Our European Gem in Autumn: 2 Weeks in Venice, Slovenia and Switzerland
In Venice, the iconic city on the water, you can stroll over the Bridge of Sighs and find yourself stirred instantly by the sagas of the ruling Doges of the Middle Ages and the journeys of Marco Polo. Add the splendor of San Marco Square and the Cathedral.
In Switzerland you can find yourself staring up at the stunning ridges of The Matterhorn, the most photographed mountain on earth. You can munch fondue 8,000 feet beneath it in the storybook village of Zermatt. Or you can hike to the tiny lake at its foot, following the same trail that has invited thousands of climbers; or you can take a cable car and lunch at leisure in the midst of the great amphitheater of the Alps.
But first we’ll explore the fascinating little Balkan country of Slovenia, seemingly lifted live from a Franz Lehar operetta and until now one of the undiscovered gems of European tourism. There you can boat to an island where a church and steeple rise in perfect symmetry out of waters that seem to ask a question:
Can it get much better than this?
Actually, it can. From Oct. 3 to 15, we’ll be touring Slovenia, Venice and Switzerland, all of this linked with Milano and the amiable shoreline of the Lago Maggiore of Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms in the lake country of northern Italy. From there we’ll follow mountain streams into the heart of the Alps. And after three days there we’ll ride the renowned Swiss train system through some of the world’s most memorable scenery including Lake Lucerne on our way to our final destination of Zurich.
You’re invited. This is a trip as comfortable as you want, although if the urge to experience an Alpine trail through the larches and pines of the approaches to the Matterhorn or Monte Rosa stirs you, the hike is not that arduous. Or you can take a train to the international ski resort and overlook of the Gornergrat. And if you ski, you can take the cable lift to the slopes beneath the Matterhorn and ski, and ski, and ski.
On the other hand you can enjoy Zermatt the village and, after breakfast at your hotel, hike to the village of Findel in the high meadows, lunch among the chalets and then walk down to the sound of waterfalls and cowbells.. The Heidi of your schoolbooks lived in the Bernese Oberland a little north. So you’ll be the Heidi of the Matterhorn.
But before that: You begin in Slovenia in one of the charming capitals of Europe. In Ljubljana (Lewb-yana) not far from Austria, columns of willow trees dip their branches into a river flowing through the center of the city. There you can raft or canoe or simply enjoy the ambience of the city. The country’s poet laureate, France Persheren, left his prints and the lilt of his verse in every corner of the city’s modernized center of arts as well as the old town with its tiny cafes and outdoor luncheon tables arrayed along its winding streets.
From there, it’s relaxed travel in our chartered bus through the valleys of the Juliene Alps to Lake Bohinj and pleasant hotel quarters near the mountain streams. From there we enjoy the widely photographed Lake Bled and the castle-like church on its island beneath the cliffs. It’s a view that especially stirs the pride of visiting Minnesotans, Chicagoans and Clevelanders whose Slovenian ancestors emigrated to a growing America and its steel mills and iron ore mines in the late 1880s.
From our last overnight in Slovenia our charter bus takes us through the Slovenian and Italian countryside to the city of Mestri on the mainland just outside of Venice. From there canal taxis and buses, called vaporettos by the Italians, take us on an exploration of Venice, truly one of civilization’s marvels. We explore with guide and then by ourselves in ample time over two days. You’re not going to see it all. You couldn’t in a week or month. But here is the Venice of the ages, its art and antiquity, the city built on the ocean. Its history, grace and gaiety are threaded through its canals, bridges, palaces and museums rising above its waters. The shops and cafes invite your attention and a pardonable amount of your cash. But you don’t really have to spend or worry about the tourist bustle. There are no automobile horns or traffic jams here. You get around on the walkways and over the bridges and if you’ve seen all you want or need you can sit San Marco Square at the outdoor dining tables and listen to musicians playing the love songs of the Italians, or the polkas of the Austrians or a few bars from Rigoletto or Sorrento. The world seems to come together on this lovely esplanade. The day after our guide introduces you to his Venice, you’ll have plenty of time to free lance and breathe in the antiquity, art and the undiminished vitality of this city on the ocean.The land cost for this tour is $3,250 per person based on a minimum of 10 participants. The cost assumes double occupancy. If you’d like to travel with us but don’t have a roommate we can often pair people traveling alone, given their mutual agreement. Otherwise, a single supplement is available for $750. We normally like to travel with a group of 10 to 20 people. A deposit of $500 is due immediately in order to secure space at the hotels, refundable less $250 until June 15, when the final payment is due. After that time the trip costs are not refundable, and therefore travel insurance is highly recommended. Airfare, the other cost, should be booked as soon as possible to guarantee the best fare. Payments may be made by credit card or check.About flights: Our travel agent for this trip, Suzanne Zapolski, has been a partner in scores of international tours offered by Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures. In the past we’ve been able to secure a special discounted flight rate with a minimum of ten passengers. That’s still possible on this trip, but with airlines increasingly requiring long term advance commitments, we recommend the use of frequent flyer miles if they are available to you.
Please contact Suzanne at your earliest convenience to let her know you want to join this trip and to decide on the best flight plan available to you. She will then email or mail you a reservation form to be completed and returned to her as soon as possible. She can be reached at Email: Suzanne@bortonoverseas.com. Cell phone: 612-644-6404. Office: 612-661-4624.
As the group escort, and honorary guide in Switzerland, Jim can assist you if Suzanne is not immediately at hand. Contact him at any time at (preferably) 763-258-1371 or c-612-998-6005, or at email@example.com.
Venice, Slovenia and Switzerland Day by Day Oct 3, Mon Depart USA to Slovenia. Oct 4, Tue Arrive Ljubljana. After customs you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel. Your afternoon is free to explore the city on your own. The group will meet together for a Welcome Dinner tonight at the hotel. Overnight Grand Hotel Union. Dinner included.
Oct 5, Wed Your tour of Ljubljana with a local guide will include a walk past the major sites of the Old Town and a funicular ride to Ljubljana Castle. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight Grand Hotel Union. Breakfast included.
Oct 6, Thu After breakfast, travel by private motorcoach to Lake Bohinj. The scenic drive will take you into the heart of Triglav National Park and the southern edge of the Alps. Overnight Hotel Bohinj Bohinjsko Jezero. Breakfast and dinner included.
Oct 7, Fri After breakfast, you’ll take a cable car to Mt. Vogel to enjoy panoramic views, then drive to the idyllic setting of the church on an island in the center of Lake Bled, arriving aboard a traditional a pletna boat guided by a local oarsman. Overnight Hotel Bohinj Bohinjsko Jezero. Breakfast included.
Oct 8, Sat Today you’ll explore the Brda region renowned for its quality wines with wine-tasting sips and rustic lunch nearby. On the return to Bohinj, you’ll stop in Kobarid at the WWI museum on the Soca River.Overnight Hotel Bohinj Bohinjsko Jezero. Breakfast included.
Oct 9, Sun You’ll have an early departure for your motorcoach trip to Venice, where you’ll stay in Mestre, the mainland town connected to Venice by rail and bridges. Hotel check-in before boarding a vaporetto to Venice for a walking tour. Overnight at Hotel Alexander. Breakfast and dinner included.
Oct 10, Mon The day is free to explore and enjoy Venice on your own. Overnight at Hotel Alexander. Breakfast included.
Oct 11, Tue This morning you’ll travel by motorcoach from Venice to Milan and then turn north through the Italian lake country into Switzerland. The coach ride is a mountain spectacular to the train station in Taesch where you’ll board a local line to Zermatt. Overnight at Hotel Bristol Zermatt. Breakfast and dinner included.
Oct 12, 13Wed and Thu. For the next two days you’ll enjoy the village of Zermatt and the glorious Alpine surroundings. It’s a place Jim knows well from his years as a mountain climber and tour guide. It’s a place that appeals alike to the stroller, hiker, skier, and devotees of train rides into the mountains; also to the cable car rider, to lovers of a chalet in the forest and to anyone attracted by the sound of church bells in the valleys. Breakfast included. And dinner Oct.13.
Oct 14, Fri You’ll travel by Swiss train though lush valleys and mountainside to Zurich, spend the night at Hotel Montana in Zurich. Breakfast included.
Oct 15, Sat After breakfast, you’ll transfer to the Zurich airport for your departure flights. Breakfast included. If you’re a romanticist, this is your trip.