The initial experience was good when planning the trip. There were some snafus in getting our materials and itinerary to us. They made the determination to send the information in 2 packets instead of to each of us (5). It would have been helpful to know that in advance, and one friends information was included with ours. Other 2 friends information was included together but one lived in Atlanta and 1 in Chattanooga. Their packet was sent to the address of a traveler who lived in Memphis, but the packet was sent to his 2nd home's address in Florida. It was not a good way to start the trip - trying to figure out where information was and who got what.
The itinerary was not laid out very well compared to other experiences we have had with travel agents in the past. When we traveled through Switzerland with Alpine Hikers, they gave us a very robust itinerary and comments/suggestions about what we might like to do in each spot. The itinerary for this trip was a little disjointed - we had the basic information but you had to dig through tickets and compare descriptions/instructions regarding details. Some of the information was confusing and slightly contradictory (tour ticket says meet at XX but our directions tell us to take a ferry to xx). I would call the guides directly the day before to sort through what we were to do.
The first hotel in Zurich charged us for a room we had already paid for. it apparently was a mistake with the hotel, but it took several days to get it straight and receive a credit. In Zurich we had a walking tour via the TI (which was very good). For that tour we had tickets which said half price due to Zurich card, but the TI said we didn't have Zurich cards. We contacted the agency and they said we should have them but we did not have any paperwork or receipts reflecting they were paid for. We purchased the Zurich card on our own and the agency issued us a credit card credit.
For transporation, we had been charged for 2 trips for which they could not find drivers. I nquired about this before we left and they issued credit card receipts.
In St. Moritz, it said to get a taxi to the hotel which we did. It wasn't a big deal but when we checked out and asked for a taxi the hotel said transportation to and from the hotel to the train station was included with the price of the room. The agency said it was the hotel's fault - they did not know it was included. We got the free ride back to the train station. The agency said they needed the receipt for the taxi ride, which of course we did not keep (why would we?). It was only $22 but is an example of details always not being quite worked out.
The tour to see the Last Supper in Milan was fine, but we didn't understand it was a walking tour, seeing the paintaing and a tram car tour. It didn't start until 3:45 pm on our only full day in Milan, so we had already been walking all over before we started. It ended in the shopping district and the guide could point out places to shop - problem was the stores were all closed when we arrived. The guide was excellent, but a more cohesive and detailed itinerary would have been helpful to help us better plan our days.
Our train connections trying to get from St. Moritz to Como, were really tight. One train only had like a 10 minute interim stop to switch trains and the train was late. We ended up throwing our bags on the first car we could get in and walking through multiple cars to get to our seats so we would not miss the train.
They were responsive when we contacted them via an App. I guess the issue is there just seemed to be small issues through out the trip that took the shine off the experience.
Lake Como was special. We loved the ferries and loved touring the villas and eating in small local restaurants.
Going to the top of the Glacier experience to see the Matterhorn was remarkable as was the experenience in St. Moritz.
The Glacier Express and Bernini Express were fantastic.
Seeing the Last Supper was a special experience.
I would take the tour in Milan at the beginning of the trip and not late in the afternoon or our last day.
The tour of Lake Como was WAY too long. We had to take 2 ferries to get to the starting point. We stayed in Cernobbio and had to meet in Belanno (??) by 10. It made for a long morning of traveling to get there before we even started on the toure same long trek back to the hotel. The trip to the old mill was very interesting (although many steep steps). Our walk thorugh Varenna was nice and the villa tour and boat ride was stunning. The lunch was 2 hours and the food was horrible. We basically ate bread and drank wine. What a waste of a meal in Italy to eat in that restaurant. They definietly need to do something different with the food. Both the fish and non-fish options were not very good. So for this tour i would do the tour of the mill, Varenna and the boat ride on Lake Como with the Villa only. The end of the tour felt like a forced march through the Botanical gardens. Everyone in the group was exhausted and hot and were saying things like "this was a really hard day".
In Lake Como I think I would have taken a private boat tour and included the villa versus the group tour above.
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