All Expenses Paid: Gourmet Indulgence in European Cities

I’m a real sucker for pastries. I can’t resist the melt-in-the mouth, flaky pastry of a fresh croissant or better still, a pain au chocolat with its bonus hit of dark, sweet goodness in the center.

Of course, eating baked goods prepared by a top patisserie chef while sitting in a glittering salon—and knowing that this is just one stop on a three-day gastronomic odyssey—makes it taste all the more delicious.

Thanks to my career as a travel writer, I got a place on a food-focused press trip to Luxembourg City—the often-overlooked and picturesque capital of one of Europe’s smallest countries. It was an experience that indulged all my senses and best of all, it was all expenses paid.

Wandering through the ancient alleyways of the Old Town, pausing at a family delicatessen to refuel on fine wines and artisanal cheeses…dining al fresco on Place Guillaime, indulging in fresh lobster while listening to an open air concert…I couldn’t help but reflect on how different my life might look if I hadn’t had the courage to follow my dream to make a living as a writer.

When I took the plunge and left London for Prague in 2009, I fell in love with my new home.

Swapping my crowded commute on the London Tube for a tram ride where I could gaze out of the window across the river at the gorgeous, rambling citadel of Prague Castle was a huge relief.

However, something was missing.

I’d long harbored a secret passion to write and began a humorous blog recounting my experiences in the Czech capital. After a year of regular blogging to my delight, the editor of an in-flight magazine contacted me and asked whether I’d like to contribute an article.

With this prestigious byline under my belt, along with other clips I’d garnered from local publications, I was able to secure places on press trips and travel to places I never otherwise would have seen—all for free.

And all the gourmet indulgence doesn’t stop once I’m back home in Prague.

Recently, I was lucky enough to get an assignment writing the food and drink section of Louis Vuitton’s forthcoming Prague guidebook. I’ve eaten out daily in the city’s finest restaurants—all on expenses, as part of my job. I’ve barely been grocery shopping in months!

The highlight was my visit to La Boheme Bourgeoise, one of Prague’s Michelin starred eateries, where my partner and I were treated to a six-course Bohemian feast based on traditional Czech recipes with a 21st-century twist.

The evening began in a theatrical flurry of amuse-bouches, followed by exquisitely prepared trout, beef tongue and eel, ending with a cheese dessert.

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch but become a travel writer and you’ll discover that there can be—every day of the week!

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