Everyone who celebrates Christmas has an idealized fantasy of how it ought to be. Each holiday season brings hope of recapturing a sense of joy that often seems lost forever in a world of childhood dreams.
Stores are alive with the sound of carols. Street corners glisten with tinsel and light. There are cards to be mailed, gifts to buy, cookies to bake and relatives to remember. But somewhere, in some distant corner of the earth, far from the rituals and responsibilities of Christmas at home, one may find that special magic again.
Imagine, for example, Christmas in Salzburg, but first a few days in Vienna, staying at Hotel Bristol, a deluxe palace that was converted in the 19th Century into a magnificent hotel. Highlights of this trip include the Vienna State Opera, the Vienna Boys' Choir, Vienna Volks-opera and an excursion in the Vienna Woods.
In Salzburg, while staying at the Hotel Schloss Fuschl, the group will enjoy the Salzburg Palace Concert, Christkindel Markt, a visit to Oberndorf where "Silent Night" was composed, black-tie Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, a sleigh ride and the Salzburg Marionette Theatre.
Then they'll travel through the Bavarian Alps to Munich, staying at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof where they'll attend the New Year's Eve black-tie ball. The tour, Dec. 18 to Jan. 3, costs $4,377 per person, double occupancy, plus air fare.
This is one of several yuletide holidays offered by William D. Buckman's Travel Time, Chicago, phone (800) 621-4725. Others head for Zermatt and Vienna, the English countryside, Bavaria, Ireland, and France. Travel agents have details.
An Ancient Castle
Christmas will be spent in beautiful Windsor, England, at the 900-year-old Castle Hotel (opposite Windsor Castle), on a holiday tour planned by the European Experience, Laguna Niguel, phone (714) 495-2905.
The Christmas dinner menu includes roast turkey with chestnut stuffing, beef Wellington, plum pudding with brandy sauce and plenty of other goodies. (Windsor is where the royal family spends Christmas, so one may hope for a glimpse.)
Also on the Christmas tour, Dec. 20 to Jan. 3, are London, Stratford-on-Avon, Chester and on to Scotland to visit Edinburgh (for New Year's) and York. The cost is $2,685 including air fare from Los Angeles.
Scrooge as Host
Uncle Scrooge himself is having a "Twelve Days of Christmas" tour to England and Scotland, according to InterContinental Travel Systems, San Diego, phone (800) 457-9515. That's who they say will host the welcome and farewell banquets.
The ICTS tour, Dec. 21 to Jan. 3, also features a visit to the Charles Dickens Centre in Rochester, afternoon tea at the Bedford Hotel in Brighton, a banquet at the Park Lane Hotel, shopping at Harrods, Christmas Day at Billesley Manor near Stratford-on-Avon, a fox hunt, New Year's Eve in Scotland and farewells at the Dickens Inn in London. The cost is $1,950 plus air fare.
Private House Parties
"Christmas in the English Countryside" takes guests to private house parties at Brocket Hall, Haremere Hall or Chalcot House. These festivities are planned by Country Homes & Castles, in Los Angeles phone (213) 629-4861.
Brocket Hall dates from 1760 and is one of England's finest Georgian mansions. The hosts are Lord and Lady Brocket and Lady Jane Howard. Their yuletide plans, Dec. 23-28, include Christmas Eve caroling at King's College Chapel in Cambridge, a visit to a popular pantomime and luncheon at Althorp, home of the Earl and Countess Spencer. The cost is 1,500.
At Haremere Hall with Lady Killearn, Dec. 23-27 (for 650), guests will attend a caroling service at Canterbury Cathedral and midnight Mass at Burwash Church. Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Rudd will host the party at Chalcot House, Dec. 24-28 (for 365).
In North America
Besides a choice of tours to Europe (Vienna, Paris, Rome, London, Dublin), Maupintour--phone (800) 255-4266--offers several escorted yuletide tours in the United States and Canada.
A Colonial Christmas in Virginia, a Pennsylvania Dutch gala, Christmas in Savannah, Chicago or even Yellowstone National Park are among the Maupintour offerings. In Canada, the firm will host holiday festivities in Banff, Lake Louise, Vancouver and Victoria.
"Christmas in New England," Dec. 19-27, is the offering of Country Inn Tours of Walnut Creek, phone (415) 932-1391. The first three days will find the group of 30 filling the historic Deerfield Inn, with its tavern, fine dining, fireplace and colonial furnishings. Then they'll head for the Vermont mountains and the Trapp Family Lodge for six days to shop, trim the tree, celebrate Christmas, and go on sleigh rides, not to mention a bit of skiing and snowmobiling. The cost is $1,800 plus air fare.
Christmas Day will find at least one small crowd bumping along on the Hana Highway, heading for cabins at Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach. Hawaiian Outdoor Adventures, phone (714) 840-5888, invites his group to Maui for the holiday, Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, for $675 plus air fare.