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info brochures before tour

Hello. I am seriously planning on signing up for a My Way Alpine Tour in September 7 to September 18, 2015. This will be my first RS tour, and would appreciate getting as much information as I can as I make my plans. I have these questions for starters:

  1. You say that as part of the tour package we will receive some brochures and maps, and a book? I am hoping that we can get those as soon as we pay our deposit?

  2. I would like to know if enough people have signed up for the Sept 7 - Sept 18 tour. I am asking because I need to feel safe about making my plans, like flight reservations, and added itinerary before and after the tour; I would like to know whether this particular tour will likely happen (and not be cancelled for lack of people).

  3. Are there any interesting events happening during this time in September? Like good Mozart concerts, or Vienna Boys' Choir in Austria, or interesting folk events in the Gimmelwald area, and other places in our itinerary?

  4. Should I wear hiking boots in the Gimmelwald area? Would ordinary walking New Balance shoes not be good enough because of the wet weather?

Thank you.

Posted by
5149 posts

jo_pie: Your first two questions should probably be emailed to tours@ricksteves.com The wonderful staff will answer your questions within a day or two. The other two would be better posted in the Destination Q & A section of this forum. You'll get plenty of responses there. There's also a topic the Tips and Trips section on shoes. Happy travels.

Posted by
4373 posts

jo_pie, to expand on Jane's response, this Travel Forum is made up of travel enthusiasts, not Rick Steves' Europe staff. Having said that, many posters have taken RS tours and may contribute to your thread. I'll give you a little info on your questions; hopefully, you'll find it helpful!

1) I didn't read anything about brochures, but you do receive the maps and books listed. Notice that you receive one ETBD book per household, not per person. Others who have taken these tours will have to chime in, but I've read that the books often arrive much closer to your date of departure than some would like. Use the Tour Info email address that Jane included for better info on that.

2) Again, check with the Tour Dept, but I'll venture an educated guess that Sept will be a popular time for this tour. Sept is a popular time for any European travel.

3) I would suggest checking the itinerary listed on the My Way page, then using Google to check each location for yourself. You may find some particular activity/museum/concert on your own that really excites you that the Tour Dept would never include! Note the admonition to make any advanced reservations necessary for your sight-seeing, such as popular museum tickets, concerts tickets, castle tours, etc.

4) From what I have read from those who have hiked in this area, generally speaking, if you are just walking the 'usual trails' that RS' Tours take, good walking shoes should be fine. If you are planning on more strenuous hiking, you might consider more serious boots. I would definitely suggest two pairs of shoes, (a) in case one gets wet and (b) just to make your feet happy with a change in footwear.

Try wunderground.com for historical weather info. And pay close attention to the weather forecasts as your trip departure date nears in order to fine-tune your wardrobe and sight-seeing plans.

This seems to be a very popular tour, and is highly rated! Have fun!

Posted by
16883 posts

Glad you're considering this tour! Cancelling a tour date with a few people signed up is very rare. September is the most popular month for our tours and is high season for tourism around most of Europe. That Sept. 7 departure is currently half booked and therefore won't be cancelled. Tour packets, including book and map, are usually shipped 60 - 90 days in advance of your departure. They're shipped to everyone signed up for the tour at that time, which is more efficient than shipping individually when people sign up.

We don't particularly expect wet weather in mid-September, but you are right to be prepared with some rain gear and flexible layers. Our guides say that ordinary, sturdy walking shoes are fine for the easy to moderate trails in the area. It's also possible to rent hiking boots there. The Alpine tour has hiking opportunities in several areas, so you could get plenty of use out of boots, if you're a serious hiker and already have them broken in.

Salzburg always has a selection of concerts that you can arrange while there. The Vienna Boy's Choir web site is not working for me today; a Vienna ticket site reflects 3 September concerts in their home city. Your guide and hotel staff are both likely to know about special events in each area, as well as the local tourist office is a good resource in each town. The area tourist offices also have online info, such as at http://jungfrauregion.ch/en/Holidays/NEWS/Top_Events or http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/service-updates/events.html, which may be interesting before you depart.

P.S. Rick's staff are happy to communicate via this forum and make an effort to review new questions here.

Posted by
4592 posts

The Jungfrau Marathon is Sept. 12 if you happen to be in the Lauterbrunnen/Wengen area during that date. We enjoyed cheering on the runners (4000 people) in Wengen last year and later went up to Kleinne Schledegg for the finale party with some local musicians, etc.

Posted by
4592 posts

I'll also comment, it was really cold for two days out of the 4 when we were at Wengen. I was plenty warm with my lightweight Columbia raincoat layered with a long-sleeve T-shirt & the newer style very thin thermal top. To keep my legs warm, I brought a pair of oversized tights from the grocery store, and wore them under a pair of nice work pants that I wear evenings when I want to look nice. The other two days I was wearing capris & a normal shirt without the coat during the day & with the coat in the evening. The thermal top & tights took next to no room in my suitcase.

The shoes I wore were my Keen Newport/Venice sandals. (We were in Italy the rest of our vacation.) The trails in that area are very well groomed.

Posted by
11292 posts

"interesting folk events in the Gimmelwald area"

You'll laugh when you read this again after you've been there. Gimmelwald has (per Rick's book) about 120 residents, and nearby Mürren has about 400. The big evening activity, besides dinner, is resting from the day's walks and hikes, and planning the next day's activities. Mürren has lots of hotel that serve meals to non-guests (Gimmelwald has only a few); all my Mürren meals were very good, while my Gimmelwald meal was more basic (but not cheaper).

Don't get me wrong. I stayed in Mürren for 4 nights in September 2014, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat - it was wonderful. But if you're looking for evening excitement, you're in the wrong place; it's what you see and do during the day that makes the place great.

Posted by
49 posts

Thank you very much, everyone who shared valuable information. They will surely help in my planning.