I decided, clinging to the handle of the gondola with both hands as we ascended both smoothly and alarming little dips, that even my meager adventures may be overrated.
"Fifteen minutes," my friend chirped as our boat docked and we set off on our walk to our up-mountain transport. I followed dutifully in hiking boots I'd borrowed from her, stopping short only when facing one of the steepest hills I've ever seen.
"I thought we were finding this dangling glass box to avoid climbing the mountain," I offered, head cocked suspiciously at the climb ahead.
"Katie," she scolded in her elegant accent, tipping her head toward the senior citizens moving up the sidewalk, some of them dragging luggage. I recalled my embarrassed terror when hiking with Friend, seeing tiny children scampering down hills that had me clinging at trees.
Huffing and puffing enough to blow a house down, we arrived at the station, 15 sharply-uphill minutes later. We proceeded to climb in a box made mostly of glass that rapidly fogged as humans crammed into it.
"Happy thoughts," I whispered to myself, remembering the morning. On the ground. Which was flat. Surrounded by quaint buildings bearing international flags. Under the covering of a wooden bridge while icicles dripped from its eaves. The photo of me there - leaning around a nearby pillar - looked so brilliantly happy even as the snow fell softly around us. The swans shared space with ducks, gliding smoothly through the inky water - clear and clean up close but ill-illuminated under the snow clouds that hovered above.
"We could walk up to the top," PrettyHair said when we climbed about a million stairs on our safe (thank God) arrival up the mountain.
"Absolutely not," I replied, though I promise I was the epitome of a lovely guest other than in this story. So we caught a crowded train that made its way up into the snow cloud. We wiped condensation from the windows with our sleeves, admiring the snow clinging to the trees and making calculations of 2 meters into feet. (The snow was deep.) We watched the skiers laugh as they juggled their gear in the small space. And after a couple of stops at adorable little structures we could barely see through the cloudy windows and falling snow, we arrived at the final stop near the summit. We climbed on the path and looked at each other, peering for a walking trail. (I find walking downhill more acceptable than up.) I found myself drawn toward the safety of the train though, having almost fallen in the 10 steps I'd taken. So we boarded again amidst giggles at our failure but decided that experiencing the top of a mountain as it was shrouded in a snow cloud was rather worthwhile.
It cleared as we descended - sharply but steadily. And we caught glimpses of blue sky as we boarded another boat bound for PrettyHair's house.
"I had the best time," I told her, beaming over our coffees and pastry as we moved along the lake once again. And it really is stunning here - I highly recommend Lucern. And the boat and mountains beyond.