Mount Titlis touches the heavens, standing tall at 3020 m.

AuteurFrey-Hasegawa, Erika
Fonction Off the beaten track: Mount Titlis

Crowds of tourists from all over the world: China. Mexico. the United States, Thailand and India to name a few. gather and line up at a stationary gondola car to collect their tickets for day trips all over Switzerland. The Best of Switzerland tours conveniently commence their journeys at a bus parking lot adjacent to Zurich Main Station, and the Landesmuseum, another of the City of Zurich's landmarks.

For a small country with a notoriously far-reaching railway network, the hustle and bustle of the tour buses is somewhat of a curiosity Being located right next to one of Europe's main railway hubs adds to the contrast. As I step into the relatively small parking lot, a throng of snowboarders and tourists carrying snow shoes push by me. Suddenly, I feel as if I were in Times Square. Excitement is in the air.

Our tour guide expertly pops through the crowd, collects her passenger list from the stationary gondola car, which serves as the ticket booth. Annemarie Bartschi greets us warmly, positioned next to the bus driver. Speaking in English, Spanish and Swiss-German, her announcements come fluidly and expertly as the bus driver pushes his way out of Zurich.

The waiver form we are asked to fill out seems almost typically American to me. "Anything you do on the mountain is at your own risk." OK, fair warning. My curiosity peaks as the Best of Switzerland management team had mentioned the eternal snow aspect as one of the country's top sites to be seen.

We travel through Zurich towards to Lucerne. En route Annemarie expertly points out the sites with some handy background facts We pass the historical home turf of where Wilhelm Tell lived and rebelled against the Austrian Hapsburgs. En route to along the Vierwaldstatter See (Lake of the Four Cantons), we spot a small island where classical music composer, Richard Wagner, lived. The scenery is magnificent on a dreary winterish day, and as if on cue. the sun comes out as we enter Lucerne. We leave the bus for a short walk to visit the "Lion Monument" a carving in sandstone of a grieving lion leaning on a shield with a Swiss flag Mark Twain once remarked as a tourist himself looking at the monument that it was: "the saddest statute he had ever seen" Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen designed it in memory of Swiss guards who died defending Louis VXI and Marie Antoinette in 1812.

The tour bus finally pulls up in Engelberg, a tourist haven town at the base of Mount Titlis. Our tour guide makes one last...

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