Travel Tips from Europe

Hey Sunski fans! Today we’re featuring a guest post from one of our ambassadors, Alex Potter, who recently delved into the mountains of Europe. The trip was filled with snow-capped peaks, candid tales of dive-bombing down hills, and unexpected adventures. Read on for travel tips, tricks, and stellar photos.

My wife Giesla and I love to travel. That love has propagated in each of us from a young age thanks to our parents. Our childhoods were similar – playing, running, and exploring the wild places of the US. Wherever our parents took us – that was our playground. After we married and started working, we saved and saved and began exploring farther reaching places, ultimately falling deep in love with Europe – the mountains, small villages, elegant languages, and the food – all of it warms our hearts equally as much as those experiences of our childhoods.

This year, as we started planning a trip to Switzerland, France, and Italy, we asked our parents to join us. We would never have this passion for travel without them, so we worked through our schedules, Giesla planned every detail out perfectly, and before we knew it, we put our feet down in Switzerland and the adventure started. If you want to know the best museums to visit, consult Rick Steves. For a few scoops of quirkier advice, you have come to the right place.

  1. Attempt the local language. It will be appreciated, and you will meet some interesting people. On a solo bike ride above Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, I was experiencing some of the most pristine gravel roads I have ever been on. Climbing into the mountains, I suddenly came upon a man and a truck blocking the trail. He spoke no English. I introduced myself in choppy German, and we had a nice conversation (albeit rough on my part). As it turned out, Franz was gathering some large stones for his garden. I helped him with the heavy ones. I am certain he said I was the strongest man he had ever met. But he may have said something about his garden. My German is nicht so gut.
  1. Don’t always try new things. Sometimes you happen upon an amazing slice of heaven that you want more than once, twice, or even three times. We found an eatery in small San Baronto, Italy, literally on the 2013 UCI Road Cycling World Championship course, that was unbelievably authentic with absolutely delicious food, a gorgeous view overlooking Tuscany, ridiculously cheap prices, and our favorite waitress of the trip. Normally we would agree to try a new place, new dish, or a new town, but L’indicatore was so good, we ate there three times. We were not ashamed.

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  1. Connect with your surroundings. On day four, after hours and hours of hiking and biking in, around, and above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, we loaded the van to head toward Chamonix, France. But first, Giesla and I wanted to take in some sights via the Hardergrat trail above Interlaken.  So with tired legs and only three hours, we separated from our parents so they could enjoy some local sights and coffee and we took to the mountains again. After a quick lift ride up to the Hardergrat trail, we climbed, hiked, and ran along the ridge, taking in the incredible views. With our limited time, we were constantly calculating our pace and estimating how fast we could get back to the lift and finish the run down to Interlaken, dropping nearly 4000 feet in less than six miles. Rain fell sporadically and we continued to push back our turnaround time. We knew we would have to descend swiftly and make quick time back to meet our parents. Finishing the run down was a quad-killer, but we didn’t care. This is what we love to do, exploring wild landscapes together. We could relax some other time.

Of course, we did relax too. Just a few days later, we rested our legs and connected with the views on our terrace overlooking Tuscany, with a few too many bottles of wine. It’s a vacation – there always needs to be time to relax. Sip your wine slowly, look out over Tuscany – or whatever beautiful place you are visiting – and take a deep breath. This is the life. Enjoy it. Because you never know, tomorrow you may be hauling some heavy rocks for some stranger’s garden.