This morning we have an early wake up call to get up to Mt Pilatus before the rest of the tourist horde.
Realising the extent of the tourist market is a real epiphany for me. Cities such as the ones I've visited are INVADED by coach loads and ocean-liner loads of organised tour parties and it is true that I had no idea of the extent or value of this industry.
But then I didn't realise the lottery Italian toilets were either - they might flush while you're still using them, not flush at all, have a sprung toilet seat that you virtually have to sit on to get to go down, oh but wait! A toilet seat! Yay, that's unusual! They may flush by a pedal, a handle, a button, a sensor (watch out for these ones, unpredictable!) or you may be left trying to work out how to flush it at all! And - as in Germany, Austria and The Netherlands, they'll cost between €0,30 - €0,80 every time you use them. One of our party reckons she's spent about US$25 on piddling so far!
Anyway, they seem free here in Switzerland. And we have electric kettles in our rooms again!
But I have to say, I DID like the Italian people. Delightful, happy, kinda crazy but in a good way.
So anyway we board the steepest cog-railway in the world for a 30 minute haul to the top of Mt Pilatus. We have it to ourselves, so the early start was worthwhile. We come back to thousands of bloomin' tourists and their coaches all waiting in long lines...
Our tour director Graham draws groans when he tells us about 6am wake up calls but that extra time spent in bed would be paid for by a far greater time standing in queues. (I'll try and remember that tomorrow at the 5:45 am call - we need to get to Paris before the Friday rush hour....)
Then we head out to the country to a working dairy farm - goats and cows. Not as we know them in New Zealand! This is small, with the animals being taken up the mountain to pasture - just as in "Heidi" - until the snow, when they are brought inside. One of the community is a cheese maker, one a butcher, a lovely little artisan village where the farmers all work at other jobs to make a living. We enjoyed travelling to this farm in Engelberg (The Angel of the Mountain) by horse and carriage, and the villagers were so friendly and pleased to see us. Here, off the main tourist track somewhat, we tourists haven't yet become a necessary evil, but are a bonus to income and the villagers are proud to show us how things are still done in the traditional way.
The cheese and beef were delicious, as was the strudel. And the coffee with schnapps just the thing for the cold!
An early night tonight! We travel all day tomorrow to reach Paris!
Friday - in Paris
I didn't post this yesterday because when I went to download the photos, couldn't find the camera.... Maybe left it on the coach....
No, it's probably someone's new treasure after my leaving it on the washbasin area in toilets in Engelberg .... Bugger.
But thank you so much to Catherine Y who loaned me her gadget so I've been downloading my photos to the ipad every evening! So I've lost only a camera, and one day of photos.
Now the question is, do I try and buy one here in Paris, with no French, but it would mean I could take photos here, or do I wait till London and put the lack of photos down to a travelling experience?
I could take my ipad - SO many people do! - for the last 24 or so hours.....