Having travelled down from our mountain to the lake in our museum train, the second leg of our journey takes us to town in a museum steamship!
Mount Rigi lies on the northern shores of the Lake Lucerne, or the Vierwaldstättersee as it is called by the native German speaking Swiss. The spider-shaped lake is bound together by an extensive network of ships, originally a necessity as the rocky shores were not ideal for building roads and railways. The 20 commercial ships on the lake carry mainly tourists, but they are used also by the natives. For us, an overland trip from the Rigibahn-station in Vitznau to the city of Luzern would mean a change from bus to train in the nearby town of Kussnacht. A slow and easy trip on a lake steamer is not only more pleasant, but actually also faster!
For us, the trip from Vitznau to Luzern takes 50 minutes and involves only three stops. The big lake roundtrip takes 4 to 5 hours and is something we treat ourselves to at least once a year. It takes us thru the Willhelm Tell heartlands, the most postcardish part of Switzerland there is. Wilhelm Tell, according to legend, lived in kanton Uri, one of the four kantons sharing the waters of the Lake Lucerne between them. After being taken captive by Herr Gessler, the bad guy of the story, Tell regained his freedom in Tellsplatte and later killed his enemy near Kussnacht, both settlements on the banks of the lake.
5 of the ships are paddle steamers, built between 1901 and 1928. They were saved from being wrecked by a private foundation set up in the early 1970ties, and are now the pride of the entire region. They are spacious and elegant, and they make an everyday trip to town (something we do not do every day, but maybe once a month or so) a very enjoyable event!
We are on the Stadt Luzern, the flagship, parading in front of the 4 other steamers.