Culinary Adventures on Five Continents

One of the great pleasures of travel is leaving your diet at home and sampling the culinary delights your destination is famous for. Paella in Valencia, new Nordic in Copenhagen, street food everywhere: What you eat is a big part of the experience. A few of our Virtuoso partners have put together some fabulous journeys that will ensure your trip is excellent to the last bite.

Sicily

At the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily has absorbed a lot of different cultures into its culinary history. Influences from Greeks, Spaniards, Normans and Arabs blend to form a rich cuisine. Sailing June 26, 2019, Ponant is offering a nine-day Sicilian Food & Wine Experience highlighting the arancini of Agrigento, Palermo’s revered street food and the pasta, sardines and eggplant of the islands east. The volcanic soil around Mt. Etna produces spectacular wines to wash it all down.

Chiloe Island, Chile

Bespoke Journeys by Sportstour takes you into the mystical heart of Chiloe Island, whose culture is based on a unique mythology of witchcraft, ghost ships and forest spirits. The culinary tradition features curanto stew, which is made from meat, seafood and potatoes cooked in a hole in the ground. You’ll eat in the home of a local family which has been preparing the dish for generations and sample fresh oysters in between following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin in Chiloe National Park and marveling at the 16 island churches that have UNESCO World Heritage status.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Treetops Lodge & Estate showcases local produce including herbs traditionally used in Maori cooking. Karengo (sea vegetable) makes an appearance in plenty of seafood dishes on the menu, while a rub made from the leaves of the kawakawa tree is used to spice meat. Led by a local expert, guests can head out into the forest in search of such ingredients at their source, learning about the nutritional and medicinal properties that played a large role in the traditional Maori diet.
New York
Beyond Times Square wants visitors to get to know the Big Apple through its food scene. Get a taste of the different cultures that have made New York home with Norwegian smoked salmon, Sicilian cannoli and much more on the Eating Your Way Through Manhattan tour, or just focus on Italian food with The Real Little Italy tour along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Throw in artisanal chocolate and a perfect slice of pizza on the Brooklyn Biking & Food Adventure, and you can stuff your face in three boroughs.

Cape Town

As part of Belmond’s worldwide Art of Gastronomy program, the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel aims to educate visitors about the dangers of food waste while showing them just how good the food we often throw away can be. In a five-course chef’s table menu, Rudi Liebenberg showcases items such as beef tendons, trout collar and other overlooked products to demonstrate how to make the most of what the earth yields. The “fashionably rejected” parts of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish become the stars of the show.
Top Stargazing Spots

Top Stargazing Spots

You’ll soon be able to journey right into space to get up close and personal with the stars. But not all of us have that kind of cash just lying around. Despite the rampant light pollution, there are still places here on earth that are great for taking a break to marvel at the night sky. Here are a few of those spots, as designated by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park, New Zealand

The park, in combination with the Mackenzie Basin on the South Island, is an international dark sky reserve and has had outdoor lighting controls in place since the 1980s. With 23 peaks around 10,000 feet or higher and city lights a long way off, the reserve is a popular stargazing spot and seeks to honor the traditional role of the stars in navigation and folklore in Maori culture.

Kerry, Ireland

The Ring of Kerry makes for a fabulous drive full of natural wonders in the daytime. When night falls and the daytrippers are gone, a different but just as spectacular scene plays out overhead. It’s no wonder neolithic monuments tracking the movements of heavenly bodies dot the Iveragh Peninsula. On clear nights, visitors can see the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye.

Ramon Crater, Israel

Situated in the Negev Desert, the crater is actually a geological feature unique to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula called a makhtesh formed by erosion. The desert landscape has proved much more difficult to settle than the densely packed north of Israel, and neighboring communities have made a commitment to preserving the light conditions to promote astrotourism. Interpretive programs and stargazing tours are offered on site.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

At the confluence of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, the park is just far enough away from the bright lights of Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego to put on an outstanding nighttime show. Each November, Joshua Tree is home to the Night Sky Festival. The event this year features an astrophotography workshop and astronomy sessions. At the Star Party on Nov. 10, astronomers will tell the stories of the sky while onlookers can see for themselves through the 20 telescopes on hand.

Elqui Valley, Chile

At the southern edge of the Atacama Desert, about 250 miles north of Santiago is the Gabriela Mistral Dark Sky Sanctuary. It was the first — the total is now four — place to be designated as a dark sky sanctuary. Several observatories line the mountainous terrain, where outside light is kept to a minimum and certain areas are at times off-limits to the public. The sanctuary not only preserves some 90,000 acres for celestial study, but it is also home to several threatened and endangered species.

Unique Islands Around the World

Unique Islands Around the World

 

Not every island is a sand-and-sun beach destination where you go to crack open a good book, sip a tropical drink and forget about the worries of home for a few days. Some are full of wildlife and culture and things you can’t find anywhere else. Maybe they’re a little bit out there. Maybe they’re cold or the beaches aren’t anything to write home about. But they’re worth exploring. This week, we visit a few of them.

 

Madagascar
The world’s fourth largest island, Madagascar lies east of Mozambique and is home to 5 percent of the world’s wildlife and vegetation. While the beaches are great, there is a diversity of terrain from rainforest to desert, and much of the flora and fauna are unique to the island. Of the more than 200 bird species, about half are found only on Madagascar, which has almost 20,000 plant species, including seven types of the baobab tree. Lemurs leap from tree to tree, while chameleons cling to the branches, making for an entirely different kind of safari experience.

 

Sri Lanka
A teardrop-shaped island off the southeastern tip of India, Sri Lanka has recently opened up to the outside world after a 30-year civil war ended in 2009. Marco Polo called it “the finest island in the world,” and it yields treasures far beyond the many precious gems found in its soil. Its two dozen national parks are home to elephants, leopards, sloth bears, and deer. As far as human contribution, Anuradhapura served as the capital for nearly 1,500 years and is still a sacred site for Buddhists, while Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress full of murals and gardens that was a revolutionary example of urban planning in the fifth century.

 

Taiwan
The seat of the Republic of China since defeat at the hands of the communists shortly after World War II, Taiwan has developed a unique culture that is a mix of aboriginal, Chinese and Japanese elements. With nearly 25 million inhabitants, it packs about 1,700 people into every square mile. At 1,671 feet, Taipei 101 in the capital city briefly held the title of world’s tallest building, though now it’s struggling to remain in the top 10. Street food is the hallmark of Taiwanese dining, with tofu, rice, pork, and vegetables all enjoying starring roles. Outside the city are temples in gorgeous natural settings reminiscent of a much older way of life.

 

South Georgia
There is a settlement with a couple dozen non-permanent human inhabitants at any given time on this island east of Tierra del Fuego and north of Antarctica. There’s even a church. But the main attraction is penguins. Tens of thousands of king, Gentoo and macaroni penguins share space with elephant and fur seals. South Georgia is also where Ernest Shackleton landed in a lifeboat on of one of the most harrowing rescue missions of all time after a wreck some 800 miles away, then hiked more than 20 miles to a whaling station for help. Not to worry, though, you’ll be safe in the hands of our Virtuoso partners.

 

Faroe Islands
About 50,000 brave souls inhabit this archipelago between Iceland and Norway, and it’s assuredly not for the beaches. An independent country in the Kingdom of Denmark (after a treaty with Norway in 1814), the Faroes play host to Europe’s largest puffin colony and dramatic waterfalls tumbling to the North Atlantic. There are several animal species that have evolved uniquely in isolation, such as the Faroe pony, strong as a horse but with a smaller stature and the Faroe sheep. The friendly population has an interesting blend of Norse and Celtic heritage and are fond of traditional saga-like songs accompanied by dance known as kvaedir, some of which are hundreds of verses long.

 

Top Fall Foliage Trips in the U.S.

 

It’s been in the air — and in your Facebook timeline with all the posts about pumpkin spice — for weeks. But with the equinox coming Saturday, it will be official: It’s autumn. Soon, fall foliage will abound. Here are some of the best places in the country to go leafing.

 

New England & Canada

This is a classic, from Maine’s Acadia National Park to the Green Mountains of Vermont. Instead of sharing the highways with the thousands of others who had the same idea, consider a fall foliage cruise. You’ll visit ports such as Bar Harbor, Halifax, and Quebec City without having to fight traffic every step of the way and repacking every day, all the while being delivered into the heart of colorful, charming, picture-perfect towns.

 

The Ozarks

The colors come in toward the end of September and beginning of October, starting with blackgum and sweetgum trees, casting reds, yellows, purples and oranges. The peak of the season occurs about a month later, and in between, there are hickories projecting brilliant yellow leaves, sassafras in every color and more than 50 varieties of oak ranging from orange to deep red. On the drive through the rolling Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, you’re surrounded by color as far as the eye can see.

 

The Rockies

The aspens of Colorado have already begun to turn a striking golden yellow in higher elevations and will be peaking in a couple of weeks. Working their way down, the leaves will start to drop off the trees on higher slopes while they begin changing color at lower elevations, lasting until early November. Farther north in the Tetons and Yellowstone, orange, yellow and red will swarm the forests, making for a stark contrast against snowcapped slate-colored peaks. Aspens, cottonwoods, and maples combine for a dazzling array that’s hard to beat.

 

The Pacific Northwest

The length of the season depends on how much rain falls, but as long as they last, the fall colors are spectacular. Trails throughout Washington and Oregon erupt in beautiful, deep reds, oranges and yellows, including the Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, where bushes and shrubs shine in front of tall evergreens and the backdrop of the 14,410-foot Rainier. Silver Falls State Park in Oregon’s Willamette Valley sports colorful trees along a river teeming with spawning salmon and waterfalls galore.

 

The South

Though the summer lasts a little longer down south, there are plenty of places to spot brilliant leaves in perfect weather during the autumn. From the Natchez Parkway spanning Mississippi and Tennessee all the way down to Florida’s Three Rivers State Park near the Georgia border, there is brilliance on display. The Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina light up with dogwood, birch and many other trees changing color across a variety of elevations. Not to be missed is Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley National Park.

All autumn long, there are spectacular foliage trips right in your backyard.

Travel at Ease

Traveling, going on vacation, work trips, or anything where you are experiencing a new environment is exciting. The excitement and fun can easily be ruined by the stress and confusion of planning a trip. Using a travel agency can be a better route but finding one that would take all of your personal, individualized needs into consideration can be harder than you would think. DMC Travel Tailor plans customized trips for you and takes away the hassle that comes with organizing a trip. Their main goal is to expand your world, rejuvenate you, and make you feel alive. They want to set fire to your soul with memories from your travel experiences.

Stefany Di Manno Ceccato and Daniele Ceccato are the founders of DMC Travel Tailor and the creative minds that work with you to plan your dream trip. Your initial contact with Stefany is over the phone (unless you meet in person) where she asks you questions to help her understand exactly what you are wanting from your travel experience so she knows the best way to serve you. She then takes the information given to work on an itinerary customized for you.

DMC Travel Tailor works with several different companies to ensure you get the best experience and the perks that come along with it. These companies include:

    • Largay Travel
    • Virtuoso
    • Tzell Travel Group

Working with Virtuoso, which is the leading luxury network in the world, allows DMC Travel Tailor to give their clients exclusive benefits and excursions that they cannot find on their own. They contribute five percent of their profit to a charity, Camp Happy Days, which is an organization that helps kids with cancer in hopes of making the world a better place. DMC Travel Tailor wants to turn your dreams into memories one trip at a time. Where would you like to go next?

Virtuoso Travel Week Highlights

It might not be that big, tucked on the side of Spain on the western edge of Europe, but Portugal is the hottest destination going this year. Combine the capital of Lisbon — think a European San Francisco — with second city Porto and the beach-laden Algarve region with the diverse islands of Madeira and the Azores, and Portugal becomes a lot bigger than you might have previously imagined. That was one takeaway from Virtuoso Travel Week this month in Las Vegas, where more than 6,000 attendees from 100 countries shared the latest and greatest in the travel industry.

Another important trend is the rise of sustainability. From resorts such as The Brando in French Polynesia, where 95 percent of the energy used is renewable. Buildings made from local, renewable and recycled material blend with their natural surroundings and even waste is turned into compost that is used in organic gardens. The resort’s conservation program focuses on fish and sea turtle replenishment as well as atoll conservation. Seawater air conditioning and coconut oil biofuel help power the resort while getting it closer to carbon neutrality.

Kevin Molony, president of New Orleans-based Royal Insider is working to preserve the culture in and around the city his family first came to in the 1720s by showing clients the authenticities of life for those who call the Big Easy home, far from the tourist haze of Bourbon Street. That could mean hanging behind the scenes with a Mardi Gras crew to see how much blood, sweat, and tears go into preparing not just afloat but a celebration of heritage or dining in a historic home with a meal prepared by the city’s top chefs.

With the launch of www.galapagos.com, www.safaritours.com and www.visibleasia.com, Big Five Tours & Expeditions, ranks countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia based on the sustainability of tourism there, and works in the destinations it services to improve those scores. As Lesa Bain of Lindblad Expeditions succinctly put it in her acceptance speech for Virtuoso’s Sustainable Tourism Leadership award, “Sustainability rocks!”

All told, more than 40,000 meetings took place over the course of a week between travel advisors and suppliers, resulting in an exchange of information that will benefit our travelers. Looking for a great meal? Meadowood Napa Valley’s The Restaurant, winner of Best Dining Experience, has you covered. A nice drink? The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel in London was voted Best Bar. As for any other experience you can imagine, drop us a line at info@dmctraveltailor.com.