Europe & Britain | People & Stories

“Switzerland has been a lifelong dream” – Ashlinn’s Matterhorn moment

Our Trafalgar Unlocked Awards has now closed and after combing through over 10,000 incredible entries, the lucky winners have been announced. Each of these winners will be joining us with their travel companion on a 12-day trip to the Balkans this June. 

One of the lucky winners was Ashlinn from Florida, who shared this story as part of her entry in the Trafalgar Unlocked Awards: 

“Big bucket list check off was to see the magnificent Matterhorn – check! This trip gave us so much more. Incredible views, culture, food and wine experiences paired with an incredible group of people from all over the world.

We love traveling with Trafalgar not just because they provide a fabulous well-rounded tour, but because we always return with newly made relationships that are still intact years later. Best of Switzerland imprinted life-long memories and friendships that will forever be cherished. Thank you Trafalgar! 

We reached out to Ashlinn to find out more about her trip to Switzerland, her favorite Trafalgar trips, and how it feels to be named one of our Trafalgar Unlocked Awards winners.

GET INSPIRED BY: Balkan Delight

How did it feel to be named one of our lucky Trafalgar Unlocked Awards winners?

Shocked, honored and super excited! The news popped up in my email right before my husband and I boarded a train to Miami for our wedding anniversary. We had a great time celebrating, perfect timing! I’m still in disbelief, especially after seeing all the incredible other entries. I cannot thank Trafalgar enough for our upcoming adventure next month! 

Have you ever been to the Balkans?  

We have never traveled to the Balkans, but it has been on our list! During our first Trafalgar trip to “Imperial Europe”, our awesome Travel Director highly recommended visiting Croatia and the Balkans. We put it high up on our list after that. So excited I am finally getting to experience the beautiful Balkans with my hubs and travel partner for life, Ed. 

Ashlinn and her husband sitting on a viewpoint overlooking Budapest, the Danube and the houses of parliament

What are you most excited to see and do during the 12-day Balkan Delight Trafalgar trip?

Everything. We live to experience new cultures, authentic food and ancient architecture. The Balkans will easily hit all of these! We are Game of Thrones fans, so Dubrovnik will absolutely be a highlight. I’m also really looking forward to exploring the turquoise blue Plitvice waterfalls and lakes. I love taking photos so it’s going to be a lot of fun capturing the beauty of the Balkans!

GET INSPIRED BY: Balkan Delight

In your winning entry you said you ticked off a bucket list sight – the Matterhorn. Can you share more details about what it was like to see the mountain for the first time? 

Ashlinn standing in front of a view of the Matterhorn in Switzerland

The Matterhorn was insanely majestic to the point it almost looked fake. I kept having to remind myself that I was actually looking at and hiking around THE Matterhorn. Leading up to the trip I was anxious that I would miss seeing the peak due to cloud cover. 

We had clear skies and the peak was out the entire time! We even got to see it turn pink during a gorgeous sunset. The Matterhorn is perfection, a beautiful work of art. 

The Matterhorn in Switzerland, silhouetted against a pink sunset sky

RELATED BLOG: ‘It all started with a New Zealand Trafalgar trip’ – Millie’s chance meeting

Why did you choose Best of Switzerland?

Switzerland has always been a lifelong bucket list trip for me – mountains, especially snow-capped and dramatic ones, are my happy place. The Swiss Alps are “the mountains” of mountains. The Best of Switzerland offered a very well-rounded tour of the country. I do feel that I got to experience “the best of Switzerland” during our Trafalgar tour. 

Ashlinn poses on a suspension bridge overlooking the Swiss Alps

Can you share your three favorite memories from this trip?

This is going to be hard, I have way more than three top memories. 

1) We took the Sunnegga funicular from Zermatt and hiked to Chez Vrony for a late lunch. Chez Vrony offers unbelievable food and views of the Matterhorn. We booked in advance and planned our experience during the “Zermatt your way” day. We joined the Klein Matterhorn excursion in the morning (which was also incredible) and then ventured up to Sunnegga in the afternoon. 

2) The train ride on the Rhaetian Railway/Bernina Pass to St. Moritiz was breathtaking and exhilarating! I filled up an entire SD card during that train ride. 

Ashlinn leans out the window of the Rhaetian Railway on her way to St. Moritz, Switzerland

3) Boat ride and tour of The Borromean Islands – with stunning views on Lake Maggiore. It was a misty day, which made the islands and castle even more spectacular. We also loved the white peacocks! 

4) Yes I added number four! I loved meeting and experiencing this adventure with amazing new friends. Loved our girl squad! 

GET INSPIRED: Best of Switzerland

Why do you feel it is important for you to travel and experience new places and cultures?

Experiencing new places and cultures through travel is as important as breathing, it makes you feel alive. Travel opens your mind and reveals a larger perspective. It makes you feel more connected to the world and appreciate this adventure called life. Travel is also super addictive! 

Ashlinn and her husband sit side by side on a bench against a backdrop of snow-covered mountain peaks

What is your all-time favorite travel destination or Trafalgar trip? 

This isn’t a fair question! Two totally different trips, both equally as incredible.

Switzerland is drop-dead gorgeous and pristine. You are surrounded by awe-inspiring natural beauty. It is also very culturally diverse. Fun fact, while on the Best of Switzerland tour you will experience Italian, German, French and Romansch culture! Each regional canton has its own language, food and architecture. No such thing as “Swiss” language or food.

On the other hand, Imperial Europe was packed full of history, culture, stunning architecture and “foodie” experiences. From walking the streets of Salzburg singing The Sound of Music to dancing through the spectacular halls of Schonbrunn Palace….Magic. We even squeezed in an Italian opera at the Vienna Opera House! 

Special shout out to both of our previous Travel Directors, Stephanie and Sasha. They both provided spectacular experiences and are very much part of our cherished memories! 

RELATED BLOG: I had a recurring dream where I was inside a pyramid’ – Cyndee’s Egyptian odyssey

Have you taken other tours with Trafalgar?

We have taken two tours with Trafalgar – Imperial Europe and Best of Switzerland

GET INSPIRED BY: Imperial Europe

Ashlinn and her husband lying on a grassy hill in Vienna, Austria with the Schönbrunn Palace in the background

What is your favorite thing about traveling with Trafalgar?

One of the things we really like about Trafalgar is the flexibility to still be able to venture on our own. The tours are carefully planned out with plenty included, but there is still optional time to yourself if you want to go on your own adventure. (E.g. Going to Chez Vrony).

For us, it’s the perfect balance. We love how seamless the trips are – very easy and well-rounded. Trafalgar continues to exceed our expectations and provide a wealth of lifetime memories. We also love getting to meet new people from all over the world. I love looking back at my photos and remembering how much fun I had experiencing both trips with new friends. Thank you to the ladies who made both trips unforgettable! 

From-behind photo of Ashlinn and her husband looking out over Lake Maggiore, Switzerland

Where else is on your bucket list? 

These are not in order, and we’re still very undecided but we’ll love to visit Southern Italy, Tuscany & Northern Italy (Dolomites), Ireland, Scotland/ UK, Iceland, Lofoten Islands/Svalbard/Norway, Banff Canada, and France.

Discover more stories from our Trafalgar Unlocked Awards winners here. Leave a comment below if you’re planning a big trip in 2023 or 2024….

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