Andreas Gerth

Sleighbells in the Swiss snow

IF YOU'VE ever spent Christmas in a cold climate you would have captured the true spirit of it.

Nothing compares to Christmas with log fires blazing, warmed wine mulling, a giant turkey in the oven waiting to be eaten with bread sauce (never mind if you don't know what bread sauce is, just go with it) followed by a stodgy Christmas pudding with rivers of thick, yellow custard.

The lead-up to Christmas in a cold climate, especially Switzerland, is magical.

Give a person an abundance of snow, matched only in excess by the number of fairy lights on snow covered trees and you will bring out the child in anyone. Even Scrooge would succumb.

I have spent a number of festive seasons in cold climates and loved the lead-up, the anticipation, the joy of lights in big cities and small villages. I've enjoyed it more than opening presents by the fire on Christmas morning.

Putting up lights and decorations in a hot climate just doesn't feel the same once you've experienced a cold Christmas. Extended daylight hours seem to render fairy lights somewhat sad. They lose their twinkle.

And forget stomach-filling puddings and bread sauce (google it) but if you want warm wine, the outside temperature in Queensland will do a good job of that.

Some of us do try to experience a cold festive season by bravely putting on a Christmas in July.

We don funny Santa hats, put on reindeer antlers, light the fire, bake mince pies, sing carols and pretend we're having a right jolly old festive time. But it's July, for goodness sake. People are sprawled on beaches and sipping ice-cold drinks in other parts of the world.

But enough moaning. Australia can party with the best of them at any time of year. We really don't need snow for that.

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TAKE me to Switzerland in the lead-up to Christmas.

Take me to the Christmas night markets and let me be dazzled by the lights against the picturesque backdrop and snow-covered mountains.

Take me with Eurail Global or Select passes from November 1 to December 31 and enjoy 20% off the adult, child, youth or saver passes.

Travel must be completed by April 1 next year.

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