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BEERMAN
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Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 1
      #1750997 - 11/03/17 12:44 PM (108.45.108.124)

October 13 - 28, 2017
So a little background before I begin with Bella Vita-Das gute Leben part 1!!

Two years ago our daughter studied abroad and we went for a visit. We fell in love with Switzerland and Italy, wrote a lengthy TTOL trip report about it titled Swiss-Italia. Well, our daughter graduated from Virginia Tech this past spring and is preparing for grad school, so proud! But the really good news is that she took a "paid" position with the university supporting the same Study Abroad program, which meant my wife and I had a great excuse to return as well!!

Many of our trips are planned last minute and this one was no different, actually we knew for months that we were going...just always seem to put off the little details like "where we gonna stay?". We booked our non-stop flights from Dulles Airport to Zurich just 3 weeks out. We had a couple ideas of what we wanted to see this time like hiking in Switzerland, drink wine in Tuscany and perhaps stay in a castle somewhere. The week before our flight we decided to check out a little thing called the MATTERHORN in the Swiss Alps! we also decided to stay in a castle in Chianti!! So at least we had 4 of our 14 nights lodging reserved.

Last visit we exclusively traveled by train, but this time we would need to rent a car for a couple days to properly tour the wine country. I had read conflicting reports regarding the necessity of acquiring an International Drivers License. Yes, the car rental companies will let you drive away without one, but if you have any interaction with the Polizia I hear you will receive a hefty fine AND the rental company will pile on processing fees for this fine, AND in some cases the Polizia can actually confiscate your US license and forbid you from continuing down the road in your rental car...soooo...with all that information provided to us by AAA we drove to their local office to get the license, $21 peace of mind! Fyi, license acquired the day before our flight....procrastinate much!





One of our downsides to traveling on the fly was deciding on which train pass to pre-purchase. The multi-day EuroRail pass must be purchased before we departed the US. Ok let's think..how many days will we need?...heck we don't know?? we settled on the 1st class flex pass that covered travel between 2 border countries for 10 days to be used within 2 months, done. In hindsight we only needed the 8 day, which would have saved us $200, oh well. 2nd class tickets are cheaper and the seats aren't all that different, but we really enjoyed the less crowded and quieter 1st class cars and the complimentary espresso and snacks were greatly appreciated. Another thing to consider when choosing is the time of year, this was off season and crowds were small. Most, but not all trains were moderately full during our travels. So with transportation details covered and only 4 of 14 nights figured out we stuffed our backpacks and off we went!



Our 8 hour flight was eazy peazy, watched a couple movies drank beer and wine and arrived in Zurich at 8am their time. We really should have tried to sleep, too excited I guess. Clearing through customs and immigration was quick and painless again, love their efficiency! Checked the train schedule and hopped aboard the first train to Zermatt, Switzerland.





We enjoyed a wonderfully smooth and scenic ride through the Swiss countryside, which of course included a couple cold Feldschlösschen! In no time we were walking the streets of Zermatt and definitely feeling the weight of the backpacks! We both use a large internal frame on our backs and a smaller one with our valuables hanging off our fronts, we were well balanced!






Zermatt is a welcoming "car free" village with its quintessential Alpine chalets and old church with towering steeple in the town square. Actually it does have a few work vehicles and small electric shuttles, but they were wise to limit access here. We meandered along narrow well worn cobblestone streets that lead us out of the center of town towards our hotel, The Hotel Anteras. The hotel did offer a ride in a small electric vehicle, but our legs needed stretching and we enjoyed the easy 15 minute walk, taking an occasional selfie! With the crisp clean air perfumed from nearby wood fireplaces we came to a bridge that provided passage over the rushing Gornera River. In the center of the bridge we were stopped in our tracks by our first full sighting of the mighty Matterhorn...and the angels sang!!










Continuing down the winding river, noticeably colored in a lovely shade of pastel teal courtesy of the Gorner Glacier, we entered the small hotel to be greeted with a hardy guten Nachmittag! The owner and her manager were very friendly and helpful. After the necessary check in formalities our conversation with the owner turned into a wonderful chat about where we were from, plans to meet up with our daughter and what our plans for the weekend were, but what was incredibly nice was when she held Donna's hand while telling us about her grandchild that was due that evening, she was so sweet. I swear we felt like we were visiting with family, nice. We opened the small elevator door to find just enough space for 2, WITHOUT backpacks...so up 4 flights of stairs we shlepped. Walking to the end of a dimly lit hallway we found our clean comfortable room, it was relatively small but perfect for us. What was not lacking in size though was the view of the majestic Matterhorn from our balcony nicely gingerbread trimmed. I had read some great online reviews of this hotel, but a few mentioned how outdated it was and I honestly think that is part of its charm. If you prefer new modern Zermatt offers that as well. We quickly put away some wrinkled clothes then headed out to see what we would SEE!
















What an amazing alpine village consisting of new chalets and hotels intermingled with the very old and well preserved historical buildings. Everywhere we walked was an artists dream. This of course is a german influenced region in the canton of Valais, but speaking only english was rarely a problem for us. We window shopped a bit while walking most of the village limits. This tight little town is set deep inside the Matter Valley surrounded by towering mountains, but venture out a block or two and you'll find rolling hillsides blanketed in lush green fields where the goats and sheep play on the fringe of the Alpine forest. The stores here are very nice and have everything a wary traveler might need, such as sunglasses that I unfortunately left in Virginia, duh! Pricess on everything are fairly steep here, but I found the perfect polarized substitute at a price I could live with.
















Since we arrived in the afternoon our day seemed to race by. We were exhausted soon after sunset and took the easy way out and enjoyed a brick oven pizza just a snowball throw from the hotel, of course it had a view of the mighty Matterhorn and BEER! Over dinner we decided to take the first train up the mountain to Gornergrat to hike the next morning. Train leaves at 0700, so after checking in with our daughter on the spotty wifi, we snuggled into our comfortable bed at 2230, Gute Nacht!









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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 1 [Re: BEERMAN]
      #1750998 - 11/03/17 01:15 PM (73.255.141.246)

Wow! Amazing pictures!! Can't wait for more!

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LBI2SXM
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Joined: 06/02/08
Posts: 2129
Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 1 [Re: Carol_Hill]
      #1751035 - 11/03/17 06:28 PM (73.112.165.173)

Photos are absolutely breathtaking! You and Tom B have it all together when is comes to your travel destinations, your pics and trip reports.

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BEERMAN
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Joined: 06/02/11
Posts: 2529
Loc: VIRGINIA
Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 1 [Re: LBI2SXM]
      #1751051 - 11/03/17 09:57 PM (108.45.108.124)

Quote:

LBI2SXM said:
Photos are absolutely breathtaking! You and Tom B have it all together when is comes to your travel destinations, your pics and trip reports.




"Have it all together" well...maybe Tom, but I am just wing'in it!!


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TomB
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Joined: 04/02/02
Posts: 2457
Loc: Virginia wishing STJ
Re: Bella Vita-Das gute Leben Part 1 [Re: BEERMAN]
      #1751061 - 11/04/17 08:51 AM (74.214.39.192)

I know in my case, it is my travel companion that makes wherever we go a great place to visit and telling the story makes the memory last longer. I suspect the same is true with the Beermans

Great start - love the shots!
Walking sticks make sense now, but the next question I gotta ask... Did you ride the antique beer bike? I think you NEED one!

Keep the stories and pics coming!

--------------------
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” - Emerson


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