Leaving Venice meant hopping on the bus and heading off to the Lucerne region of Switzerland, with a stop in Verona. Luckily for us, Verona was a quick bus ride from the hostel, especially in comparison with the past few times we had been on the bus. This meant a much faster feeling bus ride for all of us, and the next thing we knew it was time to see Juliet's balcony, or rub her right boob. It also meant seeing another small city on the tour where we could be able to explore, and see an old Roman amphitheatre, which is a smaller version of the coliseum in Rome. Being a holiday there was actually a car show going on in the main square that we were able to see. From old mini coopers to even an old police car we were able to get to see some cool antique cars. After a quick bite to eat, some gelato from our tour Director, and some shopping we were back on the bus and headed to Switzerland.
Arriving in Switzerland was something we would ever forget. From making our way through the alps, to driving through a 11 mile tunnel, or maybe just the other elements of the changing scenery as the bus made its way to the Lucerne region of Switzerland. It was only then that we saw the amazing hotel that we would be staying at, the Seedam Plaza, complete with an attached casino. Clearly not what any of us expected, and we are still unsure how we were able to get rooms in the hotel, but we won't argue with it, so thank you to whomever at EF was able to get a great deal on that one!
After much needed showers, some fun at the casino for a little while, and much needed sleep we would head to a gondola ride up with Mt. Pilatus where at the peak we would be standing at 7,000ft above sea level. Upon arrival at the gondola station we were met by Kathy and her two sons who would be joining us on our excursion up the mountain. Into the gondolas we loaded up, and two stops later we would get out of the small four person gondola and switch to a large 70+(?) person gondola for the final journey up to the top of the mountain. Both gondolas had great views of the mountaintops, trees, hiking trails, homes, and just everything that surrounded the mountain. There will never be anything like when the gondola broke through the cloud cover and we were able to see the very top of the mountain. A snow capped peak that seemingly came or if no where as we rode in a tiny gondola.
Upon arrival at the gondola station at the top of the mountain, we were able to climb some stairs to an even higher spot, grab hot chocolate, throw some snowballs, and stand in awe of the view that we had from the top of this mountain. We learned that there are actually two hotels at the top of the mountain, so if you're ever looking to go somewhere that most people don't get to go, that would be a great option! Sadly, our time at the top would come to a close, and we would have to head back down the mountain. After taking the large gondola down, we would then distribute our group, tour Director, the kids, and Kathy all into small gondolas for the final journey. One of the unique things about this trip, was having both a tour Director and a supervisor on the trip who both had moved from the US and getting to hear their reasons, and what they liked about both, and how they were able to get citizenship.
Once we were off the gondolas we would take the bus into Lucerne where we would spend some time getting food and shopping for Swiss chocolates and Swiss Army knives as we explored the roads around Lucerne by foot. We walked on the chapel bridge, and were able to get photos of Mt. Pilatus from town as the clouds opened up a little. It was unfortunate that we were not able to sled at the mountain, due to a insufficient amount of snow on the ground (I can only laugh at that because as we were there home was getting a 22" snowstorm), but that just meant that we had more time to explore the town then if we had sledded. When it was all said and done, it was time to wave goodbye to Kathy since she would not be joining us for the rest of the journey, and time to head back to the hotel for our last night in Switzerland before heading to Paris by train in the morning.
It wasn't until the ride to the train station though, that we learned just how prepared for anything our tour guide, Tyson, really was. As the snow began to fall, the classic winter songs began to play. Including the hit song, Frosty the Snowman.
If you have ever wanted to go to Amsterdam, be sure to read about our experience with EF College Break on their European Roadtrip tour.