I’ve just recently returned from a wonderful vacation and am still reeling from my latest adventure. I traveled on Globus Vacations, Best of Austria and Switzerland tour.
I arrived in Vienna Austria and joined my tour group, led by Joppy Wisick who is a 30 year veteran in escorted tours. There were about 40 passengers that included a mix of Americans, Australians, Canadians, and a person from New Zealand. Everyone was friendly and the group meshed well together.
Our first day in Vienna started with a tour of Schonbrunn Palace and a walking tour of historic Vienna. Day 3 we left Vienna, did a short Danube cruise and then traveled to Salzburg for 2 days. Salzburg is a charming town that is very pedestrian friendly. The old town area was full of shops and restaurants, not to mention tourists! The next morning I took the optional that went up to Berchtesgaden, where the historic mountain fortress called the Eagles Nest is located. This compound was a used by Hitler during WW2. The view from the top was breathtaking and it was worth the extra cost of the sightseeing tour.
On Day 5, the tour finally entered Switzerland and I got my first views of the beautiful Alps. This is what I had been waiting for and I was not disappointed! We spent that night in ritzy St. Moritz, which reminded me of Vail Colorado with its elegant vibe and expensive shops.
One of the trip highlights for me occurred on Day 6 when we boarded the Glacier Express Train in Chur (pronounced Cour) and spent the next 5 hours slowly traveling across the top of Switzerland, admiring the fabulous scenery and small villages along the way. We arrived in Zermatt that evening and settled into the hotel for a 2 night stay. Zermatt is quirky ski town that caters to all things pertaining to alpine sports. To prevent pollution, which could obscure the town’s view of the Matterhorn, the entire town is a combustion-engine car free zone. Almost all vehicles in Zermatt are battery driven and almost completely silent. These small vans silently transport passengers and luggage to and from hotels in town.
Bright and early the next morning I did the optional tour up to the top of Gornergrat Mountain . At 10, 272 the views of the Matterhorn were dazzling and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of that majestic mountain!
After sadly saying goodbye to Zermatt, we traveled down the lower Rhone Valley, around the shore of Lake Geneva and on to Berne for one night. The next day we did a short walking tour of Berne before heading off to the Interlaken area. We stopped in the village of Lauterbrunnen and visited the Trummelbach Falls, a series of 10 glacier waterfalls inside the mountains.
The final 2 nights were spent in Lucerne. It’s a beautiful city and shopper’s paradise, if you can afford it. A trip up Mt. Pilatus on the world’s steepest cog wheel train and another up Mt. Titlis were my last 2 optional sightseeing excursions. It takes 3 different cable cars to get up to the top of Mt. Titlis. At the bottom it was clear and sunny and upon arrival at the top (over 10, 000 ft.) we were cloaked in swirling snow and ended our last day throwing snowballs and drinking hot chocolate.
Here are a few thoughts on Switzerland. Everything is expensive! In most cities you can find a CO OP store to stock up on bottled water, snacks or other necessities and the savings are significant. Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc. The most common language is German, but in certain areas like Geneva it’s French. English is widely spoken as well.
I found that traveling on an escorted tour was an excellent way to see a lot of places in short time. I would certainly recommend this to anyone taking their first trip to Switzerland or Austria.
Switzerland and the Alps was something that has always been at the top of my bucket list and I finally made it! Everything was just a beautiful as I always dreamed it would be and someday I plan to head back up to Zermatt and spend a little more time chilling out in front of the Matterhorn. Pun intended!
Diana Wray has been in the travel industry for over 20 years. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .