Category Archives: Travel by Taste

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

club med ixtapa

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

Barb recently got back from travels in Mexico, where she stayed at Club Med Ixtapa Pacific for six days. Named as one of the world’s best family resorts by Trip Advisor, Ixtapa is an all-inclusive resort with glorious sandy beaches, the second largest coral reef in the world, and fun family activities like sailing and scuba diving. The resort offers kids’ clubs especially geared to specific age groups. It’s perfect for a family reunion, and our agents have booked a number of multigenerational trips to the Club Meds in the past. Located on the Riviera Maya, ancient Mayan ruins are just a short distance away, ready for your little explorers.

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific is located about 30-40 minutes from Zihuantanejo Airport, resting on a quiet, protected beach perfect for swimming. I’m told this area almost always has great weather due to their location close to the mountains, however it was more humid than I expected.  The resort is well laid out, with capacity for up to 800 guests, but spread out enough that it never feels overflowing when totally full. We had an Oceanview club room, which was very comfortable. — Barb B.

Restaurants

Keep the kids happy with 3-4 restaurants to choose from. The elegant Encanto enchants with its five themed lounges–the mirror room, mask room, indoor garden, aquarium and stargazing lounge. Head to the Miramar for all-day, laidback fare on an oceanfront terrace. The Luna Azul sparkles at dinnertime with delicious local Mexican cuisine, overlooking the beach and coconut palms. The kids will be able to show off their culinary talents at Sirena, where children ages 2-10 can be their own chef!

Club Med has two restaurants that stagger their opening times so that one can eat pretty much any time during the day and evening.  There is a “dress code” in the evening, these are more like theme nights – there is an optional color code for clothing, I’d say less than half of the guests followed the dress code, other than that dress for all meals is very casual, just no bathing suits!  There is nightly entertainment put on by the staff (GO’s), one night they had a trapeze show.  One night the kids of the resort performed, the kids are dressed in costumes and different age groups come and perform dances, it was so cute! — Barb B.

Activities

A stay at any Club Med includes dozens of fun sports, activities, and sports schools with excellent instructors. Brush up on your sailing skills, perfect your archery technique, or monkey around at the Flying Trapeze School. There’s also mini golf, table tennis, SUP–or if you want to try something a bit more challenging, book a special instructor for deep sea fishing, snuba, scuba or flyboarding.

Kids’ Clubs

Club Med Ixtapa is home to kids’ clubs of varying ages, including the Baby Club Med (4-23 months), Petit Club Med (2-3 years old), Mini Club Med (4-10 years old). Teens (11-17 years old) can enjoy an exclusive Juniors’ Club Med outdoor recreation area – no unsupervised adults allowed! For newborns, Club Med provides free baby-care materials and equipment, foods, and a special playground just for the little ones–plus baby-sitting on demand.

This resort is very focused on families and kids, with lots of children’s activities for kids of all ages.  The kids club is included in the cost of your stay, except for kids under 3, where there is a fee. There are activities for adults all day long too, the schedule is posted daily (like on a cruise ship), activities range from gentle 1 hour walk, water aerobics, tennis, canoeing, standup paddle boarding. They also offer, trapeze, Zumba and salsa lessons!  There is also a spa and 3 swimming pools. There is no pressure to participate or not participate in any of the activities.

The resort also has a great setup for family rooms – they have 2 room units which can accommodate parents, up to 3 kids plus a crib.  Each family with a little child has a stroller at their disposal during their stay. Their suites are located in a separate building with their own front desk and beach area.

— Barb B.

One can purchase excursions through Club Med – we went to a Turtle Hatchery, and helped release baby turtles back into the water, it was fun!  Ixtapa has a bicycle path, which goes along a lot of the town area, one can rent bicycles and they offer bicycle tours. Ixtapa is the modern resort area, with many high rise beachfront resorts, many are all-inclusive, and golf course.  Zihuantanejo is the old town, with a nice town square, good for local shopping and culture, located close to the beach, a pier, and a lovely old church. — Barb B.

Why book with Willamette Intl Travel?

Many of our agents have stayed at Club Meds and can give you firsthand tips and honest feedback. We have access to deals and perks through our connections with Club Med, and can arrange a whole package for you and your family to stay at a Club Med – with airfare, transportation, activities – so you don’t have to stress about any of it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Club Med, Family Travel, Mexico, Travel by Scuba, Travel by Sport, Travel by Taste

Happy World Chocolate Day!

chocolate world day.png

Friday 7 July is World Chocolate Day!

chocolate-2224998_640

Originally from Mesoamerica, the cacao bean has been a favorite culinary passion for thousands of years. People’s intimate relationship with chocolate is thought to date back all the way three or four millennia, when ancient pre-Columbian cultures like the Olmec were drinking fermented beverages made from the cacao bean.

hands-2430200_640

The world chocolate comes from the Aztec “xocoatl,” and the scientific name for the tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”

Why July 7? Friday marks 467 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe.

After all, who doesn’t love another excuse to sip down hot chocolate, or bite into a Belgian truffle?

cake-486874_640

Celebrate the sweet day of chocolate by:

  • booking a honeymoon vacation to the Mexican coast to see the land that inspired a worldwide culinary passion
  • asking our travel agents about deals for families on Big Island to visit the candy factory and sample macadamia nut chocolates
  • attending a chocolate-making class in Brussels, Belgium in a fine chocolaterie
  • tasting Mexican cocoa in its mouthwatering perfection at Oaxaca, home to small cacao farms
  • booking a train trip in our office on Switzerland’s chocolate train to discover legendary Swiss chocolate in the medieval town of Gruyères
  • book a chocolate workshop in lovely Paris with our friends Chocolatine (their name is oh so apropos)
  • visiting Turin, home to legendary cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) and the annual CioccolaTò festival, with chocolate factory and treasure hunt

See more destinations for chocolate lovers here

hot-chocolate-1058197_640 (1)

Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate

(from Olivia’s Cuisine)

  • 2 (3.5oz) bars good quality bittersweet chocolate (Lindt or authentic Mexican chocolate)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp chili powder (optional)
  • ½ Tbsp light brown sugar (optional)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Whipped cream to serve

chocolate-2290251_640

Instructions

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the chocolate with the water and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Once everything is melted, add the milk, heavy cream, chili powder and sugar, and the nutmeg. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let it cook until it thickens a little (about 5 minutes). If you think it’s too thick or sweet for you, add an extra cup of milk to thin it out.
  4. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Italy, Mexico, Travel by Taste

NEW Chocolatine Workshops in France

chocolate france croissant

Bonjour! Chocolatine introduces some fabulous workshops available during your fabulous trip to France! Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel for more info on these one-of-a-kind tours!

NEW – Chocolate Workshop

  • *Learn the secret of making delicious chocolate candies and confections with Laurent, a talented master chocolatier, in his private workshop in a non-touristy area of Paris.
  • *Taste a variety of chocolates as you learn about the process from cacao bean to chocolate bar.
  • *Participate in hands-on chocolate candy preparation with Laurent and write your name in chocolate on your creations!
  • Duration: 90-minutes
  • When: Monday through Friday
  • Number of Guests: 2-5 people

croissant

NEW – Just Croissants Workshop

  • *Spend 4 glorious hours learning how to make croissants—perfect, beautiful, authentic croissants—from scratch with Johanna, a very talented pastry chef in her new atelier!
  • *Discover the secrets of the flaky pastry as you leaven the dough, fold in the butter, shape the croissants, and prepare cream fillings.
  • *Savor your freshly-baked goodness with a beverage, and take away the rest!
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • When: Monday & Tuesdays
  • Number of Guests: 3-6 people (no children under age 10)

Our NEW Chauffeur for you!

  • We have just connected with a fantastic chauffeur, ready to drive you around Paris! Although Paul is not a tour guide, he can showcase the highlights of the city and offer excellent information about the neighborhoods, monuments, and historic sites. If his guests want to enjoy a short coffee break… take photos… make a quick stop for a patisserie… Paul is happy to make it all happen!
  • Paul drives a brand new Nissan Qashqai
  • Number of guests: 3 people maximum – 1 in front, 2 in the back.  

lily flower giverny

Giverny with Paul!

  • If you enjoyed the city drive with Paul, he’s just as delighted to escort you to Giverny!
  • Includes: Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • About 3 hours in Giverny, a visit to Monet’s garden, and time to stroll through the charming village.

Taste of Nice (an exclusive Chocolatine tour!)

Chocolatine’s wonderful Niçoise guide Monique (Nice-born and -raised!) takes visitors on a fantastic walking tour of Nice. Many summer guests enjoyed it immensely! For September and October travelers visiting the Riviera, this half-day (4-hour) tour provides a chance to discover the real heart and soul of Nice.

Highlights:

  • *Discover the unique architecture of the city.
  • *Meet the locals and discover the traditions of the Niçoises.
  • *Enjoy an introduction to AOC Olive Oil in the Alziari boutique—owned by the same family for five generations.
  • *Discover how a perfumer masters the creation of fragrances, while learning about the history of perfume. Create your own special perfume!
  • *Visit the oldest cellar in Nice (1860) where the owner, Franck, personally welcomes you. Add your name to a guest list that has included Elton John and Brad Pitt, and enjoy a conversation with Franck about his wine passion and his hometown of Nice.

Chocolatine in France. Hailing from France and based in the Pacific Northwest, Chocolatine offers private services in France that are 100% tailored to your needs. We work closely with them to arrange private excursions in Paris and elsewhere in France.

Call us to book at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under France, News, Travel by Taste

All Things Foodie & Travel

noodles-1632153_1280

It’s Foodie Day here on the Wittravel Blog — and do we have a lot to share! Traveling for the Cuisine is one of the best ways to explore the local culture! Why not join a cooking class or winery tour while you’re abroad? Whether cooking up pad thai in Thailand, or sipping wines in Bordeaux–our Agents can hook you up!

Check out yummy stories on dining and wining from our Archives:

Bread & Macaroons

World Tapas Day

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East

Airplane Snacks

When in Iceland: Sheep Heads and Puffin Roasts

paella-1167973_1280

And browse recent stories on Food from around the web:

The Italian Wine Regions You Should Visit Next

World’s 23 Best Cities for Street Food

New Flavors on classic Cape Cod

10 of the Best Foodie Retreats in Rural France

25 Japanese Foods we can’t live without

A Food Lover’s Guide to Montreal

Chef Jacques Pepin to host cruise for foodies

Did you know there are multiday food and wine tours? Or simple day trips to a Tuscan olive press? Call Willamette Intl Travel to start your Culinary Adventure today! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for more info!

sushi-1565874_1280

1 Comment

Filed under Travel by Taste

Tomorrow is World Tapas Day!

Love Tapas? So do we!!

¡Bienvenido! Did you know Thursday, June 16 is World Tapas Day? Yes, it’s a thing!

Tapas are a type of “mini-dish” typical of Spain, created to make the most of the delicious flavors of the country. They can be served cold, hot, on toast, in clay pots–and best enjoyed with a group of your closest friends! Spaniards often go on “tapa-tastings,” that is, bar-hopping for a whirlwind tour of mouth-watering dishes in one neighborhood. Tapas are popular all over the country, from Barcelona to Granada; we’re talking premium ingredients like Iberian ham, extra virgin olive oil, succulently baked seafood, patatas braves, spicy chorizo—all paired elegantly with Rioja wine.

The word tapa is said to have derived from the Spanish word tapar, meaning “to cover,” and may have originated from a time when inns used to serve small portions under hot pot covers. Whatever the origin–it’s enough to get us thinking about a trip to Spain to sample at the source!

This video has got us positively salivating: Tapa!

Also check out: 

A Fun Infographic on Tapas

Our 20 Recommended Tapas

In Portland, Oregon and you just can’t wait for your trip to Spain? Treat yourself this weekend with a tapas meal at Andina, Toro Bravo or Ataula!

Or if you’d rather have the real deal–make an appointment with one of our agents at Willamette Intl Travel to discuss summer and fall flights into Spain! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com today!

Brought to you with the help of the Tourist Office of Spain

1 Comment

Filed under Europe, Spain, Travel by Taste

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Mhalabia

cs

Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe is a Syrian pudding recipe from Aleppo. It’s made with milk, rose water, crushed pistachios, some cardamom, corn starch as sugar. If you have traveled to Syria or Jordan you have probably tasted this light and exotic tasting pudding. Treat your family to it this holiday season!

Flickr Creative Commons (c) Andrea Nguyen

Flickr Creative Commons (c) Andrea Nguyen

3 cups milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbs rose water

1 cup cold water

2 cardamom pods, crushed

6 tbs corn starch

Crushed pistachios

  • Mix milk and sugar together in a sauce pan, then heat to a boil – stirring frequently.
  • Whisk water and cornstarch together in a bowl until smooth; stir into boiling milk. Cook milk mixture over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of cake batter, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir cream, rose water, and cardamom into milk mixture.
  • Divide into 6 serving dishes or keep in a bowl, what ever you prefer, and put into the refrigerator to cool – about 2-4 hours
  • Just before serving sprinkle crushed pistachios on top.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

Call Willamette Intl Travel to Discuss More Options for Travel in the Middle East!

To read what a Sample 5-Day Tour through Jordan might look like, click here:

1 Comment

Filed under Caravan Serai, Travel by Taste

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Cucumber Salad & Galayat Bandura

cs

Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Cucumber & Yogurt Salad ~ Salat Khyar

  • 1lb cucumber
  • 2lb yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh mint

Peel and dice the cucumbers, crush garlic with salt and mint and stir into yogurt. Add the cucumbers and mix. Serve with mint garnish.

Galayat Bandura

This dish is a popular dish which can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as hot mezza or main course. You can add scrambled eggs, tuna, or chicken – whatever you like! “Gulayat” is the Arabic word for skillet, so the name literally translated means skillet of tomatoes.

  • 1lb tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 green chili peppers
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Saute the pine nuts in oil until light brown, remove from oil and save as the garnish (save the oil in the skillet).
  2. Finely chop tomatoes and chilies
  3. Slice garlic and saute in the same oil until light brown, then add the tomatoes, chilies (I recommend starting with half the amount of chilies and taste the mixture after a few minutes to see if you want to add more), and salt
  4. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  5. Pour into shallow serving dish and garnish with pine nuts

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample Tour through Morcco & Tunisia would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caravan Serai, Middle East, Travel by Taste, Vendors