Enjoy one of VBT’s Special Culinary Departures in 2014

VBT Italian Picnic

As author J.R.R Tolkein once said, “if more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”—and we couldn’t agree more. At VBT we think one of the best ways to culturally immerse yourself on a vacation is to fully experience the native cuisine, as the tastes of a country or region often play a major role in its cultural identity. If you enjoying cooking at home, trying new dishes or consider yourself a “foodie”, than a VBT Culinary Departure may be the perfect vacation for you. In 2014 we are offering a handful of departures that include enhanced culinary experiences like cooking classes, food and wine tastings, market excursions and conversations with local chefs. In addition to everything you’d expect on a VBT vacation, you’ll also learn about growing, preparing, cooking and (most importantly) tasting the regional cuisine. Take a look at which of our bicycling and walking vacations will have special culinary departures during the coming year…

Tuscany Cooking Class

The Amalfi Coast & Capri - March 26, 2014
Braiding Mozzarella
Few places can rival the dramatic beauty of the Amalfi Coast, an enchanting region where soaring, rugged mountains plunge suddenly to meet the sparkling azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea.  We’ll walk ancient footpaths, explore the fascinating ruins of Pompeii, and stroll through winding cobblestone streets on the famed isle of Capri. But we’ll also partake in the time-honored techniques for mozzarella-braiding and learn how to make an Italian gelato, prepare our own wood-fired pizza with chef Michele at his pizza restaurant, sample fresh breads at a local bakery in Bomerano, and visit a typical local ‘orto’ (vegetable garden) and then enjoy the crispy organic vegetables for lunch!

Spain: Under the Andalusian Sky – May 9, 2014
Here in the sunny south of Spain, we’ll embrace the nation’s diverse heritage through visits Jamonto Christian cathedrals that once stood as Moorish mosques, by unwinding during an Arab hammam massage and by enjoying the region’s varying cuisine. We’ll dine with locals and even learn the ancient methods of curing and thinly slicing the world renowned regional cured ham—jamon iberico. We’ll also enjoy an evening walking tour of Cordoba while sampling traditional tapas, learn the secret to making the perfect gazpacho, and meander through a typical Spanish market with a local chef.  And when we’re not experiencing village life, we’ll be enjoying peaceful rides past olive groves, through rustic farmland and along delicate plains, ending the day at charming 4- and 5-star hotels.

Tuscany by the Sea – September 26, 2014
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Come discover a hidden pocket of Tuscany: the unspoiled Maremma region. The cycling paths here reveal historic towns, nature reserves and sweeping views of the countryside while a hearty meal made from the freshest local produce is your reward every night. We’ll sample wines and olive oils made right at your agriturismo and take part in a pastry-making demonstration. We’ll also learn how to make pasta in different shapes at a fun authentic cooking class at La Parrina, taste award winning cheeses and enjoy the savory DOP ‘Cinta Senese’ cold meats from the pigs bred only in the region.

Journey through Vietnam - November 18, 2014
An unforgettable Far East adventure awaits in the breathtaking landscapes of Vietnam. OnVietnam Marketa vacation of a lifetime we’ll travel by bike, boat and rickshaw, meeting with local friends and exploring a myriad of wonders, both natural and man-made. With the help of our local Trip Leaders, we’ll explore Hanoi’s 19th-century Dong Xuan market, which is full of foodstuffs that will tantalize, intrigue, and even startle you! We’ll also take part in a private cooking class at one of Hoi An’s most popular restaurants and prepare some tasty treats at a private cooking class at Saigon Cookery Art. Some bonus features include discovering the vibrant, everyday cooking traditions of the Mekong Delta as we tour My Tho market and participating in a tea ceremony and conversation with the monks at Thien Mu Pagoda.

For more information or to reserve a spot on one of these fantastic departures please visit http://bit.ly/VBTCulinary to view detailed itineraries or to sign-up for the latest full catalog of all of VBT’s vacations. If you would like to speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST.

Meet Debora, a VBT Trip Leader in Puglia

Debora Trippetti Puglia TL #4

If you ask any traveler about their VBT vacation you’ll undoubtedly hear praise of our expert, local Trip Leaders among Debora Trippetti Puglia TL #3their remarks, so it’s no coincidence that 95% of our travelers rate their Trip Leaders “excellent “.  You see, our Trip Leaders are more than just tour guides—they are friends, partners, caregivers, teachers, and bilingual residents of the region you are discovering. Since each leader is a resident of the country they lead in, they know the local customs and traditions, as well as inside information about reliable places to shop, eat, explore, and relax while on a VBT vacation. They’ll also be able to answer any questions you may have about the history or native flora and fauna of your surroundings.

Last week, Debora, a native and Trip Leader on our Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast ​ vacation sent us an email along VBT swimmer, Pugliawith some pictures of a traveler swimming in Port Badisco Bay and also some wild cyclamens growing along the road.  We thought we’d share some of her pictures as well as let you get to know her a little better with the following interview. We want to thank Debora for another great year of leading trips and we, like her, are looking forward to another great season in 2014!

IMG_4894What are some hobbies/interests of yours other than leading trips? I’m a swimming instructor and scuba diving fanatic who also loves free diving. I also enjoy painting and reading.

What are some of your favorite things? I believe music is the expression of the soul! And travel, travel, and travel because it helps to keep an open mind and always be learning something new. Oh and, gelato before everything!

Do you have any messages for people considering travel to your country? Come by bike to discover a genuine and still undiscovered region! Puglia is a tongue in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea where all cultures have left their trace over time…a treasure is waiting for you .

Anything you would say to convince a person to come join one of YOUR Roadside flowers in Pugliatrips? I feel like an ambassador and will be happy to help you discover my region and all the “locals” adventures that you can have here!

Do you have any final words for our readers? Please continue to travel by bike. It helps our small planet to be less polluted and it’s a perfect way to really discover another country and culture.