Flamenco dancing is among the many skills and activities available to learn across the European Continent.

Flamenco dancing is among the many skills and activities available to learn across the European Continent. (iStock)

One of the absolute joys of travel is meeting and connecting with like-minded people, and a great way to come into contact with those of common interests is to sign up for a course in an area of particular interest. From learning to brew one’s own beer to crafting a musical instrument, Europe is awash in instruction promising if not mastery of a new skill, at the very least an inspirational introduction to it. Here are just a few courses one might consider taking:

Pastry baking in Paris

Croissants, eclairs and macrons are just a few mouthwatering examples of a skill the French excel at, namely the creation of sumptuous patisserie. The company Patiserrie à la carte promises a culinary awakening in the heart of the City of Lights. In classes limited to just six participants, aspiring bakers work under the watchful eye of a master of the trade. Novice and experienced bakers alike benefit from the tips and tricks shared at a pace that leaves no one behind. Certified master bakers Severine & Julie help their students turn out marbré au chocolat (chocolate marble cake), sablés (shortbread cookies), tartes abricot-pistache (apricot-pistachio tarts) and other tasty delights. A 2.5-hour course limited to a maximum of six participants starts at 99 euros. Online:

Beer brewing in Bavaria

With well over five centuries of beer-brewing under strict standards under its belt, it’s hard to think of a better place to learn the art of creating liquid gold than the German state of Bavaria. Near a lake outside Munich are found the premises of the Schlierseer Kindl brewery, where the art of working with yeast now lies in the hands of the fifth generation. Those interested in discovering the brewing process can benefit from a five-hour course in which participants working together as a team carry out the steps involved in brewing a batch of beer with its essential four ingredients and ends with a tasting session of other Bavarian beer styles. The course, offered approximately once per month, costs 69 euros each. Online:

Sailing the high seas

As a registered charity, Sail on Board is not out to make a profit; rather, the UK-based organization aims to get as many people as possible on board ships to learn the art and skill of sailing. And where they strive to place people is aiming high indeed — on one of the so-named Tall Ships as they make their way from one famed port city to the next as part of a regatta. As these training boats crisscross European waters and beyond, members of the temporary crew stand watch and carry out the duties associated with manning such a vessel, from assisting in the galley to climbing the mast, all under close supervision of seasoned sailors. Although the organization prioritizes placements for youth ages 16-25, individuals of all ages can usually find a ship that’s willing to take them on. While the average duration of a sail training experience is six days, voyages can last from one day to more than three weeks. Prices vary according to vessel size and length of trip. Would-be crew should check the individual vessels’ websites directly. Online:

Practicing yoga on Ibiza

The beauty, palpable energy and hippie vibe of this Spanish Balearic Island make it a natural choice for practicing yoga. The UK-based company Ananda Retreats offers a number of experiences, working in tandem with teachers, coaches and others engaged in physical and mental well-being. Its Ibiza-based Couple Retreat, for example, allows partners to remove themselves from the stressors of daily life while creating a deeper understanding and building intimacy with one another. Based at the Lotus Villa, couples practice expressing themselves and communicating in new ways, learn about masculine and feminine energy and share joy as they grow their relationship. Vegetarian food nurtures body and soul while sun and surf create ideal conditions for deep relaxation. Cabin prices begin at 1,999 euros. Online:

Surfing in southern Portugal

The town of Nazaré, in southern Portugal’s Algarve region, is considered the surfing capital of Europe, a reputation it owes to the offshore presence of a vastly deep underwater canyon. Among the area’s many surf schools, Surf4 You is one that works with surfers of all abilities, including those standing on a board for the first time. Locally based, qualified and knowledgeable instructors can find the area’s best waves of the day in accordance with the ability levels of their students. Courses cover the gamut from the basic fundamentals of surfing, such as paddling and catching waves, to advanced techniques of maneuvers and style. Surf 4 U’s Initiation pack, inclusive of five lessons given by one surf instructor to a maximum of three people, go for 240 euros per participant. Online:

Flamenco in Seville

The dance style characteristic to Spain’s Andalucia region is known around the world for its passion and flair. The Estudio Flamenco Sevilla, active since 2011, is a school offering intensive courses covering topics from choreography to singing, guitar and percussion. Instruction is offered to both individuals and small groups. Additional courses are offered around the region’s most beloved events including the April Fair, Flamenco Summer and Seville Flamenco Biennial. Courses can range from an hourlong introduction to its basic steps to a monthlong deep dive into multiple facets of flamenco’s dance and music. Prices are set by the professional dancer leading the course. Online:

Violin making in northern Italy

The city of Cremona is closely associated with the violin, and there are still many workshops in which craftsmen produce magnificent examples of this classical instrument. The Academia Cremonensis is an international academy of violin-making and bow-making based in an 18th century palazzo in the center of town. Working with tools and materials of the highest quality in a professional work environment, students can take courses ranging from hours to months in duration. Aspiring luthiers could choose the Wood Carving and Clay Modeling Workshop, a 40-hour, five-day course in which they’ll learn the fundamentals of creating a violin. The course costs 790 euros. Online:

Marionette construction in Prague

Puppetry is much more than child’s play, as evidenced by the popularity of puppet theater aimed at mature audiences. Oftentimes satirical and unfailingly entertaining, marionettes serve as the protagonists in dramas, comedies, opera and other types of performances. A company called, near the city’s castle in downtown Prague, offers services from custom crafting to the sales of kits containing everything needed to build one’s own marionette. The company also offers various workshops, including how to work, carve or assemble the stringed figures. For example, a three-hour workshop for two persons in which an “Anymator” marionette is created from ready-made parts, complete with varnishing and threading, is offered at a cost of US $424. The cost includes materials, refreshments and a video lecture on how to operate a marionette. Online:

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