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Culinary vacation for single woman

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I'm 31, female, newly single and want to spend a week or so during Christmas on a culinary adventure. good idea? any suggestions on where to go to, in the US or otherwise? or should i postpone this vacation until after the holidays?

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  1. (if europe)
    What about Spain ? You can get a good amount of great food in and around Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona and San Sebastian, and since there's a lot of good Tapas places, it's fun for a single person.

    (if north america, preaching for my own city)
    What about Montreal ? Never mind the weather, it's a fun time to be around! tons of smaller restaurants, bistros, and a few top notch restaurants. you could also spend one day (night) in Quebec City

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maximilien

      I looked into Spain for Christmastime last year and was turned off by the long commute times between cities. I ended up choosing Italy instead because it was much easier to get from one place to another. The great thing about going to Italy at this time is that it is not busy at all and you'll have plenty of time to sightsee and eat all the yummy food you want. The only issue to be concerned with if you go to Rome is that there are some seedy areas that I did not feel comfortable walking through at night alone. That can be avoided by carefully picking your hotel. Everywhere else I visited was fine to walk around alone at night.

    2. Blackberry Farm? I'm a single girl and I think this would be a nice trip. It is on my list of things to do. But some may find the mountains of East Tennessee boring.

      www.blackberryfarm.com

      1. Were it not for the time of year I'd suggest one region only: Tuscany, Tuscany, Tuscany. It has what you need and expect such as wine tours, terrific restaurants, and beautiful vistas. There are also many cooking schools for vacationers. Wait for post-holiday warmth.

        1. New Orleans was the first place that came to mind. Some of the best food I've ever had.

          1. If it's wintertime, how about Santa Fe, NM?

            5 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              I have to second NM! I went about two years ago (as a single woman who likes to travel) to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. Had a great time! Lots of great sites, a memorable farmer's market, and a wonderful little winery. Would definitely recommend this in the fall/winter.

              To the Montreal poster - please post more! I've been wanting to go to Montreal but have been a bit put off because I just don't see the city as single-woman friendly for some odd reason. Please change my mind! :)

              1. re: luvsseattle

                Where did you end up in Santa Fe? I really enjoyed Compound (great sweet pea soup) and Pasqual's (the Tamal Dulce was amazing).

                1. re: luvsseattle

                  luvs who's the Montreal poster?

                  I did a long weekend in Montreal last fall to visit my neice, however she worked and such while I was there, so I made my way around quite easily on my own ! I ate out, did the markets, and the museum of art etc....and felt perfectly safe, even once when I got lost ! Plus, if you're anything like me.....the shopping alone will sell you !! There are SO many fantastic shops there.

                  1. re: luvsseattle

                    Luvsseattle, I can help Maximilien out on the Montreal thing. I am also in Montreal, and I can tell you that this is one of the safer big cities in the world. It is very easy to get around by public transportation (except during a snow storm, then it is an adventure), and I feel very safe wandering around on my own, even at night. Cabs are easy to get, there are a lot of people around, it is easy to stay in well-lit populated places, there is little violent crime (mostly non-violent crime like bike and car thefts.)

                    Re: Food in Montreal over Christmas and New Year - this is the big retail time for stores, so with the exception of Christmas evening and New year's day, lots of places remain open, some of the restos even offer lunch as a special seasonal thing, the food scene is bustling. There will be special breads, products, meats, cheeses on offer because at Christmas people go out a lot for special meals, and cook special meals and ingredients. If you are staying for longer than 3-4 days, you may want to consider staying at a place with a kitchenette so you can take advantage of some of the wonderful special Christmas products like fois gras that starts popping up for sale, usually prepared in house by the store, or the fresh glazed candied chestnuts, the special occasion lait cru cheeses. Anyhow, it is nice to have a place where you can have an occasional break from all the rich meals being served in restos.

                    1. re: luvsseattle

                      Santa Fe Culinary School offers demos, hands-on classes, and eating tours around town. The specialize in Southwestern and Mexican foods. We are planning to go next month.

                  2. Paris or Florence. I spent 2 weeks in each a few years ago as a prescription to escape depression, and it worked perfectly! I went in October/November, and it was cool and rainy in Paris, but that didn't keep me from doing most stuff. There were some random but fun food exhibits in various museums, and it feels very safe to walk around alone, even at night.

                    I had a hotel room for one week in the Marais , then an apartment for a week in Montmartre. Kinda like staying in the Castro, then North Beach. ;)

                    Florence is much the same, although I actually found it harder to find great stuff to cook in the apartment. But then, the restaurants were wonderful, so there you go. Again, I did a hotel for one week (next to the Duomo), then an apartment (in Oltrarno).

                    Sigh. I'd do it again in a heartbeat but don't have the money or the time.

                    Susan

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: waldrons

                      I spent 3 weeks in Florence and loved it. I was alone. Most of the time I was studying Italian and lived with a family but had to navigate on my own at all hours. The school had cooking classes (in Italiano).

                      This year I am going to Paris alone for Christmas. I really have no idea what to expect but my hotel said that there is absolutely no rush to make reservations for Christmas eve dinner until Dec. 14. I am looking forward to all the foodie experiences I can get considering that many restaurants close for the holiday.

                      I have travelled extensively alone and love it. It's easier to meet people. Everywhere you go you can find cooking/dining experiences quite easily.

                    2. Some of the suggestions here are great, but remember that most of Europe people take a break around Christmas. We found lots of restaurants and shops were closed, so make sure you get what you need and identify a restaurant or make friends in advance so that you don't end up eating in the train station...I didn't cry, but almost.

                      1. Might I suggest Strasbourg? At Christmas time, the city is magical! The food is the best of German and French, and the surrounding countryside (of both countries) is wonderful. If you postpone the trip to Spring, the vineyard trail is a delight and not to be missed.

                        1. Take a cooking class, with daily ventures to the markets and producers.

                          At Christmastime, Thailand or Morocco.

                          Otherwise, Bologna/Parma or Paris or Oaxaca or Veracruz.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            I'm not sure I'd recommend either Thailand or Morocco as good destinations for a single woman, especially Morocco. Marrakech is wonderful though, if you can recruit a friend.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              That was why I recommended a cooking class. It provides safe cover
                              and friends to socialize with.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                I did a one-day cooking class in Marrakech. I think I'd struggle to do that for a week.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  I have to disagree about Thailand. I found it to be reasonably safe and unintimidating, but Morocco is another story entirely. It's far too easy to get lost even during the day, not to mention all the people wanting to be your "friend" and accompany you places.

                                  1. re: queencru

                                    Here's the cooking class scenario I'm familiar with: The group goes out together -- with the teacher/guide -- to the markets. No one goes out alone and no one gets lost.

                                    As a separate issue, the traveler in any country may be pestered with offers of "company" or a variety of schemes that separate the visitor from his money. The typical traveler warnings apply (be safe, know where you're going, don't go out alone, don't be an easy target for robbery). Familiarity with the culture's customs is advised.

                              2. re: greedygirl

                                thailand is very safe and accomodating for women. morocco probably less so, but not so much, that with a little sense, one would not be safe. It's just like being anyplace in the world, your hometown included.

                                1. re: thew

                                  I spent a week in Bangkok last spring. Although I went with friends, I spent at least half the trip on my own (they are married, I am single). I had a fabulous time. I took cooking classes at the Blue Elephant. Expensive, but a great experience, and I met some interesting people. The street food is uniformly delicious, and the markets are fascinating.

                                  I vote for Thailand.

                                  1. re: lulubelle

                                    The street food is great for a solo traveller because one can sample a variety of things, without going to a restaurant alone and ending up with huge portions. And as a Western white woman in Thailand I felt more invisible than anything else. Definitely not sexually harassed, although occasionaly harassed by "tour guides" who just want to take you to tailors and other businesses who then give the guides gas vouchers.

                                2. re: greedygirl

                                  I haven't been to Morocco so I can't comment on that. But I think Thailand is perfectly safe for a single woman. My sister was traveling in Thailand solo last year and had no problems whatsoever.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    There's a few culinary tours that go to Thailand that I've heard great things about. http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/trip... About a dozen people and led by a native Thai.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      Morocco's a perfectly safe destination for a single woman. there is a fairly high level of harassment, but people leave you alone if you tell them to (i've spent a lot of time there and lived there, alone for part of the time because my SO was unable to join me for several months). that said, i was fairly intimidated at first, then quickly got over it - but some people can't get used to it, it can be overwhelming. in a touristy place like marrakech, though, it's easy to meet other travelers.
                                      two other considerations: in morocco, everything will still be open during the holidays. if you are coming from the west coast (sf?), it's a LONG trip, probably not worth it for 1 week - it regularly took me 24 hrs to get from LA to rabat.

                                      1. re: patz

                                        Any recs on cooking schools in Marrakech, Agadir, Rabat or Casablanca?

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          no cooking school recs - my landlady and other women i met took me around the souks and showed me how to cook some dishes. i've heard this one in fez is pretty good, though i've never tried it:
                                          http://www.fescooking.com/

                                          1. re: patz

                                            Whether it's a cooking school class or culinary tour, food travel is fascinating.

                                            I've heard of the Fez cooking school also. Fez is the old imperial city of Morocco. The streets are so narrow you can't drive a car. All deliveries are still on donkeys!

                                            I can recommend Dar Liqama, a cooking school in an exotic pink villa near Marrakech surrounded by 150,000 palm trees.
                                            http://www.rhodeschoolofcuisine.com/m...

                                            Food & Wine has written about it:
                                            http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/c...

                                            You might also want to check out Kasbah du Toubkal, the Berber "hospitality center" in the Atlas Mountains.

                                            Also, there are many culinary/educational tours in Morocco, and some just for women. If you get to Rabat, the Medina has one of the best food markets in the world.

                                  2. Do your food tastes run to exploring back alley food stands in tropical places, regardless of food safety issues, or do you want to treat yourself to the best of fine dining? What are your food tastes like, or do you want to try something completely new? Do you want to take classes or just eat?

                                    1. I am a single woman and I have been thinking about going to New Orleans because of the Reveillon special menus advertised. Here is a site that shows some of the activities and menus during the holiday season.

                                      http://www.neworleansonline.com/newor...

                                      1. If you haven't already, I highly recommend "Eat, Pray, Love", a current best-seller non-fiction book that narrates a newly single woman's journey travelling, food being a big focus.

                                        1. Paris and Northern Italy both would be good choices for walking around, exploring, and good eats. But there's a lot of time and aggrivation involved getting there and the dollar is getting kicked around a lot lately.

                                          Have you considered Vancouver? I have never been, but I understand it to be a very cosmopolitan, varied city. You would have less travel and language problems. I think the damage to the dollar is a little less, too.

                                          1. Christmas time is my favorite time to travel in Europe. Paris is wonderful, and there aren't as many tourists there. One poster said that some of the restaurants are closed during that time, but I didn't find that to be the case.

                                            I also loved the Christmas markets in Germany. They had great sausage sandwiches there. However, I didn't like the food at any of the restaurants I went to--but I didn't research the area to find out where to eat.

                                            1. Oh my goodness -- THE MOTHER LODE!!

                                              I typed in "title:"culinary tours" into the search window
                                              and my gosh -- what ideas there are here:
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/search?sear...

                                              Take a look here too
                                              Food Tours
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/302947