Trip Diary: Alpine Adventure June 8-16

Saturday – June 8, 2019

Morning: I started packing for the trip at around 8 AM, and finished at 11:30 AM. The first thing on the agenda was to pack all of my clothing for the trip. The travel company we toured with, Tauck, made this very easy by providing a detailed itinerary for the entire trip. Reading through the itinerary, I fit each outfit into a gallon-sized ziplock bag and labeled it by day. I laid out my outfits and my shoes for each day before I packed them in my suitcase. Instead of bringing a backpack as my carry-on, I brought my camera bag. Inside my camera bag, I put all of my daily essentials: camera, extra lens, GoPro HERO7 Black, GoPro chest strap, GoPro bike attachment, sunglasses, charger, AirPods, adapter, and extra batteries.

Afternoon: After eating a quick lunch at home, we left for the airport at 12:30PM. The drive was around 3 hours to the airport, but we allowed for plenty of extra time.

Evening: Once we arrived to Newark, we parked our car outside of the airport. A shuttle took us to security, and we made our way to our gate. The food options seemed much more limited than BWI, so I ate a Kind bar for dinner. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:30PM, and it was about a 7.5 hour flight to Zurich.

Sunday – June 9, 2019

Morning: We arrived in Zurich, Switzerland at around 8 AM because of the time change. Tauck provided us a driver that met us once we collected our luggage, and transported us to our hotel. The drive was around 45 minutes to Lucerne, which is where we were staying for the next two nights. We stayed at Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern, which was a beautiful 5-star hotel with a wonderful view of the lake. Our hotel room was not ready when we checked-in because it was still fairly early, so we waited for the rain to pass in the lobby.

Afternoon: We walked around the old and new parts of town, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at the bakery next door. The official tour started at 4:30 PM with a walking tour of Lucerne. Throughout the entirety of the trip, we used Vox devices. We were each supplied with one before we started our walking tour, and kept the same one for the rest of the vacation. Each device had a headphone earpiece for us to listen, and a volume/channel control to select who/how we were listening.

Evening: After returning from our walking tour, our welcome reception started at 6:30 PM. We enjoyed a few hors d’oeuvres, and played a few icebreaker activities. Our dinner tables were prearranged, so we got to meet and converse with different people every night. We were delighted with a four-course meal which gave us more insight on dining customs in Europe. It wasn’t until around 10 PM that we left because the dining culture is more focused on the experience and conversation rather than fast-paced service.

Monday – June 10, 2019

Morning: Breakfast was included in our day, and opened at 7 AM. Overall, this was my favorite breakfast experience I’ve ever had away from home. We ate at around 8:30 AM, and got on our bus at 9:30 AM. Our Tauck bus driver transported us on the same bus for the whole trip as well, which was really convenient and provided another layer of hospitality to our adventures. Our main event for the day was riding the world’s steepest cogwheel railway to the top of Mount Pilatus, so we were driving to the station. Fortunately, the rainy and hazy weather subsided enough for us to see the view from the top of Mount Pilatus. The altitude was much greater, so it became a bit more difficult to breathe with the thin air once we reached the top. There were a few different trails you could choose to walk for different views of the overlook. We had time to walk two of the trails, and witnessed the landscapes of Lucerne from 7,000 feet above.

Afternoon: An aerial cableway took us to Frakmunentegg, which was a lower point on the mountain with activities. Our lunch was provided here in a cafeteria-style manner; we mentioned Tauck and were able to select whatever offerings we liked. The longest summer toboggan run usually operates, but the rain eliminated that option. Instead, we could ride a slow-paced zip-line or try the ropes course. We chose the zip-line option, which glided us through the trees to a lower point on the mountain. We then walked up to the top, and repeated that process. The cableway took us to Kreins at 2:30 PM, and we departed back to our hotel by bus from there.

Evening: Dinner this evening was on our own; although, we were lucky enough to have very good WiFi at our hotel. We researched on Apple Maps and Trip Advisor and found a Thai restaurant nearby for me, and a McDonalds for my parents. Today was our first full day with Tauck, and it exceeded all of our expectations. Nonetheless, we were ready to relax and go to bed fairly early.

Tuesday – June 11, 2019

Morning: Our second and final breakfast at the Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern was delightful. A full day of travel awaited us, as well as our first hotel transfer. We had our luggage ready for pick-up inside our room by 7:45 AM, and ate breakfast before we walked to Lake Lucerne with our group at 9:20 AM. The walk was very short, maybe 2 minutes at the most before we arrived to the dock. We cruised on Lake Lucerne to Stansstad for about 1.5 hours.

Afternoon: After arriving in Stansstad, we drove to Andermatt for the Glacier Express. We boarded the train at 12:54 PM, and started our 5 hour ride to St. Moritz. Our guide asked us for our lunch orders on Day 2, and we received our meal on board the train at around 1:30 PM. The Glacier Express ride was very lengthy; however, it was a nice opportunity for conversation and bonding.

Evening: We arrived at the Hotel Schweizerhof Basel, and settled into our rooms before dinner. Our dining times were scattered based on our table group. We enjoyed a four-course meal in dining groups separated by age. After finishing up with dinner and spending some time on the balcony of the first-level hotel rooms, it was time to rest up for another full day of adventure.

Wednesday – June 12, 2019

Morning: Our first breakfast in Hotel Schweizerhof Basel started at 7 AM, but had the same at-your-leisure set-up as the last hotel. At 8:15 AM, we got on our bus for a drive to the cable car. The cable car ride took us to a mountain where we had some free time to explore. This mountain was an alternative to the original because of the inclement weather. There was major rainfall and flooding; this is very unusual, and it made the news in Switzerland for how severe the conditions were becoming. I spent this time hiking up part of the mountain until it began to hail ice the size of a pea.

Afternoon: Thankfully, our Tauck guide was very attentive and prepared to change our plans depending on the weather. We were supposed to hike to the foot of Morteratsch Glacier, and hike the glacier with a mountain guide; however, the weather diverted our plans to a local museum. After the museum, we drove to the Alpine Cheesery for lunch. Lunch consisted of a multitude of different cheeses (including fondue), meats, and desserts in an authentic cheesy. The rain was inconsistent, but we were able to participate in a few outdoor activities after lunch: crossbow, skiing, and a few other children’s activities. Before departing for our next adventure, we watched a demonstration of how they make fresh cheese. There were mountain bikes prepared for us to ride back to our hotel; although once again, the rainfall forced another change of plans. Our guide gave us two options for the rest of our afternoon: pool time, or rock climbing at an indoor gym. I chose to rock climb; this included belaying and a roped climb.

Evening: After rock climbing, our driver took us back to the hotel. Dinner was on our own tonight, so we dined at a restaurant connected to our hotel. The shower was delightful after a rainy and wet day.

Thursday – June 13, 2019

Morning: Our second hotel transfer to our third hotel meant another luggage transfer, so we had our bags ready by 7:30 AM. We headed downstairs for breakfast, and then got on the bus for our ride to Austria. Today was our waterpark day at Area 47. The drive was a little over two hours from our hotel, so we had a lot of time to listen to facts about our second country, look at scenery, listen to music, or nap. The terrible flooding caused dangerous waters for a rafting tour, which was the original plan at Area 47. Instead, we were given the option for wake boarding or a ropes course. I chose to try wake boarding.

Afternoon: Once we arrived at Area 47, we were free to eat lunch. It was another cafeteria-style meal, just like at the top of Mount Pilatus. Similarly, we were able to checkout with whatever food we wanted because our lunch was included with Tauck. I was expecting theme-park quality food, but was delightfully surprised to find that the food was much fresher and tastier. At 1 PM, we met our guide to walk to the wakeboarding site. The system for creating a simulated wake board consisted of a line-system that pulled you, mimicking the actions of a boat; however, this system jolted you much more than a motor boat. I was not successful in getting up, and decided to spend my time at the other attractions in Area 47 instead. Area 47 was drastically different than what I imagined; I would characterize it as much more of an adventure park than a traditional water park. The traditional American waterpark is much less risk-oriented and adrenaline-focused than Area 47. There were many high-adventure attractions: a human cannon that shot you into the water, a slip-n-slide which launched you into midair, a blob that bounced you by the force of another human being, and a water ramp that boarded you at full-speed into the lake. Many of the adventures in Area 47 required a helmet, wet suit, and water booties. My favorite thing about this experience was the quality of the water; it was not chlorinated, and was fresh lake water which didn’t leave a taste or smell in your skin or hair. Overall, it was a really fun experience; although, I did acquire a head injury from participating in the one attraction that I had to get checked out by a doctor once I was home.

Evening: The bus driver took us from Area 47 to our Austrian hotel for the next two nights. We were staying at the Aqua Dome – Tirol Therme Längenfeld. Our options for dinner were either formal or “dinner in a bathrobe”. We chose the latter, which meant that we casually dined in their cafeteria-style restaurant before we went to the pool and spa areas within the resort. We tried many of the outdoor thermal spas before going back to our room at around 9:30 PM.

Friday – June 14, 2019

Morning: Breakfast in the Aqua Dome started at 7 AM, and was leisurely like the previous hotels. At 8:45 AM, we drove to Innsbruck, Bergisel to witness a professional ski jumper at his craft. The Bergisel Ski Jump was unlike anything I expected; we viewed the jumped from multiple points of view to get a better idea of the speed, height, and overall intensity of the jump. After meeting and watching him jump, we boarded the bus for the old town of Innsbruck.

Afternoon: We experienced the history of Innsbruck in five play acts throughout the town; this was a fun and creative way of learning the history while also participating in a walking tour. After, we had about an hour and 45 minutes of time to ourselves in the town. We walked around for an hour, tried the gelato, and then sat down for an outside meal. This was our first and only authentic meal on our own; the European dining culture is much slower-paced than in America, so however delightful this experience was, we were not left with much time to meet back with our group and board back on the bus. Innsbruck, Austria reminded me of how I pictured Italy. I wish we had more time there on our own. After meeting to drive back to our hotel at 2:30 PM, we had a bit of free time at the Aqua Dome. I chose to get a quick workout in, but all of the spa and pool areas were open as well.

Evening: At 6:30 PM, we drove to Oetzi Dorf Open Air Museum for dinner. This was an outdoor experience that showed us how villagers lived during the Neolithic Age. Oetzi was the neolithic ice man, so the guides showed us exhibits to better explain how he lived. Dinner for the children and adults was separated; the children dined over a bonfire, and the adults had a three-course meal in a rustic restaurant outside. The bus drove everyone back to the resort for our last sleep in the Aqua Dome.

Saturday – June 15, 2019

Morning: This was our last full day with Tauck. As usual, breakfast in the hotel started at 7 AM. We then drove to Ettal Abbey for a tour of the distillery and brewery or a guided hike with a park ranger. We chose the tour of the distillery and brewery, which included tastings of the beer and liquor. Following the tour, we gathered for a visit to the monastery.

Afternoon: We ate lunch in Ettal before driving to our hotel in Munich, Germany. After arriving in Munich, we had a few hours of free time before our farewell reception. We were lucky enough to be there during a festival, so we saw local vendors, musicians, and crafters displaying their work. Most of Munich seemed very high-end, with a lot of retailers known in America, as well.

Evening: At 6 PM, we gathered in the bar area for our farewell reception. This was the fanciest night dress-wise. There were hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar for us to enjoy before we headed to another area of the hotel for dinner at 6:45 PM. Our dinner menu was preset, and divided amongst the children and adults. After eating and saying our goodbyes to all of our new friends and tour guide, we headed for bed in our one night at the Bayerischer Hof.

Ettal Abbey

Sunday – June 16, 2019

Morning: We ate breakfast around 6:25 AM before getting our transfer for the airport. Our flight was delayed a few hours, so we waited at the airport for a little longer than anticipated. The travel time from Munich to Newark was around 8 hours.

Afternoon: We arrived in Newark at around 2 PM, and then made our way through customs for re-entry to the USA. After picking up our luggage, we got a shuttle to our car. Traffic wasn’t great, but at 4:30 PM we found a Chipotle for lunch/dinner.

Evening: The total length of our travel day was around 19 hours from the time we left our hotel in Munich to when we arrived home in PA. I was ecstatic to be able to shower and sleep in my own bed after a fun-filled, and exciting week of traveling during our Alpine Adventure with Tauck Bridges.

This trip was a wonderful way to experience part of Europe for the first time. The best part was getting to meet so many lovely new people along the way. I love writing these trip diaries; it gives me a way to reflect on past trips and plan new ones for the future.

love,

julia grace

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