Archives for July 1, 2010

Mt. Rigi: A cautionary tale

Two things not found at the top of a mountain:

1. An ATM machine

2. People who speak English

This would have been pertinent information prior to boarding the cable car.  There wasn’t anyone at the ticket window when we arrived, which bothered Michael a little bit and made me secretly smile.  This is a country where they would charge you for air if they could.  We hopped on, and Michael muttered something about “Not sure what to do. Where do we pay?  Blah, blah”.  I said something like “Oh, we’ll figure it out” when what I really meant was “I’m sure you’ll figure it out, while I’m busy snapping photos”.

We arrived at the top and, like the kids, I pushed and shoved my way off of the car to get to the view.  Meanwhile, Michael was accosted by a stern official asking in Swiss German something along the lines of “Where’s your ticket?”  Only less friendly. We’re still not sure.  We do know this, I took off like a bat out of hell, the kids ran screaming for the edge of the mountain, and Michael was left trying to explain how many people were in our party.  Which at that moment in time, consisted solely of himself.  He was charged for one ticket, and so assumed he’d pay for me on the way down (kids were free).  This was his first wrong assumption.

Wrong assumption number two… he assumed I had cash with me.  He chose to break this news to me after the five of us had ordered a full meal at a small restaurant at the top.  This meal was, to date, one of the most stressful fifteen minutes of my life.  My husband had just realized I had no money to pay for dinner, we still had to buy one ticket to descend the mountain, and the last car was set to depart in less than twenty minutes.  Then there was the pesky problem of not being able to explain in German why we couldn’t pay our bill.

We told the kids to skip the good manners and wrap their food in napkins in case we needed to make a run for it. Michael whispered “I think we’re ok” when the bill came, and as it turns out we were.  We had exactly one franc left over, which Michael, with great relief left as a tip. Generous, no?  It was when we began to run for the last cable car with our pocketed half eaten meal, that Michael informed me that we had no money left for my ticket down.  I began to envision myself on the long slow descent, crying into my napkin full of hot dog.  But, grace abounds, and the stern ticket master was not at the gate.  Again I ran like a bat out of hell, but this time onto the cable car and attempted to look as childlike as possible (remember kids ride free).  The ticket master returned, I hid, Michael flashed his ticket, and I breathed the biggest sigh of relief when we jerked to a start.  I think he almost sweat blood.

The moral of this story?  See “Two things not found at the top of a mountain”.


I do have more photos to share, but I thought you might appreciate the full background story.  It wasn’t my finest moment.