WITH dimmed lights, everybody was solemnly singing "Silent Night" in German on Christmas Eve at Liebfrauenkirche, one of Zurich's oldest and most stunning Catholic churches.
It was a surreal experience hearing the imposing pipe organ play the meaningful song during mass. Battling jetlag, I had to force myself to stay awake to cherish this divine moment.
Almost a year ago, plans on spending Christmas and New Year in Switzerland with the family seemed like a farfetched idea. But here we were now in this captivating country, all ready for almost two weeks of Swiss bliss.
With our family members ranging from ages two to 84 years old, my husband Gary and sister-in-law Eileen thoughtfully prepared an easy-breezy DIY itinerary that allowed us to take in the breathtaking sights of Zurich, Lucerne, Herbriggen, Zermatt and Interlaken at our own sweet pace.
In Zurich, our first meal was at Zeughauskeller, a rustic Swiss restaurant located in a 15th century building, where we eagerly feasted on sausages and veal with ice cold draft beer. After the hearty dinner, we proceeded to the Christmas market at Werdmühleplatz to witness the famed Singing Christmas Tree's concert. Arranged on a vertical podium in the shape of a festive Christmas tree, choirs and orchestras from different regions perform cheerful Christmas carols regularly during the Yuletide season.
Our next destination was Lucerne where we were billeted at the lovely Keyforge City Apartments and savored one of the best cheese fondues at a local restaurant called Schiff. I first visited Lucerne's iconic Chapel Bridge when I was 18; next, in 2000 for our honeymoon; and now unbelievably with my very own teenage daughters who are 18 and 13. Time sure flies!
On board the Glacier Express with its panoramic windows, we marveled at the spectacular view of snow-covered Alps and quaint villages. Bergfreund, our cozy hotel at Herbriggen, spoiled us with a glorious winter wonderland vista from our room's balcony.
Taking a gazillion photos in the mountaineering and ski resort of the Swiss Alps, Zermatt, we almost missed the last gondola ride going up to Matterhorn, one of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe.
In the idyllic Swiss town of Interlaken, we had a memorable four-night stay at an Airbnb Swiss chalet where my three "Iron Chef" sisters-in-law cooked up delectable meals for the family. I, on the other hand, willingly volunteered to wash the dishes. Teehee!
The kids begged to stay longer at the Top of Europe Ice Magic, a sublime outdoor ice-skating rink with the picturesque Swiss Alps as backdrop.
From Interlaken, we took several trains to reach Top of Europe in Jungfraujoch, a must-see alpine attraction and viewing point with an altitude of 3,454 meters. While we were wide-eyed and breathless (literally, because of the high altitude) relishing the astonishing view, we saw a Polish gentleman with a ring bend on his knees to propose to his gorgeous girlfriend. It was the sweetest sight ever!
Inspired by the ongoing Netflix K-Drama series "Crash Landing on You" which was partially shot in Switzerland, my daughters, nephews and I impulsively booked for paragliding sessions with AlpinAir during the New Year. Soaring high above the Swiss Alps was an absolutely exhilarating way to welcome 2020 and magically end our epic Swiss Escape!
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