After trekking through the Alps on our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour, Go Ahead staffers Amanda and Laura came back with a changed perspective of central Europe. “Before this trip, neither of us realized that the Alps actually touch so many countries, but we’re glad they do,” Amanda quipped. “Those views never get old!” Here, Laura recounts a few of the things they were most pleasantly surprised by on tour.
How overwhelmingly beautiful the scenery is
Going into this trip we knew there’d be some great views ahead, but I don’t think either of us realized just how spectacular they’d actually be. The number of times we turned to each other to say “Is this real?” were too many to count—especially during bus time. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to riding on a coach as much as I did during this tour. On the mountain pass roads, we were all glued to our windows watching the peaks, farms, and villages pass by.
The warm weather
On the morning we left, I had a mini packing crisis: Do I bring my warmer coat or lighter jacket? I knew we’d be in the mountains, so I figured the coat made more sense. In the end, though, real estate in my suitcase made the decision for me—light jacket. I’m glad that’s all I brought because the temperatures wound up being in the mid-70s and low 80s for much of the trip.
Lake Como’s charm
I wasn’t prepared for just how much I wound up loving Lake Como and its surrounding towns. Como itself is everything I was hoping Italy would be (this was my first time visiting), with its cobblestone alleyways, gelato shops, and laidback vibe. On our first night there, we stumbled across a silent movie playing in one of the parks, complete with popcorn and other homemade snacks! It was a great opportunity to feel like a local.
How good German food is
If sauerkraut and sausages are what you’re picturing as mainstays in the local cuisine, I wouldn’t blame you. I thought the exact same thing until I got my first taste of spätzle. This type of dumpling-esque pasta pairs well with braised beef and brown gravy, which is how we had it at lunch on the Neuschwanstein Castle excursion (and how I ate it again for dinner the next day!).
The number of dogs we saw
As people who appreciate a good dog sighting or two (or 20), we were excited to discover that Europeans bring their furry friends almost everywhere. As for the city with the biggest canine presence? That prize goes to Annecy, France. Here, we crossed paths with people and their pooches in the street, on patios, in shops, and even on our Lake Annecy cruise boat.
Have you been to the Alps on tour? Tell us about your favorite unexpected moments on Facebook!