Naturewatching, hiking, beach bumming or sightseeing – travelers aredriven by different pursuits, but most of them have one thing incommon – the love of chocolate. For how many of us can resist thedelicious melt-in-the-mouthexperience? Cocoa-fueledtrips have become a consistent type of tourism, with festivals,museums, tradeshows, walking tours, factory visits and specialistshops available in bulk around the world. If you too have a sweettooth, why not add a chocolate flavor to your next vacation? Here aresome of the most delectable“chocolate capitals” that promise heavenlydelights to any a choco fan.
Barcelona, La Villajoyosa and Alicante – Spain
Little did Christopher Columbus knowthat the cacao beans he discovered in 1502 would become an obsessionthat spread across the continent when brought to Europe. Spain is infact the first country in the world to experience the taste ofchocolate and the sweet heritage is manifest at every step. To thisday, hot chocolateis a regular breakfast drink and chocolaterias areas much part of the Spanishtexture as the sun and fabulous architecture.
Don’t miss a chocolate massage at Gran Hotel Balneario Blancafort Thermal Centre and a visit to Museode La Xocolata in Barcelona, grab some chocolate with churrosin Alicante and learn all about the history of Valor, theoldest gourmet brand in Spain, based in La Villajoyosa.
Bournville – England
Locatedon the south side of Birmingham, Bournville is where one of theworld’s best chocolate brands comes to life. This model village ishome to the Cadbury family’smouth-watering delicacies and promises a day full of chocolate-themedfun. A self-guided tour through Cadbury World, a major visitorattraction comprising as many as 14 zones, brims withvideo presentations, multi-sensory experiences, interactive displaysand hands-on activities. Above all, you can have a go at making yourown chocolate and eat whatever you manage to produce. Bournville istruly a chocoholic’s dream day out.
Turin – Italy
It turns out Italian hearts beat asmuch for pasta and good coffee as they do for quality chocolate.Turin, for instance, is believed to have more chocolatiers thanBelgium and France altogether, and the number of chocolate relatedtours and events organized in the city seems to testify to that sweetreputation. The very CioccolaTÒ, an annual two-weekchocolatefestivalrun with the most prominent Piedmontese producers, typicallydraws more than 700,000 visitors eager to fill their stomachs withincredible amounts of Gianduiotto (the specialty ofTurin). Also, make sure you get the city’s ownhot-chocolate-and-espresso drink in one of its incredible cafes. Fora chocolate lover, each trip to Turin means an ultimate delight tothe senses.
Oaxaca – Mexico
The streets of Oaxaca, Calle Minain particular, overflow with chocolate, vibrate with the sound ofgrinding and fill with tempting smells of pastries, candies and hotcocoa beverages that have become part of the city’s day to dayculture. Festivals, factory tours and even hands-on cooking classesare available, and the range of chocolate products that go with achoice of spices is truly stunning (try Mayordomo to get thebest mix in the whole city). In Oaxaca, chocolate is not just adelicious treat. It’s a culture and a highly cherished tradition thatpleases the soul as much as the eye and the palate.
Cologne – Germany
Here’sa good reason — an irresistible one — to plan a trip to Cologne,one of the oldest cities in Germany: chocolate. Some people come toCologneto see its fabulous Cathedral, others are drawn by the city’s charming,medieval Old Town. Yet another sizable group flocks to its famouschocolatemuseumfora bit of history, a little knowledge about how chocolate is made anda whole world of exquisite taste. 3,000 years of chocolate-makinghistory, 4,000square meters of exhibition spaceand approximately 2,000 exhibits make it a really memorable day inthe life of a chocoholic.
Zurich – Switzerland
The entire country of Switzerland is a chocoholic’s dream cometrue, boasting such world-renowned names as Toblerone, Lindt,Nestle and Sprungli as well as the highest consumption of chocolateper person. However, it is Zurich that they call the heart of theSwiss cocoa-based paradise. Chocolate boutiques can be found roundevery corner and factory visits are easily available.
Once on Bahnhofstrasse – Zurich’s main shopping avenue- take adeep breath and let the invigorating, warm, chocolaty hint guide youto Merkur, a gorge
ous confectionery with perhaps one of thewidest range of chocolate brands you can find. Another great choice is Truffe, a lovely chocolate shop with the chocolate organized by country of origin, and a spot where you can sit and sip a cup of the city’s best hot chocolate.
Hershey, PA – USA
Nicknamed “the Sweetest Place on Earth” or “Chocolatetown USA,” Hershey is reallysynonymous with chocolate. Start off at Hershey’s Chocolate Worldto learn the details of how cocoa beans become Hershey’s chocolateand inhale the chocolaty air that fills the entire place. ChocolateTasting Adventure comes with the package, of course. Then sendyour hubbies and kids to Hershey Park, where they can enjoy thethrilling rides that Milton S. Hershey (the man behind the famouschocolate bar) built so that his workers could have fun and relax!
Inthe meantime, let yourself be pampered with a delicious treatment at Hotel Hershey’s Chocolate Spa. Just to give you a hint: The3.5-hour Chocolate Escape Package includes Whipped Cocoa Bath, Chocolate Bean Polishor Chocolate Sugar Scrub, Chocolate Fondue Wrap, Cocoa Massage, andLunch in The Oasis. This just can’t get any better…
When a country of 10 million peoplecounts over 2,000 chocolate shops, 16 chocolate museums and 12factories, then chocolate must truly be a national passion. At theheart of the delicious business is Brussels, the unquestionable“Chocolate Capital of the World,” where Mary Chocolatier, Neuhaus, Leonidas, andGodiva are as much the city’s icons as the EU institutions. All sortsof cocoa-based delicacies can be found in abundance, especially atGrand Sablon, a tiny square with some of the most exquisite brands tobrowse, but it is pralines that rule in Belgium and you justcannot leave without packing a mouthful of those. Chic, elegant anddelectable, they’re a cornerstone of the luxury chocolate trade and areal treat both to the eye and the palate.
How about you? Will you tell us about your cocoa-infused trips and orgasmic chocolate choices?