Subject: Re: Walking holidays in Europe
Hi Frances and Ziners, A number of years ago my sister and I decided that we needed to take some vacations together and our favorite way of doing this has been walking tours in Europe. It has been interesting because my sister is legally blind and it is solely my responsibililty to keep us from getting lost. (Also, I have to read all signs and menus which drives her crazy because she is fluent in a number of languages and I am "challenged" in that arena.)

Our first trip was to Tuscany with Sherpa in October 2001: http://www.sherpa-walking-holidays.co.uk/ We will probably spend the rest of our lives looking for something to match that trip. I think it had something to do with the fact that it was only a few weeks after 9/11, but the 6 Americans, 2 Australians and British tour guide completely bonded. The scenery was beautiful; the accommodations, while not luxurious, were more than adequate. The dinners included in the package were good but not spectacular. Lunches were not included, but we were able to pick up great local food for picnics. The terrain was listed as "easy", involving a walking through a nice mix of countryside and villages. The escorted tour was a week and we added on an extra four days which were self-guided (luggage transported via Sherpa) through Chianti. As I recall the cost for all 11 days (not including air fare) was about $1,000. In the spring of 2002 we walked with ATG http://www.atg-oxford.co.uk/ in Portugal's Alto Alentejo. We enjoyed this trip less than the first, partially because my sister tripped on the second day and spent the rest of our vacation with a badly injured thumb (which she refused to have anyone treat, but needed surgery when she returned home). Alto Alentejo is much more rural than Tuscany, so we spent more time in wild countryside than in villages. There were about 14 people in our group, all British except for us.

From Portugal, we flew to England where we did a self-guided walk for a week in the Cotswolds. We did this through Cotswold Walks http://www.cotswoldwalks.co.uk It was May, the weather was perfect, the rape fields were bright yellow and there were miles and miles of leeks. We stayed at delightful B&Bs and ate largely in pubs. We wncountered far fewer walkers than we had expected.

Our latest European walking tour was in the Dordogne with Perigrine Tours http://www.peregrine.net.au an Australian outfit. There were 4 Canadians, 8 Australians, 1 New Zealander, and us. It was another wonderful group that bonded very well. This was in September 2003. The weather and scenery were spectacular, the walking fairly easy. The other walking trips we've taken have involved moving to a new accommodation every night or, occasionally two nights in one place. On this tour we spent three nights in each of two places. I find that each way of travel has its plusses and minuses and I'm not sure that I particularly prefer one over the other.

Landra from Columbia County NY