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    Indulge in Chocolate in these Sweet Cities

    Let's face it, chocolate is one of the best guilty pleasures around. Chocolate is a decadent treat loved by many. If you or someone you know is a chocolate lover, consider a trip to one (or all) of these chocolate havens. Your sweet tooth will be supremely satisfied!

    Broc, Switzerland

    Many famous chocolate brands call Switzerland home: Lindt, Toblerone and Nesquik®, just to name a few. It's no secret that Switzerland is widely known for their delicious Swiss chocolate, but there are still a few hidden chocolate gems to be found. For instance, take a scenic (and tasty) tour through serene landscape aboard The Swiss Chocolate Train. Stops include a tour of the famous Cailler-Nestlé factory in Broc.

    Oaxaca, Mexico

    Stroll down Mina Street, or Chocolate Road as it's known in Oaxaca, and you'll find yourself in the midst of a street dotted with small chocolate shops. The residents of the area consume significantly more chocolate than other people in Mexico, thanks to the popularity of chocolate in the region.1 While chocolate bars and sweets are abundant, the most popular way to consume chocolate here is in hot milk or water to make either "chocolate de leche" or "chocolate de agua". The best hot chocolate is served foamy with a side of sweet bread. Yum!

    Brussels, Belgium

    Over 172,000 tons of chocolate are produced in Belgium per year and there are more than 2,000 chocolate shops throughout the small country (which is the size of Maryland).2 But perhaps the most famous chocolate that Belgium is known for is the praline – a layer of chocolate surrounding a soft fondant center. Belgium is filled with events and museums that pay tribute to its famous chocolate but one of the most interesting is the Chocolate Academy at Zaabär where you can learn insider secrets to chocolate making.

    Barcelona, Spain

    Barcelona was the first city in Europe where chocolate was imported from Mexico.3 Ever since, Barcelona has been a chocolate lover's paradise. A visit to Museu de la Xocolata, The Chocolate Museum, run by local confectionaries, shows just how much this city has been inspired by chocolate. At the Museu de la Xocolata you can see extraordinary chocolate sculptures including a giant chariot with chocolate horses and huge chocolate windmills. The museum also hosts children's workshops and tastings of local specialties.

    San Francisco, California

    Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco is home to one of the oldest and most historic chocolate factories in the country – Ghiradelli.4 Each year this famous chocolate company hosts a Chocolate Festival in Ghiradelli Square. The festival is a two day long celebration of chocolate with tastings, live music and ice cream eating contests. Tours of the chocolate factory are available and you can visit the functioning old-school chocolate room in the basement of the factory.

    1: http://go-oaxaca.com/bestofoaxaca.html
    2: http://www.visitbelgium.com/?page=chocolate-lovers
    3: http://luxby.co/chocolate-news/top-chocolate-cities-around-the-world/
    4: http://gosanfrancisco.about.com/od/dining/a/The-Chocolate-Lovers-Guide-To-San-Francisco.htm

    Tips for a Successful Spontaneous Getaway

    Story 2 Image February

    While the words "planning" and "spontaneous" might not seem like they go together, they really can create one of the best trips you'll ever take. The essence of a spontaneous trip is that it's a last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type adventure. With these simple (and easy) tips and tricks, you'll ensure your spontaneous adventure ends up spectacular and not substandard.

    Picking Your Destination
    Any getaway requires at least a little planning, like choosing your destination. Taking into account time and money, decide on a destination that excites you. The decision process doesn't have to last hours; choose by getting referrals from friends, throwing a dart at a map, or simply heading out to see what catches your eye.

    Do Some Research
    Don't be afraid to do a little research on your destination. You don't have to put in a lot of time, but a few minutes spent looking into the area may give you an abundance of ideas for your trip. The minutes you put in to research could pay out tenfold in excitement and adventure while traveling. Sometimes it pays to plan (at least a little).

    Explore the Area
    Keeping with your spontaneous spirit, explore your destination sans guidebook. You might miss some larger tourist attractions, but you'll probably end up with a much more authentic feel for the city. Without set plans you'll never be running late, so enjoy the city at your own leisure.

    Try New Things
    Vacation is a perfect time to try new things. Instead of heading to chain restaurants try the local foodie spots. Or you could try scuba diving, snorkeling, horseback riding, or any other activity that is popular locally. Look up local dance classes or try your hand at various crafts. Really, whatever excites you is perfect for your spontaneous getaway.

    Don't be Afraid to Ask
    Talk to people from the area, they're your best resource for hidden hot-spots and what's a must-see on your trip – they're the experts after all! You'll be surprised how much people will open up when it comes to talking about their home town.

    Check out Travel Guard's travel destination planner for help planning your next getaway!

    Where in the World?

    Where in the World February

    Where in the world can you find this bridge covered in locks?

    This is Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris (also known as Love Lock Bridge). Couples lock a padlock with their names on it to the bridge's fence and throw the key into the river below to show their undying love.


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