1. Sniff out truffles in Italy
In Piedmont in northwest Italy, one culinary treasure trumps all else: tartufo bianco, the white truffle. This earthy, umami-rich fungus is one of the world’s most prized food stuffs, not least because finding it is such a challenge. To discover why, join an exclusive tour with Bellini Travel that will pair you with an experienced truffle hunter and their dogs to venture out in search of the elusive prize. Visit in autumn when the International Alba White Truffle Fair takes place, with stalls, demonstrations and truffle auctions.
2. Try tai chi in Beijing
Visit Beijing’s city parks early in the morning and you’ll witness locals moving in graceful unison as they practice tai chi, the Chinese internal martial art. Said to help improve core strength, flexibility and balance, tai chi’s terminology is closer to poetry than instruction: moves include “white crane spreads its wings” and “circling the arms to part the clouds”. To really get an appreciation for it, visit Beijing with luxury travel outfit Scott Dunn, which tailors exclusive cultural tours including private lessons with a tai chi master.
3. Go foraging in Denmark
Foraging for food has been a way of Danish life for generations. Explore this heritage via beach foraging, dining at Michelin-starred restaurants and indulging in a traditional heima (home-style) dinner on a three-day Nordic Food Adventure tour with company Foods of Copenhagen. On it, chef and forager Thomas Laursen – the man responsible for putting ants on the menu at noma – leads an intimate group from the Danish capital to the shores of the Faroe Islands in search of the country’s finest natural flavours.
4. Learn the art of Samurai in Kyoto
Ordinarily, one would be discouraged from dancing with swords, but in the Japanese city of Kyoto, you can take a lesson in kenbu, the sword dance performed by samurai warriors before going into battle during Japan’s feudal era. Guests at the Ritz-Carlton hotel can join a morning samurai class with a kenbu master. Dressed in a traditional kimono and hakama (wide pleated trousers), you will learn the history of this ritual before watching a full performance by the experts.
5. Weave your way into India
From hand-loomed cotton clothing to jewel-encrusted saris, India’s textiles are every bit as diverse and vibrant as the country and create an interesting common thread for an overland trip. Join the tailor-made Textile Tour of North India by TransIndus, which takes you from Delhi’s Kinari Bazaar to Jaipur’s block printers and Ahmedabad’s Calico Museum, home to a world-class collection of antique textiles. Along the way, you’ll also take in some of the country’s iconic sights including the Amber Fort and the Taj Mahal.
6. Make like a cowboy in Texas
The Wild West we all know so well may be a celluloid dream, yet its roots are entirely authentic, with “cowboys” having arrived in the Americas from Spain in the 16th century, settling to build ranches and rear cattle. Today, whether you’re an experienced rider or a total novice, you can channel your inner Buffalo Bill and head to Wildcatter – a real-life Texan horse ranch – to ride beautiful trails, watch wrangling demonstrations, help drive cattle and hear tales of historic cowboys around the campfire.
Illustration by Nathalie Lees
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This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine