Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top Ten Beds With a View: Mürren Hotel Makes the List

“Rooms with a view are heavenly, but beds with a view are divine," writes the Chicago Tribune.
Our sentiments exactly!

Congrats to Ruth, Othmar and their team at the Hotel Bellevue Crystal, our preferred stop in Mürren, Switzerland. They recently made the Chicago Tribune’s top ten list: “Beds With a View.” Wunderbar!

We'll hike to Mürren and the Hotel Bellevue Crystal during our 10-day Via Alpine Stage 2.
The dates for this inn-to-inn hiking tour are July 26-August 4, 2012. Won't you join us?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Find Your Own Snow Cloud: Discovering Pure Powder Skiing in the Alps

That’s Ryder-Walker’s founder and president, Peter Walker, and he’s smiling because he has something that many of us wish we had-his own personal snow cloud. While we won’t say that it ALWAYS snows when he takes people skiing in the Alps, (for fear of jinxing future ski tours), it sure seems like it ALWAYS snows when he takes people skiing in the Alps. (Get it?)

This year was a strange one for the snow situation in Europe, and everywhere for that matter. While Cordova, Alaska dug out from nearly 20 feet of snow, our friends in Switzerland and France kept sending us these notes.

“Rien. Rien. Rien.” Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

“C’est où ça?” Where’s the snow?

Then it happened. About the time that Peter and the Alpenglow team turned their freshly-waxed skis toward Europe, it dumped. Then it dumped again. Then it dumped some more. It even snowed in Rome!

Am I putting the snow at Peter’s feet? I am not. But I have noticed some interesting coincidences when it comes to snowy weather patterns and ski tours in Europe organized by our sister company, Alpenglow Ski Safaris. Whether it’s a highly refined art of manifestation, or just good luck, Alpenglow has some kind of mountain mojo that makes people smile. Just have a look at this photo.

That’s John Buzza. He had the time of his life during Alpenglow’s recent ski tour in La Grave, France. (Notice the snow).

Ryder-Walker head guide, Ken Fuhrer, put up some great photos of the trip. You can see them here. RW guide and adventure guru, Staffan Bjorklund, also blogged about the trip. Check it out here.

Feeling a little dry this winter? Give Peter and the Alpenglow team a call. They'll help you find your own snow cloud.

Images from top to bottom: Peter Walker, happy because he said it would dump, and it did; John Buzza loving it; Staffan and John celebrating a day well-skied. | All images by Ken Fuhrer, La Grave, France.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

New Hiking Tour in Southern Italy: Capri & the Amalfi Coast

It is a real pleasure to write about our new self guided hiking tour of Capri & the Amalfi Coast. As I sort through the details concerning our newest hiking tour in southern Italy, one thing stands out in my mind. The Amalfi Coast is truly enchanting. Who wouldn’t want to go there?

The region surrounding Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula has everything that you could ask for in a “civilized” hiking vacation, from scenic hillside walks like the Sentiero degli Dei (the Trail of the Gods), to quiet dinners beneath the pagliarelle, traditional straw canopies that transform your dinner table into an intimate dining experience. From natural wonders like the Faraglioni, three highly-photographed rock formations standing off the coast of Capri, to man-made luxuries like limoncello, a delectable lemon-flavored liqueur and specialty of the region, you’ll find something beautiful, delicious, or both, waiting around every corner.

Our seven-day hiking tour begins in Sorrento, Italy, a coastal town famous for its legendary views of Naples, Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. You’ll spend one night at our favorite hotel in Sorrento before hopping on a boat for a brief transfer to Isle of Capri. Once on Capri, you’ll be in heaven. We guarantee it. We’ve selected the best hikes on Capri, but since this is a self-guided hiking tour, you can indulge in anything you like. Explore ancient villas. Visit tourist sites like the Grotta Azzurra, a popular sea cave that glows with electric blue light. Take a swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea. We’ve designed this itinerary so that you can lose yourself in Capri, from coastline walks and Mediterranean vistas, to exquisite boutiques and sun-soaked Dolce Vita. This is a perfect trip for couples, especially if he wants to shop, but she wants to hike.

After two days on the island of Capri, you’ll transfer back to the mainland, this time to the south side of the Sorrentine Peninsula and a famous port village called Amalfi. While most people know Amalfi for its dramatic cliffs, coastal views and a cascade of terraced villages, there is infinitely more to this seaside gem than what we’ve been shown in Hollywood. With our hike descriptions in hand, you’ll explore the Amalfi that inspires filmmakers, walking along footpaths laid down by the Romans centuries ago. You’ll see the medieval architecture in the center of town, including sites like the Duomo di Amalfi, an eleventh century cathedral, and the Museo della Carta, a fourteenth century paper mill, and you’ll climb 1,700 feet above the village to witness the mountain culture of southern Italy. You’ll also have a chance to sample limoncello, the principal specialty of Amalfi, and you’ll wander through the tranquil lemon orchards that produce this classic Italian cocktail. Following a traditional lunch at a quiet hamlet high in the hills, (and provided you didn’t sample too much limoncello), you’ll return to Amalfi via the Antrani trail, descending hundreds of ancient stairs directly to the sea.

No walking tour of the Amalfi Coast would be complete without a visit to Positano. There is something distinctly “Italian” about this tiny fishing village. Maybe it’s the gentle sound of clinking wine glasses by the water, or the smell of Italian cooking on the salty sea air, but something about Positano feels very calming and timeless. You’ll access Positano by hiking along the Sentiero degli Dei (the Trail of the Gods), and if you haven’t blown through your memory cards during the first half of the trip, then you’ll certainly fill them up during your last two hiking days. You’ll enjoy huge views over the Mediterranean Sea and you’ll discover why people refer to Positano as, “the vertical city,” a nod to the terraces of homes that seemingly tumble down the hillsides and into the sea. You’ll have plenty of time to relax on the beach or hike dizzying trails in the hills. Have dinner on the water, or simply relax in your eighteenth century 4 star hotel. That’s the glory of a self-guided hiking tour through southern Italy! We make it easy to enjoy La Dolce Vita. 

Please visit our tour page for the full Capri & the Amalfi Coast itinerary.