Written by Peregrine Travel Centre SA client Bron Gascoigne.
I recently went on my first Exodus Tour – “Walking the Prosecco Hills”. With a name like that, I knew what I was getting myself in for .. or so I thought.
The trip was everything I expected, and more. Friendly people, lush countryside, outstanding architecture, beautiful frescoes, rolling hills, and grape vines as far as the eye could see and further. The food of Northern Italy exceeded my expectations, and the Prosecco, my goodness that stuff is exquisite!
Accommodation was a three storey, 18th century villa and former residence. The hotel has changed owners in the past 12 months, and is currently undergoing restoration in the back part of the villa, which is where the restaurant is located. There is a breakfast room, but outside of breakfast hours, you weren’t able to get a meal on site. Luckily, this didn’t pose a problem as there was a sensational restaurant within walking distance. It was so good, our group ate there three times over the 8 days.
This was also my first proper walking tour. I hiked the Inca Trail on a trip to Peru in 2011, but none of my trips since have incorporated a walking component. The trip notes indicated it was a Grade 2, or leisurely/moderate. I’m early 50s, healthy, and moderately fit, but living in Adelaide, you really only walk on the flat. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as ‘leisurely’ as I first thought!
Yes, some days the walking was leisurely, but others, well, they were challenging. Did I cope? Absolutely. The Tour Leader, Serena, and the rest of the group were fantastic. We ranged in age from 43 to 73 years with varying levels of fitness, and the 73 year old put some of us to shame. Truth be known, it was kind of what spurred me on. The key was to walk at your own pace though.
The most challenging day, which was also the most rewarding day, my activity app clocked me at walking over 13km, climbing the equivalent of 112 flights of stairs, and meeting over 250% of my move goal. We stopped for lunch in a field, atop the mountain we had just climbed, no other people in sight. It literally seemed like we were the only people in the world at that point in time. The view was spectacular, and it felt like you could have reached out and touched the Dolomites, they were so close.
I don’t have enough superlatives for this part of Italy. The scenery is truly stunning. Each day we experienced different vistas, yet we didn’t really have to travel great distances from our accommodation to experience them. It was a very active holiday, but I can feel myself relax anytime I stop and imagine the countryside.
I’d highly recommend this trip. I’d also suggest that if you do decide to do it, you invest in walking poles if you don’t have any. I didn’t have any, and relied on finding sticks on the ground that I could use to help steady myself. I’ll definitely be investing in some before I embark on any other walking trips, that’s for sure.
Most of my travel to date has been as a solo traveller. I enjoy travelling to destinations on my own, joining a small group, and making new friends as I go. There were 9 of us on this particular trip, 2 couples and 5 singles, and everyone mixed and got on extremely well together. Tour companies such as Exodus are great for this style of travel and really welcome solo travellers. I really can’t recommend this type of travel highly enough.
Did I mention how good the Prosecco was? And yes, there was A LOT of Prosecco consumed.
All images taken by Bron.