upper right. 
Passenger ferry leaving downtown Lucerne en route back to Alpnach. 
Out on the (very large) lake.  Lucerne is somewhere in the far distance. 
From aboard the ferry, passing steep cliffs with a small village nestled to the side. 
One of many small stops the ferry makes along the shoreline. 
Leaving another small dock en route back to Alpnach . . . and our parked car. 

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