One of the hottest trends in tourism right now is the idea of experiential travel. Instead of taking a tour of an artist’s studio, for example, you might want to take a painting lesson.
The International Wine & Spirits Guild, 303/296-3966.
The non-profit organization Road Scholar, formed in 1975 as Elderhostel, offers educational tours in 150 countries and all 50 US states, including (of course) Texas.
The Texas campus of the Culinary Institute of America offers regular opportunities to learn from well-known Texas chefs and to cook in a professional kitchen. Courses range from several hours to five-day “boot camps.”
Instead of enjoying a sumptuous meal at a secluded table in a restaurant, you might want to dine in the kitchen, where you can watch the chefs at work and ask questions. And instead of lolling beneath a shade umbrella at the beach, maybe you’d want to take a surfing lesson … or learn how to make a sandcastle …or rescue baby sea turtles.
A logical spinoff of experiential travel is the realm of adult education. For while most of us “officially” leave school before we develop a single wrinkle or gray hair, I’d argue that adulthood presents the optimal time for learning. After all, with a bit of age comes perspective. In my opinion, there’s no better way to jolt yourself out a rut than to learn something new, whether you want to discover the history of San Antonio’s missions, learn to play the guitar, or make your way confidently around a wine list.
Speaking of wine: In a recent discussion with Austin sommelier and teacher Daniel Kelada, I learned about the two-day classes presented by the International Wine & Spirits Guild, a Colorado-based school with Texas programs in Austin, Fort Worth, and Houston. Students interested in careers in the industry can progress through an entire program to receive sommelier certifications, but Kelada says a good percentage of students attend the 12-hour Level 1 seminar—an overview of U.S. and European wines with the opportunity to taste nearly 30 wines from three continents— simply to become more conversant about wine. The course runs $495, and the next one takes place in Austin September 26-27, followed by seminars in Houston, Fort Worth, and again in Austin. I’ll be taking the September class and reporting back.