I'd like to start a little mini-series of blog posts about our the Untours staff people you meet when you are on site in European countries. . Since I've recently returned from two weeks in Switzerland I begin by musing about our one full-time European colleague. We have about 55 part-time (full time equivalent 25) staff in Europe.
When I took the original six Untour guinea pigs to Meiringen, Switzerland in September, 1975, I stayed with friends in a small apartment about 100 meters from the Reichenbach Falls—approximately a forty minute walk, much of it steeply up—from the Meiringen Bahnhof. I thought potential visitors might balk at such a long walk every day. My quest that summer, along with test-driving the whole Untour concept, was to find land-ladies/lords who had vacation apartments for rent. Accordingly, I put a classified advertisement in "Oberhasli Zeitung", I didn't get much of a response (lists from the various tourist offices worked better), but a certain Margrit Winterbergaer (pictured below) mailed me a note about her interest in my using her apartments.
(Photographer unknown....this is a snapshot we have here in the Untours office)
I think Margrit and I made a deal because we were both so desperate, me to transfigure a concept about cross-cultural experience into a self-sustaining business an enterprise; she to find guests for her new apartments. Both of us eagerly sought solvency. The chalet in which she, her husband and three kids, lived had burned down two years before we met, the five of them saving their lives by leaping from a balcony at 4am, one March morning. Insurance financed a brand new chalet, (in traditional style) including two vacation apartments.