Sphinx Observatory, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge Lucerne, Swizerland
High Summer in the High Alps
July 2017 Tour type: Barefoot Luxury
Duration: 16 days Commencing: Milan, Italy Ending: Chamonix, France
Countries visited: Italy, Switzerland, France
Have you ever promised yourself to experience strolling in the Swiss mountain villages in the height of summer, staying in chalets, and enjoying the spectacular scenery and wild flower fields and the cool european lakes? Could you join us this year?
We meet in Milan – the home of fashion and flirting. We stay a few days to get you oriented, up-styled and relaxed. You can visit the cultural treasures, indulge in retail therapy, explore on a Vespa or just sit and people watch and drink Campari. We then drive on to three of the most beautiful lakes in the world Lagos Como, Lugano and Maggiore. We spend one or two nights in each soaking up the small town atmosphere and celebrity spotting. In Stresa on Lake Maggiore, we get to visit Isola Bella a private island turned into spectacular garden, for a beloved wife before heading over the Alps and into Switzerland and Grindelwald. It is very Sound of Music here! You have to see this in the height of summer to experience the green pastures and taste the fresh cheeses. We can vista some high peaks on chairlifts and funiculars, and stay on mountain sides and hear the cow bells gently tinkling. We then head to Lucerne, Spiez and Montreux, fabulous Swiss lakeside towns to experience the cool lake waters and retreats where rich Europeans have been holidaying for hundreds of years. We finish with a coup f city night in French/Swiss Lucerne and then transfer you to Chamonix where you can opt for all or part of the Mt Blanc walk at the end of our tour. We will take all your walking gear straight there from Milan.
In the middle to the southern hemisphere winter you could be exploring the lush high meadows and cool lakes of Italy and Switzerland in high Summer.
Day 1 Arrival Milan Hotel
Day 2 Milan
Day 3 Drive Milan to Como
Day 4 Como
Day 5 Lugano
Day 6 Stresa
Day 7 Stresa, Isola Bella
Day 8 Grindelwald – Jungfrau and Eigar
Day 9: Lucerne
Day 10 Lucerne
Day 11 Spiez
Day 12 Montreux
Day 13 Lausanne
Day 14 Lausanne
Day 15 Chamonix
Day 16 Farewell Day Chamonix – Mt Blanc walk
Dubai: If you are flying via Dubai then consider are self guided 3 night add-on trip to round out your holiday perfectly.
Day One: Arrive in Dubai After completing the Dubai immigration formalities, our private limo will take you to your luxury hotel. Overnight stay at the magnificent Hotel Versace. Welcome cocktails.
Day Two: City tour and Dhow dinner cruise (B/D) Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast, you will enjoy for a half-day city sightseeing tour of Dubai. They will take you back to the hotel where you can have lunch at the hotel or nearby restaurants. You will have time to rest (or get your tailor made suite ordered) until 6pm and then our drivers will pick you up at around 6.30 – 7pm for the Dhow cruise in Dubai Creek. The tour will end with an International buffer dinner or Middle Eastern dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day Three: Desert Safari (B/D) After breakfast, you will have your own time until 2.00pm, then we will come pick you up at around 2.30 – 3.00pm for the exciting desert safari. You can enjoy a thrilling desert safari and after the dune bashing you will be taken to the desert camp. The tour will end with a BBQ dinner, belly dancing performances and Tanura dance.
Day Four : Drop off to airport (B) After breakfast at the hotel, you can go for some last-minute shopping (per your flight schedule). Check-out and our driver will drop you off at the airport for your return flight.
Note: B/L/D = Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner inclusions
Dinner Dhow Cruise Creek:
Romantic ambience at their Dhow while cruising and dining aboard
Welcome non-alcoholic drink on arrival
Two hours of cruising 8.30pm to 10.30pm
Fully air-conditioned lower deck and open air upper deck
Delicious international buffet dinner with seafood
Unlimited soft drinks, juice, mineral water, tea, and coffee
Soft music entertainment – Arabic, English and Hindi music
Tanura dance show
3 night stay in the Versace Hotel, double or twin on sharing basis
Desert safari with dinner on sharing basis
Dinner Dhow cruise creek on sharing basis
Half-day Dubai tour on sharing basis
Airport arrival and departure transfers
Any Visa fee and airport taxes
Any meal (lunch/dinner) unless mentioned above
Still or video camera fees
Any tips to drive/guide/escort/restaurants etc
Any porter-ages on arrival and departure at the hotel
Any extras such as table drinks, telephone calls, laundry, tailoring etc
Desert dune bashing / adventurous dune driving
Sunset photographic opportunity
Shisha facility / ‘Hubbly Bubbly’ smoking facility
Arabic dress photograph opportunity
Unlimited soft drinks, water, tea and coffee
BBQ dinner with vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes
Belly dance show / Tanura show
Drop back to your hotel or residence in Dubai
At Tasteful Tours small group tours we welcome adventurous singles and would be happy to have you join us on our tours. We will ensure that you always have company when you want it. We have all travelled alone ourselves and know the pluses and minuses of it, and so will work to make sure that you meet new friends and take full advantages of the benefits that this type of travel offers.
If you would like to share twin we will endeavour to match you up with a similar ‘roomie’ or if you prefer to have your own room, we will see that you have an equally nice room and we offer this option, with a single supplement.
What is Barefoot Luxury?
It might mean different things to different people, but barefoot luxury is a travel trend and a romantic notion.
If you take the term ‘Barefoot Luxury’ literally, you imagine heading off to a desert island paradise, ditching your shoes and running around on golden sands. ‘Barefoot Luxury’ is also synonymous with a ‘natural’ experience, it’s about getting back to nature and being at one with the environment.
The days of ‘old luxury’, where gentlemen wore a tie for dinner and waiters wore white gloves, are truly behind us, even in Europe. In the past, people with money would stay at expensive hotels where it was a formal affair, and they would need to dress for dinner, but nowadays it has totally changed — people who make a lot of money want to relax when they go on holiday; they may want to wear jeans or a sun-frock when they go to dinner.
To many top-end customers — ‘Barefoot Luxury’ is defined as a place where you are “in-sync with the environment, made from natural materials, adopt sustainable practices and strive to reduce their carbon footprint. In epitomises the values of SLOW LIFE (Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences).
At Tasteful Tours its all about the experience and we interpret Barefoot Luxury to mean a mix of traditional luxury 5 Star hotels with some more natural, local, boutique pensiones. Sometimes in our search for the best places to eat, we will take you WELL OFF the beaten path, away from the crisp white linen of the hotel restaurants and into the more hectic gingham tablecloths of the trattorias.
An example on this tour is that we will stay at a five star hotel in Milan and dine out in style where you may choose to wear your faux-fur and finery and mix in with the local elite, but in the Alps we are staying in a chalet where you can have a breakfast with homemade jam and local artisan foods, and access to the Alps for cycling or strolling.
In Milan we stay at an amazing hotel and what a view! – it over-looks the magnificent piazza. You can choose to see the sights OR sit in the piazza and drink Campari all afternoon, in your most stylish ripped jeans like a local, people-watching to your hearts content.
We have a private car and driver giving us the most flexability, and if he is not busy he can take you back to something you have seen or want to buy or revisit.
This is modern luxury, without the formality or fuss. A delightful mix of crisp white sheets and pillow menus, and rustic traditions. Truly it’s the best of both worlds.
What’s Special about You and Us?
The people who choose to join us are not usually interested in a tour. They want to travel in small groups of like-minded people in order to have more fun. We know you have been to Europe before, and we know that you don’t like to be herded and we know that you could arrange all of this yourself…. but we have done it many times before and we know many great places, the hidden places and the to-be-avoided-at-all-costs places.
If you think that Barefoot Travel sounds like you… then we think that you will like our trip.
Flexibility of a Car and Driver: meaning that we can detour, linger…. or even backtrack for something special.
Small groups: 6- 12maximum. Meaning that we can stay in small and interesting accommodation, and dine at one table.
Sleep ins: – it is a holiday after all.
5* or Boutique Apartments or Hotels: Nothing of the bland in-between types.
Travel with friends: without having to do all of the leg-work!
Be a participant not a spectator: Sit with locals, eat with locals, shop with locals, walk with locals, join in traditional cultural traditions, light candles and say a little prayer, listen to the cow bells, taste the summer cheeses, and the chocolate…
No herding or self interest: no taking you to places that offer incentives or kickbacks. EVER.
and best of all
Bella Figura: -to ensure that you continue to float around Europe like a minor royal with minimal luggage, but maximum style…
If you find a Garden statue, an artwork, some antique gates or doors or if you just have some city, skiing or resort clothes that you no longer need for your onward travel, we will arrange to have it all shipped home for you. (Additional cost… but we will find the best deal for you and group it with other items that we have)
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If you haven’t seen the Last Supper we can try for a ticket, or we can rent you a scooter to venture further afield, or suggest you visit the roof of the Duomo once again and hope that some of those saints rub off on you.
Milan – Optional Day trip
If you are keen to venture out of town the region south of Milan offer some amazing sights. The small town of Vigevano has one of the most interesting architecturally consistent piazzas in al of Italy, with a drive through part of the church facade. On the way there you will go through rice paddies (thats where that Arborio comes from) and stop off in an amazing monastery. A great day out.
Milan to Como
Perhaps you want to indulge in some more shopping in Milan – the fashion capital of the world.
The home of Bella Figura will inspire you to reinvent yourself with a stylish new jacket, hairdo or handbag. Then you will be ready for the inevitable flirting that is part of everyday life here. Maybe it is the waiter who needs you to look deeply into his eyes in return for a cappuccino, or a high heeled pony-tailed señorita who tips her sunglasses at you in appreciation… it is harmless and equal opportunity for all. Did you think you were past getting a wolf whistle?
In the afternoon we make the short trip to Lake Como.
No wonder George Cluny likes it, if you could live anywhere in the world, Como would have to be a contender. We cannot promise a sighting, but there are many other celerities hanging around here and where sitting at a cafe, promenading along the lake or jetting out on a classic motor boat, the small town of Como will delight you.
Como to Lugano
In the short trip from Como to Lugano we are in Switzerland. Italian-speaking Switzerland. While many travelers come here for the fancy boutiques, others make this a base for hiking, cruising the lake, and passing lazy afternoons in its many gardens. We will have time o cruise and you may also wish to take a funicular up the mountains to San Salvatore or visit a chocolate factory – it is Switzerland after all!
Situated on one of the largest Italian lakes and en-route via the historic Simplon Pass from northern Europe to the Mediterranean, Stresa has been a holiday resort for hundreds of years and includes the beautiful historic Grand Hotel surrounded by orange and lemon trees, and with an ambiance of a bygone era.
It’s very James Bond here!
Stresa – Isola Bella
Just a short boat ride for Stresa is that amazing private Island of Isola Bella containing a palazzo and magnificent gardens. The tiny island has been modelled and manicured to perfection, developed over centuries by the Borromeo family who still own it. The garden and sculptures make a great backdrop for a peaceful afternoon often highlighted by white peacocks and brides. The island is designed to look like an ship and the huge sculptures represent the seasons and the months. On the way home you might stop off a the Isola de Pescatori (fisherman’s Island) a more conventional island village and home of many cats.
Before Harry Potter, Grindelwald was just another all beautiful Swiss village. It is the base for exploring the Eiger Mountain and the home of the Jungfraujoch mountain railway. this can get you right up to the peaks in summer without any serious hiking. There is even an elevator to the famous Sphinx Observatory.
It is a truly beautiful Swiss city around a cobalt lake ringed by mythical mountains with a well-preserved medieval Altstadt (Old Town) and a reputation for making beautiful music. Add in covered bridges, majestic swans, candy-coloured houses and lakefront promenades. Lucerne has been popular over the ages with fans such as Goethe, Queen Victoria and Wagner.
The old town has some of the most amazing architectural sights in Europe. Lucerne is a fascinating mix of old style tradition and modern fashion. This is a day to amble around and soak up the atmosphere or head up a cable car for the view.
In country of beautiful villages, set in the mountains on a lake, this is one of our favourites. It is near Interlaken, but less touristy, smaller and more real. You can hike, picnic beside the lake, take a small boat out or visit the Castle and baroque banquet hall, or just hang out in town sampling the coffee, chocolate, cheeses and cake! It is a holiday after all.
It’s just like a chocolate box!
Whilst it is normally just another beautiful small Swiss resort but for two weeks every July of the last 50 years it has transformed into a huge and famous jazz festival and so to break up our peaceful evenings of fine wine and cow bells, we will be joining the excitement and staying up late for a night of great music, dancing and mixing with new friends.
Plus there is a chocolate train!
We are back in the sophisticated city of Lausanne. A little bit French and a little bit Swiss. There will still be chocolate, and fondue and clean tidy efficientness, but there will also be crepes, fashion and great wine. What more could you ask for?
What better place for our farewell dinner. We will dine at one of the city’s most famous restaurants, with delicious frank/swiss cuisine before crossing into France and finishing the tour the day in Chamonix – for those that are walking the Mt Blanc trail.
Today we will transfer you to Chamonix for the connection to the Mt Blanc walk. If you are walking we will have your hiking gear already at your preferred hotel, ready for you next adventure. Talk to us about options if you want to walk just the scenic portions of it and we can help with hotel tour bookings if you want a vehicle backup. You will be there in the height of summer and the scenery will be spectacular.
Note: travelling on the cable car is optional!