Traveller Story: Carole's Festive Adventures

Gornergrat, Courtesy of Carole Lehmann


Carole Lehmann

What tour did you select and when did you travel?


Who did you travel with?

My sister and I travelled together for the Christmas Markets tour and then for the other tours, I travelled with friends.

Have you travelled with us previously?  If so, please list the tours you have travelled on.

No, these were my first tours with Albatross Tours.
Christmas Market, Dresden, Carole Lehamann

Why did you select this tour?

14 years ago, I picked up a brochure and saw the Christmas tours that you had at that time.  The tour that included Zermatt looked amazing and I thought, one day I would like to go there.  Our background is German, my sister and I were always interested in the Christmas markets and how they celebrate it in Europe, so we decided to go on the Bohemian Markets tour together.  My sister wanted to be home to her family for Christmas Day, however I decided to continue travelling and experience the festive and New Year period in Europe.
Christmas Market Mugs, Carole Lehmann

What was your favourite place/s on your Albatross Tour?

There were so many experiences on my tours.  Each tour had its own special places.  During the first tour, we had more free time so that we could experience the different Christmas Markets in  each town and village.  When we arrived, we would have an orientation tour, so you felt comfortable and safe to explore each market.  The atmosphere at the markets was so joyful, the locals are out with you and enjoying the music, the food and the market stalls.   We loved walking around the markets with our unique mugs and drinking mulled wine or hot chocolate. At the markets in Berlin & Nuremberg, they had elevated stands where they played music to the crowd. In Leipzig, the musicians were on a balcony  playing Christmas songs and dressed in costume.  Then in Dresden the markets were different again!  There was a medieval market where by the stall holders were dressed in costume and they sold traditional tools and crafts.  There was also a more modern market  right near hour hotel, again a different experience.
We enjoyed going in the day time and looking at the stalls because we found once it got later at night it would become more crowded but that was still fun and part of the experience.  Seeing the  Christmas lights in the villages and the markets was a dream come true for my sister and me!
The Swiss Christmas in Zermatt tour did have some Christmas markets, but this tour was more about the countryside and the activities. We stayed at a couple of family hotels in small towns, so peaceful and comfortable. Four nights in Zermatt to soak up the winter atmosphere and take the cog railway to the Gornergrat, passing skiers and incredible mountain scenery on the way, but that could not top the view of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountain peaks..spectacular. The hotel in Luzern was so gorgeous and located by the lake.   The final dinner in the ballroom was lovely.  During our Christmas tour, there was a family with on tour and it is so special to see the joy and delight on a child’s face when they see snow.
During the New Year tour, we spent 5 nights at the ‘Schloss’ (Schloss Leopoldskron).  It was so nice to have our stay in one location and to have the full use of the ‘Schloss’.  It is in such  a beautiful location as well on the lake. Magnificent day trips out to surrounding areas and when we got back to the Schloss, a hot drink in front of the roaring fire in the Great Hall to warm us up.
Zermatt Village, Switzerland, Carole Lehmann

What was the most amazing thing you saw or did on your Albatross Tour?

The 1000-year-old library in the Abbey of St Gall was astounding.
The 4 nights in Zermatt was fantastic for Christmas because of the snow and the activities and the Cog Railway up to the Gornergrat.
Sleigh Ride, Fizmoos, Caroloe Lehmann

Tell us about your most memorable moment on tour.

My most memorable moment was the sleigh ride on our New Year tour in Filzmoos, nothing can beat it!  We rode through the forest and then stopped up at the Oberhofalm alpine hut where we had a  break.  Up at the top, we enjoyed the view and drank hot chocolate. So magical.  Prior to my holiday, I had found out that some of my German ancestors were gardeners at Sans-Sousi, Potsdam. A trip to Potsdam was included in our tour and I got to visit the gardens and during free time managed to visit a street where they used to live.
Fitzmoos Village, Austria, Courtesy of Carole Lehmann

What was your favourite meal on tour and why?

The private meal in the Venetian Room, Schloss Leopoldskron made me feel so special.  The meal out at the Keller was good to try if you like sauerkraut and dumplings and it was good to experience a traditional German fare.  The hotel breakfast in Berlin was amazing!  The German sausages reminded me of the ones I ate as child.  There were some other meals e.g. Carrot and ginger soup in the Schloss was unusual for  me but I enjoyed it and I loved the sashimi style trout entrée as well.
Konigstein Fortress, Germany, Courtesy Carole Lehmann

What did you think of your Tour Managers while on tour?

The Tour Managers were each so different and each so very good.  They were all approachable and they all had their own uniqueness that you could not help but fall in love with each of them.  For  me what makes a good Tour Manager is that they are aware of their traveller’s needs, they are organised and balanced in the information that they deliver to us and that they keep us informed. The guide was very clear about meeting times, especially when we had the free time.  The audio sets helped us to hear any instructions that our Tour Manager or local guides gave us.
Rothenburg Village, Germany, Carole Lehmann

What advice do you have for anyone interested in travelling on this tour?

If you are a bit unsteady on your feet, then bring a walking/hiking stick to help you manoeuvre in any icy areas.  Getting used to walking around in ice and snow is very different to what we are used  to!
When really cold I used toe warmers in my shoes and my feet were always warm.
Heather at the Christmas Market, Nuremberg, Germany, Carole Lehmann

Would you recommend this tour to family and friends? If so, why?

First class meals, first class wine and great company!  Loved that we didn’t have to worry about tipping, the pace was excellent, and I didn’t feel rushed.  I was worried that because I was on three tours that I would see the same places and do the same activities over and over again, but each tour was different and I saw a different aspect of a town or village, even if I had been there  previously.  When one tour ended, I found myself looking forward to the next one.  I loved the mix of having organised days and ‘My Time’ as well   We had the evenings to relax a bit and we had time in each place, and we were not packing every time.  It was not tiring days.
To find out more about the range of tours available during the Festive season with Albatross Tours, contact our European Tour Specialists or click here to find out more.

Have you travelled with Albatross Tours previously?

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Read more about our small group European Christmas and New Year tours available with Albatross Tours or you can contact our friendly European travel experts to find out more.

Festive Photo Competition Finalist

You may recognise some of these photos from our 2019 Festive Europe Photo Competition.  If you would like to see who else was a finalist then check out our competition page here.