Mary & Bill Martin: Untourists of the Week

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1. Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.

Mary and I love Switzerland and Untours. Our most recent trip was in Aug/Sep 2010 to Hasliberg-Reuti in Switzerland. We spent 2 weeks at the Pollux apartment with its incredible views of the Wetterhorn mountain group, the Eiger, and our local village (Reuti). Shortly after we arrived, Magisalp (a spectacular gondola ride above our apartment) and the ridegline above (Planplatten) received a dusting of snow, which left us with a magical feeling.

While the snow took a couple days to melt, it did not prevent us from traveling into the mountains–taking advantage of an Untours-provided opportunity to visit a young cheesemaker whose mountain farm was located above Giswil. After the farmer demonstrated the cheese-making process over an open fire, our group joined the farmer and his wife in an amazing old hut where the wife served plates of cheese, salami, gherkins, and warm coffee with plum or pear liqueur.

We then walked a short distance on a mountain road to a stop where a regularly scheduled bus picked us up, transported us to Schupheim from whence we returned to Luzern by train. Of course, our Swiss Pass covered all our transportation needs. What a way to start the day!!

When we signed up for this trip to Switzerland, we had no idea how we would be starting our 2 week vacation. But we had used Untours on 6 previous trips to the “Heartland” (Untours-speak) of Switzerland and knew Untours would advise us of upcoming mountain festivals and other cultural events of interest upon arrival. Then, it would be up to us to decide what we would enjoy doing most.

In our previous trips, we had grown comfortable with the idea of planning a few one day trips to other areas, but mostly we enjoyed hiking and shopping in the vicinity of our Hasliberg apartment. This is an area with majestic mountains with well-signed trails, cows, goats and sheep all with bells, turquoise-colored lakes, numerous mountain restaurants with fabulous hot soups, fresh bread and beverages as well as spectacular views of forests, alpine meadows, and deep, glacier-carved valleys and their adjacent terraces and cheese-makers’ huts.

Mary does not like to start the day as early as I do or hiking “up” so I sometimes take a morning hike on my own, and then join mary for lunch. If we get an early start, we can take a gondola “up” a mountain, and then hike down at our leisure. Over the years, we have visited many of the nearby villages and towns in central Switzerland and several of the more distant cities.

This last trip we spent a day in beautiful Bern–attending a quilt exhibit, visiting the university and shopping in the Altstadt‘s arcaded shops. We also joined some friends from Luzern one weekend and celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in Burgenstock where we had Sunday brunch at Taverne 1879 and danced to live folk music provided by 2 orgelli players.

Another weekend, we traveled by bus from Meiringen over the Susten Pass to Andermatt where we met up with friends and drove to Tiefenbach–a small village below the Furka Pass and high above the Dampfbahn furka-Bergstrecke(DFB)(steam train), for a festival which included dinner in the local hotel, a mountain choral group and a blessing of local farm animals at a beautiful, old mountain chapel. We then boarded a train in Andermatt for a late night return to Hasliberg-Reuti via Luzern.

2. Why did you choose to go there?

See above. We love the beauty and culture of Switzerland.

3. What is your favorite Untours memory?

Honestly, we can’t narrow it down to one. There are so many special memories–from each trip–the grandeur of the mountainous landscapes and the customs of the people who inhabit them. Mary particularly enjoys walking around Lungernsee and stopping for an ice cream coupe on a sun terrace at the Landgasthof Kaiserstuhl–as often as possible.

4. How is taking an Untour different from other ways of traveling?

On a “traditional tour,” there is usually a fairly strict travel schedule. With an Untour, one sets one’s own schedule–from the beginning of the trip to the end, from sunrise to sunset, from what activities to do or not do, and when to do them. It is a much more personalized experience.

5. If you could describe an Untour in just 3 words, what would they be?

Authentic, Personal, Relaxing

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