Surprising Cities – Lyon

Lyon, France is city number two in my surprising cities series. It is the only city I included in my initial itinerary as a main stop on the trip. I had a conference here, and actually formed my trip around the conference (traveling to Brussels, Paris and Geneva as part of the trip). Still, I consider Lyon a surprising city because while I planned to go there, I didn’t plan to be so enthralled with it. It was the least anticipated stop, a “since we have to go to Lyon might as well make a bigger trip out of it” type of thing.

Why I went: Every year I have a major industry expo in a different part of the world. As I mentioned, that particular year it was in Lyon.

What I expected: To attend the conference and wander around Lyon a little bit in my free time. I definitely expected a smaller, more industrial type of city.

What I found: A large, vibrant city with Soane and Rhone rivers running through it, separating the two sides of the city into two distinct sections, each worth a visit. The energy in the city was almost palpable. Its numerous squares created gathering spots for locals, tourists, and street performers at every hour of the day and night. Overlooking this excitement was the city?s own Notre Dame Cathedral, accessible by funicular (tram-like system up the side of the hill) or a pretty active walk, and absolutely worth seeing for the view alone. Across from the convention center was a gigantic park where locals jogged, picnicked, played lawn games – it even had a petting zoo. Much to my surprise, Lyon is also considered the gastronomic center of France. You won’t leave hungry!

How much time to spend: You can easily spend three to four days in Lyon alone, not including it?s easy access to several of France?s most notable wine regions.

All You Can Eat…and Drink

The holiday season will be quickly upon us. Virtually all around the globe, that means a marjor focus on seasonal food and drink. Since we all have food on the brain, I figured why not explore the opportunities for exceptional gastronomic experiences throughout the world.

Merriam-Webster defines gastronomy as ?the art of science or good eating?. Wikipidia defines it as ?the study of a relationship between culture and food?.? While both definitions refer to food, the term can be extended to drink as well.

In the travel industry, gastronomic vacations are on the rise. In some cases, food or drink is the main activity of the trip, for instance a whisky tour of Scotland. In other instnaces, such as a Tuscan wine and bike exploration, culinary pursuits are combined with sightseeing, cultural experience or physical activity. Whatever your culinary preferences, there?s most likely a tour that features it!

If you have trouble finding a group or private tour that truly fits your preferences, not to worry – personalized gastronomic itineraries can be created specifically tailored to your interests. I hope you enjoy reading about these journeys as much as I enjoyed writing about them!

Raise Your Glass

When it comes to culinary tours, some of the most popular revolve not around food, but rather drink. Those who love their wine, scotch (whiskey) and beer know that all are not created equal, and sometimes you have to travel a ways in search of the best glass or brew.


Traditionally, wine tours have been the most common type of drink-centric travel, with France, Italy and Napa leading the way. These days, you can find wine tours all over the? globe with some up and coming wine producers starting to steal the show. Today, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Australia and New Zealand are becoming increasingly popular with wine lovers.

Often, wine journeys will be combined with other activities. A theme that?s getting increasingly popular is wine and bike tours (bike first, then wine!). These tours allow participants to cycle through the exquisite wine regions and experience its delicious bounty.

Vinyard in Mendoza, Argentina

Vinyard in Mendoza, Argentina


Unlike the growing number of wine destinations, if you want to visit the scotch distilleries, you will have to visit Scotland (note: you can find whiskey distilleries in other parts of the world though scotch whiskey is exclusive to Scotland). While routes vary, perhaps the most popular is the Whiskey Trail, which refers to the distilleries of Cardhu, Dallas Dhu, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, Glenlivet and Strathisla. Tours are often divided by region – highlands, lowlands, Speyside, Islay and Cambletown, though several of these can be combined in a custom tour, depending on the length of your trip.? Many of the distillaries have on-site bed and breakfasts and eateries to make your trip as hassle free as possible. In between whiskey tasting, guests can enjoy a round of golf, tour the castles or hike the nearby hills.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland


Perhaps the easiest drink to center a trip around is beer. Head to Europe, and most of the best brew destinations are within a several hour train ride of one another. From Amsterdam to the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium and England you can pick your cities and easily take rail europe from one to the next. Even Ireland, home of the famous Guinness, can be reached within approximately an hour by flight from London. Although Oktoberfest is by far the most popular beer festival, you can find them virtually all over the world. Check out this calender for a month by month break down.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

Whatever your drink of choice, there are a large variety of tours out there. Even better, if you don?t find one that includes the beverage, destinations and activities you?d prefer, you can have a custom trip created. Does it get any better than having a vacation of food, drink and activities tailor made for you?