Overseas Adventure Travel
Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy +
The Swiss Alps Pre-Trip Extension
June 12 through July 4, 2023


Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.
Page 1 – Lucerne, Switzerland
Page 2 – Lucern & Bern, Switzerland
Page 3 - Bern & Zermatt, Switzerland

Page 4 – Lecco, Italy (Includes Milan)
Page 5 -
Lecco & Tirano, Italy
Page 6 - Tirano & Sulzano, Italy
Page 7 - Sulzano & Trento, Italy
Page 8 - Trento & Bressanone, Italy
Page 9 -
Bressanone & Mogliano Veneto, Italy


Day 6 – Bern, Switzerland (Continued)

When we entered the church, there was a wood ceiling in the back part of the church where a 3.5 year renovation project was just starting.   They also had a nice organ.


We were able to sit in the choir area in front with gorgeous stained glass windows while Mary Theresa told us about it. 


A 3-year renovation project had recently been completed on the choir ceiling.  The renovation exposed the beautiful ceiling with its original 500-year-old paint and many small colorful statues.  I understood why it took so long to clean up with all the detail work.



We could see where they had already begun to clean the ceiling under the wooden platform.

The woodwork in the choir was also quite beautiful with so much detail.



I loved all the stained glass.  There was so much of it!


Rather than going back out the entrance we came in, Mary Theresa was able to get us through a different door because she still had her keys.  We saw another lovely section of the church on the way out.


After we left the church, we went out to the area behind it where we could see more of the exterior detail and the surrounding area.



We were most appreciative of the wonderful tour and interesting tidbits of info she knew because of her many years of experience at the church.  We found a restaurant nearby for a light lunch.  We had a free afternoon until 5:00 PM, when Damien was going to take us on an optional excursion.  In looking at our options, we decided to go to the Natural History Museum.  We had to cross the river to get to the area where there were several museums.  On the bridge we had a good unobstructed view of the parliament building.  We also had a nice view looking the other way of the cathedral and river.


Across the river was an unusual statue of a centaur caressing a young lady.


Close by was the Einstein Museum.  A very impressive building.

In front of it was a large fountain erected by the International Telegraph Union in 1908.  Below is a description of the monument from the ITU website.  “The overall theme of the monument is that “the souls of the peoples are united through the International Telegraph Union.” The central figure represents the International Telegraph Union, whose outstretched arms unite the surrounding figures representing themes such as present and future knowledge, family, labour, suffering and fertility.”


We had to walk a bit further to get to the Natural History Museum.  When we approached the building, there was a large elephant on the roof.  That grabs your attention.


As in Lucerne, we had received a Bern Card.  It provided us with a nice discount on the tickets.  We first went into the Africa section where there were a lot of dioramas with animals.  Having just been to Africa last year and seeing the real animals, this didn’t hold our interest for long; but it was well done.


The museum is known for is its crystal collection.  They had a very informative video about the two men who discovered and removed the crystals over many years.  The major piece of the collections is a 660 pound grouping that slowly revolves to show off all sides of it.



The rest of the collections was also quite interesting and pretty.


On the top floor is the museums most famous exhibit, an area dedicated to Barry the legendary St. Bernard.  His stuffed body is on display along with other information on his accomplishments and those of other St. Bernards.

Another floor had skeletons of a giant whale and some other animals including some smaller dinosaurs. 


It was a nice display, but we were getting tired from the long walk and wanted to rest before our next excursion at 5:00 PM.  We didn’t see all the exhibits, but we did see what we had come for.

At 5:00 PM, those that wanted to go on Damien’s tour headed out to a bus stop.  With the Bern Card we received when checking into the hotel we had free bus rides.  A great benefit!  The bus dropped us off near Bern’s Rose Garden Park.  It is one of Bern’s top tourist attractions.  We had to walk up to the top of the hill it was on, but it wasn’t too far.  It was a very nice garden with more than just roses.





The view from the higher elevation looking down on the city was quite nice. 


People were stopping to take photos on the bench with Albert Einstein.  Somehow, we resisted the temptation.

After seeing the park, we walked down the hill to another place we had been looking forward to Barenpark.  This is where they have bears, the symbol of Bern.  It is also one of the top tourist attractions in the city. There is a large pit that the bears hang out, but with it being a warm day, they weren’t there. 

We looked around and saw another area where people were looking over the wall.  There was another area with fencing around it where a few bears were moving around.  Not a lot, but we did see some bear action.


It was fun trying to see who spotted a bear first, but the bears eventually got tired of playing the game and went into the foliage.  We were quickly able to catch a bus back to the hotel.  We needed to get back to the hotel to get cleaned up before out big dinner.

Our group of six met in the lobby and walked over to the Kornhauskeller Restaurant.  The restaurant was even more impressive from the main floor.  The paintings of ladies on the posts were quite nice as were all the decorations. 




We also had a wonderful meal in the beautiful restaurant.  We ended another wonderful great weather touring day.  We hoped it would last.


Day 7 - Transfer to Zermatt, Switzerland

This was a day I was really looking forward to.  We would be going to Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn.  The weather forecast was not great.  We had pretty good chances of rain and plenty of clouds.  Clouds around the Matterhorn would hide it from view.  We would just have to hope we would get to see it.  To get to the Matterhorn, we would take the Glacier Express train.  That sounded like a great way to get there.  The bus ride itself was very nice driving through the mountains by way of Interlaken.  Just beautiful scenery.

For our first restroom break, we stopped in the small lakeside town of Brienz.  Quite a pretty place.  A lake always makes a place look so lovely.




The ride to our next stop through the mountains was just breathtaking.  I was pleased that I could take photos of the scenery through the bus windows.





Our next short stop was at Murmeltier Park.  It is located on the Grimsel Pass which crosses the Bernese Alps at a 7,100 foot elevation.  It was a very popular place with lots taking advantage of the many photo opps there.


It was nice to be so close to the snow that we had been seeing on the mountains during the drive.


We continued our drive.  I looked back at the winding road we had come up on to get to the pass.   More beauty everywhere!


Our next break was about a half hour away at the Rhone Glacier.  It is at the source of the Rhone River.  We went into the hotel, restaurant, gift shop building.

In order to see the glacier, we had to pay an entrance fee.  That fee also allowed us to go into the glacier cave.  There was a trail that took us around the mountain to where we could look down on the glacier.  Quite a sight!  Kind of sad when you realize that the glacier used to fill up the lake area not that long ago.

Damien had not previously been to the glacier cave, so he was looking forward to seeing it.  Only one other person, Hong, wanted to go to the cave with Damien and me.  I wasn’t sure where the cave was, since we couldn’t see it from above.  Looking at the photos, we were able to see it, but it was way down the mountain at the base of the glacier.  Like much of the lower part of the glacier, it had been partially covered with white canvas to slow down the glacier’s melting.

Since I didn’t know that I would be doing this type of trek, I hadn’t brought my walking stick, which I should have done.  As we continued down the mountain, I couldn’t believe how far we were going, especially since I would have to walk back up.  All was going well until we hit an area of snow.  We were less than a week into a three-week trip and the last thing I needed was to slip in the snow and get injured.  I waited until no one else was on the ice and took baby steps across it.  I was thrilled when I was still on my feet at the end of it.


From there, I could see the canvas covered entrance to the cave at one end of the glacier.


Once inside the cave, it was apparent that it was not natural.  It was pretty with the beautiful blue colors, but I was surprised that they were even allowed to damage the glacier in this way. 


It didn’t take long until we were at the end of the path.  We all took photos of each other there.


On the way back, Damien told us to be careful and take our time getting back up the mountain.  He needed to get back to the others waiting at the top.  We had been gone longer than we had expected.  Once again, I waited for the snow-covered area to be empty before walking slowly across it.  After it, we had the ascent to the main building.  It was a much more strenuous climb than expected.  I was watching my pulse on my Apple Watch so that my heart rate wouldn’t go too high.  I did have to stop a couple times with the high elevation and steep trail.  Hong and I were both thrilled when we finally arrived at the flatter area near the top.  We celebrated and hurried over to the bus to continue our journey.

As we drove away, I took a last photo of the glacier hotel building.  Just a beautiful place.

About 40 minutes down the road we arrived at Andermatt, Switzerland.  This is where we would have lunch and board the Glacier Express train to Zermatt.  There were a lot of new buildings in this small growing town.  Foreign investors have been developing the area for tourism. 

We went to a restaurant in one of the newer buildings.  The lunch was quite good.



When we arrived at the train station, Damien showed us where we would be going on the large map.  The Glacier Express train cars were very comfortable with large windows all around to see the beautiful scenery.


The three-hour ride was gorgeous, but the reflection on the windows wasn’t desirable for taking photos.  I was still able to get a few, even one of a different glacier.


We finally arrived in Zermatt around 6:15 PM.  For the first time during the trip, we were experiencing some rain.  This was probably the one place I was dreading bad weather the most since I wanted to see the Matterhorn.  During our walk in the slow drizzle, Damien pointed to the restaurant where we would be having the pre-trip farewell dinner the next night.

By the time we got to the hotel, the light rain had pretty much stopped.  We were at the Hotel Sonne.

We had a wonderful large room with plenty of storage and seating areas.



The bathroom was a very nice size with had a huge tub and large shower. 



The highlight was that we had a balcony that looked out to the beautiful mountain scenery and a waterfall that ran right under our balcony.


Being in the mountains, the rom didn’t have air conditioning, but it wasn’t needed anyway.  We left the balcony doors open and were able to hear the waterfall all night.  Quite a change from our normal nights at home in Florida.

We couldn’t have been more pleased with our room.  Below is a photo of its location.  We were in the end room on the next to the top floor.

Our included dinner that night wasn’t that great.  There were no appetizers or salads, just a dry chicken breast with mashed potatoes and carrots.  Dessert was a chocolate mousse.


On our walk to the hotel, Damien showed us where to go for the best photo of the Matterhorn in town.  After dinner, we walked there to see what we could see.  Wow!  We could see it.  There were a few clouds around it, but that gave it character.  We were so thrilled and had to have our photo in front of it.


We decided to check out the cemetery behind the church where they have an area for people who have died climbing the Matterhorn.  Kind of sobering.


After our short exploration of the area, we went back to the Matterhorn viewing point.  More clouds had arrived, but it was still gorgeous.

We had an awesome touring day and were looking forward to the next days adventure in the mountains.


Day 8 - Zermatt, Switzerland

This was going to be one of the highlight days of the trip.  We were taking the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise gondola up to 10,000 ft and hopefully see the Matterhorn from a different view.  The weather forecast in Zermatt was for a high temp around 60 and partly cloudy.  With the sun at the high elevation, it could get pretty warm at 60 degrees, but not so much on the mountain.

I walked out onto the balcony to breathe in the fresh mountain air and take in the beauty.  What a treat!

After breakfast, I walked down to the Matterhorn viewing area.  There were still some clouds around it, but still so beautiful.

The city is so lovely.  I liked the conservation statue in town.


At 9:30 we began our walk to the gondola station.  It was interesting to see how the old wooden homes were constructed.


We walked along the river and could see that the clouds were covering the Matterhorn.  Since we had already seen the top of it, we weren’t concerned anymore.

I was fascinated with all the different types of small electric vehicles that they used in Zermatt.  No cars were allowed in the town.


We got to the station and were soon boarding the small gondolas.  We enjoyed the ride to the top.  There was one stop that we would come back to on our way down.


We had a nice view of a glacier as we approached the top.



 The gondola station was in the middle of so many snow-capped mountains.  What a view!  I took so many photos, but I controlled myself and limited what is in the review.


As expected, clouds were around the Matterhorn.  It might be better known than the other mountains, but it isn’t any prettier than any of the grand mountains we were seeing.

Damien called us over to the terrace.  He had some cheese, Toblerone’s and Rivella drink for us.  He also had prosecco for those that preferred it.  It tasted so good in the cool fresh mountain air.  From that spot, we could see the Matterhorn through the clouds.


I took some photos from the other side of the mountain.


I saw something in the valley between the mountains.  When I zoomed in, I realized that it was buildings in the town of Zermatt.  They looked so small almost 5,000 feet below.


We went back to the gondola station for our return back to Zermatt.  I got some photos of a glacier lake.



We stopped at an interim station about 1,200 feet below where we just were.  Once again, such gorgeous scenery.  It is overwhelming to see so much beauty in one day.



I asked Damien how long the snow would remain on the lower parts of the mountains we were seeing.  He said that it would probably be gone in a week with the high temperatures they were having.  We were so lucky we visited when we did.
When we were back at the Zermatt gondola station, we began our walk back through the beautiful town.  Along the way were some lilacs.  I love lilacs, since they are a memory from when I was a young child in Massachusetts.  Living in the south most of my life, I haven’t smelled them in many years.  It was a real treat for me.



Since it was lunch time, we started searching for a place to eat.  We were walking with Chuck and Alyce.  We all thought it would be a great time for a hamburger.  It feels so good to have something familiar when eating different foods in other countries.  Google Maps came to our aid by finding us a place with a good review.  The burger came with a very good salad.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was originally disappointed that the OAT itinerary only had us in Zermatt for two nights.  When we were trying to find something to do for our afternoon free time, it wasn’t easy.  Two nights in Zermatt was enough.  In the winter, Zermatt is all about winter sports.  In the summer, it is more sightseeing like we just did or other outdoor activities like cycling or hiking. 
The main indoor attraction in Zermatt is the Matterhorn Museum.  For some reason, the museum was only open from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.  So, we had to wait almost an hour for it to open.  We decided to kill some time in the church.  It was nicely decorated for a small church, but it didn’t take long to see it.  We also went back to see some more monuments in the cemetery.



We sat down in front of the church enjoying the scenery and people watching until it opened.  From the outside the museum looks quite small.  But once you enter, you realize that there are two large underground levels.  From the second level, you can look down to the lower level where there is a recreated Alpine village. 


The museum also has continuously showing videos about the Matterhorn, mountain climbing, mountain rescues and the history of the Matterhorn.  The videos were quite entertaining.  We went down to the lower level to see the buildings at street level.  They were outstanding recreations of life in the 1800’s as Zermatt was developing into the tourist area it is today. 




As we left the museum, we saw a nice monument.  It was celebrating the first woman to climb to the top of the Matterhorn, Lucy Walker.  She did it in 1871.


We went back to the hotel to rest a bit before our farewell dinner.  On the way, I had to take a photo of a bee enjoying a purple Allium.

It was so nice to get back to our room, lay on our bed and look out to the mountain paradise we would be in for one more night.

On the way to dinner, the group stopped to hear a fellow play some music on the Alphorn.  It is quite an instrument and one that is immediately associated with Switzerland.  It does have a big sound!

We went to the Derby restaurant that we had passed by the previous day on the way to the hotel.  We had a very good meal.  They had an amazing salad bar that we could have had for our full meal.  I wish we had realized they had it.  We would have gone for lunch that day.  For starters we had either a cream soup or bruschetta.  There were four main course choices.  We got the sirloin steak and veal cordon bleu dishes.  For dessert, we ordered the flan caramel.



Although it was a farewell dinner for the ten of us with Damien, it was the start of our two-week main tour in northern Italy.  So, it wasn’t a somber event signaling the end of a wonderful vacation, but we would miss Damien.



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