Saturday, December 28, 2013

Race to the Finish!

Planes, trains, automobiles (ok, a bus) and... toboggans??  We are off on yet another amazing adventure!  This time it's to Luzern, Switzerland for a little snow and skiing. After an almost 60 degree Christmas in Barcelona, it was time to get a little of that holiday spirit in our lives. And where better than the mountains of Switzerland.

The flight was my best in a very long time. No near panic attacks and total smooth sailing. A relief as we have 2 more trips over the next 6 weeks and hopefully as a result of this flight, I will be slightly less stressed. 

My little buddy ready to go see some snow!!

Josh with his new bluetooth Bose headset, ready to fly!

We flew into Basel and headed for the train counter. My god the trains here are expensive!  I had gone on the advice of a friend yo do the train thing and honestly didn't think twice. I figured we would be saving a few pennies and we wouldn't have to worry about driving on dangerous, icy mountain roads. Josh may disagree, but I'm still glad we went this route. And with the Swiss being so efficient, it wasn't a hard system to navigate.

We arrived in Lucerne and OMG I'm in love. Hands down one of the most picturesque cities I have ever seen.  However, I only caught a glimpse because we had plans to go tobogganing but it was a 45 minute train ride from Luzern AND we didn't know how long it would take us to get there from the train station. So when our train arrived in Luzern at 4, we raced to our hotel to check in, grab our snow pants and run right back to the train station for our 5 o'clock train to Engelburg. And it was a race because we still had to buy tickets. And being in a rush, I had, of course left the kids prepaid train tickets at the hotel. Oops!  I also left the details of the tobogganing. Good thing Josh had it on his phone. So more about Luzern tomorrow when we have more time.  I did get a few shots in when Josh wasn't yelling at us to hurry up!

We made it on to the train with moments to spare and arrived in Engelberg about 45 minutes later. We went from the lush green landscape with snowy mountain peaks and Lake Luzern to a winter wonderland filled with snow, ice and more mountains. We asked for directions and a little over a 15 minute walk later we were at Engelburg/Titlis station with 30 (long) minutes to spare. So far our day has been comprised of a lot of hurry up and wait moments.

The kids and I are ready to go... this is just moments before Liam became hysterical!

We finally made it on to the funicular to go up the mountain to do the 3.5 km toboggan run. Those in the States, you may have heard Liam's screams. He was totally NOT on board for this. Not being adventurous like this myself, I was surprised to find that I was actually excited about it.

Josh and Aidan ready to go!  Notice Liam in the background is less than thrilled!

Once we took off an he realized we would be going at a leisurely pace zig zagging down the mountain, he became quite cool with it. Josh and Aidan were well ahead of us and about 90% of the time it was just Liam and I on the run. It was a time I will always treasure. I hope he remembers it because it was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. I wish I had stopped to take pictures but I just had to go with the peacefulness of the experience and let my desire to photograph it go to the wayside so I could take it all in. 

We were surrounded by forest and at its widest our trail was maybe 15 feet wide with it getting slightly narrower at other times. Tree branches were covered in newly fallen snow that made a canopy over us as we slid down the mountain. Everything was silent except our toboggan crunching over the snow. The stars. I've never in my life seen anything like it. The night was so perfectly clear and I don't think I knew that many stars existed - there were so many. And the constellations were as clear as day. Cassiopeia, Orion and so many more. Even Liam exclaimed he had never seen anything like it in his life. 

We had such a great time, I was sad when it ended so quickly. We had 30 minutes until dinner and so Josh and Aidan headed back up for a second run to race each other back down. It's probably best that I didn't see Aidan, his speed or his control as there were some very precarious corners along the trail. But he's a smart kid and made it back down so he obviously was doing something right!

Josh and Aidan on their second run... 

Warming ourselves by the fire while we wait for Aidan and Josh

Excited for the fondue that he didn't eat... for some reason he thought fondue was a drink???

Exhausted from our day of travel, we barely made it thru our fondue dinner and even (gasp!) skipped dessert as Liam was falling asleep at the table. 

Once more we had to race - down to the train station for the train that was coming in 20 mins. Only when it was 9:29 did we realize that it was a bus and not a train we needed to take. We raced around to the front of the building and the us had just pulled up.  That was close!

Our bus driver seemed to think he belonged on the Indy race circuit.  We drove quickly down ice covered roads that made 180 degree switchbacks that would make anyone nervous!  Both kids fell asleep and it's probably for the best as I white knuckled our way down to the train station, a half hour away.  We finally made it to the train station and had about 10 minutes to kill.  We couldn't wait to make it back to the hotel which was sometime close to 11 by the time all was said and done.  It was a long day of racing, but totally worth it in the end.  We're looking forward to some more Swiss adventures over the next 5 days!


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