Friday, December 20, 2013

Ryder-Walker HQ Becomes Energy Independent



If you subscribe to our e-newsletter, than you recently learned that Ryder-Walker’s main headquarters is now energy independent. We're really proud of this, and we’re also the first hiking tour company that we know of to produce essentially 100% of our own power.

How It Works

Ryder-Walker recently purchased 16 solar panels through Clean Energy Collective’s community solar program. Our 16 panels are part of a much larger community solar array (‘solar farm’) that lies one and-a-half hours to the west of our office in the Paradox valley of southwestern Colorado. The array harnesses 300 average days of sunshine per year and is currently the largest in the region.

Unlike traditional offset programs, where companies purchase "credits" for renewable energy, we actually own our own photovoltaic (PV) panels, and we receive credits for the energy produced. The credits appear on our power bill and reduce the amount that we pay each month.

Analyzing our annual power consumption, we discovered that we need just over 15 panels to supply the electricty needs of the Ryder-Walker main office. The fact that we own 16 panels, means that we actually produce more power than we consume. That said; we only recently hooked up to the system, so we’re just beginning to collect real-time data.

Fortunately, Clean Energy Collective makes it easy to analyze energy production data. We can log in to our Clean Energy Collective account to see real-time solar production and bill credit history.

Added Bonus

The purchase of our panels also includes 100 percent maintenance and operations for the next 50 years. We don’t have to climb rooftops, and we don’t have to scrape snow off the panels!

Partners

This program is possible because of Clean Energy Collective; our local power company, the San Miguel Power Association; and a matching funds program sponsored by the Town of Mountain Village, CO—where the Ryder-Walker office is based.

Mountain Village offered a per-panel discount for community and business members in an effort to encourage homeowners and businesses to purchase clean energy. We jumped at the chance, and we’re also proud to announce that Ryder-Walker is the first business in Mountain Village to take advantage of the Mountain Village Match Program and to support our community’s local solar energy initiative.

Read about other Ryder-Walker initatives to protect the planet by clicking here: www.ryderwalker.com/sustainable-travel.html 

Happy Holidays!

Photo by Catherine Pranskatis

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Ryder-Walker Welcomes Terese Broderick!



Last week we said goodbye to Nicole Nugent. This week we say hello to Terese Broderick! Terese is a Telluride native and has been working/training with us for about a month and-a-half. She is taking over Nicole’s position and will work hand-in-hand with Melanie Eggers, our managing director, wearing many hats and doing all the day-to-day stuff that needs to be done.

Terese speaks great German, she loves to travel, and she has a really sweet voice on the phone. If you get a chance, do call her. It will brighten your day. Please join us in welcoming Terese, our newest addition to the Ryder-Walker Team!

You can read more about Terese and other Ryder-Walker staff members at our staff page.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving



Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Ryder-Walker. We have a lot to be thankful for! 


Photo: Decanting the red wine.
Italian Dolomites Trek, 2013.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Read Our 2014 Hiking Tour Catalog Online



Our 30th Anniversary catalog is online! 

Flip through the digital version on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Download a pdf for later viewing. Print out individual pages and share them with your friends.

Drool. Repeat.


Let us know if you'd like to receive a printed version of our hiking tour catalog by mail. What about your friends? Do you know someone that would like to hear from us? Please drop us a line.

Note* If you’re on our list, then you should have received a copy of our tour catalog by mail. Please let us know if the catalog gnome somehow missed your mailbox. 

Cheers!

Catalog cover photo: Hiking in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco by Staffan Björklund

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Summiting Mont Blanc—I hope I remember this until my dying day!



Ken Maxwell, a longtime Ryder-Walker friend and guest, successfully summited Mont Blanc during the summer of 2013. Rising more than 15,000 feet, Mont Blanc is Western Europe’s tallest peak. We asked Ken to share a few details about his adventure and he graciously offered the following story. As it turns out, Ken developed a love for mountaineering while hiking with Ryder-Walker. Yeah! Our hats off to you, Ken. Congrats!

The Backstory


A long time ago, I think it was 1998, Tracey and I made our first trek with RW. We did the Val Bregaglia and loved it. The entire experience was phenomenal, and our guides were Peter, Kenny and Julia. We met some great folks on the trail including Biff and Sue Johnson, the Buzza's and other fun hogs (we were clueless about the fun hog thing!). We both enjoyed the challenge of the rock and were encouraged to take a mountaineering course. In 2000 we went to the Colorado Mountain School and climbed for a week. If you have ever looked at a mountain and thought "I want to stand on top" then we share that competitive drive.

As most climbing trips usually start - a friend and I were drinking and we decided we should climb the Matterhorn together. I asked Peter if he could recommend a guide for this and he did - but, my friend couldn't make the trip this year - and since I was ready physically, I still wanted to climb something! Thinking back to our first trek with RW; Biff and Paul were going to climb Mont Blanc later that summer (we also spent the week after our trek together), and it occurred to me that I would actually prefer MB over the Matterhorn anyway. So, the guide said OK to the idea and off we went! We have been on the 25th Jubilaum, and the Appenzell trip two years ago. We didn't do too many walks while our kids were young and at home. (They are both living on their own now.)

Climbing Mont Blanc






I spent 3 days acclimatizing in Zermatt by climbing and staying in the huts, which was a great experience on its own. Then on July 14th, I drove to Chamonix and went directly up to the Cosmique Hut. The weather was fantastic, the hut was full of climbers and I don't think anyone slept much. Everyone was up at midnight for the 1 A.M. breakfast, which I could barely eat for being so excited. At 1:30 A.M we set out with probably 60 or so other climbers for the summit. It was a great night for walking—stars out, the lights of Chamonix and Les Houches below. There was no wind, so I only wore a T-shirt and fleece to keep warm. It was the hardest thing I have done physically, but that only increases its inherent value to me.


The sun came up as I walked across the Col de Brenva and I hope I can remember that until my dying day! It seemed to take forever to get to the summit (actually about 6 and 1/2 hours). Herbie, my guide, was great and we decided on the summit to descend by way of the Goûter Hut and down to Chamonix as I felt strong —so we descended, giving me the grand traverse of the summit of MB! I can tell you that the next morning my quads were barking at me BIG TIME, but it is a great sense of accomplishment that still gives me a sense of pride as I write this.

-Ken Maxwell

Photos by Ken Maxwell; used with permission by Ryder-Walker.

Do you have Ryder-Walker photos and/or stories that you'd like to share? Please send them our way. You can also post to our Facebook page. Just hit the like button (if you haven't already), and start sharing the hiking goodness online.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Big Views From the Eiger Trail



Now here’s a great shot! This is a view of the Oeschinensee on the trail between Kandersteg and Griesalp in Switzerland’s famed Berner Oberland region. Guests on this past summer’s Eiger Trail scored back-to-back blue bird days with endless views like this one.


Here’s a shot of some happy hikers on the climb to the Hohtürli Pass.


The trail is much higher here. In this photo, hikers from another group descend toward Kandersteg and the Oeschinensee, which sit far below.


Here’s the trail sign at the top of the Hohtürli, elevation 2,778 meters, or 9,114 feet. The hike doesn’t end here, however. The trail continues to the Blümlisalphütte (2,834 meters), where large carafes of wine and huge pans of Käseschnitte await. Then it’s back down to Griesalp (2 hours and 30 minutes on the sign post) and our cozy home for the night.


Ken Fuhrer stopped for a photo shoot on the following day’s hike from Griesalp to Mürren. 


The trail crosses over the Sefinenfurgge (2,612 meters). 


In this parting shot, our group continues their descent toward Mürren. The prominent peak in the background is called the Jungfrau (4,158 meters). Just behind it and to the left is the Eiger (3,979 meters), the peak for which our Eiger Trail hiking tour is named. 

Photos by Ken Fuhrer

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why do we love the Dolomites?



Because they're just so friggin' awesome! Note the hikers in the lower left part of the image. Ryder-Walker guide Ken Fuhrer captured this image during one of many Italian Dolomites hiking tours this past summer. It's humbling to think that these jagged limestone peaks formed from millions of tiny organisms swimming around in an ancient tropical sea.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Photo: Spreading the Word




"I wore my Ryder-Walker jacket at the top of Santa Fe Ski Basin today. The aspens were gorgeous, as I'm sure they are in Telluride! Doing our best to spread the word about the world's best outfitter."

-Blythe Fortin

Yeah!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Faded: a tale of a guide's pack.




I sat in the warehouse, wrapped in plastic, filled with dreams of being the weight on the shoulders of the next outdoor adventurer. I wanted to go somewhere exotic, to carry local artisan goods and souvenirs, to lay in an alpine meadow and take in the view. I resembled the color of Kermit the frog, not a flaw to be seen and stitched to perfection. At capacity, my 40 liters were enough to hold a trekker’s every layer, liquid and edible, even those trusty hiking poles that make the week’s miles less strenuous.

Little did I know the guide to carry me would be non other than Ken Fuhrer, senior guide for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures. My career as Mr. Fuhrer’s companion started with a trip packed within a pack across the pond where we united for the first time in the romantic Tyrolean village of Völs am Schlern, located in the Italian Dolomites. My first go was up the Alpe di Siusi, the largest meadow in Europe! What an incredible site! Riding on the shoulders of Mr. Fuhrer was off to a good start to a long and rigorous summer that would end before it really began.

My only job was to hold the contents of Mr. Fuhrer’s many summer walkabouts and reassure him I would not burst at the seams. Bopping around with each step, tossed from trail to hotel to taxi and back again, I cannot say it was the smoothest ride, but I will say the greatest joy was knowing my 40 liter belly was always filled with the best on-trail picnic goodies you could imagine. Never without a local wheel of cheese, or the best biscuits this side of the Atlantic, I sometimes became selfish and hid my favorites beneath the other layers until eventually someone would comment on the odor emitted from within my bright green skeleton.

Unlike a fine local cheese, I did not get better with age. I had worked so hard in 45 days I had faded from a vibrant Kermit to a dull and lifeless green olive—not the fine European varieties, but the overly salty, jarred kind. I had not imagined that my dreams would be cut short and although I can still carry the weight of the world on any adventure’s shoulders, I could not imagine it being anyone other than Mr. Fuhrer’s.

I am back where I came from to have my gaunt appearance and salty attitude assessed. I have no qualms about being replaced by a more colorful version of myself, so why this silly tale? Reinhold Messner said it best: “The wonderful things in life are the things you do, not the things you have.”



Nicole Nugent is a travel consultant for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures. She has a degree in Integrative Physiology from University of Colorado, Boulder and also works as wellness chef and NASM certified personal trainer. You can follow her health and nutrition blog at huntgathernourish.blogspot.com





Monday, August 05, 2013

The Bees Knees: Keeping trekkers’ biggest asset of highest quality.



Italian Dolomites Trek | by Ken Fuhrer


The knee is one of the most mobile joints, but as mobility increases, stability decreases. When thinking about how to approach knee health, the term made popular in the 1920’s comes to mind: the bees knees. The term simply implies excellent or the highest quality and often holds no place in the world of trekking where knee issues are often less than excellent.

This brings me to a post I like to call the Bees Knees: Keeping trekkers’ biggest asset of highest quality.

Below are some tips, exercises and advice for keeping knees most excellent to hike for years to come.

1. HIKING POLES:  There is a reason why Ryder Walker puts these valuable metal support devices at the top of the packing list. They themselves are the bees knees. Without poles, the average trekker will likely put anywhere from 3-10 times his/her bodyweight in pressure on the knee. Hiking poles allow the upper body to take pressure off the knee joint. Think of them as another set of legs.

2. STRENGTH TRAINING: Many trekkers that choose a Ryder Walker Alpine Adventure spend long periods of time working hard at their day jobs and thus leave little time to train for a trek. This is usually the root cause of injury. It is imperative to keep the muscles surrounding the knee joint strong in order to stabilize the knee during long duration trekking, especially downhill. These muscles include the quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thighs, and calves. Click here for great strength exercises.

3. STRETCHING: Flexibility is another key player in the quest for the bees knees. Whether it is practicing yoga twice a week, or trying any of these stretches after exercising, staying flexible will surely make for happy knees on the trail.

4. DOWNHILL MOVES: What goes up must come down, and while Ryder Walker is keen on offering the treks with the best views, a descent likely awaits. There are ways to alleviate stress on the knees while descending, and it starts with shoes. If the shoe fits it will leave the feet blister and toe bang free, ensuring comfort and stability. Gel inserts can also help absorb pressure from the downhill trail and making sure hiking shoes are properly laced can add even more support and stability.

5. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS: Avoiding foods that cause inflammation can help alleviate joint pain. Avoiding a high intake of dairy, grains, meat, and processed foods will allow proper movement of joints. In places of these foods, take in more leafy greens and vegetables, grass finished meats, and eat foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids, like Salmon. Landlocked? Supplement with a high quality fish oil. Reducing your intake of inflammatory foods can help lubricate joints to allow fluid movement.

A more in-depth exploration of these five tidbits will surely make the next trek with Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures the bees knees!



Nicole Nugent is a travel consultant for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures. She has a degree in Integrative Physiology from University of Colorado, Boulder and also works as wellness chef and NASM certified personal trainer. You can follow her health and nutrition blog at huntgathernourish.blogspot.com






Friday, July 26, 2013

Guest Blog: Unexpected Austria–Straight From the Pan



Good morning from Santa Fe!

We never thought Austria could knock Switzerland off its pedestal as our favorite Ryder-Walker travel destination. But it may well be the case after the picture-perfect Heart of Austria trek. The weather was divine -- our rain jackets and fleeces never left our packs. The Austrian people had an unexpected joie de vivre. The food was stellar, especially the Kaiserschmarrn we wolfed down right from the pan.


But what really kicked the trip over the top was the brother-sister guide duo of Babsi and Willi Glanznig. They are justly proud of their native Austria and their enthusiasm was contagious. We have dubbed Babsi "The Hiking Yogi," after she led us in a Yoga class on hut night as a group of teenagers looked on in horror!  She and Willi also conducted a master class on schnapps and aperol. And as a postscript...since when do brothers and sisters get along so well?!

-Blythe Fortin

Do you have Ryder-Walker photos and/or stories that you'd like to share? Please send them our way. You can also post to our Facebook page. Just hit the like button (if you haven't already), and start sharing the hiking goodness online.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Foto: Pontresina + Hiking = Happiness!



We love seeing happy guests, so this image brings us a lot of joy. RW guests Lewis and Lisa Powell paused to mug for the camera high above Pontresina, Switzerland. RW trip leader Mike Thurk shot this photo while hiking with them during this week's Engadine Summit Series.

*Note the snowy peaks in the background. The upside of this year’s long winter is that it makes for great photos. Get to the Alps today!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hiking Is More Than Physical



This photo reminds me of an article that I read during the weekend. Jeff Alt, author of Get Your Kids Hiking: How to Start Them Young and Keep It Fun!, sees “a good walk outdoors as an elixir for much of what ails folks and a means to connect with nature while maximizing family time away from the distraction of modern life.”

We couldn’t agree more. 

Looking at this photo of RW trip leader Staffan Björklund, I’m reminded that hiking means something different to different people. For some people, hiking is an antidote to modern day life. For others, it’s meditative. At the very least, hiking is healthy and restorative. It’s also a great way to discover something new, (about the outside world and within ourselves).

Do yourself a favor this summer. Lace up your boots, grab your walking stick(s) and go for a hike. Better yet, grab a young one and get them hooked on hiking too! There’s no better time to introduce the next generation to the beautiful world they stand to inherit. 

Photo: The historic village of Soglio.
Engadine Trek, Switzerland | by Daniel Sundqvist

Monday, July 08, 2013

Photo of the Day: Picnic in the Alps



Does your picnic include a certificate of authenticity? It does if you travel with RW trip leader Daniel Sundqvist. Not only does he carry a watermelon in his pack, but he also bears papers certifying the authenticity of his cheese. On this sunny day in the Alps, Daniel and his guests enjoyed cheese from a fromagerie in Saint Vrain, France. Note the pickle included with each sandwich. It's the little touches that make a good picnic great!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Two Ryder Walker Staff Members To Say, "I DO!"



Mike and Nicole are getting married! Mike popped the question to Nicole while hiking across the Alpe di Siusi, the largest ‘Alp’ in the Alps.  The setting couldn’t have been more idyllic—flower-filled meadows, cute little Tyrolean chalets and the vertical rock walls of the Italian Dolomites standing proudly in the background. Here’s a picture of the Alpe di Siusi, (Seiser Alm), snapped just a few moments before Mike went down on one knee:


Thankfully, Nicole said "yes," and the two of them continued their hike to the Tierser Alpl Refuge where they met up with 18 Ryder-Walker guests (2 groups total) and fellow trip leaders Ken Fuhrer, Babsi Glanznig and Chris Pranskatis. A big celebration ensued, and the champagne flowed all around.

For those that don’t know Mike and Nicole, Mike has been with Ryder-Walker for 6 years and is an accomplished tour leader. Nicole joined us a few years ago, working on and off in various capacities, and now works full time as our go-to travel consultant. You can read about them at our bios page.

Please give them big hugs the next time you see them. A HUGE congrats from all of us!

Top photo: Mike and Nicole in front of the Tierser Alpl Refuge.

Bottom photo: Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi) with the Schlern (Sciliar) mountain in the background.
Italian Dolomites Trek, Italy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Croatia Photos: Hiking the Island of Mljet



Ryder-Walker trip leaders Daniel Sundqvist and Ken Fuhrer are having the time of their lives on our new Croatia hiking tour. Daniel shot the first photo (above) while hiking with our group on the island of Mljet. In the second photo, Ken, 'Kenny', takes the captain's chair on one of the many ferry boats that ply the waters between Croatia's enchanted isles. 

Next stop: Dubrovnik—an ancient walled city and UNESCO World Heritage Site that is quite possibly the most beautiful coastal city in all of Europe.   



Images: by Daniel Sundqvist

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Norway: All the pieces come together.




Our new Norway hiking tour finished on Tuesday and the trip was a complete success! Our guests loved it, our trip leaders loved it, and there is no doubt that our tour will be "wait list-only" next year. This trip rocks!
  
Don’t just take our word for it though; see what one of our guests had to say about the tour. And while you’re at it, stop by our facebook page for a look at our Norway 2013 photo album. We’ll continue to add photos as they come in. Enjoy!

Today was magnificent! All the pieces came together of the mountains in Lofoten. We experienced the essence of mountains by the shore. It was the mist of the fog; the sheep; the green, green grass; the smell of the ocean; the sound of silence with the oceans waves; the smell of the wet rock and the red kelp from the water; the Norwegian, Tommy, offering us waffles and coffee in his surfing B&B in the village that was the twin to Ophir, CO; the British hikers laughing while they discussed literature; our group laughing at most anything; Staffan assuring us that we would be ok on the wet rock covered in slippery sheep sh!#; Lina's effervescent spirit; the remnants of the German listening posts; the Filipino women serving coffee at the German historic structure and the drive into Henningsvaer—Magnificence that will definitely add to our spirits until we can be in mountains again. Thanks to you and Staffan.

P.S. The queen disembarked through her yacht through our hotel in our presence. Excitement for sure!

—Jan

Photo: by Staffan Bjorklund

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Guest Blog: Another country, another great hike.



Just sitting in our room after another beautiful hike though the hills surrounding Bled, Slovenia and up pops a rainbow. This is how we ended the trip last year in the Engadine. Where will the rainbow take us next?

Greg Light


Friday, May 24, 2013

Props for Mike Thurk and Peter Inglis



Congrats to Ryder-Walker trip leaders Mike Thurk and Peter Inglis. Mike recently passed his EMT exam and ‘Pi’ passed his AMGA ski mountaineering exam.

We tried to catch up with Mike and Pi , but they're both on Denali at the moment (North America’s tallest peak). Please be sure to slap some high fives the next time you see them. Way to go Mike and Pi!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dunton Hot Springs—A ghost town comes back to ultra-luxurious life.


It’s no secret that we’re proud of our Telluride Trek. There aren’t many places in the United States where a person can put together an inn-to-inn hiking tour like the one that we’ve assembled in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. If you like our village-to-village hiking tours in Europe, but you’ve been yearning for something in the U.S, then check out our Telluride Trek. You get all the hotel-to-hotel hiking goodness that we offer in Europe, with a Texas-sized sampling of the Old West. Think of it as a Heidi-gets-it-on-with-John Wayne kind of tour.

One of the highlights of our Telluride Trek is an overnight stay at Dunton Hot Springs resort. Originally established as a mining town in 1885, Dunton recently earned a reputation as a secluded luxury hideaway with a sophisticated touch of historic ambiance and rustic charm. We love this place! Even more, Dunton recently caught the eye of bon appetit magazine, earning a top five spot on their list of Best Food Lover’s Hotels in America. Check out the article, then put on your ten-gallon hat and join us for a soak beneath a starry western sky. Who knows? You might just see John Wayne and Heidi at the opposite end of the pool.

Be sure to visit Dunton's homepage for a slideshow of their award-winning property, and visit our website for a look at the Telluride Trek.



Tuesday, May 07, 2013

In the Alps of Goethe and James Bond


Here's a really nice story from the New York Times about hiking through the Berner Oberland region of central Switzerland. Even if you're not a James Bond fan, (would you admit it?), you'll enjoy reading about the snow-capped summits, cascading waterfalls and flower-filled meadows that grace so many photographs from Switzerland's most famous region.

If you are a James Bond fan, then you'll enjoy reading about the Schilthorn, the setting for the 1969 Bond flick On Her Majesty's Secret Service and the centerpiece of this article. In fact, you may want to book a plane ticket after reading this piece. The Schilthorn Cableway will open Bond World 007 during the summer of 2013, in addition to a new viewing platform at the Piz Gloria. The new viewing platform is the first step in a series of renovations leading up to the Cableway's 50th anniversary in 2017.

Enjoy this story, and don't forget about our own collection of hiking tours that explore the Berner Oberland region. From loop hikes to point-to-point expeditions, (custom or standard), we can send you anywhere you'd like to go in the Bernese Oberland. Let us plan the perfect Switzerland hiking tour!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Desert Photos: Anasazi X Games



If you think the Winter X Games are a relatively new phenomenon, then think again. Peter Walker captured this photo of an inverted ski boot (and ski) while wandering the canyon country in advance of our upcoming Arches & Canyonlands hiking tour. Considering the age of this particular petroglyph, it appears that the ancient pueblo people of the Colorado Plateau were hucking themselves upside down long before any of the Freeskiing champions of recent fame.

The inverted ski boot kind of makes you wonder, too, about the circular image on the right. Are those spectacle-shaped circles really just ski goggles?

You can find this ancient image of an inverted air on the Wolfman Panel of Butler Wash. The location is southeast Utah, home to our Arches & Canyonlands hiking tour. Gus Kenworthy, eat your heart out!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Best of the Alps! | T&L Magazine Features our Engadine Tours





We have a nice mention in the May edition of Travel & Leisure Magazine. You can read about our Swiss Engadine hikes on page 154 of the paper edition, or just click this link.

Incidentally, the guided versions of our Engadine Trek and Engadine Summit Series are already sold out. (The downside of popularity!) That said, we can still set up private tours if you get to us soon, and next season's guided hiking tours are wide open. Here are the new dates for 2014.

Engadine Trek
June 21-28, 2014
September 6-13, 2014



Engadine Summit Series
July 19-26, 2014

*Remember, you'll get this year's price if you sign up before September 30, 2013.


Travel & Leisure also mentioned three other destinations that we've been sending hikers to for 30 years.



The Matterhorn
Both the Hiker's Haute Route and the Matterhorn Trek finish beneath this pyramidal icon of the Alps. We still have space available on both of this year's tours, and next year's Matterhorn Trek runs August 16-23, 2014.


The Dolomites
T&L is correct when they say that gastronomy rules in the Dolomites.
Our Italian Dolomites Trek combines the best food, hiking and accommodation of the range. Act fast, however, this summer's tours are almost sold out.


The Tyrolean Alps
The Dolomites actually fall under this category, since they belonged to the Austrian Tyrol until quite recently. For a journey into the heart of this fairy tale range, check out our Alpino Wunderbar hiking tour. You'll traverse the German, Austrian and Italian Alps during our 10 day hike.


Top Photo: The historic village of Soglio
Engadine Valley, Switzerland | By Ken Fuhrer

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Here's one hungry hiker!



"Wow! Look at all that food!"

Ryder-Walker’s newest, (and youngest), trip leader, Tilly Glanznig, has a voracious appetite. Even so, it appears that Tilly's first meal at the Dolores River Brewery caught her by surprise.

Tip: If you find yourself in Dolores, Colorado, then be sure to stop by the DRB. It's a Ryder-Walker favorite. The DRB brews their beer on site, and it’s delicious. The pizzas are wood-fired and equally delectable.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Tilly ate everything you see in the photo (minus the beer).
She's one hungry hiker!  ;-)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Five Fitness Tips for an Effortless Hiking Tour




I am sitting at my desk feeling a bit uninspired. The cursor just winks at me, waiting for me to put the words on the page. I take to the trail. Fresh air and endorphins always do the trick. I lace up my runners and set out on the dirt path heading towards the sky. I let my mind wander and almost immediately begin to wonder why we as human beings must seek out companies like Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures for the simple pleasure of hiking.

Perhaps the invention of the computer, or the desk or the chair, is the reason why the need for adventure travel has grown so exponentially over the years. Whatever the reason, we can now scientifically prove that hiking, or movement of any kind, is really good for your heart, mind, body and spirit. As a nutrition, health, fitness and travel guru for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures, the major questions I receive when booking hikers revolve around the effort and fitness necessary to complete the itineraries we offer.

Admittedly, the “effort” rating that Ryder Walker gives for each one of our treks can be hard to gauge, as each person is physically different in fitness and objective. I am here to offer simple tips to ensure that no matter what your abilities you are prepared to put one foot in front of the other effortlessly, leaving more energy for photos ops and fun.

1. Interval Training (pre trek)

1-2 times per week.
Do interval training 1-2 times per week at a pace you can only maintain for less than an hour. Example; hike fast, even run, for 1 minute then walk for 1 minute, breathing hard at end of each interval.

Benefit: Strong heart, strong muscles.
Intervals train your heart to pump strongly and allow your muscles to store more energy to sustain longer distances.

2. Go The Distance

1 day per week.
Hit the trail or area you love in the shoes you intend to wear on the trek. Hike 2/3 the distance of your longest day with Ryder Walker. Example; if 10 miles is the longest day, then hike 7.5 miles.

Benefit: Strong body, strong mind.
Training your mind and body will help prepare you for the trek. Not to mention, wearing the same shoes for the trek will alleviate the need to worry about the discomfort a blister will surely cause.

3. Hydrate 

Every 10-15 minutes. 
Keep thirst at bay by hydrating at the time of thirst. Taking small sips every 10-15 minutes or so will help keep your thirst quenched. A Camelback and the Alps are the two easiest ways to stay hydrated as the trailside fresh water springs are nearly always there when you need them. Electrolyte mixes with sodium and other minerals are also good to have especially if hot. Supplementing hydration with mixes like my favorite from Skratch Labs gets absorbed more quickly than water itself. Be careful of sports drinks with too much sugar since, in my opinion, the calories from sugar taste better in a delicious European pastry.

Benefit: Happy muscles, more energy.
Hydration prevents muscle cramps and fatigue helping to maintain homeostasis (the body’s perfect chemical composition). Not to mention, it may be necessary after indulging in each evening’s food and drink.

4. Eat

Lots of complex carbs, fruits, veggies and protein. 
Although the best energy for long distance sport is best replenished in the form of carbohydrates, make sure that you are not just using the delicious pastries offered as fuel (easier said than done, I know!). Make sure to supplement with fruits and vegetables and even protein to sustain fullness. If your goal is to indulge on vacation, then this advice may go in one ear and out the other, but for those of you who are interested in coming home from vacation a more fit version of yourself, then limit refined sugar and carb intake and you will be on your way.

Benefit: Sustained energy, increased fat burning potential.
The obvious result will be the ability to sustain energy throughout every mile of the trek and avoiding a potential sugar crash on the trail. Most Ryder Walker hikes pass by a local market that offers more choices for packing good calories for the trail. *It is worth noting that what you eat for breakfast and dinner will have an impact on energy throughout the trek as well.

5. Sleep

Get plenty of it. 
Catching shut eye on vacation can be hard for many reasons, but taking note of the controllable variables that inhibit sleep can make a world of difference. Some things to avoid if you have trouble sleeping are, afternoon caffeine, too much alcohol and/or overeating at dinner, sugar intake, and bright lights/electronics before bed.

Benefit: More alert, more vivid memories.
Getting enough sleep can sometimes be more important than the preparations for the hike itself. Getting enough sleep prior to the trek is also important to having an even more wonderful time hiking with Ryder Walker.


Nicole Nugent is a travel consultant for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures. She has a degree in Integrative Physiology from University of Colorado, Boulder and also works as wellness chef and NASM certified personal trainer. You can follow her health and nutrition blog at huntgathernourish.blogspot.com





Thursday, April 04, 2013

Fly to Europe—Visit Iceland for Free



There’s still time to join our hiking tour in Norway.  Why not make a stop in Iceland part of the journey?

Iceland Air has its hub in Reykjavik, Iceland, and they’ll let you stopover for free when flying between the U.S. and Canada and more than 20 destinations in Scandinavia, Great Britain and Continental Europe.

We just checked Iceland Air’s booking engine and we found connections from the U.S. to Oslo and Stavanger, Norway. Oslo and Stavanger are preferred gateways for our Norway hiking tour. We also found connections to Munich and Milan, great entry points for our Italian Dolomites hikes.

Are you considering a self-guided walking tour of the Cotswolds? There’s a connection for that too. Iceland Air offers flights to London with free stopovers in Reykjavik. From Reykjavik, you’re free to explore the rest of Iceland at your leisure. You could even spend a couple of days in Greenland. Greenland is only an hour flight from Reykjavik.

To paraphrase Iceland Air (just a little):

Imagine relaxing in the Blue Lagoon on your way back from your Italian Dolomites hiking tour with Ryder-Walker. Or taking in natural wonders like glaciers and geysers before exploring storybook villages in the Cotswolds. Or just stopping for a quick rest and some fresh air before continuing on to Norway and your hiking tour with Staffan and the rest of the Ryder-Walker gang. You're truly getting 2 destinations for the price of 1!

Check out Iceland Air’s website for more info.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hiking the Cotswolds—Where Curry and Trails Collide


The Self Guided Cotswolds Way is the perfect inn-to-inn hiking tour if you like curry.

At the Noel Arms Hotel in Chipping-Campden, England (day 1 of our hiking tour), chef Indunil Upatissa serves up curry dishes with distinction. Upatissa is Britain’s only three-time winner, and the current title-holder, of the Great British Pubs Awards—Best Curry Chef.

Under Upatissa’s direction, the Noel Arms serves delicious curry, with a special “curry night” offered during the last Thursday of every month. The Noel Arms offers a choice of authentic curries from across the Far East served in the hotel’s restaurant, conservatory, and the Dover's Bar.

Can’t make curry night on the last Thursday of the month? No problem!

In the Cotswolds, virtually every pub offers a curry of the day, and every town of modest size boasts at least one Indian restaurant. As Ryder-Walker’s founder, Peter Walker, likes to say,”It is possible to eat curry twice a day, every day, and I do!”

Here’s a partial list of some of our favorite pubs and Indian restaurants along the Cotswolds Way. Tip: don’t underestimate the “take away” restaurants. Our Cotswolds hiking tour offers charming B&B accommodations every night so that you can sample the regional fare at your leisure. While upscale dining is a must-do during the course of this tour, oftentimes, it’s the casual take away curry restaurants that really hit the spot mid week (especially for lunch).

In Chipping Campden:
Noel Arms
Best Curry Chef—Three time winner.
Maharaja Restaurant
A real treasure if you like atmospheric seventeenth century English pubs.

Stonehouse/Stroud
Bengal Balti
This little gem is a take away restaurant. They don't have a website, but they don't really need one. The reviews speak for themselves.

Wotton under Edge
India Palace
Another take away restaurant that satisfies. This is a great place to refuel after a long day on the trail. Load up on curry, then grab a Guinness at the local pub. Yum!

Painswick
JK's at St. Michaels
Part of St. Michaels luxury inn. This seventeenth century home overlooks the historic village square. The experience is "shear" poetry, as they like to say in this old wool town.

Bath
The Mint Room
Best Restaurant—Winner of the Best Restaurant category of the Bath Life Awards 2013.



Friday, March 22, 2013

Desert Photos | Springtime Bloom



This is what we mean when we say that we've timed our Arches & Canyonlands hiking tour to coincide with the springtime bloom. Last year's group discovered these little treasures outside of Sedona, Arizona.

Desert wildflowers require a special combination of melting snowpack, spring rains, and sunny afternoons in order to bloom, and they don't last forever. Just like autumn colors come and go, so too, do springtime desert palettes ebb and flow.

We'll be heading back to Sedona in a little over a month. We'll spend an entire week, (in Arizona and Utah), enjoying the vibrant colors that make the Desert Southwest a beautiful place to be in spring.

Photo by Willi Glanznig.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mountain Hiking in Scotland




When you hike a mountain with Peter Walker, be prepared to climb every last inch!

In this photo, Peter stands on top of a munro in Scotland. 'Munro' is the Scottish term for any mountain with a height greater than 3,000 feet (914.4 meters).

A History

The number of 3,000 + foot peaks in Scotland remained unknown for many years until a man named Sir Hugh Munro published a comprehensive list of the peaks in 1891. Known throughout the hiking, climbing and geography communities as the 'Munro Tables,' Munro’s list opened the door to the Scottish highlands and paved the way for mountain exploration in Scotland.

Today, people from around the globe visit Scotland to hike, climb or simply photograph a munro. "Munro bagging," an activity that involves climbing as many munros as possible, has also become a popular pastime.

According to the Scottish Mountaineering Club, there are 282 munros in Scotland, with another 227 subsidary tops. A subisidary top is any summit greater than 3,000 feet that doesn’t actually qualify as a separate mountain.

Hiking in Scotland with Ryder-Walker

Our new hiking tour in Scotland crosses some of the country’s most famous munros. Beginning in the historic town of Callander, on the east side of the Trossachs National Park, we’ll spend an entire week hiking across the most interesting peaks of the Scottish Highlands. We’ll climb mountains with names like Ben Vorlich (3,232 feet), Ben Lomond (3,196 feet), Ben Alligen (3,235 feet), and Ben Eighe (3,314 feet), the last of which is actually a complex mountain massif containing a long ridge with numerous spurs and subsidary summits.


While every munro boasts something special, from sweeping views to interesting geological formations, the Munros on Scotland’s Isle of Skye are perhaps the most mysterious and intriguing. Part of a rugged mountain group called the Cuillins of Skye, the munros in this part of Scotland are black, (due to the composition of the rock), jagged and satisfyingly remote. Hiking into the Cuillins, we’ll discover a world of bare rock, steep cliffs, and deep cut gullies.

Three thousand-foot summits might not sound very high when compared with the European Alps, (Mont Blanc is over 15,000 feet, for example), but it should be remembered that many of the surrounding villages in Scotland sit at, or slightly above, sea level. With this in mind, hikers should be prepared for ascents up to 3,000 feet during this tour. Side note; the views of Scotland's inner lakes, including Loch Ness, are pretty amazing!

Check out our website to learn more about the Scotland hiking tour. While the munro hiking is certainly the haggis and tatties of this tour, it’s the castle visits, the accommodations in stately manor houses (à la Downton Abbey), the cozy peat fires and the velvety glasses of scotch that make this trip an authentic Scottish experience. This is also a great excuse to try your hand at Munro bagging. There is one caveat to munro bagging, however. You must climb to the top of each marker cairn, (Peter Walker style), or the summit doesn’t count.

Please read our itinerary for more details.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Trail Magic




Messages from our guests mean a lot to us, and this note from Blythe Fortin is no exception. She writes, "I hope you'll post this photo and story. It's an example of how friendships are formed on the trail ... and how R-W trips become an annual ritual for your repeat customers!"

Annual ritual, indeed. This group will hike your butt off! Blythe and her group of friends have more than 40 Ryder-Walker hiking tours between them, and they don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Check it out:

Great Friends

Even though we live on different continents, the Whitears and Fortins have become great friends ... and we have Ryder-Walker to thank! We met seven years ago on a R-W trek, and the trail worked its magic. Now we make a point of going on the same trips each summer. But in February 2013 we expanded our repertoire. The Fortins flew to Australia to join the Whitears for the Great Ocean Walk, a hike (of either four or seven days) along the wild and wooly coast of Victoria, ending at the iconic Twelve Apostles. With us back on our respective continents, we are already looking forward to our reunion this summer on the Heart of Austria trip.

PS: Notice Aubrey's Ryder-Walker hat ...and the tee shirts from Blythe's 60th birthday celebration on the Haute Route! Please pass along our regards to the gang.

-Blythe

Thank you, Blythe, Ray, Aubrey and Diane, for your awesome devotion and patronage throughout the years. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful guests, and we can't wait to hike with you again this summer! 

Do you have Ryder-Walker photos and/or stories that you'd like to share? Please send them our way. You can also post to our Facebook page. Just hit the like button (if you haven't already), and start sharing the hiking goodness online.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where's Waldo? (the Ancient Version)



Do you see him? Hint: He's holding a gourd full of corn.

This petroglyph panel lies on the San Juan River between Mexican Hat and Bluff, Utah. You'll see this rock art on day five of our Arches & Canyonlands hiking tour. | Photo by: Ken Fuhrer

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tours Selling Out | A Perfect Match for Singles




We have six hiking tours that are close to selling out, and five of them are perfect matches for solo hikers.

Tour du Mont Blanc (July 5-14, 2013)—1 spot left

Engadine Trek (July 8-15, 2013)—2 spots left

Engadine Summit Series (July 14-21, 2013)—1 spot left

Heart of Austria (July 16-23, 2013)—1 spot left

Eiger Trail (August 6-14, 2013)—1 spot left

Italian Dolomites Trek II (September 1-8, 2013)—1 spot left

Now's your chance to join a fun-loving group of fellow hikers. Please drop us a line for more info, or to jump on board.

Image: Daniel Sundqvist leads a hiking group across the Alp di Siusi.
Italian Dolomites Trek, Italy | Staffan Björklund

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ryder Walker | ON THE AIR!


Tune in to Telluride's KOTO Radio tonight to hear a rebroadcast of Maribeth Clemente's interview with Peter Walker and Ken Fuhrer. The show is called Travel Fun, and it airs tonight, Tuesday, at 6:30 PM MST. That's GMT-6:00 for listeners outside of North America. Stream the show live at koto.org. You'll hear Peter and Ken talk about their travels with Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures, Alpenglow Ski Safaris and Telluride Mountain Guides.

Can't make it tonight? No problem. Listen to a podcast of the show anytime at our website or by clicking here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Your Plane Ticket With Google Flights




We’ve had good luck with Google Flights lately. If you’ve registered for one of our hiking tours, or you’re thinking about registering but still need airline tickets, then check out Google Flights. Like all things Google, the interface is a pleasure to use.

Here’s the quick lowdown: Go to www.google.com/flights

You’ll see a map on the home screen. We love this map because it updates prices in realtime. Just hit the tiny calendar arrows and watch the prices change on demand. Be forewarned, however, a person could waste hours with this thing!

Google will choose your starting point based on your computer’s IP address, but you can change it to anything you like. Likewise, enter your destination and watch the fun begin. Entering your destination will take you to another screen with a list of fares. From here, you can sort by price, number of stops, duration, connecting airports and more. Just choose your filter from one of the drop down menus.

Want to get back to the map? No problem. Just click the upsidedown teardrop to the right of the drop down menus. You’ll see realtime prices as you zoom in.

To the right of the teardrop is a graph icon. This is a great feature for visual types and for travelers with flexible schedules. The graph shows you the lowest fares for weeks at a time. Just hover your mouse over one of the bars to see the price. It’s really easy to spot trends and/or anomolies with this thing. To change the graph, just tinker with your dates and/or the duration.

We recently purchased tickets through Google Flights and we enjoyed the experience. What we like most about Google’s service is the speed at which you can search for fares. As long as you have a decent internet connection, the days of watching the “searching for flights” spiral are over.

Have you used Google Flights recently? How was your experience? Please leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!



Dreaming over a bottle of wine.
Croatia's Dalmatian Coast | By: Ken Fuhrer

Monday, February 04, 2013

Mountain and Desert Awesomeness—Just Out Our Backdoor




"We lie in the sunshine, on the warm grass, and stare at the mountains, the endless snow-covered mountains, range after range, standing beyond the dark forest. The glaciers wink and glitter, running with streams of melted ice. Flowers and ice, sunlight and snow.

On this bright afternoon, in a field of flowers, Alaska seems to me a cold and somber land. After thirty-four years in the American Southwest, after too much time spent dawdling about in places like Grand Canyon, Death Valley, the Maze, the Superstition Mountains, the San Rafael Reef and the Waterpocket Fold, the San Juan Mountains and the Gran Desierto, Baja California, Glen Canyon and the Dirty Devil River, Desolation Canyon and the Pariah River, the Book Cliffs and the Kaiparowits Plateau and Big Bend and White Sands, the Red Desert and Black Rock and Barranca del Cobre, Factory Butte and Monument Valley, Slickhorn Gulch, Buckskin Gulch, Thieves' Mountain, Montezuma's Head, Cabeza de Prieta, Cabezon, Telluride and Lone Pine and the Smoke Creek Desert, Moab and Upheaval Dome, White Rim and Druid Arch - to name but a few - and seeing the full moon rise over the 13,000-foot peaks of Sierra La Sal, while the setting sun turns watermelon pink a 2,000-foot vertical wall of sandstone in the foreground, then - and I'll admit I'm spoiled - then by comparison Alaska seems, well, sort of . . . banal. " -Edward Abbey (1927-1989)

What’s interesting about this passage is that many, if not most, of the places that Abbey mentioned lie just outside our backdoor. In fact, you can visit a bunch of them, including Telluride, Moab, the San Juan Mountains and the Sierra La Sal, by joining one of our North American hiking tours. If, for instance, you dream of “seeing the full moon rise over the 13,000-foot peaks of the Sierral La Sal, while the setting sun turns watermelon pink a 2,000-foot vertical wall of sandstone in the foreground,” then sign up for our Arches & Canyonlands hiking tour. (Hint: You can experience this view virtually anywhere within the vicinity of Moab, Utah.)

While we won’t go so far as to say that Alaska is “banal,” we do agree with Abbey that some pretty cool stuff lies just outside our backdoor. 

Image: Stream hopping in Negro Bill Canyon | Moab, Utah
By: Chris Pranskatis

*Note: The weather was 75 degrees and sunny when we shot this photo. The desert is the perfect cure for the wintertime blues. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter in the Alps? Yes please!


 
If you’ve accompanied us in Europe, then you know how special a hiking tour in the Alps can be. Hiking across mountain passes by day, relaxing in bucolic villages by night, and connecting it all with modern conveyances; it’s not a stretch to say that Europe is a hiker’s utopia. But what are the Alps like during winter?

Ryder-Walker’s veteran trip leader and head guide, Ken Fuhrer, weighed in on the topic. When he’s not leading summer hiking tours for Ryder-Walker, Ken helps people realize their dreams of a European skiing vacation with our sister company, Alpenglow Ski Safaris. Enjoy.


It was the guiding in the summer that made us dream of winter. Each day we’d look up from the deep carved valleys, or down from high on the trail, while Daniel Sundqvist continually pointed out ski runs on the distant mountain slopes. Just as the first summer tourists from a century ago returned to the Alps for winter, we, too, longed to ski the snow. Thus it happened that our winter ski trips were borne of the summer treks.  


The feeling is so different in the winter. It starts in the morning, when we board the giant trams. There is a certain excitement that you feel during lift-off while clutching your skis! The day is spent high on the mountain, far above tree line. We glide along wide open terrain and gaze at the endless panoramas. Then it’s time for lunch, which is an absolute pleasure during the ski season. Almost all the alpine restaurants feature ample decks filled with an international crowd relishing the sun. 

Quality seems to be a point of pride and that is what makes the greatest difference during the winter. The food simply amazes, and, for whatever reason, it seems like European chefs pull out all the stops when visitors come to ski. We often smile at the groups of tourists that come just for the food and the winter experience, dead set on whiling away the entire afternoon eating, drinking, laughing and just relaxing on the sun deck.

We join in the revelry too, before turning our attention to the long ski runs and deep powder, often skiing past snow-covered farmhouses on the way back to town. Entering our charming village, we feel the chill in the air as the last rays of sun crawl up the mountainside. No matter; our mouths water as we stand in line for the warming burn of plum schnapps and hot spiced wine. 

Après-ski in the Alps is something that is unique to winter, and must be experienced to be believed. Spirited groups of happy people clamber down the cobblestone streets, still wearing their ski boots, as dusk settles in. Then it’s off to dinner to taste the elegant Swiss white wine that is so perfectly suited to fondue and raclette. The winter air nips a little after dinner, but we welcome it. The fluffy down comforters that feel so cozy during summer’s cool evenings are tailor-made for the Alps’ crisp winter nights.  


Peter Walker first brought us to St. Anton, Austria, and it was good. St. Anton showed us everything wonderful about the Alps, but more importantly, it revealed that our dreams had finally come true. Alpenglow Ski Safaris came together during that first ski trip in Austria, and now, six years later, we are truly proud of our winter schedule of ski trips. This year’s snow pack in the Alps is far, far above average, so the conditions promise to be great.

Daniel just finished guiding a trip in the Arlberg last week, but our March tour in Stuben and Ischgl, Austria, and the April trip in Val d' Isere, France still have availability, so please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

-Ken Fuhrer

Top photo; Trail signs get a little shorter during winter. What is normally a 20 minute hike to the train during summer will take Ken Fuhrer about 7 minutes by ski during the winter.

Middle photo; The same trains that deliver hikers to the high alpine meadows during summer, also drop skiers to white, fluffy playgrounds during the winter.

Bottom photo; There's no need to stay on a single path during winter. Feel free to make your own!

Friday, January 25, 2013

We may even become friends!



“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

-Maya Angelou

This is one of my favorite quotes, and it came to mind the other day as I shared a chairlift with a woman that said she was afraid of going to Europe because she’d heard that Europeans didn’t like Americans.

It was Saturday morning. Six inches of powder lay on the slopes, and as we boarded the lift, I asked the woman if she’d ever skied in Europe. “Heavens no,” she replied. “Aren’t Europeans rude to Americans?”

I would like to say that I was taken a back by her statement, but the truth is, I wasn’t. I’ve heard statements like this many times before.

I don’t know who started the idea that Europeans don’t like Americans, but in my experience, it’s simply not true. I won’t lie, I’ve encountered a few less-than-amiable Parisians in my day, but I’ve also met rude people in towns across the United States. Rude people exist everywhere, and just because somebody is rude to you in New York City, doesn’t mean that all Americans, or all New Yorkers for that matter, are rude people as well. I experienced this lesson first hand when I traveled to Europe for the first time many years ago.

Before I left for Europe, I heard all the stereotypes about European culture. The French stank and were rude to Americans. The Italians cooked great food, but they liked to argue, and the Germans were, supposedly, really hard to get to know. What I discovered, however, broke down every stereotype. The French didn’t stink, and they welcomed me into their homes. The Italian women tried to set me up with their daughters, and of all the people that I met overseas, the Germans became, and still are, some of my closest friends.

On one occasion, two friends and I traveled around the Greek countryside with a complete stranger. We didn't speak a word of Greek, and the stranger only new three words of English; hello, wait and friend. With those three words, however, he took us on a nine hour sightseeing tour, fed us local food, introduced us to exciting people, and showed us a warm side Greece that we probably would have never experienced on our own.

What I've learned since those early days of traveling is that after you strip everything down, after you silence the incessant chatter of everyday happenings, you find that the same golden thread connects us all. We laugh. We cry. We eat, and we die. We all share the same necessities of life regardless of where we’re from. At the end of the day, we’re all just human beings sharing space on a tiny piece of rock hurling through the great unknown. French, Bhutanese, Indian; it doesn't matter where we're from. There are some really wonderful people out there. You just have to go out and say “hello.”

Of course, the only way that you can know this is to experience it for yourself. Get out of your chair. Turn off the news. Shut down the computer (including this blog), and go someplace that you’ve never been. Talk to people. Whether it’s hiking through Europe, or visiting a new shop across town, as Saint Augustine (354-430) used to say, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read a page.”

Get out there and discover it for yourself. Meet someone new! You might find that Europeans aren’t as rude as you’ve been led to believe. In fact, you may even become friends.