When we first arrived we went to the tourist center and grabbed a map and ask what there is to do. Right next to the city is a giant mountain called, Mt. Pilatus. It has the steepest incline railway in the world! A single car barreling up the mountain on a greased up rail. At its steepest point angled somewhere around 49 degrees. So naturally we had to go. Plus, an amazing 360 degree panoramic view and a sweet gondola ride down; the trifecta of mountain madness. On one side of the mountain, is the railway, and the other is the gondola. Also, another bonus for buying this pass, tickets for the mountain train up and the gondola ride down, usually costs about 70 francs each, but this pass gets us half off all non-included trains like this one. Win, win.
At the top, there is a a few short trails one can take around the peak for a variety of views. They are all fairly short, but each have great views. The one we chose to take felt like an old mining path that was converted into a walkway cut through the side of the peak. Half cave, half walking path complete with rails buried in dirt. Although it doesn’t make sense to me since the mountain peak was only about 50 feet above the path, why would there be a mining path there
Either way, it was cool, there were some stalactites all over the ceiling of the walkway from a summer of melting snow. All along the cliff side were cut outs, peak holes and wide open areas that made for some pretty unique views. I love Europe, there was a huge opening with only a metal railing keeping you from plummeting a thousand feet down to mountain cows and death. Here in America, there would be a chain link fence, maybe some barbed wire, a standing guard or 2, warning signs and most likely a law suite currently in the works. Also at the top is a hotel and restaurant that had been there forever; since before the incline railway and the gondola. But now the area has been upgraded to accommodate tourists with a number of lookout points, walking trails, a picnic area, and a welcome center, complete with snack bar and gift shop.
By this time it was midday and we headed back down the mountain in the gondolas (turns our there are multiple sections). The first was packed with military trainees geared to the teeth, guns and all. Safest gondola ride ever. The second section reminded me of a typical ski resort gondola, it was just missing the snow and the skis and it was going the wrong direction 🙂
Once back in town we made our way to the station and had originally planned to head down to explore Geneva for a bit, but when we talked to a train attendant, it would take 3 hours to get there from Lucerne and three more to get back up to Olten, so instead we decided to go to a neighboring town called Thun. There was no particular reason why. We just had time to kill, wanted to explore somewhere else and they have a castle in the center of town and another cool looking covered wooden bridge. I think every town has one over a very large very fast river. Once there we strolled around for a bit checking out the sites and headed back to Olten to meet Michael, Denise and Denise’s sister for our last night out.
Amongst the many famous sites of Olten, is their one famous pub Rathskeller, but all the locals call it, ‘the pot’. I don’t know why or how, cause it isn’t correlated to the original name whatsoever. But they have delicious burgers and a good beer. Afterwards we visited a new pub that had only been open a few weeks. It was nice and they had a drink on their menu that Michael had made up! It was still mid-week and a school night for the kids, so we felt we had to be responsible and call it an early night.