1. Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.
Our most recent Untour experience was in the late spring of 2011 when we participated in two Untours trips: a week in Prague and two weeks in Werfen, Austria (50 k from Salzburg), followed by our own independent week in Vienna and two weeks walking along the Cornwall coast in the SW of England. Prague and Austria were our third and fourth experience in traveling with Untours.
Visiting Prague was our first experience in the Czech Republic and what a beautiful city with its unique architecture. Our Untours contact was a great support in helping us feel comfortable on the metro/tram system as well as in our understanding of essential words in the difficult Czech language.
On our way to Werfen, Austria we stopped and visited the UNESCO village of Chesky Krumlov, – a “must see” historical walled hilltop village (highly recommended by Untours).
Werfen was a quiet Austrian village, closed to through traffic, surrounded by mountains and the location of one of the most perfectly preserved castles in Europe. Our Untours contact, Heidi, was so friendly and helpful. We were invited to her home in Kuchl for our initial meeting and met her husband and daughter. She gave us lessons in understanding how to read the train schedules so that we could be very independent in our travels.
Each day, we looked forward to deciding which village/city we were going to explore that day before boarding a train. We loved the prompt, clean Austrian trains and enjoyed viewing the countryside as we traveled by rail. We visited Salzburg several times, enjoyed a meal in the very large lively beer garden at the monastery there, took a bus from Salzburg to the lakes district NE of Salzburg, boarded a boat on one of the lakes and walked around several of the small hillside villages.
We took the gondola up the mountain in Zell am See and the cog railway up Sheepshead where we saw the brilliantly colored wildflowers in bloom and enjoyed 360 degree views of snowcapped mountains. We look forward to returning someday to this friendly picturesque country.
2. What is your favorite Untours memory?
Our favorite memory was a day we took the train to several villages away from Werfen and spent the entire day walking along the footpaths to the village of Kuchl. We stopped and chatted to the friendly villagers at their farms/homes along the way. In Kuchl we hiked up the small hill on the outskirts of the village to the seasonal historical wooden chapel.
A second very special memory was the evening Heidi (our Untours contact) and her husband invited us to meet them in a local restaurant in a nearby village. We walked to the village (45 minutes) and ate a very traditional Austrian meal. Heidi’s husband played his Austrian squeeze box (similar to an accordion) for us (and the entire restaurant!). Then shortly afterwards (totally unplanned), a traditional Austrian wedding party arrived at the restaurant with their own 3-piece band! The entire wedding party started dancing. It was a festive evening!
3. How is taking an Untour different from other ways of traveling?
Untours allows you to travel independently but have the availability of a support network at your fingertips. The Untour contacts inform you about the restaurants with great food that the local people patronize, they update you about local festivities that are happening, and they give you background information on the local culture which helps you to gain a more in-depth understanding of that culture. During the trips, one or two group (Untour) activities are planned which are optional to attend. We have always found that these activities are fun and provide an entrée to the community and the local people.
4. If you could describe and Untour in just 3 words, what would they be?
• independent travel
• unstructured exploration
• local immersion in the culture