Troy, Thank you for helping make our Switzerland trip successful. We had a wonderful time with only a few minor travel "bumps" -- like when the train to Zermatt broke down and we had to take a bus to the end of the train line! The hotels were very nice, each with a different character but great service in common. We enjoyed watching low clouds from a thunderstorm come up the valley from our balcony at the Hotel Jungfrau and watching the climbers on the Matterhorn at sunrise through our binoculars from the Hotel Europe. We were very happy with the order of our stops from Murren to Zermatt to Pontresina. It was a nice change of pace to do the daytrip to Guarda and walk through it and some nearby villages in the middle of our stay in Pontresina. |
The hikes were fantastic from the waterfalls visible on the trail to Obersteinberg, to the Eiger view and the wildflowers on the hike from Mannlichen to Wengen, to the glacier views as we climbed up to Fuorcla Surlej from the Val Roseg. We did one hike backwards -- the one to the Findal glacier overlook -- as we took the train up to Gornergrat first thing in the morning, spent lots of time there watching climbers on the various peaks through our binoculars, and so started the hike at Riffelalp instead of ending there. It would be difficult to select a favorite.
We had trouble with the trail directions for only one hike -- the one to Zmutt/Schonbiel hut. We never did find the dark wooden sign in Zermatt near Grampi's Pub. So we just headed up the alley there. I think we were headed the right way but got off track because we did not stay left at a trail junction as the trail sign indicated going left would take us back to the church in Zermatt. Instead we went right thinking there would be another sign for Herbrigg, Hubel and/or Zmutt. Wrong -- we continued up and up, all the way to the Hotel Edelweiss/Alterhaupt. We eventually got back on track and had lunch on the "picnic table boulders" above Zmutt. But it was a tiring side trip! When we were at the Hotel Steinbock, we met a couple from Montreal who were also using your services for a self-guided tour. They also mentioned trying unsuccessfully to find the start of that hike. The detour was not a problem; it was still a beautiful place to spend some time! But I thought I'd mention the confusion in case you need to update the trail directions.
It's hard to be back in California; as beautiful as parts of this state are, it seems terribly brown and plain compared to the Alps!
-K Moore, 2010 self-guided Great Alpine Classics tour
Hello Matt and Troy! |
I just wanted to send you an email to thank you for our wonderful vacation in Switzerland. Troy, you were right, Murren is just perfect village and it truly exceeded our expectations. And Matt was just a fabulous guide for our family he made our trip so easy and fun. We had never hiked that extensively as a family but Lily kept up and we all enjoyed all the places Matt lead us to. He was so kind and patient with our kids and always accommodated our requests. When we arrived in Zermatt, the kids kept asking why I hadn't arranged for Matt to come along with us. All in all, the children's first visit to France and Switzerland was both a success and the both of you made the Swiss Alps the highlight of our trip! Thank you! The kids are already asking about a "Grand Canyon" family trip so I will definitely contact you for hopefully the Spring!
-B Keating, 2010 private guided family tour
Hi Mr. Haines, I cannot begin to tell you how much i have enjoyed my trip and my hikes. It was the best vacation in my life. Everything, the landscape, the mountains, the forests, the trails, cows, sheep, goats, the rich mountain vegetation, flora and fauna.......all was breathtaking. My heart melted to see such beauty. I am definitely considering of coming next year. Thanks to your excellent organization and planning, each stay at the inns was an adventure and very pleasant. The people were kind, breakfasts were great, always clean and the decorations and the extra touches that the owners added to their inns and hotels showed a lot of pride and respect for people that come to stay there. In one word, everything was organized for me and the maps and the descriptions of the hikes and basically the whole agenda were well described and planned out. The eiger trail and the walk to wengen, also the hike to obersteinberg, added so much to my life experience (and of course all the others)... my eyes could not believe that it was actually what i was seeing. Everywhere waterfalls, lush forests, alps. I met some interesting people along the way and the hospitality of people at the inns and hotels was great. Again, thank you for making my trip easy to follow and the most enjoyable.
-S Mandel, 2010 self-guided Bernese Oberland tour
Hi Troy, We had a terrific time in Switzerland. Thanks very much for everything. For whatever itís worth, hereís a quick summary: |
Zermatt: Weather was cloudy and cold when we arrived. Miraculously, it cleared in the morning and we had a beautiful view of the Matterhorn. We tried to visit Zum See for lunch, but there is lots of construction in the meadow. The paths split often and there werenít signs. In other words, we didnít make it. Iím stubborn so I tried it on my own later and found the restaurant using a route that went along the river. We loved the hotel, although I might have preferred to find my own restaurants as there are a million choices in Zermatt. By the way, the servers in the restaurant told us that no service was included in our arrangement, implying we should leave a tip, which we did.
Murren: Lovely hotel run by a wonderful woman. In Murren, we were delighted to have our dinner in the hotel as there were very limited options. Again, our server told us that no service was included in our arrangement implying we should tip. Iím fine with this, but I just wasnít sure if it was legitimate. Sadly, the weather was horrible. The fog was as thick as pea soup. It snowed overnight. It was impossible to see anything more than a few feet away from you. We did go to the waterfall inside the mountain and enjoyed ourselves.
Lucerne: A great hotel in a great location. By the way, thanks for getting us rooms with balconies. We sat out each evening drinking a bottle of wine before dinner. The weather was getting much nicer. The farmersí market was right in front of us on Tuesday morning and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We saw the typical sites like the Lion of Lucerne and we went to a museum. We did some serious shopping, and the Swiss economy should be healthy for quite a while. J We had dinner at a hotel called Montana. Their dining room has a spectacular view and the menu was incredible.
Zurich: Weather was sunny and beautiful . Another nice hotel. Incidentally, we loved the breakfasts at all the hotels and inns. In fact, thatís the first thing I missed when I got home. We had dinner at the nice place you recommended thatís in a ancient building near the hotel and it was very good. Again, we had a wonderful time. Thanks for everything.
-M Messmore, 2010 custom self-guided tour
I imagine you're in Switzerland now and enjoying some wonderful hiking. I've been meaning to write to you to let you know how much I loved our trip in June. If you could hear what great things I say about it to anyone who will listen! Everything worked out wonderfully (except maybe the visibility some of the days!) and we had a fabulous time. Your directions and explanations and descriptions were right on and helped us so much as we wandered around the countryside. And what beautiful countryside it is! I loved every single step I took and was smiling almost the whole time (maybe I didn't smile that much on the hike into Wengen because it was raining quite a bit and I was in full rain gear and we couldn't see a single thing!). But those are the memories that stay with you, doncha think?? Our first day in Grindelwald was spectacular and we had a gorgeous day hiking through the Lauterbrunnen Valley - how we LOVED that valley. We also loved Obersteinberg and wouldn't have missed that for the world.
Ordinarily I say that I don't ever want to go back to places because there are so many more places to see (I have a real wanderlust) and I don't have the inclination to repeat a place. This time I've not said that. In fact I'd hike the Alps again and use your help and see more beautiful places in the area. So, thanks for all your advice pre-trip and the great info you provided. The trip was unforgettable!
-T Hiro, 2010 self-guided Bernese Oberland tour
Hello Troy, Finally catching up from our tour. It was fabulous, Troy! Truly. Loved every minute of it.....except maybe those last few hours of decent into Gimmelwald! OMG, I'd rather climb any day. The trip, times, places, views....everything was perfect for us! It couldn't have been better. We're ready to return and do more. We're discussing renting an apartment for a month each year in Murren. |
The route you set out for us, starting in Grindelwald at the base of the Eiger, then around and down into Lauterbrunnen Valley to see another view, and with the water falls, up to Obersteinberg....ah, the views from there......and to end in Murren to look across now at Jungrau, Monch and Eiger. Breathtaking. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Glad I read The White Spider and Killing Dragons before our experience. Made me appreciate those mountains even more. No climbers to watch that we were aware of while there, darn it. Suggestion: Place north on the daily maps. I am sooooo directionally oriented that it was difficult to adjust to Swiss maps often not having north on the top or not indicated at all. Food challenges were not an issue. :-) Kudos!
Terrific job, Troy. The trip was everything we expected, and more. Thank you again.........
-T Willaredt, 2010 customized self-guided Bernese Oberland tour
Hi Troy, Want to thank you for a wonderful adventure in Switzerland! We loved every minute, and your maps/directions/choice of hotels were absolutely fantastic! We trudged along as the Swiss hiked merrily by (I'm 63), but made it to Obersteinberg in 5 hrs from Stechelberg! We'd already walked gorgeous valley for 90 min watching paragliders.|
Did want to give you 2 "problem areas" - 1) After crossing river bridge en route to Obersteinberg, sign gave 2 ways - falls (straight across) or Obersteinberg (right and up). We wondered if we'd missed a r. turn, but all was well when we much later got to the cross road where signs sent us right to Obersteinberg or str. across downhill. Coming back the high route (absolutely top-of-world feeling!) we didn't pay attention to your time. When we left junction for Tanzeboden and went thru fence, we saw Silvia's homemade sign and left backback 10 min in, thinking it was "only one way out!". Silvia told us we'd taken wrong trail,but we then had to go back for our packs!!
Feel free to use us as references.
-J Powell, 2009 self-guided Bernese Oberland, Zermatt, Pontresina
My husband and I returned from Switzerland yesterday -- what a way to
commemorate our 20th year of marriage and my 50th birthday!!! This trip
fulfilled a life-long dream of hiking in the Swiss Alps.
What can I say, except that we found our bliss? The hikes around Murren,
Zurmatt and Pontresina were fabulous. We did the Rotstockhutte and
Obersteinberg hikes when in Murren, the Riffelalp to Gornergrat hike in
Zermatt, and the Segantini balcony hike above Pontresina. When not hiking we
explored Zermatt, Zuoz and St. Moritz. The hotels were fabulous and the food
was delicious all-around.
Best of all, you made it so easy! We navigated the trains without any
problems and your explanations of where to go and what to do brought us to
places more beautiful than our wildest dreams!
-M Ovnic, 2009 self-guided Grand Tour
Wow - it is hard to believe that it has been a couple of months now since our trip to Switzerland! I wanted to finally take the time to send you an email and thank you for planning our vacation and give you our comments about the trip. My mom and I had a fantastic time. If there was anything we could complain about regarding the itinerary (and I realize that it was mostly my fault regarding my suggestions as to where we wanted to go), I would have to say that we really really really needed a day or two break in the middle to rest our muscles! We could have forgone the two day sightseeing at the beginning for a much needed break in the middle. It was quite a funny sight to see two women who could barely walk setting out for Obersteinberg. Of course it didn't help that my mom is 63 years old and I was four months pregnant.
We really appreciated your suggestions regarding short-cuts and weather related routes, especially because the day we were hiking to Obersteinberg and the day we were hiking from Obersteinberg to Murren, were both miserable rainy days. Fortunately though, the majority of our trip was beautiful weather. We were surprised to check the weather forecast before we went on the trip and discover that there was going to be a large temperature discrepancy in some of the places we were hiking so we had to revise our packing at the last minute. We realize you said that it could get cold but we were surprised to find out that it could be 30 degrees in Interlaken and 0 degrees at Faulhorn. We ended up taking warm jackets, gloves and hats which we definitely needed at Faulhorn. It was minus 2 degrees when we got up the next morning. Hiking up to Faulhorn was a little bit dissapointing because we were in the clouds all day, however, we decided later that it was a blessing in disguise because we probably would have been way too hot if the sun was shining on us hiking up the mountain all day. The next morning we woke up to a clear and sunny day at Faulhorn and we were able to see what we missed the day before so it all worked out. We thought both Faulhorn and Obersteinberg could have served a hot breakfast such as oatmeal though, especially for hungry hikers. Cold bread and jam just didn't cut it. Also, at Obersteinberg they were unaware that we were vegetarians so dinner was pretty meager. They did offer to cook us up some eggs which was very nice.
Also, lack of bathrooms along the way and having to buy most of our water was unexpected. Of course being four months pregnant I probably needed to use the bathroom more frequently than the average person!
You were completely right about wanting to get out of Interlaken by the end of the second day. We found it beautiful but over-run with tourists. We were very happy to get up in the mountains and the peace and quiet. Zurich was a complete shock and dissapointment after having been up in the mountains for eight days. We have dubbed it graffiti city. Never have I seen so much graffiti in my life. The old city (I'm glad we were lodging there) was nice and we far enjoyed walking around the old city and browsing in the small shops to the crowded and way too pricey shopping section across the river. I would not recommend the shopping there unless you recently won some type of lottery.
Fortunately for us we arrived in Wengen on August 1st, the holiday. What a treat! The inn was fantastic and we were treated to the best seven course meal. It was by far the best meal that we had on our trip. We had a lovely room with a balcony where we were able to view the parade and festivities of the holiday. We would have loved to join in but that was the night we could barely move!
One more thing to mention - You said in your literature that you prefer the view at Schilthorn to the views at Jungfraujoch, however, we really enjoyed ourselves at Jungfraujoch. We decided to spend part of an afternoon there and we had a spectacular time hiking across the glacier and up to the small hut/restaurant. It was a beautiful sunny day which probably accounted for part of our enjoyment. We also enjoyed Schilthorn but mostly because we took the cable car back down to Birg and hiked from Birg to Murren which was a lovely hike. Oh, and one other thing. Your directions were fantastic except coming out of train stations. You would always say - come out of the train station and turn to your right, except we found that there were several different ways to exit the train station and we almost always were lost coming out of the stations because we never seemed to exit the train station the way you probably thought we would!
I hope that you found our comments helpful and somewhat amusing. Thanks again for the great trip!
-A Nadeau, 2009 self-guided custom Jungfrau region tour
Matt- Thank you so much for your excellent guiding of our trip. If I didn't know better I would never have guessed that this was your last group trip in the Alps for the season. Throughout (even at the end of each day) your enthusiasm, patience, generosity of time and knowledge was 'World Class', rivaling what most people can offer on their best days. Thanks for a memorable and utterly enjoyable trip! I'm sure I'll be back.
-B Barry, 2009 guided Bernese Oberland tour
Hi Troy- |
Just wanted to say thanks for everything. We had a great trip and are already talking about how we can make it back ASAP. We really appreciated you taking care of the little hiccup we had with our travel plans, and everything ran really smoothly once we got out there. The trail descriptions you provided were great. Just enough info to get us where we needed to go, but not too much, so we felt like we were discovering a few things along the way. We skipped one day of our planned hikes to rest and took the train/bus to Griesalp which ended up being an interesting experience anyways. That was the craziest bus ride either of us had ever been on! The hike the next day to Kanderstag was definitely the highlight of our trip. We were exhausted and ended up getting hailed on right after we passed the lake, but it was such a rewarding experience, we would do it again in a heartbeat. Hopefully we'll be in contact with you in the not too distant future to plan a return trip. Thanks again!
-J Klein, 2009 self-guided Bernese Oberland
Thank you so much for all the arrangement that you have made for us. We came back to Singapore last evening. Switzerland is very beautiful and is beyond words that we could describe. The people is very friendly too, particularly the people from Pontresina, Zermatt and Wengen hotels. The weather was very kind to us and we had sunny days for the whole trip. We made short hikes in several places and we loved it all. We both have enjoyed the trip greatly and like to express our appreciation to you for making our trip arrangement.
-J Lek, 2009 custom self-guided tour
Troy, It's been on my mind since last Summer to write to you. We enjoyed our trip to Switzerland very much! The directions were very clear. The hiking was great. We took several of your suggestions, and were rewarded with great experiences. |
We went in June, when there was a cold and wet spell, so several of our days in the Bernese Oberland were rainy and cold. We woke up in Wengen and the snow level was almost in town. We conferred with our inn keeper and decided not to make the trip Obersteinberg. Our room in Murren was in the basement, dark and small and humid. The inn keeper at Meiringen did not seem to be happy to have us. These were our (small) disappointments.
Any disappointment was more than outweighed by the wonderful time we had. Believe it or not, we ended up doing Schynige Platte, in very poor weather which acutally got worse as we went. While I confess to feeling stupid during the hike, it was still a heck of an experience that we were all glad we had. Our hike over Grosse Scheidegg and down into Grindelwald was a perfect day, the Eiger was magnificent. We really enjoyed Grindelwald, especially before it began to rain. We liked Wengen, and we really liked the hotel! We enjoyed the (rainy) walk through the Lauterbrunnen valley. We still had the fun of finding our way. We also liked the town of Murren, and hiking in the (foggy) hills behind it.
But, for reasons that are still unclear to me, we really enjoyed Zermatt. We felt very much at home. I thought it would be too touristy for us, but we managed that okay and spent quite a bit of time hiking. The weather was fabulous. We loved the small outdoor restaurant just out of town -- I think it was called Zum zee. We went twice. The hotel was excellent, and we really appreciated the perfect view of the Matterhorn.
You did a great job putting this together for us, Troy, and I have no qualms recommending you to others. I also appreciate your patience in making adjustments and getting our itinerary to fit our needs. This year our teens have special plans for the summer, but I would not be surprised if my wife and I called you up for another trip.
-W Dargie, 2009 self-guided tour
Hi Troy, WOW! What a trip it was....I LOVED it! Thank you for everything! We all had such a great time with so many memories. The hiking was absolutely beautiful and the people all were so much fun. These memories will get me through the tough times at work. I have one picture that I took a long the way of our hike,as my screansaver on my computer at my job. I just look at that and SMILE! I ended up going back to Brienz and stayed over night. I walked up and down the lake gravel walkway. It was my dream come true! There is a great hotel I would recommend with great food called Hotel Brienzerburli. It had nice views on the lake as you sit and dine in their restaurant. The cost was 90 SF's that gave me a double room with a bathroom of my own, that was down the hall. Very nice,and very clean! The cost of a room with a bathroom was 130 SF. The food was great! I spent the last day in Luzern. It was raining and ate lunch at a place I would not recommend and the name of the restaurant was Opus. Nasty food! he he he! I stayed at the Hotel Waldstatterhof just across the street from the train station. Great place to stay! Pricey but very very nice. The hotel was 160SF for a double room. Very cool. This was a great location to grab a train in the morning to the airport. |
Again, I just want to thank you so very much for all the fun! Best Wishes to you and your family. I hope someday to see you again on another journey!
-T Merklinger, 2008 Jungfrau tour
Having just completed the Self-Guided Trek of the Bernese Oberland Route in Switzerland that was planned for my wife and I by Alpine Hikers, I can honestly say that it was one of the greatest hiking experiences of our lives. The arrangements made by Troy Haines were flawless. Each inn was better than the last and we were cared for and fed by the owners as if we were family. Clearly, Troy's knowledge of the area and the local people ensured such treatment. In addition, for every day's hike we were provided with extremely detailed descriptions of the route and what you would find along the way. The information and its presentation were impeccable. I cannot strongly enough recommend to anyone who wants to experience the stunning beauty of hiking the high Alps and get to know the Swiss people that they use Alpine Hikers to help them arrange their trek. And after speaking to other trekkers along the route who used a different service for the requisite planning of this trek, it was clear that my wife and I had made the right choice in using Alpine Hikers. What we got for our money and what they got weren't even comparable. |
-R Doblar, 2008 self-guided Bernese Oberland tour, 2010 self-guided TMB
Troy, I wanted you to know how wonderful our trip was. Your booking arrangements were at hotels I loved and in each case, we had only the best views! At Hotel Des Alpes we were in the room with the balcony holding the Swiss Flag Ė I thought that was totally awesome. |
Your description of Switzerland and how we get to each village or city was perfect. While there might be a few VERY MINOR changes in explanation of your hikes (which I will suggest under a separate email when I have more time), they were also spot on and really allowed me to be confident in where we were going. I also loved that Swiss Pass Ė it saved us so much money! At the end of the trip, my husband said he wished we'd stayed for another week Ė he's never said that before.
I can't thank you enough. If you want a testimonial, let me know.
-L Ray, 2008 customized self-guided tour
Hey Troy and Matt, Thanks again for yet another amazing trip - it was a lot of fun and a great group - a bit more of a party-gang than last year! Made a bunch of new friends im sure I will keep incontact with (those crazy Canuks/Canadians!). Keep me posted on the Fall goings-ons and open seats back home, and on the new line up for CH next year!
-T Buergi, 2007 Bernese Oberland Tour, 2008 Haute Route, 2009 Dolomites, 2010 Arizona Red Rocks tour
I wanted to give you a big thank you for the wonderful
self-guided tour of Switzerland you set up for us in September. You
arranged an extended version of the Murren, Grindelwald, Zermatt and
Zinal trip for us. In all respects this trip far exceeded our
already high expectations. We just has the greatest trip taking back
priceless memories from every hike and every place we stayed. Your
self-guided instructions were perfect except for some very minor
details. We had no trouble getting to the destinations and it was
really nice to have the freedom to modify the hikes on the fly to
suit time limitations, physical limitations, and our whims of the
moment. We found that your time estimates were fairly
realistic. We, of course, benefited from terrific weather most of
the trip. Our only rainy day on the trail was that day when we met
you on the trail to Obersteinberg. That hike turned out to be the
hardest for us because of the weather but we had the good fortune to
have the rain clear for about a half hour when we reached
Obersteinberg and the view was simply amazing. |
Several of the hikes really stood out as memorable. The first
day we hiked to Rotstock hut. We were so excited to get started at
last. That day we ran into a lot of clouds after we climbed over the
first large ridge and headed across the long pasture toward the
hut. The clouds actually turned out to be really interesting though
as they were patchy enough that things were constantly changing and
we found that they would open up a little window to the mountains
beyond, then close again, only to open again for a different
view. It was memorizing and the scenes reveled were amazing and made
us keep an eye to the sky. At the same time we were watching the sky
we found the wildflowers along this trail to be amazing. My wife who
is a botanist counted at least 40 different species, non of which we
had ever seen before. Occasionally it was hard to get her to move
along as she was so busy looking at the flowers. We found lots of
areas on our trip where the flowers were good but this was the
best. When we arrived at Wasenegg ridge we found a bench and spent
over an hour just sitting and watching the changing landscape as the
clouds moved around. When the clouds built up on one side of the
ridge, we turned around and there was a show on the other
side. Great stuff....we arrived back at Murren that afternoon tired
but totally jazzed and so thrilled at the first day on the trail.
A couple of other hikes really stood out to us. One was the
hike up to the Grindelwald glacier. As we were sitting at that hut
and watching the glacier on a warm, no wind day there were a series
of high thin clouds passing over and as they hit the mountain peaks,
they swirled and broke up making an amazing scene. On that hike we
took the lift up from Grindelwald but walked all the way down
following the path along the mountain to the other glacier. The hike
to the Hornli Hut at the base of the Matterhorn was simply
amazing. The trail was very crowded but the scenery was simply
stunning. It took us a while to get up to the hut as the elevation
here was pretty high for us but it was worth it. The Mountain was at
it's photogenic best that day and we took full advantage of it. We
had intended to walk all the way back to Zermatt that day but when we
got to the top of the lift a very nice draft beer reached out and
grabbed me and I as forced to ride down as a result. Zinal was also
amazing. What a wonderful, quiet place. We hiked up to Petit
Mountet overlooking the glacier the day we arrived and enjoyed the
view but the highlight was the hike the next day up to Roc de la
Vache which was the perfect ending to the trip. All of our hiking
before that had gotten us in pretty good shape so we though we could
do a 3000 climb. We made it....slow but sure...and were rewarded
with maybe the most stunning view we saw anywhere. The decent down
from the pass with the Zinal glacier in front of us and the Moming
glacier coming down from the Wiesshorn to the left was simply
breathtaking and we had to constantly stop to take it all in. It was
a view that so few people see too because it is so off the beaten path.
We also enjoyed our overnight stay in Kandersteg on the way to
Lucern. We had a relaxing hike up to the lake that afternoon and
just thoroughly enjoyed the village. All of the hotels that you
booked for us were first rate but the best was the Hotel Europe in
Zermatt. Our room was fully equipped with a stunning view of the
Matterhorn. The food and service at this hotel were just wonderful.
We did note that we were in the English speaking minority at all of
the hotels....most seemed to be filled with Swiss and German
tourists. We had little trouble communicating with the hotel staff
with the exception of the hotel in Zinal. They spoke very little
english but we did manage to communicate in the end.
This was the best vacation we have ever had and it is hard to
believe how we could top it. Everything was perfect. We are
planning another hiking vacation next year and are considering going
to eastern Switzerland and/or Austria. Do you have any connections
in those areas? We appreciate your fantastic arrangements and were
thrilled at how well it all worked. I hope we can do it again soon.
-Steve Sorenson, 2007 self-guided Jungfrau + Matterhorn tour
What a spectacular experience. Iíve been trying to script out a
descriptive note which captures the essence of my Alps experience; and,
I cannot. Itís like Iím caught in a loop which returns to
spectacular. Each day was truly more spectacular that the last Ėup
until the last day: even up to the train ride out. The capstone hike
was very dramatic. |
I have very pleasant dreams of hiking through the Alps now Ėvery
pleasant. Youíve given me much on this trip: I thank you much. The
Bernese Oberland has an exceedingly intimate, tangible meaning to me
now. A very broadening experience for me in many different ways Ėfar,
far beyond my expectations. I apologize but do not really have a high
or low point I can share: all of it was indescribably wonderful for
me. Well done!
Words are really failing me here. Itís great work youíre doing there I
think. Very, very good job by me. Iíll be back.
-R. Hulsebosch, 2007 Bernese Oberland tour, 2009 self-guided Haute Route and Engadine tours
Feeling as though our feet are on the ground again after an amazing trip to Switzerland!
We wanted to thank you for the excellent, excellent job you did in coordinating this
very memorable experience for us. Outside of the lost luggage, everything went so
smoothly. (I finally got it after a week! But it made me realize how little I REALLY needed!)
Your directions and words of wisdom were "right on" everyday and in every
way. The people we met, the weather, the food, the countryside...all perfect.
We have already had friends inquire about this unique trip and you can bet we will
recommend Alpine Hikers to anyone who asks.
Another wonder we had involved the proper way to tip, as our dinners were included in
most of our accommodations. We wanted to properly show our appreciation for the meal
services and were not quite sure if there was a proper protocol or not. Hopefully we did not
offend anyone before or after we finally asked a friendly waitress in Wengen.
Troy, a giant thanks. We loved every moment of this trip. You helped to make it a really
special time for all of us.
-Doug and Sally Peck, 2007 and 2010 self-guided tours
Troy, Dale and I just returned from the trip in Switzerland. Wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed every location and hotel. The scenery was amazing and your trail descriptions were perfect. We hiked most of the trails you suggested and a couple of alternatives- one we hiked was the First Lift in Grindelwald to Shynigge Platte- unfortunately the weather was socked in and we got no views of the lake nor the mountains. |
Each hotel was special with our favorite being the Riffelalp of course. They upgraded our rooms to chalet and the food and service was simply amazing.
My compliments to you on your fine operation and I look forward to future trips- maybe the Dolomites. I will be posting a very favorable review for your company on TripAdvisor.
-G Plummer, 2007 custom self-guided Jungfrau + Matterhorn tour
Troy, you are the best! Thank you so much. In researching these little buggers myself I also discovered that they were exactly what you said. And no, Dad won't care which of the countries it comes from as long as it doesn't come from America. (Can you believe that one? Most times we Americans are aggravated we can't buy anything made here anymore and here I am searching high and low for something not only NOT made in America but CHINA as well!) |
I'm sure Ron will fill you in on our trip but for me I simply want to tell you that the Hotel Julen in Zermatt was probably one of the best hotels I've stayed at in THE WORLD (and I've got about 25 different countries under my belt as of today!) I'm not exaggerating at all when I tell you that the food we were served there tickled my taste buds with adventures of flavors and textures that I (a novice chef myself) would have NEVER brought together in a meal. If anyone is looking for their typical "chicken, beef or fish", they won't find it there but what they will discover is a cuisine which if you close your eyes will bring fabulous colors with each bite. NO FOOLING!
I also want to tell you that the weather was fantastic and my only regret is that we couldn't see more of the country on this journey; hopefully someday soon we will be able to return as Switzerland is indeed one of the most majestic places I've ever seen. My husband has twice as many countries under his belt as I but I could definitely see in his face the same tranquility that I experienced there. Needless to say, the Matterhorn literally moved me to tears. I never could understand or appreciate a man/woman having the need or desire to climb such a thing until I set my eyes on it for the very first time.
I have one more (of MANY things to say about our trip) but then I'll let you go....FONDUE! Never thinking that cheese, bread and pieces of meat fried in boiling oil could be appetizing, I rushed right home after enjoying our meal our first night in Geneva at the Hotel Edelweiss to research the close to thousand cookbooks I've collected through the years to see if there was hope of my duplicating that experience. Ron and I even passed on a Fondue restaurant on a recent journey to the Falls of Iguazu in Argentina and Brazil but you can rest assured that will NEVER happen again. We have one Fondue restaurant here in Houston and you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be dining there very soon.
You probably think I'm about 500 pounds but trust me I am not....although if I had to spend any length of time in Switzerland I could certainly be well on my way!! Ron collects flags for his office from the countries he/we have traveled to and I collect charms for my Italian charm bracelet (working on the second bracelet now). When I first began to travel I thought I'd be your typical American always searching out the burger joints, but instead I have made it an absolute point to enjoy typical cuisine from whatever country I am visiting and I have to tell you that whether it was the Pho I ate in Vietnam, the Goulash I ate in Hungary, the Poffiges in Amsterdam, the Tortellini in Bologna, Italy, or the tiny fried fish critters I ate in Taiwan, the Fondue and the INCREDIBLE variety of cheeses I ate while in Switzerland will forever rank right up there with the absolute BEST!
Thank you again for such an incredible brief kiss of your lovely country. Someday I hope to return again for a more extensive journey. Oh and thank you again for the hat info...I know it's goofy but Dad collects these ridiculous hats from our travels...funniest of all has got to be either the Vietnam cone hat or the furry Russian soldier hat.
I apologize for taking so much of your time but I just can't tell you enough how wonderful everything was.
I just had to share this with you....Ron absolutely abhors cuckoo clocks. He hates the way they sound...the way they look...(you get the picture). Well one of the things we do when we travel is purchase something authentic or indigenous to whatever area of the world we happen to be visiting. (You can only IMAGINE the decor in our home!) There are certain things that can only be purchased in certain places and since I was in Switzerland, I NEEDED one of two things but they had to be authentic in every way. I wanted either a cuckoo clock or an Alphorn. Frightened that our pet parrot would begin to imitate the sound that Ron already dreaded more than life itself by a cuckoo clock, he made a deal with me. He would purchase me an Alphorn if I gave up on the clock! Needless to say, he claims that it well worth the premium he paid between the $300 clock and the $850 horn and I in turn toted that 6.5 ft horn all the way back here to Houston just so that it can stand next to our fireplace...God knows I doubt seriously I will have an opportunity to have Alphorn lessons here in Houston, Texas!!!!! I suppose that's just good luck for our neighbors though!
I have to tell you, I would have gone taller except I couldn't figure out how I could get the $2300 version back home with me!!!! The little wood craftsman we found in Zermatt seemed quite happy to get rid of that thing and Ron seemed happy after he found a good luck mountain goat carving for our dining room wall.
-N Mogel, 2007 custom self-guided tour
Charles, Suzanne Jeffers and Dorothy and I have been back from our trip for
a week. We found a modicum of disasters waiting for us when we arrived,
that is, no power in our house and no telephone service. After that and
what I will further relate, were cleared up, this has been my first chance
to offer a short critique of what turned out to be a perfectly marvelous,
memorable and "would-love-to-do-it-over-again" trip. Your itinerary, hotel
accommodations, plans and suggestions which we followed to a tee were right
on and, I might say, applied with typical Swiss efficiency. Our only
disappointment was not meeting you and your family while you were in Murren
(you may not have been there while we were in Wengen.) Below are some
suggestions you might include in your tour brochure, which would be helpful
particularly for non-hikers like us.
About an hour before we left for the airport to catch our flight to Geneva,
my wife tripped over my suitcase and injured her wrist. She could wiggle
her fingers and otherwise was sore, but not to the point of missing the
trip, although we thought at first that we would have to delay or cancel at
the last minute. Hence, a strong recommendation to get trip insurance
(which I did not have) would be helpful to other senior citizen travelers
who may be somewhat traveling neophytes. Upon our return last week we
checked her into our family doctor as a precaution and found that she had
two broken bones in her wrist. She will undergo surgery tomorrow to get a
plate and a couple of pins installed plus 8 to 12 weeks of therapy to get
the wrist back to normal. As serious as this is, it didn't affect our trip
that much. She kept her arm in an improvised sling and I bought a heating
pad in Geneva. That, along with copious quantities of Tylenol, kept her
discomfort at a minimum and she enjoyed our trip as much as the rest of us.
Swiss chocolate and cheese have a remarkable therapeutic effect. We had
local medical information in the event we needed it from a Frommers the
Jeffers had brought along. The Hotel Longemalle was very helpful in
tracking our lost luggage from British Air. All of our bags made it to the
hotel two days late, but in good shape. A good hint to travelers -- avoid
connections in Heathrow at all costs. Although check-in luggage can be
checked through, you have to endure long lines of security to catch a
connecting flight despite having done so at your point of origin. We almost
missed our connection because of that. Post cards we sent from the
Longemalle did not arrived at any of the different locations we sent them to
in the United States. I'm corresponding with the hotel to see if they know
if they were actually sent or not, as we handed them to the desk clerk when
we departed. All of the mail we sent from the other hotels on the trip
The rail passes were a godsend, and we had no trouble making the connections
you told us about in the itinerary, even the short connections. The only
glitch was going from Zermatt to Brig, the 8:48 train (all the :48 trains
departing Zermatt) are Glacier Express trains that require reservations. We
blithely jumped aboard but thought we were going to be thrown off at the
first stop away from Zermatt, but a very sympathetic, friendly conductor let
us stay aboard to Brig after looking at our itinerary and placing the blame
on you instead of us. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the luxurious train for the
short ride. Also, after leaving Lugano, we finally read the fine print in
the Rail Passes and discovered that you can check your baggage through to
your destination for a fee. Since our bags were heavy (and since my wife
was somewhat handicapped in carrying hers because of her wrist, we took
advantage of this and found it to be a big plus). You might want to
highlight that in your brochure.
The Wilden Mann in Luzerne was my favorite in terms of comfortable
accommodations and a terrific staff. Their two restaurants, as you
mentioned in the brochure, were outstanding. My biggest crisis in Luzerne
was losing my passport. I ransacked my room after the day's touring,
couldn't find it, so had the hotel call the restaurant that we ate in the
night before (the Pfister -- terrific). No luck there, so I had the hotel
call the local police station. When the police asked me for my full name
and date of birth, it dampened my panic and, sure enough, some nice Swiss
lady had picked it up and turned it in. I apparently had dropped it out of
my pocket somewhere in our walking through Old Town or elsewhere. I picked
it up at the police station (two blocks from the hotel) and paid a finders'
fee of 26 Swiss francs. My wife carried it in her fanny pack the rest of
the way. I have the name and address of the nice lady who found it and
intend to send her a little thank you gift. Frommers doesn't give any
information on what to do in cases like this, so any Consular information
for each city visited might be helpful in the brochure. Also, most
important to remind careless travelers like myself, always make a copy of
the first two pages of your passport and any credit cards you may have with
you and carry them in a safe, separate place -- something I stupidly never
have done despite all the traveling I've done. Given the staff at the
Wilden Mann and the nice lady who found my passport, let me say that all of
the people we encountered, particularly the hotel, shopkeepers and travel
staffs, were extremely helpful, polite and English fluent. We encountered
no anti-Bush or American sentiment at all (as we did in Budapest and Prague
two years ago) and this added to our enjoyment so much.
Lugano was just as you predicted. We enjoyed our five-star and a terrific
meal at Scala plus a ride around the lake, but most of all, rested from our
Geneva and Luzerne experiences. The hotel clerk at the Eden in Lugano asked
us for a voucher from you when we checked in. We told her we had no
voucher, but only the confirmation and that satisfied her.
Zermatt was wonderful and the Hotel Europe terrific, particularly their
meals. We were lucky to wake up our first morning there to a clear view of
the Matterhorn -- awe inspiring. We met the ten hikers you had booked from
Greenville, South Carolina and had a good time chatting with them. That's
how we knew you were in Murren. No glitches in Zermatt other than the train
out that I mentioned. The souvenir shop clerk at the hotel on top of the
Gonergrat, engraved my name in my Swiss Army knife that I bought in Geneva
in 1979 free of charge.
Wengen was our favorite among favorites. Again, the staff at the hotel, or
rather Rene and his wife ran the Schonegg like a B&B and couldn't have been
nicer. Somehow, Rene had missed our reservation, but the confirmation you
sent us was all we needed and they had comfortable rooms for us. The hotel
may be three-star, but their dining room is six-star in my estimation. Some
of the best meals we had the whole trip, and I also say that eating in the
hotels in Zermatt and Wengen made life much simpler for us. We appreciated
that a great deal and I don't know if any restaurants in those areas could
match them anyway. Regretfully, the weather turned bad -- rain and cloudy --
while in Wengen, so we never got to the top of the mountains.
Alternatively, we took in Trummelbach Falls which was astounding. Not only
the falls, but the Swiss engineering to accommodate sightseers was
For the short time we were in Zurich, we enjoyed the hotel and walks through
Old Town and down the Bahnhoffstrasse as you suggested. We left early for
the airport with lots of help from the hotel staff. No further mishaps along
the way except for my wife and sister mistakenly taking "Herren" in the
Zurich airport as a feminine name, much to their embarrassment and everyone
else's (including mine) amusement.
Again, Troy. We can't thank you enough for such a memorable and enjoyable
vacation. Your itinerary was just what we needed. We feel as if we've seen
enough of Switzerland to satisfy our tourism and just enough to tempt us to
go back for more. We will certainly recommend Alpine Hikers to anyone else
interested in a Swiss trip, hikers or otherwise.
-T Kramer, 2006 custom self-guided tour
We've been back a week or so now, collecting children from their various
away points and generally settling back in after our trip. We have to tell you that we've traveled to 40 or so different countries
in our lives albeit mostly for business and have taken some pretty great
vacations, but nothing comes close to the experience that you led us to have
in the Alps. The hiking was fun (and hard sometimes), the scenery
spectacular, the weather ever changing and exciting, the Riffelalp and the
Giessbach were excellent, and all in all everything was perfect. We could go
on and on about each day and the experiences, but you know from years of
doing it how good it is.
Thank you agin for being our 'guide' and for serving up such great
memories. Have a great summer.
-Mark and Leslie, 2006 self-guided tour
I assume you're still in Switzerland and I am really jealous!
We would both like to thank you for helping us with our itinerary and the food and
accommodations. The hikes you provided were excellent choices! We especially enjoyed Lac
Blanc and the Hornlihutte. I really appreciated the professionalism you demonstrated
throughout the planning and during our trip. Answering all of our questions and your
willingness to share breakfast with us in Chamonix really meant alot to both of us. We really
would have liked to have had the opportunity to hike with you and are sorry there wasn't
some way we could have done so. However, before we went (and even more so now), we
realized the unguided tour was the better choice for us. Your suggestions allowed us to enjoy
accommodations and create hikes that took advantage of your knowledge of these places
while making it possible for us to add the extra destinations and distances we needed so we
could spend as much time as possible in the mountains and out of the resort/town. In
Chamonix and Murren we ran into some members of your other tours and quickly recognized that
the flexibility in time, destination and companionship we had allowed ourselves by going
unguided really made a difference in how much we were able to enjoy this alpine paradise.
We haven't a complaint about anything unless you consider that the magnificent 5 and 6
course meals we kept enjoying were eventually too rich for our less refined stomachs. On
our last night we decided to cancel dinner and instead sat riverside in Grindelwald and
shared some fresh baked bread, wine (which we chilled in the river) and cheese that we had
bought the day before from a lovely family at the Schiltalp. I really hope you continue
to offer the unguided option as it really was ideal for the type of travellers we are. I
can't say enough good things about the Hotel Des Grande Alps. The location,
accomodations and service were by far the best we enjoyed and that's saying alot since the Riffelalp
is probably considered by most to be a superior accomodation.
If there is anything we can do to help you promote your trips please don't hesitate to contact us. I would be
happy to provide reference and will surely be recommending you to our friends and family.
Thanks again for helping to make our honeymoon so memorable.
PS: We saw your other guide out on a hike and he was wearing a ball cap that said Alpine
Hikers. Would it be possible to purchase a pair of those for Ali and myself? Keep in
-Greg and Alicia Roe, 2006 self-guided Grand Tour
Hello from New York! I'm stuck in the grime and noise of the city, and I can't tell you how much I'm missing Switzerland. I miss the mountains and the
lakes and the steam room in Zermatt. (Especially the steam room in Zermatt). I'm so jealous of you and Jerry for
spending the end of the summer there. A long weekend in Vermont offered some consolation, but the green mountains were looking rather puny after the glories
of the Alps. |
My one solace at being back in New York is my picture collection, which I just had developed. The guy at the photo place even said, "Beautiful mountains.
Where did you go?" (This man has never asked where I went in three years of developing my photos). OK, back to planning lessons and writing assignments. Enjoy your final days in the Alps!
-Lael Jacobs, 2003 Matterhorn Tour
Thank you for sharing the solution to the dried yellow mystery flower,
primarily found in wine and liquor stores. I never would have guessed wormwood. Also, thank you for such a great experience in Chamonix and
Courmayeur. We had a fantastic time in southern France and Paris, but hiking with you was the highlight of our trip for each of us. I am
sorry that I missed the true limoncello, maybe next time. We returned home to unrelenting fog for a week, but at least it was cool. I hope
that you are continuing to have excellent adventures this summer and just the right amount of delicious desserts.
-Cody Van Heerden, 2003 Chamonix Tour
I just wanted to say thanks again, it truly was a trip of a lifetime that I will not forget. I also wanted to say thank you for the last nights hotel idea - it was awesome.
So back to work but if you ever need help or just someone to go for a hike let me know, and I do expect to see you up north at some point in this lifetime.
Thanks again Troy
-Craig Westgate, 2003 Bernese Oberland Tour
Hi Troy and Johnnie, I see by your schedule that you are still
hiking!! John and I are REALLY jealous. He printed all the pictures from our trip with you guys. They are so awesome!! When he is home, he is planning on
putting them on a CD and mailing them to you. Everyone we have showed them to, has been amazed by the scenery and all of our stories of our hikes. We
would love to do that every single summer. The hiking portion of our vacation was by far our favorite. We tell people to imagine their best
hopes for a trip. Then tell them that the trip was better than we could have thought. Thank you both for making it a truly memorable 25th
anniversary trip for us. Please say hey to everyone back in Murren - AnneMarie and Holger especially. Well, I have to go out for recess with
my 3rd graders, so good bye for now.
-John and Judy Elmergreen, 2002 Jungfrau Tour
We got your latest tour brochure today and thought it was pretty great that one of the pictures from the tour we were on with you this past summer was on the front page.† We really enjoyed our time in the Alps with you and Johnnie and have kept in touch with a few folks from the tour!† We've been meaning to send you (what we think is) a great picture of the Matterhorn taken by Jason...please feel free to use it on your web site etc...† We've actually got two albums full of great pictures and have showed them off to everyone we know!† What†fantastic memories we have of that vacation!
Anyhow, just wanted to keep in touch, hopefully someday we'll hike with you guys again!!!!
-Jason and Carol Hunter, 2002 Jungfrau and Matterhorn Tour
Thank you so much for a wonderful trip. Both of you were absolutely fantastic. We are definitely recommending you to friends and hope that you two stay healthy and happy.
-Annette Smith, 2001 Bernese Oberland tour
We were so grateful for your guidance in bringing us to such a spectacular spot. We had such a nice time, Troy. The old hotel was absolutely charming! And really friendly folks. Amazing! I would love to come back and especially to Kandersteg. Again, many thanks for your professional assistance and expertise.
We're already telling everyone who'll listen what a wonderful trip we had.†
You and Johnnie did a great job running the trip.† It was great how you both responded to the different levels and speed of our group.† Though I was behind a lot I never felt that I'd been forgotten. I felt comfortable hiking at my pace.† The inns were charming and food wonderful. We were pretty impressed (and thankful for) with the arrangements†you made when the lightning and thunder chased us off the mountain (not to mention our interesting lunch spot).
-Patty Williams, 2000 Bernese Oberland Tour
Linda and I both have commented since our trek with you two about just how much we enjoyed our experience with
the hiking, lunches, your company, and anything else we could think of relating to our vacation. We both agreed that it was the very best vacation we have take together in our married life. I wish we could come back to CH this year with you two. We will be with you in spirit though. Don't be strangers...
-Jerry Mark and Linda Montrone, 2000 Jungfrau Tour
I took out the photo album and thumbed through the pictures of our trip with you... and reminded myself how much fun we had. The variety of experiences we had and the awesome beauty of the places we visited on that trip were far above any we've done before or since. We walked, rode bicycles, motorcycles, cable cars, trams, trains, paddle-boats, busses, trollies, and cars. We had sun and fog and rain, we saw museums and castles and wooden bridges. We met great people doing all kinds of interesting things. Seeing the horse in the mist above Murren was one of those things that Whitney will always remember. It was our best vacation ever.
-Michael Abraham, 1999 Jungfrau Tour
The trip seems like a dream. Thankfully,
I've got tons of pictures to remind me of the great time we had! It was an
unbelievable experience, thanks to you and Johnnie.
-Sue Jahr, 1999 Jungfrau Tour
Every day was great! Your trip brought us back to nature and back to ourselves.
I must admit, there are times when the romance of living in the Alps makes me
contemplate dropping everything...
-Devin Archer, 1999 Matterhorn Tour