Our Untourist of the Week is Steve Savel, who with his wife Karen have gone on 20 different Untours. We feature Steve during our France month, because they’ve gone to Alsace twice, but they really are the definitive Renaissance Untourists…they do it all!
1. “Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.”
My most recent Untour was a Swiss Heartland Untour in Meiringen in July, 2011. This was very special since my wife and I were celebrating our 20th Untour. In many situations it seems that life is a circle, and this was true in this case because our first Untour in summer, 1988 was a Swiss Heartland in Lungern. We had added joy to have two friends join us on their very first Untour. We enjoyed returning to Switzerland still being fortunate to do the Eiger Trail and Crème de la Crème hikes.
2. “What is your favorite Untours memory?”
My favorite Untours memory was our journey to find relatives in my Grandfather’s small village in Northeastern Hungary during a Budapest Untour. We knew the village where my grandfather had come from, but little else. Our onsite Untours staff person in Budapest gave us good advice, namely, to use a recommended “honest” taxi driver and a bilingual college student for translation. This advice made the 165 mile drive from Budapest to Olasz-Liszka possible. Once in the village, we managed to strike up a conversation with the local priest. The minute the local priest heard my story and last name, he sent for Erzsebet who lived just down the street from the priest. In fact, that street is where most of my Savel relatives live. Erzsebet knew that her great Uncle, my grandfather, had gone to the US but knew nothing about his life there. My grandfather had never told anyone about having left an older brother in Hungary. Erzebet’s grandfather and mine where brothers. To find Erzebet (probably my second cousin?) and learn this family story felt like a miracle to us. Without the choice to go on an Untour, it would not have happened.
3. “How is taking an Untour different from other ways of traveling?”
Taking an Untour is different from other ways of traveling because you have the freedom to explore. You can take the “path less traveled” and encounter sights, sounds, persons, food, and drink that represent a different culture and history. A positive belief in diversity is strengthened.
4. “If you could describe an Untour in just three words, what would they be?”
Three words that describe an Untour are – experience, learn, and respect.