One of the main destinations that has always been on my bucket list is Switzerland. Even though I have spent most of my life in Australia, it was probably my rich European ancestry that made me believe that Christmas was incomplete without snow. My dream has always been to experience a white Christmas and that dream was finally fulfilled when I booked a Festive European Christmas tour with Albatross Tours.
The Swiss Christmas Break is a self-guided tour and includes 7 nights in the magical snow drenched Bernese Overland and a 8 day Swiss Tour Rail Pass. It was the most fabulous holiday I have ever had. It even snowed on Christmas Eve! As I write this now, the memories come flooding back and a lump forms in my throat. You may think I am being somewhat dramatic about this holiday, but I guarantee if you visit Switzerland in the winter (regardless of whether you are a snow lover) you will not be disappointed.
Albatross tours offers a choice of two hotels and which ever one you pick you will not regret your choice. My choice was the Hotel Oberland a cute chalet nestled in the heart of the magical village of Lauterbrunnen. Our hosts were the very hospitable and welcoming married couple, Swiss-born and Ursula and Australian-born Mark Nolan-von Allmen.
The itinerary included reserved seats on the Golden Pass Panoramic train to Montreux on Lake Geneva, and a Swiss Tour Rail Pass with 8 days unlimited train travel throughout Switzerland on the fantastic Swiss Rail network. Even though I spent quite a lot of time travelling on trains, the views were spectaculicious via the large windows, which do not diminish a passenger’s viewing pleasure.
I have stood in the shadow of the mighty Eiger, which has been featured in the James Bond movies, visited the Christmas markets and sampled their famous mulled wine in Switzerland’s capitol city, Bern, explored the stone cobbled streets of the medieval city of Luzern, and experienced the dizzying heights of the Jungfraujoch – the rooftop of Europe.
I managed to pack quite a lot into eight days but I could have done with some extra days or weeks to explore all that Switzerland has to offer. This tour has inspired me to return to Switzerland. And I believe it is one of those destinations that can stay permanently seared in a tourist’s memory.