By: Lin Fernandez Humble, Vice President
This past summer my family was able to have the most amazing adventure on Tauck Bridge’s Alpine Adventure. My husband, two young boys ages 7 and 9 and my mother experienced a memorable, once in a lifetime adventure in the heart of Europe.
Our trip began when we landed at the Zurich airport in Switzerland one day prior to the start of our trip. We were immediately greeted outside security by a Tauck representative who drove us in a private Mercedes van to our hotel in the heart of Luzern. We stayed at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Luzern, a historic 19th century grand hotel, which also happens to be a 5 star hotel. From our room, we had the most spectacular view of the Swiss Alps and the lake. The hotel was centrally located and we were able to walk to the center of Luzern and the historic old town. We immediately settled in our rooms and took off for a lovely walk in the historic town. The hotel was also minutes from the famous Kepellbrucke footbridge! This is literally a wooden bridge across the Reuss River which is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. It is breathtaking!
That night we enjoyed peaceful sleep in our 5 star hotel. The following day was the first day of our anticipated Tauck Bridges Alpine Adventure. The tour began with a walking tour of Luzern’s cobblestone streets. While we had seen much of it on our own, this time we had the luxury to learn the history behind the quaint city of Luzern. We were given the history of the bridge along with the fire that destroyed a large amount of the bridge in 1993. The tour was fascinating as we learned great amount of history about this mesmerizing city.
The walking tour ended back at the Hotel where we enjoyed a welcome reception and a delicious dinner while we met our newest 40 friends with whom we were to enjoy a memorable trip for the next 8 days. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that there were 18 other children on the tour. Our sons immediately bonded with a handful of other boys.
The next day we were taken by coach from the Hotel to Luzern’s famous Lowendenkmal (Lion Memorial) which pays tribute to the Swiss Guards who have their lives in defense of the French king during the French Revolution. This monument was better than I had expected. Mark Twain described the sculpture of the mortally-wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world”. The lion is carved within the living rock of the cliff!
Following this monumental visit, we were taken to Alpnachstad to ride the world’s steepest cogwheel train up the summit of Mount Pilatus. This cogwheel train rides up the mountain at a world record 45 degrees. It is truly an amazing experience. Unfortunately, this day was a wet, rainy, cloudy day and we were not able to experience the amazing views from the top of the mountain neither the longest summer toboggan run in all of Switzerland! However, most of the guests were able to enjoy Switzerland’s biggest rope park after we descended the mountain via aerial cable-car to Fraekmuentegg.
After the ropes course we descended even further back to the city via gondola. That evening we were able to enjoy dinner on our own. We enjoyed a lovely dinner in a café along the riverside facing the famous Kepellbrucke Bridge!
Our following day started off with a cruise across Lake Luzern. The scenery was breathtaking. We were then taken to the train station where we rode aboard the famous Glacier Express. I may have to agree that this was the most scenic drive alongside Europe’s countryside. Views of waterfalls, mountains, lush Alpine valleys and tiny, lovely villages were never ending. On this ride the children also got to spend some time together playing games and getting to know each other. The train ride was a fun time for them!
We then arrived at the popular resort town of St. Moritz. We stayed at the Hotel Schweizerhof St. Moritz with lovely views of the lake and the Swiss Alps. That evening we enjoyed dinner at a quaint, typical fondue house! It was delicious!
The following day were started an exciting day by climbing up Piz Diavolezza via cable car! The views of the Engadin Valley with its many, clear-blue water lakes sprawling beneath us with the snow-capped mountains in the back was breathtaking! This is the most peaceful and inspiring views I have ever seen! The weather was perfect! Clear blue skies to enjoy the serene setting!
Following this amazing view, we descended back down the same cable car and were driven to the Morteratsch Glacier. Here we were given the choice of a guided mountain hike or rock climbing the Swiss Alps! I must say that this was a hard decision to make, but given our kids’ ages, we opted for the hike! I am so glad we did! This hike was amazing! Crossing little creeks, climbing rocks and finally reaching the glacier! We actually had a chance to step on the glacier! The boys truly enjoyed this 3 mile roundtrip hike! It may sound like much, but even my 7 year thought it was perfect!
Following the hike, we joined the others who opted for the rock climbing and visited a local Alpine cheesery for a tasting and a look at cheesemaking! We also had several games planned out for the families. We enjoyed archery and more! The boys had a blast!
After this we enjoyed a lovely bike ride through the Engadin valley back to St. Moritz. This bike ride was my favorite part of the entire trip. The scenery was amazing! Once in a lifetime bike ride on the Swiss Alps! That evening we enjoyed a relaxing evening in the Hotel as we had had a long, activity filled day. We rested for our anticipated trip to Austria.
The following morning we took the bus across the Alps into Austria. We arrived at Innsbruck- the 15th century capital of Emperor Maximilian I’s Habsburg Empire were we met a local guide for a walking tour of this city. However, we chose to explore the city’s history square on our own. We did some shopping and visited the largest Swarovski crystal store I have ever seen!
That afternoon we were taken to Innsbruck’s high-tech Bergisel ski-jump complex for a demonstration of the difficult and daring art of ski jumping. Here we met one of the masters of this sport and he demonstrated ski jumping live! I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, however, this exceeded my expectations. This complex is a huge, ski-jumping facility with actual ski jumping involved! You get to see a jumper jump and get to see what it is like for these athletes as they take this daring jump. We all truly enjoyed this stop.
Following the ski-jumping we arrived at our hotel located in the quaint village of Seefeld. Our hotel was previously a 16th century monastery in the heart of the Swiss Alps. This hotel had an incredible old world charm with 3,000 candles lit every single night!! My son actually said: “This is officially the nicest Hotel I have ever stayed”. It was charming, delightful and you actually had a feeling that you were transported back in time to the 16th century. We had a guided tour of the hotel by a young girl who was a third generation owner of the hotel! That evening we were taken by horse carriage to a traditional mountain “hut” for a traditional Tyrolean evening with food, music fun and games. The children enjoyed fun and games such as archery and “crazy golf”. They had so much fun and the food was delicious! This was such a fun evening with all the new friends we had made along the way! The evening ended with a horse carriage back to our lovely hotel! What a fun day this was!
The next day we visited Austria’s Otztal Valley and a trip to Area 47 which is one the largest adventure parks in the Alps. This was an ultimate outdoor playing facility. This place had converted real rivers and lakes into an aquatic playground with slides, rope course, jumping and much more. Our aquatic adventure began with whitewater rafting adventure. We chose the easiest ride due to our young sons, however, this was challenging enough. This was the first time my two boys and I had whitewater rafted! What a better place than alongside the Alps to take on our very first rafting experience! Tauck had organized for photographers and video to come alongside to document this fun experience. We did get to put on Neoprene suits due to the cold weather and chili water. After the rafting, the boys got to experience the slides and other attractions at the water park. The rest of the evening we spent on our own back at the town of Seefeld.
The next day we rode our coach into Bavaria and drove straight to Neuschwanstein Castle a castle straight out of a storybook! Or should I say, the castle that Disney used to model Sleeping Beauty’s castle. We enjoyed a guided tour of this fascinating castle with all its fascinating history. After that we enjoyed a lovely lunch before heading our way to Munich. When we arrived in Munich we still had plenty of time to stroll through the town and do some shopping. We also visited the town square, Marienplatz and got a chance to see the automated clockwork figures come out to dance at 5p as the bells gaped and the tourists swarmed around to take in this spectacle.
That evening we had our farewell dinner at our posh hotel! We stayed at the swanky Bayerischer Hof! This hotel was elegant, classy, and modern and a perfect place to enjoy our farewell dinner at the Palais Keller which was once a 15th century salt store beneath the hotel in the heart of the city. This hotel was centrally located as well. We were able to be at the Marienplatz within minutes.
This trip was absolutely amazing!! It had plenty of adventure for two young boys and their family. We met great new friends and enjoyed wonderful bonding. This is a trip we will never forget!
By: Lin Fernandez Humble