Gastronomad Experience Testimonials

Here’s what people are saying about the Gastronomad Experience!

 
 

“A week like no other. Aside from the Galapagos Islands (where it's required), I've never booked a vacation on which someone else determined my itinerary day by day. That is, until I discovered Mike and Amira Elgan's Gastronomad Experiences.

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Every day was a surprise as the details of your daily itinerary was carefully guarded by Amira. This added to the sense of wonder and discovery which is at the core of the Gastronomad Experiences. We went from foraging for mushrooms in the hillsides, to stunning Michelin star dining. We learned to make local specialties; everything was hands on. The wine education you receive is at the hands of experts in their fields.

Don't tell Mike and Amira, but the price was a steal. Not once were you required to pay for anything after you arrived at the airport; all food, wine, instruction, transportation were covered. There was more wine and food than a normal human could handle. One thing I realized early on was the the cost included a full time photojournalist (a.k.a. Mike Elgan). Every step of your journey is documented, and the photos were available nearly immediately. Feel free to take a camera, but you won't need it. This is a hidden feature of any Gastronomad Experience which I think needs to be stressed!

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Amira and Mike alone might be worth the price of admission. You'll never meet more generous and knowledgeable hosts. They treated you like family, and not like tourists. Their lifetime of travel experience was yours to sample at a moments notice. They make a compelling case for the Gastronomad lifestyle, and they're happy to guide you on how to get there yourself. They clearly love what they do, and love sharing it with other of similar temperament. The warmth they exude was contagious!” -Tom


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“I was recently browsing our group pictures from our Gastronomad Experience and one constant theme that emerged from those pictures was the smiles on our faces. These smiles say a lot about the delight that we experienced day after day as we met with some of the best bakers, winemakers, cheese makers and coffee roasters the city and the region has to offer. Furthermore, the Gastronomad Experience allowed me to live fully in the moment, free of the tyranny of decisions about what comes next. Everything was expertly organized and of top notch quality: The place we stayed at was upscale, the food and wine we enjoyed was fantastic and plentiful and the daily experiences were informative and entertaining. All that being said, would I do it again? You bet!” -Francois


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“Our very knowledgeable hosts made everyone immediately feel like family and organized an incredible week. The “farmhouse” was a lovingly restored high-end B&B whose owner is also a top-notch chef. Every day had new surprises and delights - private winery tours from the proprietors, classes from cookbook authors, reserved dining rooms in Michelin restaurants. But maybe the best part was new friendships with warm and well-traveled people like Mike and Amira. We’ve had wonderful times in dozens of countries, Italy several times, but never experienced anything like this before.” -Gary


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“This was truly one of the most excellent experiences in my life. In no particular order, what made it so was the people we met and traveled with, the experiences that were planned for us, the food and the drink. From the moment we entered the pleasant B&B where we stayed and met the owners, I felt loved and cared for. They were so kind and thoughtful, as were the group leaders who were more like friends than group leaders. The small group we Experienced with were well-traveled, well-rounded, and downright fun to be with. The experiences we had--tours of wineries not open to the public, dining in Michelin star restaurants, and even mushroom hunting in the woods--were all unexpected and delightful and made possible only by the personal friendships of our well-traveled and outgoing tour leaders, who were welcomed like the long-lost everywhere we went. We never would have had access to any of it outside of the Experience. Before we went, I thought it was a bit pricey, but having experienced the Experience I am amazed that so much was included.” -Gretchen


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“What do you call it when the reality of an experience far exceeds one's expectations? Well, for the Gastronomad Prosecco experience, I think the answer is...magic! My wife and I decided to take a chance and sign up for the Prosecco experience early in the summer, just after it was announced by Mike and Amira Elgan – the self-proclaimed and aptly named “Gastromads”. Though I had read many of Mike's essays and articles, viewed many of his podcasts over the years and thought him (at least by his online persona) to be a kindred spirit, there was still a bit of trepidation when we made this decision. My wife and I are seasoned travelers and had eschewed "tours" or other kinds of arranged travel excursions in the past because they always seemed, well, too touristy! But this, this somehow seemed different to me and I convinced myself and my wife that in THIS instance, things might be different, and hopefully better. In retrospect; that thought turned out to a monumental understatement. I cannot fully articulate how incredible this experience was for me, my wife, and I venture to say for the others in the small band of “gastronomads” that shared this journey with us. Mike and Amira are two of the kindest, most intelligent, sensitive and downright fun human beings I have ever had the pleasure to have known. They put together a travel experience we will never forget.

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The Experience was fun, delicious, enchanting, exhilarating and often surprising! We traipsed through thick forest foraging for (shhh it’s a secret!), enjoyed some of the finest and unique dining experiences in the region, visited vineyards, ancient landmarks and met some of the most innovative and brilliant food, wine and cheese makers in the country. Each one was unique and interesting in their own right. Amira has a special gift in finding these up and coming stars of the food world and then turning people on to them.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we all stayed together in the most enchanting setting imaginable; an old restored farmhouse far up in the hills, lovingly restored. In time, this may turn out to be one of the most sought after destinations. But for now it is a precious secret that was shared with us by Mike and Amira Elgan. For that alone, we will be forever in their debt.

Amira makes a special effort to keep things a surprise so I will not go into too many details. But each day was more mind blowing than the one before it. It seemed almost impossible to top what we experienced each day, but somehow, Mike and Amira were able to keep upping the ante. This was a life changing experience for all of us. An affirmation of the love and beauty that still exists in the world. So, I say, be a traveler. Yes, the world is a difficult and dangerous place. But for this week, I was reminded of just how wonderful and precious life can be when you stop and experience it with intention and focus. Thank you Mike and Amira Elgan (aka The Gastronomads) for reminding me what it means to be alive. Do not pass up this opportunity if you can possibly afford the time and resources to do so. This will not be my last Gastronomad experience. Of THAT I am certain. I feel blessed to call these fellow travelers my friends now. That was the most precious gift of all.” -Andy


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“My wife and I went on a Gastronomad Experience and it was a one-of-a-kind vacation which met and then surpassed our expectations. The idea of focusing on a region’s food and wine culture intrigued us so we decided to take a chance and sign up. Every day was filled with culinary activities and fascinating destinations where we learned about local specialties and in between we ate fabulous meals and soaked in the beauty of the region. What was surprising was how quickly we became close with our fellow travelers, sparked by a common interest in food and wine. Traveling and sharing the experience with a group of good friends added a wonderful, unanticipated dimension to the trip, but perhaps the most unexpected outcome was how much it inspired us. We do realize that planning an experience this exceptional by ourselves would be impossible without the years Mike and Amira have spent living in these locations and their dedication to making each event perfect, but it illustrated that if you have passion, curiosity, and a desire to venture beyond typical tourist activities—and you are willing to open up and ask questions—there are similar-minded people all over the world happy to share their knowledge and culture with you. Fantastic!” -Steve


“Words can't express how amazing this experience was. It's not often you can say a vacation changed your life, but that's exactly what happened. I saw the world in a whole new way. You can tell that Mike and Amira put their heart and soul into every experience. The camaraderie, excursions, food, and wine were phenomenal. I world go anywhere with Mike and Amira!!” -Heather


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“Awesome! Exquisite, with a focus on quality, yet never ostentatious, nor extravagant. My husband and I enjoyed our Gastronomad experience in Barcelona very much. It felt like a relaxing, casual, and friendly get-together with a small group of food and wine aficionados in one of the greatest gastronomic cities of the world. Our hosts greeted us in the most family-like atmosphere which helped set the mood among participants during the entire stay. The wine had been carefully selected, the home-made food was a delight. Day after day, we sampled and enjoyed good food and wine, at best locations and in pleasant company, while never having to worry about decision making or any aspect of logistics. Whatever surprise field trip or activity our hosts had planned for us each day, we remained confident of a fun, engaging, and an authentic experience. We had the pleasure to get acquainted with local people, who welcomed us warmly and so kindly shared with us some of the art and science of their craft, as well as their passion for it. Congratulations and long live Gastronomad! What an innovative way of having your guests immersed into local flavors and experience the heartbeat of the city and countryside beyond the usual tourist sites! Please, keep up the Gastronomad blog: we love to see all the great pictures and read about your new experiences and acquaintances!” -Micheline


“I have traveled a fair amount both abroad and in the US. So I know my way around. I rarely do tour groups or private tours and I have never done a fully planned excursion like the Gastronomad Experiences. Usually I have tried to do the hard to find, off the beaten path items as well so tour groups don’t really fit into that.

All of this is to say that I was a bit out of my element. I certainly don’t mind groups but they weren’t really something I would seek out when traveling. Also, I knew the trip would be good but with anything like this there’s uncertainty.

My fears, doubts, second guessing, etc were all dispelled within the first day. As soon as we arrived, Mike and Amira made us feel at home. Almost like family. The location we stayed at was great and suited a larger group well. The other people in the group were wonderful. Some of the best and most fun people I have ever met. We had a pretty diverse group of all ages and from different continents. A love of technology brought a lot of us together, as many heard about this through following Mike. However it was a love of enjoying great food and experiences that really bonded us. I consider all of them my friends now.

If the people were great then the locations we went to and establishments we visited were just incredible. We didn’t just go to the businesses the locals go to or visit hard to find places, we spent time with the people that make it happen. The people who perfect their craft for more than just money. It is for a love of doing it right. From tasting wine in a small group at a food festival to chatting with a winemaker in his reclaimed bunker. There was never a bad moment.

Mike and Amira really did a fantastic job in getting everything set up. The people they introduced us to were so nice and welcoming. Here it is some two months after the trip and we’re still talking about it. Still tagging and chatting with each other from the trip over social media. I had traveled around a lot but I had never been on something like this. It was an experience.” -Joe


“I generally despise group tours, and have avoided them most of my life. So what the hell was I thinking considering a group tour?! Well, the concept behind the ‘Gastronomad Experience’, and the people who devised it gave me confidence (that and the fact that they rightly point out its not a ‘tour’ in the traditional sense). I won't bother to explain the concept in detail (just go here) but I will describe briefly what appealed to me, and the reality of what transpired.

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Having followed some of Mike and Amira’s activities over the years, it seemed clear that they did significant research, and truly wanted to showcase the best of what was on offer, with a promise to embed you in the local culture. What became obvious very early on, was just how meticulous their planning and attention to detail was. Starting with greetings at our base of operations, an opulent spacious apartment in the heart of the city, we were immediately made to feel welcome. The next few days were packed with a sequence of unforgettable experiences. Every contingency was catered for, and our schedule was even rearranged when the weather wasn’t being compliant.

It's hard to summarise just how good each of the activities was. Everyone we met during the journey was warm and welcoming, and it was clear that Amira & Mike had established a real relationship with everyone/place we visited.

What truly made the week however, was our group. A diverse bunch of ages, backgrounds and cultures, all focussed on having a good time in one of the best cities on the planet.

Philoxenia. This a greek term which was ringing in my brain (given my heritage) throughout the entire experience. Very loosely translated, it’s the hospitality offered to friends and strangers alike, but it means so much more than that. It’s a way to embrace life and people. In essence, its what Amira and Mike offered us, we were welcomed and treated as if we were family, and we responded by becoming just that.

We loved it so much we have already booked another!” -Tony