5 destinations for fall chocolate travel
It’s not often I accept guest posts on this blog, but I couldn’t refuse Marta Lopez Garcia’s offer to post this delicious article and pics about some of her favourite chocolate destinations. Author Bio Marta López is a travel writer originally from Spain and now based in London. Marta is an occasional contributor to Expedia UK. She loves travelling, cooking and chocolate. When she isn’t writing on her laptop she can be found around the city looking for the best chocolate stores.
5 Worldwide destinations for chocolate lovers
It may have originated from the Spanish language and it dates back to Mesoamerican history. Chocolate is more than a delicious sweet, it’s also a way of travel. If you are still planning your first autumn trip, here you have five chocolate destinations that will sweeten your life!
Jeff de Bruges Shop in Bruges courtesy of Robyn Lee via Creative Commons
Bruges: The heart of fine chocolate ￼
Bruges is one of those places that once you visit it, you feel like you were on a fairy tale and most travellers say that it’ s a city that you drink and eat with the eyes. Apart from its canals and its medieval architecture, Bruges is well known for beer and chocolate. It’s a fact; this city of narrow streets is full of chocolatiers that produce the finest praliné in Europe. Last but not least: After trying hundreds of different chocolates, take the challenge and reach the top of Belfort Belfry, a symbol of the city that dates back to 1282. Once you have reached the top you will confirm that everywhere looks like an antique map… Top tip: Don’t forget to visit Bruges Chocolate Museum (Wijnzakstraat 2, Sint-Jansplein), found in the Maison Croon which dates from 1480.
Tabasco: The land of maya chocolate ￼
Chocolate skulls photo courtesy of Janet Lackey via Creative Commons
Chocolate hides an intense past in Mesoamerica. It was in 1502 when settlers arrived to what we known as Mexico and discovered this “brown gold”, cultivated by the Olmec culture. Hernán Cortés was the first to try this delicatessen in front of the Aztec emperor and consequently he didn’t hesitate to bring all the accessories for its production back in Spain. Today whoever visits Tabasco, in the southeast of Mexico, will have the chance to discover the origins and the route of the sacred cacao. Here you will be able to immerse yourself in the jungle and feel the aroma of maya cacao thanks to the wide number of small farms that cultivate this precious treasure. Top tip: Find out more about this ancient product and visit Finca Génesis, an organic cacao-producing farm.
St Lucia: A luxury chocolate experience
Cocoa image courtesy of Andi Jetaime via Creative Commons
Sweet and sunny, St Lucia has become a worldwide chocolate destination. This island, based in the Caribbean, used to export its cacao beans in the past, whereas now it keeps them for its own production. Visitors will find here a less sweet chocolate that the one from France, Belgium or America. St Lucia’s chocolate legacy dates back to the cocoa industry of the 1700’s. Today the island has an important reputation when it comes to talking about quality cacao and that is one of the reasons why travellers can find here a wide collection of hotels and resorts offering luxury services related to it such as cacao routes or chocolate-infused spa treatments. To tip: There is no St Lucia without experiencing the luxury of chocolate. Don’t hesitate to choose a holiday that offers a proper cacao experience. (Doreen’s note: Hotel Chocolat Boucan and Jade Mountain are 2 St. Lucia properties that I have written about previously on this blog and highly recommend.)
Madrid: Hot chocolate for breakfast ￼
Chocolatería San Ginés image courtesy of Edu Blanco via Creative Commons
The capital of Spain is one of the coolest places in Europe to enjoy chocolate in a very casual way. “Chocolate con churros” is what Spaniards call the perfect breakfast, which is hardly ever consumed at home. This New Year’s tradition is a combination of a cup of rich, thick hot chocolate and a light and crisp churros (pastry-like fritters). If you finally decide to visit the Spanish capital, don’t miss the chance to pop in at any of the many chocolaterías available, a sort of coffee shop where artesian hot chocolate is the speciality. Top tip: You can’t leave Madrid without enjoying a proper chocolate con churros. Visit Chocolatería San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5).
Perugia: The land of kisses ￼
The old chocolate truck image courtesy of travelling steve via Creative Commons
Legend says that it was here where Valentines’ Day was born. In Perugia, the capital of the beautiful Umbria region, everything has to do with a kiss, or what Italians call a bacio. It’s therefore no coincidence that the most popular chocolate in this area is the brand of Baci. Such is the passion that Perugian people feel about chocolate, that the city celebrates every October a festival called Eurochocolate (Friday 17th- Sunday 26th October) which attracts people from all over the country looking for the best chocolate products to buy and taste. Top tip: If you fancy a walk around the city, don’t hesitate to visit Rocca Paolina, an underground town built by the Pope Paolo III in 1540.
I hope you enjoyed Marta’s post and that it has inspired you to enjoy some chocolate travel of your own. I’ve been to St. Lucia and Madrid, but Bruges, Perugia, and Tabasco are still high on my list of chocolate destinations to visit. Which of these places have you visited and enjoyed?