Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Decent Proposal!

Few things compare to popping the top off a favorite Swiss beverage in the heart of the region that brewed it. (Notice the label on this Appenzeller beer and compare it to the background).

But one of our recent clients took things a step further. Not only did he pop the top, but he popped the Big Question as well.

We would like to extend our congratulatory remarks to Brian Jensen and Marie Malinowski who recently engaged to be married in the one of the most beautiful and undiscovered corners of Switzerland, Appenzell. Nice choice Brian!

Here's some rock.



This is a shot of the happy couple right after Brian proposed.



Brian picked the Schäfler hut to propose, but I would bet money that he could have popped the question anywhere in Appenzell and Marie would have said yes.

Here's a hint to all the potential fiancés out there. Switzerland, chocolate, beautiful mountains, alpine flowers, wine, cheese. Why not set yourself up for success?

We also enjoyed our own success. Marie sent us a note following their tour and said this about their experience. "This is by far the best vacation of hiking/climbing we've ever done! All went great and your maps were fabulous. Thanks for arranging everything."


I can't help but wonder though. Did Marie's agreement to marry Brian lead to the beer, or was it the other way around? ;)

Congrats to the both of you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Check out my new wheels!

Don't I look stylish?

Ok, that's not really me, but I kind of wish that it was. Look at that suit! The car really isn't even mine either, though this great vintage ad DOES shows what my first set of wheels looked like. The picture shows a 1975 Ford Granada. Mine was a 1977. It had an inline 6 cylinder engine, a bench seat in the front, and a whole lotta lovin' in the rear. The floor of the trunk rusted so badly that the main body of the car actually collapsed around the frame. The result, one heck of a sag and water bed like gyrations for any passengers riding in the rear. Add a 15 inch subwoofer to the gyrations and, well, you get the picture. I was the designated driver on many summer nights. Anyway, my old car looked just like this one. (Just lower the rear bumper by about 10 inches)

In our society, acquiring a new set of wheels means a rite of passage. It represents a dividing line between confinement and freedom. Wheels give us wind in our hair. They give us mobility and they carry us to new adventures. So imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to test drive my new set of wheels, the Red Roller Alpine Adventures Duffle from L.L. Bean.

I know that you're thinking. How did we go from the Granada, a symbol of man's innovative engineering and sleek design, to roller luggage? Just bear with me please. For years, my standard packing combination for Europe has been one backpack and one duffle bag. I typically pack everything that I need for the trail in the back pack and then carry it on the plane. Everything else that I can't carry, or could do without if the airline lost my bag, like trekking poles, pocket knife and fancy clothes, go in the duffle as checked baggage. It works like a charm, except that my arm and shoulder pay the price when I have long distances to cover by foot. This was my old combination-one backpack and one duffel without wheels.


But not anymore! I recently had the opportunity to try my new combo. I still have the backpack, but now I just pop open the handle and roll baby roll. I never imagined that roller luggage could feel so good!


Just look at those beefy tires on the bottom of the bag. The bottom is also bombproof.


I have the large version, but L.L. Bean makes a smaller bag, (the medium), that qualifies as a carry-on. I would love to travel with just one bag, but as a guide, I need extra space for guide-like things.

If you're in the market for a new set of wheels, then check out the Roller Alpine Adventures Duffle from L.L. Bean. Beware though, your friends might make you the designated driver.

Visit llbean.com for more info.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today's low Airfares to the Alps.

This is one of the best times to grab airfare to Europe.

Check out just a few of today's fares to the Alps.

Houston to Munich, Germany-$854 Round Trip.
Chicago to Milan, Italy-$656 Round Trip.
Philadelphia, PA to Zurich, Switzerland-$742 Round Trip.
Washington Dulles to Geneva, Switzerland-$784 Round Trip.
Seattle, WA to Munich, Germany-$904 Round Trip.
New York, JFK to Munich, Germany-$722 Round Trip.

These are just a few of many listings. Be sure to check our fares widget at the lower left part of this blog for updated fares to the Alps. You can also register for daily updates at airfarewatchdog.com

Monday, July 14, 2008

Storm-Za Bastille!

Happy Bastille Day!

This is the day that an angry French mob stormed the Bastille, (the Royal Fortress), in Paris during the summer of 1789. Their actions sparked a revolution and signaled the first victory of the people of Paris against a symbol of the Ancien Régime. Today the French recognize their Fête National, or Bastille Day, as a day of new hope and prosperity.

Grab your baguettes and put on your best French Accent. Vive la Revolution!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Switzerland Wins Two More.

It's hard to believe that UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) only recognized three World Heritage sites in Switzerland just eight years ago. Now it seems like they simply can't stop naming sites in our favorite little alpine country.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee convened in Quebec City, Canada on July 7th and designated two more World Heritage sites in Switzerland.

The first site, the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Cultural Landscape, brings together two historic railway lines that exemplify the outstanding technical and architectural achievements of Swiss railroading. Combined, the two railway lines cross almost 200 stone viaducts and bridges and pass through more than 50 tunnels.

I find these two lines fascinating because the bridges and viaducts are considered full masonry construction, meaning that they don't use any reinforcing concrete or steel. They're basically built the way the romans would build bridges. Even more, the engineers built many of the structures on curves and slopes which really takes this outdated and time consuming method of construction to it's highest level. The best part is that the engineers did it all for aesthetics, to preserve the character of the hidden and isolated mountain cultures that the railroad now connects. This is why I love Switzerland and the people who actually care about the look and feel of their surrounding environment.

To quote a press release from Swiss Tourism, "The property is exemplary of the use of the railway to overcome the isolation of settlements in the Central Alps early in the 20th century, with a major and lasting socio-economic impact on life in the mountains. It (Rhaetian Railways Albula/Berina) constitutes an outstanding technical, architectural and environmental ensemble and embodies architectural and civil engineering achievements, in harmony with the landscapes through which they pass."

To read more about Rhaetian Railways:
Click Here.




The Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, also known as the Glarus Overthrust, represents the second new UNESCO site in Switzerland, and it lies in the north-eastern part of the country on the cantonal borders of St. Gallen, Glarus and Graubünden The highlight of this region is that it reveals to the naked eye how the alps were formed.

This region has a been a key site for geologic sciences since the 1700's because of it's three dimensional representation of the structures and processes that characterize continental collision and mountain building. Normally, younger rocks are deposited on older rocks, but in this area rocks dating back 250-300 million years are found on top of rocks that are only 35-50 million years old, with the two layers separated by the "magic line" of the Glarus Overthrust. Particularly striking formations can be seen on the Tschingelhoren, including the famous Martin's Gap between Elm and Flims, and on the Foostock in the Weisstannental.

This new heritage site covers a mountainous area of 32,850 hectares which features seven peaks that rise above 3,000 m.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Declare Your Own Independence.


I hope that everyone enjoyed their holidays here on the North American continent. Canada celebrated their Canada Day on July 1st and we celebrated our Independence Day on the fourth of July. This past weekend gave me an idea though. Wouldn't it be fun to travel around the globe just helping people celebrate their independence?

My background is predominately Lithuanian so I would probably start my travels in Lithuania on February 16th, and then move on from there. Of course, current schedules, family obligations, the job, and other things make it difficult to simply travel around the globe for a year, so what about doing it piece-by-piece?

This is my new goal. I'm going to list every country, make a note of their Independence Day, if they have one, and then start checking them off as I visit them, one-by-one. It would actually be fascinating, and sad, to note the countries that can't boast about their independence. Maybe I could do this for them. Perhaps I could write a book, or start a blog. Well, maybe not.

Anyway, two really easy targets lie just around the corner. France celebrates their Bastille Day on July 14th and Switzerland celebrates their Swiss National day on August 1.

While Bastille Day might be a bit too close for organizing a last-minute trip to Europe, our Eiger Trail coincidentally begins on the Swiss National Day, August 1. (Still plenty of time to grab a flight). I've done this tour before during the holiday period and it's really exciting. Ceremonial mountaintop bonfires light up the night sky and alphorns resound in the distance. If you've ever wanted to see traditional Switzerland, with all of the costumes, food, pomp and song, then this the time to go.

The above photo shows a mountain top bonfire in the town of Gstaad, the start of our Eiger Trail. This is an example of one of the many bonfires that Swiss people light on the surrounding mountain tops on the evening of August 1st. (Think Lord of the Rings movie part III). It's amazing sight to see all of the surrounding ridge tops, and some of the peaks, twinkling in the evening light. It's even better when Jorg rips it up with a resounding yodel or the long, mournful call of an alphorn.

We still have a few spots available on the Eiger Trail, so please contact us if you're interested. What else to you have going on this summer? Why not break out and declare your own independence.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Telluride's Ultimate Adventure Company

We’ve been very fortunate this summer. Two of our local magazines, Telluride Style and Telluride Magazine, featured Ryder-Walker predominately in their summer 2008 issues.

If you’d like to know a little history behind the founders and founding of Ryder-Walker then please read both articles. They offer a nice glimpse of the gnome behind the curtain.

Click on the following titles to read,

Telluride’s Ultimate Adventure Company, by Telluride Style

and

Way to Go: Adventure Travel from Telluride, by Telluride Magazine

If you run into trouble with the links then visit telluridestyle.com and telluridemagazine.com to search their archives.

We offer a special thanks to Spicky. You’ve helped us, too, to see the world that we live in as it truly is.