As part of our 50th anniversary celebration, we invited our travelers to share how they celebrated travel on tour through video. Our contest winner, Wendy, captured the fun and wonder she enjoyed on our Christmas Markets of Eastern Europe tour this past November. See her winning video, then read on for more about her tour experience.
Wendy’s trip marked her first time in Eastern Europe, but actually her second visit to see the Christmas markets (she had previously seen them in Germany and Austria). “The Christmas markets are unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” she says of the experience. “The way people are so excited, the holidays are coming, families are out there—it’s a neat tradition.”
Her most recent tour opened her eyes to the regional differences of the Christmas markets, something she was pleased to discover. “In Eastern Europe, there are a lot of unique handmade things you don’t see in other places, like wooden toys that are unique to the region. In Prague, the locals are known for marionette making. Everything was really well-made; it was neat to go into the shops and see the artists carving them by hand.”
As for her favorite destination on the tour, Wendy had a hard time choosing just one. “They all have their own things that make you want to come back and visit again,” she explains. “In Budapest I was shocked, I didn’t expect to be so amazed. I loved the Parliament Building, I’ve never seen that kind of European architecture. Vienna was so modern and nice, a combination of the old and new. And in Prague, I couldn’t even believe all of the spires.”
When it came time for Wendy to think about how she would film her video, she wanted the focus to be on the fun and wonder one experiences on a tour—specifically those moments of wonder at the Christmas markets. “Allison, my friend and travel buddy, we talked about it beforehand, highlighting the Christmas aspect and the food and the shopping. We tried to capture the sense of what it would taste like to be there, what it would feel like. We thought it would be a really interesting way to get everyone to think about traveling to a Christmas market because it’s so lively and fun.”
In the video, you’ll see some fun cameos by some of the travelers in her group, which Wendy says was a big aspect of what made her trip so wonderful. “We had great people on our tour so we captured some moments of them having a good time.”
Wendy’s advice to travelers who are thinking about a tour to Europe’s Christmas markets is to stop hesitating and just go. “Some people think because it’s off-season in Europe, it’s cold. But you’re not worried about overheating when you’re walking around and experiencing things. Plus it doesn’t feel as touristy at this time of year. The emphasis is on Christmas traditions and family, so you can see a different side of the culture.”
With her win, Wendy is hoping to take a tour of Scandinavia next. “The more you travel, the more places you want to go,” Wendy says about how hard it is to choose the next destination. “But we’ve been to Italy, Switzerland, some other places in Europe. It just seems like the next logical step to visit Northern Europe.”
Congratulations Wendy, and thank you for sharing your magical experience at the Christmas markets with us and our travelers!