(13 Reviews)
92% Recommended

Maureen Johnson

Los Angeles, CA
Crafting Unforgettable Journeys Across Continents

Greetings, fellow wanderers! I'm Maureen Johnson, and for over two decades, I've had the incredible privilege of turning travel dreams into exquisite realities. As a luxury travel advisor with a heart deeply devoted to exploration, I've dedicated ...
Learn more about me.

Travel through Food

Maureen making Paella
Maureen making Paella

I am a firm believer that Gastronomy is the key to a country's culture.  The cuisine of a country or region opens us up to the past, the present and the future of a people and their country as a whole.  As a travel advisor I emphasize the importance of the exploration of food to my clients.


While in college I lived in Spain with a gracious family and couldn't get enough of spending time in the kitchen to learn what the Mama cooked.  I also strolled (paseando) with the teen daughters for Merienda (afternoon tea).  I left Spain with a cookbook that was 3 inches thick that introduced me to the cuisine in various regions of Spain that I had only visited.  I still refer to that cookbook these many years later when I yearn for a little bit of Spain in my California home.


Food, like wine, is tied to the earth, known as terroir to vintners, and dictates the typical dishes of an area.  In Europe, asking for Organic products is unnecessary outside of the big city.  Everything is organic.  "Farm to Table" is a way of life, not a fad.


Food is a fantastic way to introduce young travelers and nervous travelers to the culture of a country.  It can keep them interested and curious about what comes next. Cooking classes can involve the whole family.  They can focus on single dishes or whole meals.  I've been surprised at how many members of the family are interested in these classes. I myself have attended several cooking classes in different countries.  I attended pastry classes in Portugal and I prepared a 4-course meal there.  I made my own pasta and soup in Budapest, after shopping for the ingredients at the covered market.  I have prepared Tagine in Morocco at a hotel restaurant.  I even cooked Paella in Spain while sipping Sangria.


If you don't have time for a cooking class, then a tasting may be more up your alley.  I can steer you toward a Tapas Crawl in Madrid or a Pintxo tour in Barcelona or San Sebastian. What is the difference? Tapas are shared plates and Pintxos are single appetizers that are speared with a toothpick. I like to schedule a foodie tour that includes history and food on the day of arrival in a country. You don't have to look for a dinner restaurant and you get an overview  of what is to come on your vacation.


When my husband and I arrived in Munich, we went to a local, typical Bavarian restaurant.  After meeting our charming waiter and telling him we had just arrived we were ready to order local beer and local food.  Except, being a health conscious  Californian, I was set to order chicken.  "NO!" the waiter emphatically announced. "You will have pork, like a German." We acquiesced and told him to order for us, and he introduced us to a delightful Bavarian meal.


Since that experience many years ago, I have quite often asked the wait staff to tell me the most typical dish on the menu, and I have never been steered wrong. In Bora Bora, our first meal was lunch.  I looked at all the fish that was on the menu. I asked the waitress to choose the freshest for me.  She brought a Mahi Mahi wrap. Imagine my surprise, when a completely raw and beautifully seasoned Mahi Mahi fillet was brought to me in a lovely hand made crepe.  Distressed at my surprise, she offered to cook it.  I asked how she would eat it and she said "raw". So I ate it raw. It was a wonderful and incredible experience that I had never been offered in the U.S.


I always offer my clients options for foodie tours, cooking classes, wine and spirit tastings as well as candy tours, cheese tours and gourmet meals paired with local wines. I have a list of Michelin starred restaurants in most locales, but it is the small restaurants that the neighborhood eats at where the best food is found. I always feel it is a major score if the staff doesn’t speak English. They are not catering to tourists, but to good food and authentic experiences. Once I find such a restaurant in a town, it goes on my list and I follow up often to make sure it is still considered the best around.


 


 

My Reviews

4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Saved my Ireland Trip!
Maureen at AMT really helped me plan my trip to Ireland for myself, husband and in Laws. I was crazy enough to insist that I would rather drive in Ireland than pay the high cost of a private chauffer. And when my father in law dropped the bomb that his drivers license expired, making him unable to drive the manual transmission van only 3 hours before we landed in Ireland, a quick email to Maureen saved the day. She canceled our van and rebooked two automatic cars (which is apparently rare in Ireland) so that my brother in law could drive one and I the other. By the time we landed at the airport, the cars were there, correctly booked, and the money for the van had already been refunded to my credit card. WOW. Then when the London air traffic control CANCELED our flights home for a full day, she helped us book a hotel for the night, and helped us file an insurance claim to cover the cost. Even for the most experienced traveler, she is an invaluable resource.
By  Gigi K.  from  Glendora, CA
Traveled to  Ireland ~ Europe
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends

Maureen Johnson responded:
Dear Georgia, thank you for the kind words. Since that fateful trip you have used my services for travel planning instead of travel rescuing. We make a great team and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Was this review helpful to you? YES | NO
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Leave your worries at home!
My wife and I have been working with Maureen now since 2015 when we started planning our first European vacation. After dealing with the frustration of trying to book it ourselves, we happened across an American Express travel website. The site was open to non-card members so we elected the country we wanted to visit and were given four agents to reach out to. We decided on Maureen and have never looked back. Maureen made the experience very easy for us since, at the time, we were both working full time. We were sent a short questionnaire which helped her to focus on what worked best for our time, destinations, budget, etc. Our trip was to travel the Northern coast of Spain in a car over a two week period. Maureen and her team handled all the details seamlessly, from the car, to the hotels, to the sites she recommended in each of the five cities we touched. We still talk about that trip! We recommend her to our friends and family constantly.
By  Cakes  from  California
Traveled to  Spain ~ Europe
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends
Was this review helpful to you? YES | NO
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
My New Favorite Place!
Maureen worked with our group of six to arrange THE BEST experience! She was able to accommodate all our collective needs while ensuring each individual was listened to. We explored the glorious Scottish Highlands from our home base in Inverness and ended in the majestic and magical city of Edinburgh. I don't think Maureen could have done any better in organizing this diverse experience.
By  JC  from  Long Beach, CA
Traveled to  Scotland ~ Europe
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends

Maureen Johnson responded:
Thanks Julie! You were all so gracious. I had as much fun putting this trip together as you did experiencing it.

Was this review helpful to you? YES | NO
5 of 8 people found this review helpful
Always available. Good local spots.
Five or more trips.
By  Keith  from  Manhattan Beach, CA
Traveled to  Vienna ~ Austria ~ Europe
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends
Was this review helpful to you? YES | NO
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Great Trip
Maureen is attentive, knowledgeable, personnable and her goal is to make sure that her clients have the best travel experience that is possible
By  Francine   from  Bellmore, NY
Traveled to  Amalfi ~ Italy ~ Europe
I would recommend this agent to my family and friends

Maureen Johnson responded:
Thanks Francine. I look forward to more fun trips!

Was this review helpful to you? YES | NO
Go to my main profile

Destination Expert:

  • France
  • Morocco
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Italy

Travel Specialist:

  • Food & Wine
  • Wine Country Vacations
  • Family Vacations
  • Independent Travel

Top Travel Partners:

  • Kensington Tours
  • SITA World Tours
  • Abercrombie & Kent
  • Tauck
  • Windstar Cruises

Connect with Me:

Industry Affiliations:

©  Travel Leaders Group