From Lucerne, Burgenstock, Switzerland is only accessible by first taking a ferry boat like this.
Then taking this, up a 58% grade mountainside, for about 7 minutes. It's kind of crazy that this was built in 1888. (There's my cutie Kevin. We thought it was funny that the white sign said "Lift fahrt." Yes, we were acting like children. Isn't that what you get to do on vacation without any kids with you?)
We never meant to go to Burgenstock. We actually got on the wrong ferry boat and had to stop at Burgenstock to catch the proper one. But that cute red cable car-like thing was sitting just behind the dock (see the top picture) at the base of a ridiculously steep track, which disappeared into the clouds when you followed it up with your eye. We couldn't resist finding out to where it led.
Also, my husband spied this from the dock. He'd recognized it from his pre-trip research online about Lake Lucerne. It is called the Hammetschwand Lift, and you can only access it from Burgenstock. That sealed it. We were going up the funicular (red cable car thing), up into the mist to find this town on the mountain.
Now I have to tell you more about the Hammetschwand Lift. This is truly crazy. Too crazy. First of all, it was built in 1905. It was renovated most recently in 1935. It is a tiny, fast external elevator built into the side of the rock that whisks you up 500 feet to the peak, which is surrounded on nearly all sides by the lake. It offers spectacular views of the region (Don't I sound like a brochure? Not intentional). But once you ascend, you are 3,700 feet above the lake. That is HIGH!
Oh my goodness, I never even entertained the idea of going up. No no no. Personally, I don't enjoy the feeling of being 3,700 feet up in the air (or 50 feet up in the air) in a little glass box that holds three other people. And that was built over 100 years ago. And that is suspended over water. I heard there were photos at the top of ladies in floor length gowns and gents in top hats who ventured here a century ago.
My husband, on the other hand, couldn't wait. I think if it were a 500 foot rope ladder he'd still do it. He's a little bit crazy. Same with everyone else. Apparently, I'm the lame, oldish one.
Here is my brother and sister-in-law at the top of the lift.
Here is part of the view.
When the rest had departed onto the trail you had to hike just to get to the elevator, which followed the edge of the cliff and took about 30 minutes (extra no thanks to that!), I registered the fact that I would be alone for at least an hour and spotted a cafe that was just opening across from the entrance to the trail. I took a table on the far edge of the patio, against a railing, and ordered some tea. Below me, spread out like a scene from the Sound of Music, was the most beautiful pastureland I've ever seen. (Of course, I don't have a picture of that, because the adventurous group got to take the camera.)
The cafe was situated pretty high above it, on a path that reached even higher, so I could look out over quite a large expanse. Little homes dotted the landscape here and there, and I wondered how the inhabitants made a living in this tiny town, way above all the cities and industry. Green rolling hills were all I could see, with small patches of flowers, and virtually no trees. A handful of cows and sheep bleated far off, and the sky was an intense blue. This idyllic setting was perfectly peaceful. I was so ready to read my new book.
I got a feel for the sections first. The preface. The main story. Then a section of the author's own journal entries, which inspired the writing of the book (Hmm, that intrigued me). And finally, an excerpt from the author's autobiography. I decided to start with the author's inspiration for writing the book, thinking that made sense...the WHY before the WHAT. These are the first words I read:
"Written during a three-week visit to Switzerland..." Wait. What? God, that is a little weird. Hannah Hurnard got her vision for writing this book from her trip to Switzerland, which also happens to be where I'm sitting right now reading about it? What are you up to, God. I know you, and I know you're up to something.
I kept reading. Five seconds later, I read this, in her first journal entry: "Through mist and cloud and by a strange path where I could never see more than one step at a time, the Lord has brought me here to Switzerland, 'to a high mountain apart.' I believe that He will speak to me out of the cloud; for I know He has something to say, and I long to hear it."
Wait just a minute now. The Lord has brought me to Switzerland. I am literally on a high mountain apart. And then I had a familiar feeling - this knowing - that something was about to be mixed up inside of me, and apart from my doing. It seemed pretty clear that the Lord wanted to say something to me. I wasn't sure exactly what He was going to say or do, or how He was going to do it. But He got my attention, and instantly my spirit began gathering up inside, like a soldier, scrambling to stand at attention prepared, anticipating a call.