Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle

Fall 2015

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine

Issue link: http://read.dreamscapes.ca/i/569741

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Page 36 of 47

FALL 2015 DREAMSCAPES 37 Perhaps the best thing about Competi- tours was, like the Amazing Race, the possibility and intrigue (but without a film crew following your every move). All we knew going into the trip were our inbound and outbound airports—Brussels and Venice, respectively. We were never given more than one day's notice about where we were headed next, and you could hear sighs of elation when our trip leader Steve told us we'd be whisked from the snow-capped Alps to the stunning Amalfi Coast. And we never really knew what the challenges would hold until we shuffled into the store- front of a tiny gelato shop in Sorrento or stood shivering (with excitement) at the foot of a mountain in Switzerland. AN IRON-CLAD PATH Some people in our group were quite hesi- tant that day in Andermatt, and we watched the lumps in their throats rise, as their eyes followed the iron-clad path to the crest. This was something many of them had probably never dreamed of doing in their lifetime. (A 68-year-old man competed with his son and an 11-year-old girl competed with her father; we'd later congratulate them for their perseverance that day.) But our wandering feet were ready for any- thing—especially this mountain. Called the "Iron Road" after the rein- forced trail leading up to its summit, via ferrata is a tradition in the Swiss Alps. It's designed to give adventurers the ability to climb mountains with no official training and very minimal gear. Today we were to climb via ferrata at Les Diablerets as the sixth challenge of our trip. This wasn't any average hike or climb: over the course of our three- to four-hour journey we encountered no other travellers other than those in our group. We could stop and sit on the edge of the mountain and take in the beautiful, postcard-worthy scenery: a rushing river breaching the foot of the mountain below or a distant Swiss village hemmed in by a cloud-filled sky. At various points throughout the climb we were com- pletely enveloped in cloud and had to rely on our recently procured bright winter vests to spot other members of our group. We made sure to check in with each other at various points throughout the climb, as we'd decided to go at our own desired pace, but wanted to reach the summit together. We were a team, after all, and that cama- raderie was one of the many things that set this trip apart. We'd pause with fellow trip members on the side of the mountain for a rest, and whenever we decided to journey on, you would hear a resounding "Jen?" tumble through the bluffs, followed by a reassuring "I'm still here." Looking back, climbing that mountain together was the turning point of this trip. We found our footing, and our confidence, and it truly solidified us as a team. We started to win almost every new challenge thrown our way: dinner in the dark in Zurich, dancing in Sorrento, gladiator games in Rome. Everyone loves a good underdog story, so we rallied. And while one other team (out of 10) beat us out of the top spot by just a few points, the second place $2,100 prize helped our egos—and our wallets. But more important than winning were the friendships we formed. They were forged from wins and losses and working together, from the dance halls of Sorrento to the small cottage pubs where we bonded over favourite poets and shared beers and pots of Swiss fondue. T R A V E L P L A N N E R For more information, visit: Competitours: competitours.com Switzerland Tourism: myswitzerland.com/en-ca/ les-diablerets-via-ferrata.html DS

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