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Hiking the hills of Europe from Norway to Austria or from the Spanish Pyrenees to the Swiss hills are as fashionable a way to sample the first warmth of spring in Europe as any city shopping tour. Check out these various hiking and walking tours taking you through Europe over the next few months.
G.A.P Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761; www.gapadventures.com) has an eight-day "Catalonia Walking Adventure" starting at a land-only rate of $840 per person. The trip leaves sporadically from now through October with seven spaces still available for the June 9, 2007 departure. The trip's itinerary takes hikers through Barcelona, medieval villages, extinct volcanoes, Olot, Garrotxa National Park, and Vall de Nuria. On the way, hikers will experience many aspects of the Catalonian culture and topography such as village life, basket weaving, local cuisine and cliff faces, rolling hills, and dense forests. A "local payment" of $133 (100 Euros) is due to the tour leader on day one of your trip for local transportation, small tips to local guides and other expenses incurred on this Spanish trek. This is a "Grade 3" walk which means moderate hiking requiring average levels of fitness.
Breakaway Adventures (tel. 800/567-6286; www.breakaway-adventures.com) has a "Guided Walking Tour in Reindeer Country" that begins in Oslo before heading inland via luxury van to higher plateaus and villages with 13th Century churches and ancient villages where you'll see some of the oldest wooden construction in Norway. Walks are between seven and nine miles per day or the more strenuous 15 miles plus a day for more advanced walkers and hikers. Treks leaving June 9 and 16, 2007 cost $1,999 for the land-only eight-day seven-night tour that includes all meals and all accommodations at three-star hotels and inn. Breakaway's guided tours walk in smaller groups without tying anyone to the itinerary. If people have an inclination to stay in a village for a day they can do so and catch up to the group later. Bags are moved from inn to inn as they tour progresses. This trip is rated as two "shoes" meaning you can expect 5 to 6 hour ascents and descents of up to 2,400 feet. You don't need to be specifically fit to participate in this tour.
For trips into the Austrian hills, Van Gogh Tours (tel. 800/435-6192; www.vangoghtours.com) is offering a summer hike into scenic Austria, which was the backdrop of The Sound of Music. This particular Van Gogh walking tour called "Walking in the Salzkammergut" offers four hours of flat and light hill walking per day. You can rest a day, however, as travelers stay in each hotel for two nights. Lodging includes three or four star local family run inns selected for their friendly atmosphere and local feel. Dinner and breakfast are included everyday with packed lunch being served on walking days. This land-only trip costs approximately $1,275 with departures on May 19, June 16, July 7, and August 11, 2007. The trip hikes through St. Wolfgang, St. Gilgen, Schwarzensee, Strobl, and Bad Ischl.
Switzerland is known for its vast, flower-filled countryside. The Swiss have been touting their hills and hikes since they could walk. Alpine Adventure Tours (tel. 888/478-4004; www.swisshiking.com) takes people from all over the world through its hills and countryside. A 12-night land-only "Flower Tour of Switzerland" departing June 16, 2007 costs approximately $3,395. Each day you will get to choose from a moderate hike to a more strenuous hike. Breakfast and dinner are included. Lunches are not as the company feels peoples eating habits differ dramatically on long walks through the countryside. According to an Alpine Adventure Tours representative, the flowers on this hike are "stunning." Hikers can take a one-week version of the tour for $1,733 per person.