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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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217 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2020

    Brilliant Trip

    This is the fourth consecutive year my wife and I have done this trip, initially in Trins, then Seefeld and now Achenkirch. Despite some inclement weather for the Alps this was probably the best trip of all. Great group who gelled together, nice hotel and great food. As usual all the mountain huttes were a real treat. A really nice mix of walks and the treat of a toboggan ride after great coffee at the hutte at the top of the run.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    After using the Karwendel lift the views of Achensee and the mountains from the top.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The third year Paul McDermott has been the group leader. Terrific leader, nothing is too much trouble and always a smile. Joins in the evening cards which was great fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Good waterproofs as we walked for a day in torrential rain.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Highly recommended

    I can't recommend this trip enough. Having twice done its predecessor in Seefeld and also its sister summer trip, I had high expectations and wasn't disappointed. The scenery is spectacular, the hotel comfortable, the food excellent - we worked our way through a long list of Austrian and Tyrolean specialities each evening. Cosy Gasthauses and sunny terraces provided perfect surroundings for lunching on soup and strudel, a cable car gave stunning views over the lake and the more adventurous of us (not me!) took the chance to try toboganning down from one afternoon cake stop. Plenty of options for the free day - visiting Innsbruck was popular with our group though I went for the snow-shoeing over the pass in a blizzard option, fabulous but exhausting. And card games full of laughter and banter after dinner rounded off each day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Standing at the top of the pass, as a novice snowshoer on the free day, realising I'd made it up there on sheer willpower and the encouragement of my companions when half an hour before I'd wanted to just lie down in the snow and stay there..... A group who kept on laughing despite the weather......Watching a fabulous lady fight her way up a hill despite being exhausted and toboggan down in triumph.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had a conversation about good leaders and great leaders and that the great ones go the extra mile, make you think you can do things , work tirelessly to see everyone has a great time. Oh, and let a couple of novices tag along on their one free day when they head off on snow shoes...…. This one is definitely in the 'great' category.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you're dithering about whether it's for you, book it and have a go. And take a kettle if you like an early cup of coffee, Austrian hotels don't have them in the rooms.
  • Reviewed October 2019

    Fabulous - Exceeded Expectations

    The trip was amazing. The organization could not have been better. The hotels were all great and if this is Grade 3, I'll travel at that level all the time. All of the places we stopped were excellent and the lead guide always provided us with background on the places we stopped. The ride along the old iron curtain was truly eye opening. Overall, this trip exceeded my expectations and set the standard for future trips. I would even like to do it again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Budapest blew my mind. I could never have imagined such a historic city and its culture. Everywhere I turned I was in awe. I want to go back.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The guides were outstanding. All trip support was outstanding. The leader, Juan, kept everything moving, resolved any problems quickly and provided lots of relevant information along the way. He was always upbeat, ready to listen and provide whatever was needed. What an excellent representative for Exodus. Andy, who rode the back line, provided excellent support, encouragement, and humor. He was very good in keeping me encouraged. Juan and Andy - thank for all the support and encouragement you provided.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Really look at your fitness level. I did not pay enough attention to the trip notes, specifically the hills, and did not have the required fitness for the trip. I "made it" with only a few short trips on the bus but I would have enjoyed the journey so much more if I did not struggle as I did. So, before you do this trip, practice your hills and make sure you can stay in the saddle for consecutive days. And make sure you have the right gear.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was travelling alone and while I have done so before, it always brings some level of worry. I never felt alone on this trip. It was a great group and there was comraderie and support from other riders throughout. I could not have had a better group and will miss that.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    J Allen

    Good but with issues

    The trip achieves its aim of visiting the 4 countries and their capitals with a moderate amount of cycling. but the bikes were absolutley terrible.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Not sure there was one

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good - he lead the rides well, he communicated well. His local knowledge was excellent and was very informative. He helped the group gel. He worked very well with the second leader who was also excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling is not that great - the best is in the Czech Republic but a large amount of it is on the banks of the Danube - so dead flat, dead straight and, frankly, dead boring. Also a lot of the ride is not on road - but on very well maintained gravel paths, a very small amount might be classified as trail. The places that the trip visits are pretty spectacular and our group gelled very well. So the trip, as a whole, is a trade off if you like doing more challenging cycling than this trip offers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The bikes were poorly maintained - my head set was loose, the brake calipers were poorly adjusted and two of the group were plagued with chains that kept coming off, part of which was caused by extreme wear and tear on the chain rings. Also the choice of bikes - with swept back handle bars, so you were in a sit up and beg position - is really strange given the distance that one was doing on some days.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    John Foote

    A Fast-Moving Cultural Tour

    As the trip notes make clear, this tour is intended to demonstrate the "cultural and natural heritage of central Europe". It seeks to achieve this by touring cities and sites of natural interest in 5 countries in just 13 days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A very difficult question since there was so much that was inspirational. The architecture and artistic cultures were repeatedly impressive throughout the two weeks of the trip. The fact that the complexity and creativeness of most of these had been hidden or difficult to access for decades during the 'iron curtain' era simply increased the revelation .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As previous reviewers have reported the leader, Peter Gbur, proved to be knowledgeable, thoughtful, and helpful to all group members. He supported the group over and above that required by the itinerary. His command of English was good, but there were sometimes problems with communicating the plan for the day or being heard by some group members when out on tour. Group members would have found it helpful to have the day's plans at breakfast, or failing that a notice at the hotel reception desk. When out touring it would be helpful for Peter to gather the group in front of him when explaining some historical or architectural point, rather than talking from the middle. An innovation Peter advised was the use of 24 or 48 hour transport tickets for use on either trams or metros which simplified movement around cities. This cost-effective solution saved time and effort with only one ticket purchase per day, and, given the frequency of both trains and trams, no real need to consult timetables.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a fast moving tour with no stop longer than two nights, Essentially, it requires living out of a suitcase for two weeks. The itinerary necessitates repeated changes of currencies, but group members had no difficulty accessing ATMs when required and the costs of living are low by western standards except in capital cities. Make sure you have change for use in public toilets which all require payment. Although the local custom is to make lunch the principal meal of the day there are plenty of restaurants serving dinner. It would probably be sensible to make lunch a snack given the short time available for sight-seeing, etc. Peter Gbur appeared to have a great repertoire of restaurants to book in and was always happy to make a reservation. He generally accompanied the group to evening meals.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The accommodation was usually 3-star hotels with a couple of 4-star establishments thrown in. The 3-star hotels tended to be quite plain, but all were comfortable. Those in cities were sometimes noisy. There were no instances of crime during our tour, but it would be wise to take precautions against pick-pockets in the major towns. All of the cities visited were as clean as equivalent British cities, and in many cases cleaner. Is this trip for you? If you have an interest in the history, culture and natural features of the region but no prior knowledge of it, then I would book without hesitation. If you are more interested in bars, nightlife, etc then there will be other trips that will suit your needs better.
  • Reviewed September 2019

    Patience Required

    The title of this trip “Highlights of Central Europe” would better described as “Historical Highlights of Central Europe”. Our guide Peter proved to be a very knowledgeable student of Central European history. This was clearly a passion and interest of his. However that was not true of every member of our group. The itinerary does not take account of this discrepancy. You get to see the capital cities of five countries in two weeks, so this is quite a busy schedule. If ticking those countries off is important to you, then this may be the trip for you. However the pace on many days can slow to a glacial crawl. There are endless stops on street corners, just as it looks like the pace was picking up, to recount historical facts, often seemingly at random. There are daily visits to restaurants for lunch - allowing you to sample the local food - which is inevitable 'heavy' and by the time people have paid takes two hours out of your schedule. (Baguette anyone?) Lunch is the main meal in these countries is seems... yet every evening a group meal at a restaurant would further expand your waistline. Taking an occasional trip on a country’s public transport system offers a great way to see the real lives of the people there. However, when the ‘occasional’ becomes ‘regular’ – where we are regularly dragging our luggage across cities, from buses to trams to trains, spending hours buying tickets, checking timetables, (dodging dog poo and dead pigeons everywhere in Budapest) – you start to feel that you are not on an Exodus trip, but a cheap student backpacking holiday. We were informed that this is a new approach by Exodus to use public transport where possible – to save the environment or some such?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It seemed to me that the less historical, more social / fun items on this trip were the highlights. A new trip to a small winery was a blast, and really helped bond the group, who were a great bunch, and what made the trip less dry. A rafting trip down a river similarly adds fun and moisture. Sadly these don't happen often enough.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader, Peter is very knowledgeable, capable, and goes out of his way to help everyone, with even the smallest of details. However, he can get lost in the minutiae, almost molly-coddling the group - which meant you needed to go off and arrange your own activities if you wanted to do anything vaguely exciting. He has a 'broadcast' style of transmitting information - which works for some, but could quickly switch-off others. Many mornings he struggled to explain options to the group in a concise manner, leaving many confused as to the options available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You can start to feel chateau-ed out as the umpteenth visit to the latest towns chateau looms - a genuine passion for this kind of history, or lots of patience is a necessary virtue on this trip.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Steve Owen

    Fantastic views

    Wonderful walks through a surprising variety of alpine landscapes from lakeside walks to forest tracks, meadows and high mountains. Bob and Alina were great leaders, making the walks extra interesting with their knowledge of the flowers, history and landscapes. The walks were cleverly adjusted to suit the weather ( at this time of year expect everything from hot sun to wet days) and the option of a grade 3 or a grade 5 walk each day was a real bonus. Expect wholesome food, friendly and comfortable hotel, wonderful views and good company.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views from the peaks were amazing but views of chamois, ferry trips on the lake, steam trains and a great group of people will all stay in the memory.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two leaders. Bob on the level 3 and Alina on the 5. Both excellent. Bob has decades of experience and great knowledge and added hugely to our enjoyment through his knowledge and through adjusting walks to suit the weather. Alina was on her first trek as tour leader on the level 5s but her brilliant personality and overall friendliness was second to none and she is an excellent leader. Both Bob and Alina are great assets to exodus and match or exceed the standards for leaders we have come to expect from Exodus in Europe.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take clothes for all weathers. Poles are useful. On the day off there are many options. Have a look at information provided and speak with tour leaders to get the best from the day.
  • Reviewed September 2019

    Walking in the Austrian Tyrol - 31st Aug - 7th Sept 2019

    Very enjoyable week with a mixture of walking on forest trails and on mountainous terrain. Being up in the mountains area, the weather can be changeable at times, so be prepared to bring waterproof clothing and a jumper as well as sunblock and water etc. The hotel we stayed in has a great choice of evening food and the room I stayed in has a great view of the village and the lake ad well. Our tour group leaders Bob and Alina are friendly and great to chat to. The other travellers in our group made it a great week to spend time with.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The inspirational moments on our trip was being able to enjoy the walks with a great group of other travellers along with Bob and Alina as our group leaders for the week. On our free day, my room mate and I did the zip-wire in the Rofan mountains which was really great fun and then in the afternoon we walked along the side of the Achensee Lake from Maurach to Pertisau where we visited the Stone Oil museum as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour group leaders Bob and Alina are friendly and great to chat to. I enjoyed their company and it was a nice week with them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared if you have colder weather up in the mountains like taking waterproof layer/s and warm clothing e.g. warm hat, jumper etc.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Kamala-Maria Mueller

    Wonderful guided walks

    This was a wonderful walking holiday. I was in the moderate walking group which was stretching me but still allowed us to take photos and enjoy the scenery. The walks in the mountains around Achensee were varied and all wonderful. Inclusion of ferry, gondola and steam train on some walks were a wonderful bonus. We stopped on an mountain restaurant for a coffee on some walks, listening to cow bells, saw chamois, Marmots, a slow worm, Edelweiss and many Alpine flowers. Our leader knew where we were likely to find plants and animals. I enjoyed the optional evening with a good local brass band and a local dance group showing the traditional dances of the alpine trade guilds and was impressed that so many younger people (average age 34) is honouring the old traditions and keeping them alive. I rated the holidays as 4 and not 5 as I would have loved it if someone from the local community who cherishes the area could have given us a talk about the nature, history and culture of the area where we walked. Including a local guide with enthusiasm for this part of Austria would have been a bonus worth considering.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I most enjoyed that we had enough time to enjoy a rest in scenic places high up in the mountains and absorb the beauty that was surrounding us

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader for group 3 was lovely and made the walks and our stay enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Group 3, moderate walking, can be a bit more challenging than on other walks. A few people decided after a few days to do their own thing, but seemed to have a wonderful time as there is so much to do in the area. I took my binoculars and thoroughly enjoyed getting a good view of the chamois and marmots.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotel is great and staff switch on the sauna on request which was a bonus to counteract stiff muscles after a long day of walking.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Joanne W

    Wish I was still there!

    This was an excellent holiday and exceeded all my expectations, particularly as I'd already had a memorable walking holiday in Austria previously and thought nothing would top that. How wrong was I?! I wish I was still there! Despite thinking that the level 3 walks would be more than enough for me before I got there, I spent all of the days, except one, doing level 5 walks. Every night, the group leaders (the amazing Paul and Louise) provided a very detailed description of the walks, weather conditions and what we could expect. We even had visual demonstrations of each walk using table props by the end of the week! Who knew that pepper pots made such great mountains?! This was very helpful in gauging what walk I wanted to do, and luckily the weather was kind to us so only one day was wet (I went in August). The area of Achensee is very pretty and the hotel was right by the beautiful lake. The walks took in a variety of mountain ranges and scenery, giving you a good chance to explore the region around the lake. We travelled by local bus, cable car, ferry and steam train using the free Achensee holiday card, which was valid all week (including the free day). I loved the walking as the scenery was stunning, the trails were fairly quiet most days, the flowers and wildlife were incredible, and the sound of the cow bells was really special. One day, we climbed above cloud level and sitting on the mountain top looking down at the clouds was a special experience, realising I'd climbed higher than the clouds, like I was superhuman! Some days, there were stops at Almshouses in the mountains for coffee and cake, or a drink (more on the level 3 walks than level 5, due to their less intense walking conditions). The cakes in Austria are incredible. On the free day, there is plenty to do around the lake and there isn't really any need to go further afield by catching the train from Jenbach, unless you really want to. The hotel was excellently run and we were very well looked after by the friendly staff and owner, Crystal. The food was out-of-this-world, plentiful, traditional, delicious and ample. The four course meals every night (soup, salad, main course, and dessert) were just what you needed after a day's walking. My room was comfortable and I had views over the mountains and lake. The hotel is an old traditional Austrian guest house so don't expect a modern 5* hotel. I enjoyed staying there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing to the highest mountain of the week in lovely sunshine with a cool breeze and looking at fantastic views - as far reaching as the snow-capped mountains of the Dolomites - and seeing other mountain ranges lower than me. I literally felt on top of the world and it felt a great achievement to have climbed higher than the equivalent of Ben Nevis from sea level.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The two group leaders, Paul McDermott and Louise Russell were absolutely brilliant. They were very professional, knowledgeable and skilled leaders, as well as being a good balance of fun, relaxed and sociable. They made sure every walk was paced for walkers of all abilities and provided chocolate and sweets every day, as well as plenty of well-timed stops so we could catch our breath! Paul and Louise really went the extra mile to make sure we were well looked after and nothing was too much trouble for them. I wouldn't hesitate to go on another trip led by either or both of them as I know I'd have a great time and a high quality experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take walking poles if you have them as the mountain paths are often rocky, loose and uneven underfoot, especially on the steeper ascents and descents. If you don't have any, the hotel have some that you can borrow for the week. Pay the 20 euros so you can have packed lunches from the breakfast buffet all week, as the Spar is a bit of a walk away. There is ample choice, including salad items, eggs, ham, cheese, etc, and 1001 different types of bread. Don't forget a lunch box if you have one, so you can be environmentally friendly, although plastic bags are provided. Be prepared for all types of weather, whatever the time of year, and make sure you have the capacity (bottles/hydration pack and rucksack) to carry 2 litres of water and all your waterproofs and suncream each day, as you'll probably need it all at some point. Do make sure your fitness levels are sufficient beforehand as the mountains are steep (naturally) and the walks, whilst well-paced, will be far more enjoyable if you don't feel like you're dying the whole way. The pace of the holiday itself was quite intense (well, for me at level 5 walks, anyway): breakfast at 7.30am, out around 8.45am, back between 4-5pm, dinner at 7.30pm, end of dinner around 9-9.15pm, then (for me) pretty much straight to bed. I'm glad I booked a few days off work afterwards to recover! The hotel does have a washing machine, if you need it. The wifi was 1 euro for the week but its quality seemed variable. I was on the 3rd floor and mine was fine, but others seemed to struggle. On the plus side, the hotel gives you two vouchers on arrival: one for free coffee and cake, and one for a free large alcoholic or soft drink. Take a good appetite with you as food is plentiful and comes in large portions! :-)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this trip and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The area is beautiful, the views from the mountains on good days are fantastic and the tour guides were the best. If you're sitting on the fence over whether to do this trip or not, just book it! You won't regret it.