Wine | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Mojitos, Cuba

    Thirst For Adventure? Walking Tour "Happy Hours" Hit The Spot

    <p>One summer not long ago, we were thrilled when the head guide from our walking tour of <a href="" target="_blank">Turkey</a> arrived for a visit to Southern California. Cemil (pronounced JEM-ul) is the kind of guy who loves to reconnect with old friends, so we knew we were in for a treat when his rather hefty carry-on bag revealed bottles of <i>raki</i>, Turkey’s national drink. Flavored with anise-like the infamous <i>ouzo</i> in Greece, <i>raki</i> has a reputation for adding a certain wallop to festive proceedings.</p> <p>That got us to thinking about other iconic libations we’ve run across during our travels. As self-confessed foodies, we look at international cuisine much the same way. How many times have you recalled an outstanding meal or an exceptional beverage that came to symbolize how you felt about an entire destination?</p> <p>Here at Classic Journeys, it’s a pretty common phenomenon. Not only because our walking tours are conducive to raising a glass at the end of an active day…but also because food and drink play such a sensory role in our cultural explorations. They don’t even need to pack a punch like <i>raki</i>. Their true power is the ability to create a vivid memory, one that even years later can take you back instantly to a favorite vacation moment.</p> <p>Wherever you’ve been or still hope to go, proposing a toast to your good fortune is a ritual worth preserving. Here’s just a sample of the popular pairings our guests enjoy as they meander all over the map:</p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Tuscany &amp; the Cinque Terre</a> – For most of us, hearing the word “Tuscany” conjures up two distinct images: endless vineyards and ancient hilltowns. Our itinerary obliges with plenty of both as we ramble the footpaths of Chianti, savoring private tastings in intimate cellars and soaking up the medieval towers silhouetted against the sky.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Chianti barrels" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7oW&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002sp9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Southern Tuscany to Rome</a> – After sampling the Super Tuscans indigenous to this region, you could be forgiven for thinking they were produced by superheroes. Actually, it’s the vintners of Bolgheri who are responsible for the famed Sassicaia, a signature blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.</p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Amalfi Coast &amp; Capri</a> – You’ve seen photos of the famous cliff-hugging villages, but the region’s real pride and joy is the humble lemon. Hence the wildly popular liqueur called <i>limoncello</i>, locally produced and happily sipped by our guests on a private tour of the factory.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Limoncello factory" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7oW&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002sop" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Bordeaux &amp; the Dordogne Valley</a> – The medieval village of St. Emilion in southwestern France may be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but for oenophiles, it’s home to flinty red vintages coaxed from the limestone hills. They’re the perfect accompaniment to a week of historical time-traveling (like the wines of the Cotes de Nuits on our walking tour of <a href="" target="_blank">Loire &amp; Burgundy</a>).</p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Normandy &amp; Brittany</a> – Another region, another specialty…this time the potent apple brandy called <i>calvados</i> that springs from the orchards of Normandy. Distilled from dry apple cider (using up to a hundred different varieties of apples), it’s enjoyed as an aperitif, a keynote ingredient in cocktails, and even in cooking sauces. Like the <i>pastis</i> of <a href="" target="_blank">Provence</a>, yet another anise-flavored liqueur, <i>calvados</i> is a staple of local culture.</p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Ireland</a> – Take it from the toucan on the famous 1930’s-era poster: “It’s A Lovely Day For A Guinness.” For our guests, the legendary stout and national drink of Ireland is a fine way to cap off a day of walking the emerald green hills and coastal paths. (Meanwhile, several hundred miles to the north, guests on our <a href="" target="_blank">Scotland</a> walking tour have a lovely day of their own, sipping single malt at Glenturret Distillery while drinking in the highland scenery.)<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Man sipping whiskey" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7oW&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002sou" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Morocco</a> – “Exotic” doesn’t even begin to describe the ubiquitous green tea with mint. In the traditional ceremony, the host deftly pours the tea from a great height into tiny glasses, topped off with hard sugar cones or sugar lumps. It’s especially enchanting in the firelight of our Berber tent encampment in the middle of the Saharan desert.</p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Costa Rica</a> &amp; <a href="" target="_blank">Panama</a> – The tasting room at a working plantation high in the hills of Central America is where coffee is meant to be savored. We learn about the process on a private tour of the coffee fields and roastery, which somehow makes the flavors taste even richer. You’ll never look at Starbucks the same way again.</p> <p>* <a href="" target="_blank">Argentina</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Peru</a> – In Patagonia’s Mendoza region, we follow the “Route of the Wines,” touring the vineyards and tasting fine Cabernets and Malbecs with an expert agronomist. In Peru, it’s all about the pisco sours, the national cocktail consisting primarily of grape brandy, lemon juice and sugar…the perfect pick-me-up “sundowner” following a day among the ruins of Machu Picchu.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Winery in Argentina" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7oW&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002soz" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p>We could go on, about the beer halls in <a href="" target="_blank">Prague &amp; Budapest</a> and the wineries that re-emerged after the fall of Communism on <a href="" target="_blank">Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast</a>, but for some reason we’re feeling a bit parched.</p> <p>If you’ve had a special moment (or two) when someone catered to your thirst for adventure with the right beverage at the right time in precisely the right place, we’d love to hear about it. Drop us a note at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p>Until then, cheers, <i>santé</i>, <i>¡Salud!</i>, <i>sláinte</i>, and <i>salute</i>!</p> <p>PS One final note: Our nominee for Most Acquired Taste goes to yak butter tea, served to us by villagers in a remote Tibetan valley ringed by mountains on our <a href="" target="_blank">walking tour of China</a>. Guaranteed to put the old maxim about “When in Rome…” to the test.</p>

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