Holidays are when travel becomes our best companion, says blogger Kaavya Raveendran. This Christmas, she visited Switzerland with a student organisation well known in the WUR community. It was a huge let-down.
© Sven Menschel
Travelling is a passionate hobby. With each trip I take, I don’t just tick off my bucket list, but I really let the experience consume me so that I can come back to my routine life with renewed energy.
This Christmas, I visited the country of the majestic Great Alps: Switzerland. And this trip became unforgettable for two reasons. First, Switzerland’s spellbinding charm. It is bewitching. It is magical. From pristine snow-caps to naturally formed waterfalls, from turquoise water to golden snow lightened by the leering sunlight; it is all as though a beautiful painting had come to life. Trust me, you really have to see it to believe it.
With a place so perfect, I really wanted to make the most of it, but since every love story has a villain, mine had too. That being the second unforgettable reason for this trip. Unlike every time when I plan my own trip, this time I travelled with a student trip organiser well-known within the WUR student community. Such organised trips are known for many good reasons. They are cheap (relatively), effortless and lastly, you can cover many cities within the limited period of time. Sounds good right? It did to me too. But my love story didn’t have a happy ending!
Here’s why: for each city we visited, we were barely given a few hours, hardly leaving any time to really experience the place. Making it to the bus in time became the prime objective of my trip, and trust me, it is a mood killer. I also can see how these trips are offered at cheap prices, cutting back on living costs and food. But even in such cases, what is promised on the itinerary should be offered. Neither the rooms nor the breakfast buffet (by that I mean only cornflakes) was satisfying, leading to a 'hangry' start of the day. On reaching the destination in the evening, shops and tourist spots were shut on account of either Christmas or just because it was beyond the opening hours. What makes it worse is that there was also no place to eat!
Apart from the flawed planning, the allotment of accommodations was a big mess. I can understand handling a big crowd can be tricky, but with so many people involved it has to be smooth no matter what. It was unfortunate to see people waiting outside for hours with their luggage. And finally, after making it a point to leave on time from every location, we were dropped off at our homes 3 hours early in the middle of the night. Yeah, we were stranded in the cold as the public transport only starts way after the next day begins. I would rather prefer to have used those 3 hours actually enjoying one of the cities.
I tried to enjoy, but after a point, it really was like letting your money down the drain. So, my advice to all the passionate travellers out there like me, go for as many day and short trips as you want with such student organisations, because there they really give you the most you can make from that place. But long trips, especially to dream destinations like Switzerland: make your own trip and find your own happy ending! Trust me, it will be worth both your effort and money.
PS: if you are in Switzerland don’t forget to try the Swiss cheese fondue, it is out of this world!
Kaavya is a master’s student of Food Technology.