Trip Report: Italy & Switzerland, July 2019

uncleleo

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
DW and I celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking our first ABD trip at the beginning of July. I chose the Italy + Switzerland offering largely on the strength of the Dreams Unlimited podcast review of the (former name) Alpine Magic adventure a couple of years ago. Some things have changed since Pete and Kevin and John took the trip and I didn't see any recent trip reports, so I'm hoping that this report will prove helpful. I'll try not to repeat information in ABD's itinerary, focusing on my impressions and our on-your-own choices. I'm providing links only for things that were not part of the tour.

I guess some of this could be considered spoilers, though I won't reveal anything that was even jokingly called a surprise. I hope that the details in my account aid others who are contemplating this adventure.

Day Zero

We arrived a day early to avoid potential problems and to have a chance to see Milan. After checking in at the Malpensa Airport Sheraton, we took the train downtown. We spent about 90 minutes touring the Duomo (mainly the roof terraces) and then enjoyed a fun and delicious food tour of Brera. A great way to experience a new city when you don't have a lot of time: have a local feed you at multiple, popular eateries.

Day 1

One quibble: ABD did not contact us with specifics of where at Malpensa's arrivals area we would meet our ride. I had to call their hotline and was put in touch with one of our guides, who told us the exit number where our greeter was waiting for us. Arriving at Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees, we met our guides. One of original guides from ABD's beginning more than a decade ago, Tina Hyatt brings valuable experience and solicitous grace. One of Tina's early trainees, Marco Bonnani is a native Italian (and former Epcot server) who offers amazing reserves of energy and enthusiasm to keep things moving.

As we had the entire afternoon before the welcome dinner, Tina and Marco provided recommendations for local restaurants and activities. We had very good pizzas and beer at Pappagallo, then picked up some drinks and snacks at the Carrefour Market. Later, we took two cableways and a ski lift to the top of Mottarone (4,900 feet). The scenic ascent (and descent) and views of Lake Maggiore were worth the 20-euro ticket, establishing a kind of baseline for the wondrous visuals to come.

Another expectation-setter was the buffet dinner after the welcome ceremony. The salad, prosciutto e melone, pasta, meats, fish, and dessert choices were all dishes I could have eaten happily every day.

With opulent décor and classically cultivated gardens, Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees impresses at every turn . . . until you see the size of your room. While certainly pretty and not really small by European standards, our room did not offer much in the way of drawers, shelves, and closet space. Our room in Stresa was the only one of the three on our adventure that didn't have a nice view. Some others in our group did have a view of the lake.

Day 2

The breakfast buffets at all three hotels were modest by American or Asian luxury hotel standards. At the Grand Hotel's breakfast, there were no action stations and the scrambled eggs may have been from a packaged mix. But attentive wait staff and fresh-squeezed orange juice cover up a lot of sins. There was a very fine selection of cured meats.

Como was still buzzing from the recent visit by the Obamas, who had guested at George Clooney's villa. The site of our pasta-making class and lunch was the Grand Hotel Imperiale, a small, luxurious lodge on Como's western shore. The chef was able to engage everyone's interest, showing us how to go from flour and eggs to different shapes of pasta. I would have preferred a shorter DIY period, but that's probably because I was so bad at it. Or maybe I was just impatient for lunch, which proved very much worth the wait: gnocchi in pesto, a pasta ragu, tiramisu, probably some vegetables that I'm not remembering.

The boat for our tour on Lake Como offered both inside and outside seating. We were given radios that enabled us to hear the step-on guide's amusing patter. The many fabulous villas along the lake, each more expensive than the last, get most of the attention. But it was the humble villages that enchanted me with colorful homes, palazzi converted to apartments, shops, and churches - some dating to the middle ages - arrayed on steep slopes. I could spend a few days exploring some of those picturesque towns. I must return.

At Villa del Balbianello, we chose not to follow the guide, instead wandering from one photo op to the next. The lavish gardens and dramatic views across the lake distinguish this villa as a backdrop for fantasy weddings. Indeed, we saw at least one bridal party that had come to the island only to take pictures; their wedding was somewhere else or at another time.

After we returned to the dock in Como, the guides treated us to some gelato and then gave us a little while to shop before dinner. The "casual dining experience" turned out to be my favorite group meal in Italy. Visini is a food shop near the Como waterfront where the proprietors set up a buffet along the tops of their display cases. We ate at tables set up on the shopping plaza outside the shop. The selection encompassed a range of antipasti, cheeses, fried vegetables, meatballs, and other delicacies. The bar offered Aperol spritzes, prosecco, and soft drinks.

Day 3

Not mentioned in the ABD itinerary was the tour of Isola Bella, where we went before visiting Isola dei Pescatori. Our step-on guide took us through the Borromeo palazzo and made it more interesting than I had expected. The gardens, of course, were stunning with countless photogenic vistas, many featuring white peacocks.

After arriving at Isola dei Pescatori, we viewed a brief presentation by a local fisherman. Because it was Sunday, many of the narrow passageways were heavily crowded. So we didn't have much time to find anything particularly interesting to look at during the on-your-own time before and after lunch. For the meal at Casabella, the guides had collected our entrée and dessert preorders - three choices for each. I had a vegetable flan; naturally, there was a fish option. There was a local lager I really liked.

The boat trips between Stresa and the islands are very short and make me wonder whether a long cruise around the lake would be anywhere near as appealing as the tour of Lake Como. My lasting impression of the Borromean islands: visually impressive and moderately interesting, but suffering a little in comparison to the sights of Lake Como.

Returning to Stresa, we enjoyed wine and treats at La Cambusa, an absolutely charming enoteca with magnetic proprietors. The variety and quality of the vino deserve the focus, but we ended up buying only foods. If you've never had pan forte before, I'll tell you that it's what fruitcake is supposed to be.

It was an on-your-own evening. We took Tina's advice and loved our dinner at Lo Stornello, one of the more upscale choices in Stresa. This trattoria, associated with the Hotel Primavera, provided an opportunity for us to wear the one change of semiformal clothes we had packed. There's no dress code, but it's sufficiently luxe that you won't feel overdressed if you want to spiff up. The food (I had duck) lived up to our guide's recommendation. The waiter told us he couldn't permit us to leave before we had tried their limoncello and a berry liqueur; on the house of course.

Day 4

Appropriately, on the middle day of our vacation, some things peaked: altitude, scenery, cuisine, and lodging. Most choose this ABD to see the Alps; their beauty meets and exceeds expectations. From the breathtaking vistas along the Simplon Pass to the irresistible allure of the Matterhorn, I found it impossible to tear my eyes away from the mountains. I don't take many pictures of landscapes unless my family is in the foreground; why duplicate an image that better photographers have captured with better equipment and have made available for free on the internet? But I couldn't stop photographing Cervino whenever he stepped out from behind whatever was hiding him.

But let me do this in order. The drive from Stresa to Täsch felt shorter than it was, with occasional commentary and entertainment by the guides and the stirring views at our restroom stop in the Simplon Pass. Arriving in mile-high Zermatt, we reached a culinary peak at Swiss Chalet, our fondue stop. I'm not sure I've ever had fondue except at The Melting Pot; now I know what I've been missing. The meats and desserts were certainly palatable, but next time, I'll have cheese for all three courses.

The Mont Cervin Palace, easily our favorite hotel on the adventure, provided one of the best rooms I've had at any lodging in the world. Though not especially luxurious, our room was a huge loft suite with two bathrooms, cozy Alpine décor, and a skylight. The most compelling feature was our balcony with a view of the Matterhorn. I repeatedly stepped out there to see Cervino's changing moods: in sunlight, in moonlight, adorned theatrically with clouds, or boldly nude. Hotel amenities include a superior fitness room and an indoor/outdoor pool.

We had only a short time in the room after check-in because the guides had determined that we should swap the day 4 and day 5 afternoon itineraries to take advantage of the clear weather conditions around the Matterhorn. I commend this combination of wisdom and flexibility. The train ride to the Gornergrat peak presented so many remarkable views of Cervino and the nearby glacier from different angles. Then, at the top, 360 degrees of Alpine beauty greeted us and overworked our cameras. After visiting the peak, some of our fellows hiked down partway.

Dinner was on our own. Cognizant of how much we had been overeating, we chose to get sandwiches from the pretzel stand at the train station. I participated in a conference call for work that night; my colleagues naturally were distressed at my taking time away from vacation. Then I told them that I was on my balcony, watching the evening sun paint the Matterhorn orange.

Day 5

As it turned out, clear weather persisted and the Matterhorn remained majestically visible. Breakfast at Mont Cervin Palace was at about the same level as at Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees. The surroundings were considerably less opulent but the buffet selection was a little broader.

Let's talk about the Forest Fun Park ropes courses and ziplines. I'm 54 years old and 30 pounds heavier than I'd like to be. I have no back issues or other such limitations, but my athletic activity these days is little more than weights and ellipticals at the gym. The obstacles on the Green course taxed me. If your balance is clumsy, you must make up for it with upper body strength. If you're not particularly agile, a long stride can be helpful. I considered quitting only once, when getting through one of the stations near the end, where the safety line to which I was latched had sloped down to maybe 30 inches above the tiny platform. Getting to the other side of the station demanded not only balance and strength but also dexterity, and I hadn't arrived in time to see the previous person negotiate it. I eventually figured out how to duck under the line while keeping my feet on the platform, but my ambition to take on the more challenging courses had evaporated. Yet despite the demanding effort, I did have a ton of fun and probably would do it again. I truly loved the zipline parts of the course, and sometimes wish I had braved the additional obstacles for the reward of longer, higher zips. The photo ops alone make the effort worthwhile: ABD brought in professional photographers to supplement the efforts of the guides, so there are great closeup pictures of all of us traversing the courses with the Matterhorn looming in the background. I heartily recommend participating in this terrific activity for everyone in comparable or better shape than I.

On our own until dinner time, we walked back to downtown Zermatt from the Fun Park. Craving sushi (and ramen for DW), we went to Gee's, a very attractive bar with a pan-Asian menu. They had the hottest kimchi I've ever eaten. I really like spicy food, but for the first time ever I ordered a glass of milk at a restaurant, to extinguish the fire on my tongue so that I could taste my tuna roll. Back at the hotel, DW tried out the hot tub and pool while I cleared out my inbox. We did most of our gift shopping that afternoon: engraved Swiss Army knives and Laderach chocolates led our purchases. We also passed about an hour at the Matterhorn Museum (prepaid for ABD guests), which has exhibits about life in Zermatt in the mid-19th century and about climbing Cervino, with special attention to the still-controversial tragedy of the first descent.

The adult dinner in a private part of the hotel's restaurant was the least impressive meal on the adventure. While the food (pre-ordered entrée and dessert) was not poor, it was not nearly as good as at the other eateries on the tour. The choices lacked theming appropriate to the location, much the same fare you might expect at a business convention or a modest wedding reception. And it was the only group dinner or lunch where each guest was limited to one glass of wine or beer. If you had a second glass, you had to line up at the end of the meal and pay cash.

Day 6

The journey from Zermatt to Lucerne: overdose of Alpine scenery. At Oberwald, we got off the bus, which was loaded onto a flatbed rail car for a 10-mile trip through the Furka Tunnel. We of course rode a passenger train, reboarding our bus in Realp.

Lunch in Andermatt: The restaurant in Gasthaus zum Sternen charmed with rustic décor and friendly staff. We had rösti, much like shredded potato hash browns, topped with a fried egg and other things. The town itself seemed unremarkable, except for the ever-present splendor of the Alps and a pretty mountain stream that winds through downtown.

Check-in Hotel Schweizerhof: a compelling mix of old-world opulence and post-modern theming. For example, turndown service provides chocolate not on your pillow, but in custom tins. The tins are placed in an overdone cigar box containing other niceties, such as a pamphlet of "good night stories." Rooms are themed around famous hotel guests; ours was Australian opera icon Nellie Melba. Though only on the third floor, we had an expansive view of Luke Lucerne.

Walking tour of downtown Lucerne: we used radios to hear our step-on guide provide a generally appealing narrative about the sights close to the hotel. An orientation such as this one is always a good idea in a new city, but it seemed a little too unimaginative compared to the rest of the itinerary.

Swiss Museum of Transport: this tour stop was probably intended as a chance for kids to blow off steam after all that time on the bus and the walking tour. There are a lot of hands-on displays and some extravagant play equipment. But I'm pretty nerdy about the technology and business of transportation, so I probably would have enjoyed more time in museum. Between our full itinerary for the day and the museum's 6:00pm closing time, we were able to tour for less than 2 hours. We didn't check out the Chocolate Experience, having done the similar attraction in Hershey, Pa., but the families who did the Experience were very pleased.

Dinner on our own: DW and I kept dinner simple; spaghetti and pizza at Einhorn next to the hotel. The family next to us enjoyed a very elaborate serving of chocolate mousse, a most impressive sight. Everything in Lucerne except restaurants closes early so shopping is not an option in the evening. We strolled the lakeshore, watching some dinner cruises depart.

Day 7

Schweizerhof's breakfast buffet was the best of the three hotels' because it included the option to order eggs a la carte. The dining room, with a view of the lake, was also superior.

The jaw-dropping scenery around Mount Titlis calls to mind the views from Gornergrat. While there is no local summit that rivals the Matterhorn, the peaks and glaciers around Titlis inspire a similar level of awe. And it feels very rewarding to touch and walk in the snow of the Alps, an experience that was not readily available (during summer) on the parts of Gornergrat that we visited. Some of the most striking vistas extend directly beneath you while crossing the 1,600-foot high suspension bridge. The glacier cave (a tunnel, really) brings you sights you may never match at any destination. The sledding and tubing hills offer opportunities for active fun, producing the same level of excitedly amusing stories that the ropes courses and ziplines yielded in our group.

I might say that the Mount Titlis excursion has something for everyone, but I would have to exclude persons uncomfortable with being suspended high above the ground. Our trip to the top involved fairly long rides on three different cablecars, last being the Rotair, which carries up to 75 standing people and rotates 360 degrees while in transit. We then traversed to a neighboring summit via the aforementioned suspension bridge. From that second peak, we rode a chairlift that dangles you hundreds of feet over snowy slopes and rocky crevasses; you must take the chairlift to get to the sledding and tubing.

Lunch in the resort's full-service restaurant was comforting, with fare appropriate for the cold climate and evocative views of the surrounding Alps.

Returning to an elevation where mortals tread, we visited a nearby cheese factory. This stop was not a tour, merely a presentation by the cheese artisan. We didn't even see any cows. The products on sale looked appealing, but it had been less than two hours since lunch. Many in our group enjoyed the housemade yogurt.

Back in Lucerne, there was some free time before dinner. The shopping around the hotel is surprisingly limited, if you're not looking for watches and jewelry. We couldn't find a place offering high-quality T-shirts until we got to the airport the next day.

The farewell dinner at the Old Swiss House featured amusements and surprises that I won't spoil here. The dinner (pre-ordered entrée and dessert) was first-rate and the surroundings classically impressive. Be sure to view the celebrity guest photos in the stairway to the lower level.

Conclusion

We were in the largest group headed to the Zurich airport, so we had the same bus and driver who had been ferrying us the previous two days. The transfer was easy and uneventful.

I endorse and recommend guides Tina Hyatt and Marco Bonnani. I hope to see Marco at his wine bar in Barcelona.

I'm so grateful that we chose this adventure to celebrate our anniversary. The components I wanted were all there: memorable scenery, delectable cuisine, a balance of active and placid amusement. We were the only couple in the group who came without kids; while I would have loved to share the experience with our son and daughter, I think the adventure works well for adults only.

Having completed our first ABD, I'm confident we'll do more.
 
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RSM

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 9, 2009
Thanks for the trip report. We did this adventure 9 years ago, and it remains our favorite ABD of the 5 we have done. Zermatt remains one of our favorite places in the world.
 
  • OKW Lover

    Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle.
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2004
    I really enjoyed reading this report. Thanks for doing it!

    I chose the Italy + Switzerland offering largely on the strength of the Dreams Unlimited podcast review of the (former name) Alpine Magic adventure a couple of years ago. Some things have changed since Pete and Kevin and John took the trip
    Val & I were lucky enough to be on that trip. It was certainly memorable and your report brings it all back vividly.
    Marco Bonnani is a native Italian (and former Epcot server) who offers amazing reserves of energy and enthusiasm to keep things moving.
    Val & I had Marco as one of our guides on our first European ABD, Vivi Italia, covering Rome, Florence and Venice. He's a ball of fire!
    the stirring views at our restroom stop in the Simplon Pass
    That might have been the second most impressive view on this trip. We also really enjoyed the COLD water from the drinking fountain there after several days of warm/humid weather in Stressa.
    The Mont Cervin Palace, easily our favorite hotel on the adventure, provided one of the best rooms I've had at any lodging in the world. Though not especially luxurious, our room was a huge loft suite with two bathrooms, cozy Alpine décor, and a skylight. The most compelling feature was our balcony with a view of the Matterhorn.
    Happy to hear good things about his hotel. When we went we stayed at the Zermatterhof and thought it was very good. Nice view from our bedroom windows of the Matterhorn. Its the hotel that Walt Disney stayed at (since redone many times) when he got the inspiration for the movie Third Man on the Mountain, and of course the Matterhorn at DL.
    I repeatedly stepped out there to see Cervino's changing moods: in sunlight, in moonlight, adorned theatrically with clouds, or boldly nude.
    Moods is exactly how I thought of when viewing the Matterhorn. Amazing changes almost by the minute. Especially fun watching sunrise as the sun hits the top of the mountain first and then progresses downward.
    The journey from Zermatt to Lucerne: overdose of Alpine scenery. At Oberwald, we got off the bus, which was loaded onto a flatbed rail car for a 10-mile trip through the Furka Tunnel. We of course road a passenger train, reboarding our bus in Realp.
    Interesting. When we did this trip we stayed on the bus while they loaded it onto the rail car and stayed in it the whole way.
    Lunch in Andermatt: The restaurant in Gasthaus zum Sternen charmed with rustic décor and friendly staff. We had rösti, much like shredded potato hash browns, topped with a fried egg and other things. The town itself seemed unremarkable, except for the ever-present splendor of the Alps and a pretty mountain stream that winds through downtown.
    We enjoyed the brief respite in Andermatt. Nice to wander the town and stretch our legs.
    Check-in Hotel Schweizerhof: a compelling mix of old-world opulence and post-modern theming. For example, turndown service provides chocolate not on your pillow, but in custom tins. The tins are placed in an overdone cigar box containing other niceties, such as a pamphlet of "good night stories." Rooms are themed around famous hotel guests; ours was Australian opera icon Nellie Melba.
    I can't remember who our room was named for, but I do remember that it wasn't anybody I had heard of before. Interesting rooms and amenities. We had a corner room so we had views of both the lake and the city.
    The farewell dinner at the Old Swiss House featured amusements and surprises that I won't spoil here.
    That was a fun night!
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Thanks for the report. This has always been a trip on the fringe of my attention; I really need to take a more serious look at it.

    Tina was one of the Adventure Guides on my Med cruise ABD add-on 9 years ago. She was excellent! :)

    Sayhello
     

    met19

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2005
    nice report. I also did this trip with the dis and was interested in the changes. I think Mt. Titlis is an interesting addition. When we were in Zermatt, we were thinking about the hotel change and would people have views of Matterhorn from the room...glad they still do. Might be worth taking this again
     
  • uncleleo

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2009
    Happy to hear good things about his hotel. When we went we stayed at the Zermatterhof and thought it was very good. Nice view from our bedroom windows of the Matterhorn. Its the hotel that Walt Disney stayed at (since redone many times) when he got the inspiration for the movie Third Man on the Mountain, and of course the Matterhorn at DL.
    Thanks for sharing your memories of this great itinerary. After touring the Matterhorn Museum, we did step into the Zermatterhof. I couldn't resist its front facade; the symmetrical beauty brings to mind a box of chocolates. The hotel's wood-paneled lobby, though not very large, is quite impressive, almost intimidatingly so. We sat in their comfy chairs and leafed through a Matterhorn photo journal.
     

    met19

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2005
    Thanks for sharing your memories of this great itinerary. After touring the Matterhorn Museum, we did step into the Zermatterhof. I couldn't resist its front facade; the symmetrical beauty brings to mind a box of chocolates. The hotel's wood-paneled lobby, though not very large, is quite impressive, almost intimidatingly so. We sat in their comfy chairs and leafed through a Matterhorn photo journal.
    i still think the MC hotel is a step down from the zermatthof. the later is closer and and walt stayed there
     

    uncleleo

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2009
    nice report. I also did this trip with the dis and was interested in the changes. I think Mt. Titlis is an interesting addition. When we were in Zermatt, we were thinking about the hotel change and would people have views of Matterhorn from the room...glad they still do. Might be worth taking this again
    I would certainly do it again; maybe in a few years after they've added a new experience or two. While I absolutely enjoyed the Mount Titlis excursion, it's something I don't need to do a second time. Maybe they'll replace it with some other mountaintop experience. While in Lucerne, I looked up Mount Pilatus in Wikipedia and read about a popular local tourist activity, "the golden round trip." You take a cruise across Lake Lucerne and catch a cogwheel train to the top of Pilatus. Then you take a cableway down the other side of mountain and a bus back to downtown. I'd love to see an ABD twist on this itinerary.
     
  • DollyM

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 30, 2015
    Thank's for the report. I'll be on the 9/6 adventure so the restaurant links will come in handy. Marco B was one of my guides on Viva Italia, my first ABD. Love him!
     

    uncleleo

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2009
    Thank's for the report. I'll be on the 9/6 adventure so the restaurant links will come in handy. Marco B was one of my guides on Viva Italia, my first ABD. Love him!
    We were originally booked on that departure, but I had wanted to go earlier (our anniversary is in May) so I got on the waitlist for July 5. It's an adults-only group, right? I'd be interested to hear about what they do differently. I'm guessing that several guests will opt out of the ropes course and the sledding, so that ABD may provide organized alternatives such as a guided tour in Zermatt and a hike on Mount Titlis.
     

    DollyM

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 30, 2015
    We were originally booked on that departure, but I had wanted to go earlier (our anniversary is in May) so I got on the waitlist for July 5. It's an adults-only group, right? I'd be interested to hear about what they do differently. I'm guessing that several guests will opt out of the ropes course and the sledding, so that ABD may provide organized alternatives such as a guided tour in Zermatt and a hike on Mount Titlis.
    Yes, it's an adult exclusive. You're probably right about people opting out but that won't be me! I haven't looked into the activities on Mt. Titlis but I'm excited about the ropes course.
     

    vakamalua

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2009
    Yes, it's an adult exclusive. You're probably right about people opting out but that won't be me! I haven't looked into the activities on Mt. Titlis but I'm excited about the ropes course.
    Please report back after your 9/6 trip. I'm interested in how big your group is for this adult-only trip and how many opt out of the ropes course and / or the Snow Park activities on Mt Titlis. Also, whether and how ABD accommodates the folks who opt out of one or both of these activities. Thanks
     

    DollyM

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 30, 2015
    Please report back after your 9/6 trip. I'm interested in how big your group is for this adult-only trip and how many opt out of the ropes course and / or the Snow Park activities on Mt Titlis. Also, whether and how ABD accommodates the folks who opt out of one or both of these activities. Thanks
    I'll be sure to do that.
     

    DollyM

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 30, 2015
    I'm back from my Alpine Magic adventure. It was a lot of fun and Robyn and Miki were awesome! We had a group of 37, mostly couples or pairs of couples traveling together. There was a family of four where the "kids" were in their 20's. Almost everyone else was in their 50's, 60's, or 70's.

    During the welcome dinner there was a lot of joking about people most looking forward to the ropes course. The alternative for that was OYO at the Matterhorn museum, paid for by ABD. There were six people who didn't show up at the ropes course and a few others who went but didn't do the ropes. It's very easy to watch people doing the courses. At least one woman was following her husband along paths beneath the ropes to take pictures of him. There's a tiny practice course that you can try and decide if you want to go further. There may have been a few people who didn't go beyond the practice course. There was a 73-year old woman who was able to do the green (easiest) course. It's possible to treat the course as mostly zip-lines and pull yourself across rather than walking across the obstacles. I saw some people doing that and it makes it less of a challenge. The guides will arrange a ride back as soon as you're ready to go.

    On Mount Titils the tubing/sledding was just a small part of the day (less than an hour) so there was no arranged alternative, just suggestions of how else to spend your time. There's no real hiking up at the top since it's snow-covered but you can ride the chairlift down to the tubing/sledding area and/or look around the building at the top of the mountain which is where we had lunch. Nothing on that day is very strenuous and I think having spent a few days at 5,000' in Zermatt helped us acclimate to the 10,000' elevation. Five people stayed back at the hotel that day, about 25 came down to the tubing/sledding area, and 21 went tubing/sledding. There was a bit of a line for tubing (I heard 20 minutes) so I skipped that and did the sledding since that was basically a free-for-all. There's a conveyor belt between the tubing and sledding areas to bring you back up with your tube/sled. I was able to ride a sled down about 8 times during the time we had. We got really lucky with the weather that day. It was warm (for 10,000 feet), no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. It might not have been as much fun if the weather was poor.

    At the transportation museum Robyn and a small group of us were playing with the kids' vehicles in the large courtyard. I asked Robyn if adults played on them during non-adult exclusive adventures. She said no, that it's just the kids; the adults would be allowed to, they just don't. Without kids on the trip, we were running around like kids. It was a blast.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    At the transportation museum Robyn and a small group of us were playing with the kids' vehicles in the large courtyard. I asked Robyn if adults played on them during non-adult exclusive adventures. She said no, that it's just the kids; the adults would be allowed to, they just don't. Without kids on the trip, we were running around like kids. It was a blast.
    This is one of the things I really love about doing Adults Only departures. The Adults don't seem to feel like they need to adult as much, and can be child-like. I like that dynamic!

    Robyn was one of the Adventure Guides on my Med Cruise Add-on in 2010. She's just fabulous!!

    Sayhello
     

    vakamalua

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2009
    Dollym, Thanks for reporting back on your 9/6 trip. Glad you had a great trip.

    What did you enjoy the most?
    What did you think of the hotels?
    Did you find the group too big?
     

    DollyM

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 30, 2015
    Dollym, Thanks for reporting back on your 9/6 trip. Glad you had a great trip.

    What did you enjoy the most?
    What did you think of the hotels?
    Did you find the group too big?
    What I enjoyed the most was probably influenced by my expectations. I wasn’t expecting such perfect weather for our Mount Titlis day or that the sledding would be so much fun. So if I had to pick on single thing, it might be the sledding.

    I had also convinced myself that I wouldn’t get a non-cloudy view of the Matterhorn so I was a little giddy when I saw it the day we arrived in Zermatt. The first time was before our fondue lunch and I asked Miki if I could make a run for it to see it because I didn’t think I could enjoy lunch without knowing (I’d be too anxious). So about five of us set off running through town to get a view. Even though there were clouds around the top I was excited. And there were fewer clouds around the top once we went up Gornergrat that afternoon but the rest of the sky had more wispy clouds by then. It was perfectly clear the morning we left.

    I really enjoyed the ropes course but I would have liked it even more if I had a someone to laugh with me at some of the predicaments I found myself in when I was doing the more difficult courses. I was at the front of the pack on the green course and most people didn’t do other courses. So I was doing the hard ones on my own and was only with one other person on the green course since we were moving through it more quickly than the rest of the pack.

    My favorite meal experience might have been the dinner in Como. Again the weather was perfect and we were outside. It was also after a relaxing day on Lake Como. It also exceeded my expectations based on the description. The fondue lunch was also fun.

    The hotels are much nicer than hotels I stay in on my own. They didn’t quite live up to the Peninsulas on my China adventure last year but the Zermatt hotel was the closest in terms of the room itself. Plus I could see the Matterhorn from my bed. And I loved the push button shower.

    I didn’t find the group too big but most of my ABDs were similar. 38 on Viva Italia, 25 on Bella Italia, 38 on Arizona-Utah, and 35 in China. For me personally (often traveling solo), big groups allow me to blend in and meet a lot of people, some I click with, some I don’t. For me it’s the mix of people more than the number. My favorite ABD families were Viva Italia and China because there were more solos and non-married couples (friends, sisters, solo parent with adult son or daughter, and other less common relationships). Nothing against married couples, and I’ve met some awesome ones among my adventure families, but I feel they gravitate towards each other, especially the more “traditional” married couples (male/female who have, but are not traveling with, adult kids). So far I’ve only done adult exclusives.
     
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