Twipper of the Week: Doreen Pendgracs from Chocolatour!
Current city: I live an hour north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Age: Old enough to appreciate cultural differences and personalities
Total countries visited: 35
What makes you interesting: I travel the world in search of the best chocolate experiences. That means I search out the most fascinating and innovative chocolatiers, chocolate makers, chocolate events and attractions and chocolate spas. Yes, I’ve been slathered in molten chocolate from head to toe in a growing number of countries and love it! I’m also a terrific listener. Maybe that’s partly thanks to being a Toastmaster for the past 17 years. But I truly love hearing and telling people’s stories.
What brands do you love: I love NAOT footwear and have worn them for years. Comfort and fashion combined to perfection. I love MAXIM ice-cream bars as they are coated in really good quality chocolate. I love the APPLE brand and have an iMac, MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone and love how they all communicate and share via the iCloud. I also love WESTJET Airlines and fly them as often as I can for their great pricing, reliability, and friendly staff.
What people say when they travel with you: “When you travel with Doreen Pendgracs, it is a first-class experience. Doreen works with tourism officials to arrange every detail and special extras for the trip and makes sure that accommodations are always up to her high standards. Even having to deal with three days of rain in Miami, Florida, couldn’t dampen her enthusiasm and it was the best time to take the bus tours she’d arranged for us.” And from another friend and colleague: “I was honored and delighted to be Doreen’s travel companion/interpreter on the inaugural Chocolatour to Belgium, France and Switzerland. I was most impressed with her organizational skills, her contacts, and her ability to find great places to stay and great deals for travel. She researched everything before we left Canada and booked interviews with key chocolatiers in all three countries. The entire trip was educational, but most of all, fun!” And from another friend and colleague: “Being stranded behind a mudslide on your way to visit cacao farmers in the Ecuadorian jungle isn’t so bad when you have Doreen along to entertain you for eight hours. She even had the wherewithal to bring snacks, and the generosity to share them with our fellow passengers in the taxi.”
So far, where have you tasted the most delicious Chocolate: I guess if I had to pick one country, it would be Switzerland. Switzerland makes the most amount of milk chocolate, and they are the highest consumers of chocolate in the world (according to some polls.) They really know their chocolate, and make exquisite chocolate creations of every variety and from a wide range of cocoa origins.
What is the longest period of time that you have been away from home and where did you go: The longest time I’ve been away from home has been six weeks. We went to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. I absolutely love Vancouver Island as it is a nature lover’s paradise. Clean air and water, magnificent forests, and plentiful wildlife. What could be better?
What is your favorite mode of transportation when you travel: My favourite mode of transportation is flying first class on long haul flights. I think my most memorable flight was to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Etihad Airlines. The quality of service was absolutely amazing and having a comfortable bed to stretch out on during the 13+ hour flight was fantastic.
What are your travel pet peeves: I have two. One is when you are in a hotel room and the alarm goes off at 6 am because the cleaning staff had neglected to delete any settings made by the previous guests. I think hotel staff should be trained to always ensure the clock is set correctly, and that any previous alarm settings are deleted when they clean the rooms between guests. My other pet travel peeve is encountering fellow travellers who do nothing but complain because something is “different/not as good as at home.” Travel is and should be an adventure. If you don’t want to take chances and seize the opportunity to encounter and experience different customs and foods, stay home so you don’t spoil it for the rest of us.
What have you learned about yourself during your travels: That I truly love people. I enjoy meeting people from different countries and cultures and feel that I am the person I am today because of the incredible travel experiences I’ve had over the past 40+ years.
Next travel destination: Scottsdale, Arizona later this month. I was there quite a long time ago (BB — before blogging!) And so, a return visit to explore their chocolate scene and familiarize myself with what’s new in their lodging and culinary scenes will be terrific.