Great learning breaks in Conde Nast magazine
GoLearnTo.com features in luxury travel magazine, Conde Nast this month with a selection of it’s great learning breaks.
Learning breaks combine a holiday in beautiful surroundings with the acquisition of new skill, from philosophy walks in Greece and painting holidays in Tuscany to paleontology digs in Utah – and you might meet a few interesting people along the way, too. Laura Fowler resolves to try a few.
‘The unexamined life is not worth living,’ Socrates said; and never do we examine ours more than at the start of a new year.
How many times have you made the same New Year’s Resolutions – to learn a language or play the guitar, to take a life-changing trip or write the novel you know is inside you, if only you could somehow eke it out?
Less than 10 per cent of people stick to their resolutions. But there are strategies to help you stay on your wagon of choice, such as sharing resolutions with others and immersing yourself in a creative, encouraging environment.
Activity breaks combine a holiday somewhere beautiful, or relaxing, or eye-opening, with the acquisition of a new skill. They can help inspire you to do something new and stick to it. And you will take home more than the usual holiday souvenirs, whether it’s beautifully composed pictures of an unfamiliar landscape, or a new language that opens up an entire culture.
Learning to cook a foreign cuisine is an appealing way to immerse yourself in a new culture, and the benefits are obvious. Just about everywhere you stay, from the beach shacks of Kerala to a five-star hotel in Florence, can arrange cookery classes for you, and even signing up for half a day can give you skills for life.
A four-day course near Bordeaux, in France, will teach you how to make authentic French pâtisserie. The course starts with a visit to a local patisserie to taste what you will learn to recreate; choose your favourites from delicate millefeuilles, bavarois, charlotte, paper-thin crêpes, gâteau, tarte au citron, éclairs and French breads such as brioche and croissants.
Accommodation is in a traditional 19th-century French farmhouse, where the grounds have views of the surrounding sunflower fields and pine forests of the Lot-et-Garonne region, and the rooms are en-suite, with exposed wooden beams and thick stone walls. All meals are included – and if you don’t like the puddings, you’ve only yourself to blame.
Pâtisserie course runs year-round; from £413 per person, including three nights’ full board, French pâtisserie lessons and excursions. For more details or to book contact Go Learn To (www.notintheguidebooks.com)
If you prefer savoury to sweet, the same company also organises fish cookery courses in Andalucía.The four-day course teaches guests how to prepare and cook all kinds of fish and shellfish according to traditional Spanish methods. Lessons take place in the outdoor kitchen of arestored 150-year-old finca surrounded by olive groves, which is where you stay and, in the evenings, eat what you’ve made. You can also learn to cook paella and tapas here.
Some travellers believe you can never really appreciate the culture of another country unless you understand the language. It’s not just about being able to order the best thing on the menu. Speaking the language can open all sorts of doors, immerse the traveller in a new culture and open them up to unique, off-the-wall experiences they otherwise would not have had, meeting people who leave an indelible mark in the memory.
It makes sense to learn a language in a country in which it is spoken. It’s remarkable how much more quickly one begins to understand if one is surrounded by native speakers – especially if it means going a week without conversation. And it doesn’t have to be like going back to school; some trips combine language lessons with something livelier.
In Ibiza you can become proficient in Spanish and salsa at the same time. GoLearnTo.com can arrange a week’s course at a Spanish language school on the island, and also dance lessons. They can also sort out accommodation with an Ibizan family, if you want to immerse yourself 24/7 – or we can recommend staying at one of the island’s fantastic agroturismo, such as Can Curreu, or, for music lovers, the beautifully refurbished Ibiza Rocks at Pikes hotel. The same company can arrange similar trips in Puerto del Carmen, in Mexico.
From £289 a week; contact NotInTheGuideBooks(www.notintheguidebooks.com)
To read the Conde Nast article, click here