When I fondly think back to our study tour, Marcel Proust’s words seem particularly poignant: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes”.

14 days of learning, 6 destinations, 4 countries and 1 journey of a lifetime! Today education is global and travel is an essential part of lifelong learning. Our study tour took in Innsbruck, Munich, Schwangau, Neuchâtel, Reims and Paris.

Our first pit stop was at the HQ of the top Austrian crystal producer, Swarovski! Swarovski Kristallwelten opened in 1995, marking the company’s centenary. It is known for André Heller’s unique and magical design – both historical and modern.

We were given a private tour of this enchanting place, resplendent with kinetic art, inspiration, energy and Swarovski crystals in all their facets, followed by a presentation on the company’s vision plus current and future trends in the jewelry industry.

We then made our way through the breathtaking Bavarian Alps to Munich. Post WWII, Germany has been synonymous with luxury automobiles. Thus, Munich was a strategic choice as home to BMW, which now owns Rolls-Royce, and is a prime place for other German brands such as Volkswagen, now owner of Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini.

Here we visited BMW World, BMW Experience World and Marketing Luxury Cars at BMW – a treat for all car aficionados aboard! At Hochschule der Bayerischen Wirtschaft we had lectures on‘Private Wealth Management and Banking for HNIs’ by Prof. C. Bartsch and ‘Marketing Cars’ by the Director Marketing, Communication and Strategy Audi AG, Joerg Dietzel. To crown our enriching multi-sensory experience, we indulged in an afternoon of mystery shopping followed by an evening of hearty Bavarian hospitality at the iconic beer hall, Hofbrä̈uhaus.

Now imbued with Alpine air and Munich flair we headed for Schwangau, famous for its 19th century follies commissioned by Bavaria’s most celebrated king, Ludwig II and the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein, tucked away on the edge of the Alps near Füssen.

A guided tour of luxury Bavarian heritage took us through picturesque rooms in an alpine setting overlooking a swan lake, fine examples of timeless design and lavish interiors.

The two southern Germanys coexist side-by-side, an incongruous mix packed with the unexpected. Where else on earth could you find hilltop castles, edgy art, beer halls, luxury cars and the Alps?

To be continued….