Saturday, 3 December 2016

Vegan Food Travelling In Europe

I went on my first few trips this year since I went vegan, and I didn't end up just eating chips!

The first were short breaks to London and Dublin. There was plenty of choice and being English speaking places I could ask for what I needed, and I knew the chain restaurants I could go to if I had to.

Then the big one, we drove around Europe for 2 weeks.

Hm, that's a lot of different languages, cities, countries and cuisines. Didn't pick an easy one to start with! There is always chips, and I knew I could just go and buy some fruit etc if I really struggled, but it would be nice not to have to. As it turns out the only time I had to just have a plate of chips was in a random service station in the middle of nowhere in Germany so I think I did quite well.

Anyone visiting Brugge, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Switzerland or Luxembourg...here's what I found! Click on restaurant names for links to their websites. We stayed in most places 2 nights, so didn't eat in lots of places just dinner when we arrived, one full day then breakfast (usually just in the hotel) before we left for the next place. 

Bruges
We arrived pretty late into Bruges as we drove there from home and had the ferry crossing (FYI there was nothing much on the ferry, take food) so once we checked into the hotel we wanted some food. We found a place literally down the road from our hotel (the Ibis budget by the train station) called De Stoepa that did a few things. I had the quinoa salad (or it was maybe cous cous) and it was lovely, really large portions and the garlicky sundried tomatoes were amazing!

Second day we were up early as we had been to bed quite early due to being knackered from travelling, so we walked through the Minnewater park into the town - I would recommend an early start if you are staying here as once the day trips arrive it gets busier. We had a really lovely few hours in the morning wandering around the quiet scenic streets. We had lunch at Le Pain Quotidien which did really good brunch and lunch options. Be aware though the menu was a bit confusing and the "botanical" items weren't actually all vegan, I'm not 100% sure what it was meant to mean (organic?) but some had cheese and butter. The staff all spoke English (everyone we spoke to in Bruges spoke perfect English it was a bit odd) so could advise me and were really helpful. They also did soy milk so I could have a cup of tea and not black coffee - always a plus point!

For dinner we went to a Greek restaurant just off the main square called the Olive Tree because we happened to walk past and see they had a clearly marked vegan option in their menu, always a bonus when abroad if it is clearly specified on the menu. The food was good, although not that cheap but Bruges is generally not cheap so comparably it is probably not expensive.

I bought some nice dark chocolate here too that kept me in car snacks for the next few journeys :)

Amsterdam
We arrived in the early afternoon after driving from Bruges, so we decided to have a late lunch then a small dinner. We got caught in a downpour of rain so ducked into a bar/restaurant called Venus & Adonis while walking through the De Jordaan area, they didn't have anything marked vegan on their menu but the waitress confirmed that they could do me the pumpkin soup without cream and that the bread was vegan. That with a side of fries was perfect. 

In the evening we just had some takeaway food (I'll be honest I can't remember what I had, I'd had a few shandys) from the plethora of pizza and burger joints in the city centre.

The next day we had lunch at wok to walk as we were passing at lunch time (having been to a vegan restaurant that was fully booked), I love places like this as it's so easy, just choose your options and no fussing around about whether stuff is vegan or asking for things to be taken off (which in a foreign country isn't always easy). 

We had dinner at De Bolhoed  as we had just been to Anne Frank house and it's nearby, the food was good although the wait for it was a bit long. There is a resident cat which is always a bonus for me. This was the first actual vegetarian/vegan restaurant we had been to - my husband is not vegan so we try to find places that accommodate us both if we can, although he doesn't mind going to veggie places at all.

Berlin
Ah Berlin. You don't need a vegan food guide for Berlin. I was spoiled for choice. I don't know what it is, it's a pretty liberal city so maybe that's it, but the vegan choice is the best I have ever seen. Most places we went past had vegan options clearly marked on their menu, and if once place didn't the next place did.

The drive from Amsterdam was loooong so when we got there we didn't want to venture too far for dinner from the hotel (the Ibis in Friedrichshain). A quick google search showed there were about 3 Vegan or Vegetarian restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, but wait look a street food area literally over the road from our hotel with 5 or 6 vegan options. Hotel breakfast had vegan options, for lunch the second day we had Mexican. They had a vegan page on their standard menu (no asking for the allergy list here) and after that I didn't want a lot of dinner.

We stopped at Veganz vegan supermarket the way out of Berlin so I could get some things as we would be self catering later in our trip. I've already informed Tom we are going back again soon with more time so I can just eat, and eat, and eat, and bring back a suitcase of food.

Prague
The language barrier in Prague was a minor issue, but we managed. Our hotel was a bit out of the city (we had the car and not many city centre hotels in our budget had parking) so I was a bit concerned I would end up with chips on the first night as when we arrived from Berlin we didn't really want to get the tram into the city just for dinner, but the hotel restaurant had a pasta dish that was suitable (after an amazing effort by the waitress who said her English was not good but managed to get what I was on about and check for me).

The next day we had lunch at a vegan restaurant on the walk up to the castle called Vegans Prague, I had the vegan feast and a raw cake and it was gorgeous. There was a raw vegan place a few doors down and a cafe downstairs of you only wanted a lighter bite. We walked 16km that day around the city so I was glad to get a good meal! 

Prague is the only place I kind of struggled and we actually ended up eating at veggie places for all our meals here, as not many places had vegan options on their menu in fact some didn't even have vegetarian. Although vegetarian places were quite easy to find so it worked out OK.

We had dinner at Country Life which is a pay by the weight of your plate style canteen. Perfect as we had such a large lunch so just wanted a bite to eat before we had a few drinks in the evening! There was lots of choice, although I played it safe as I couldn't read the labels of what things were.

Salzburg
The drive to Salzburg wasn't so long, and we were entering the less city break part of the holiday so we were getting into smaller towns and more rural areas. We stopped for lunch on the way for a picnic with the stuff I got from Veganz (ham and cheese sandwiches with garlic mayo). When we arrived into Salzburg we walked along the river into the old town and had dinner at a small Italian restaurant. Austria seems to have good rules about allergies, most menus were clearly marked with a little key of what had different allergens in. This made it really easy to ascertain what I could eat, I had a pasta dish with tomato and basil.

The next day we had lunch at BioBurger Meister. The burgers were AMAZING, not too expensive either and definitely worth a try. They serve meaty burgers too if you have meat eaters in your group (I know unless you are travelling alone or your partner is vegan to can be difficult to please everyone).

We had dinner at Spicy Spices, a vegetarian Indian restaurant with lots of vegan options. The chef/host/waiter (as far as I could tell it was just him!) was really friendly and helpful. The food was really good, my husband likes Indian food more than me and he was impressed. He also bought some of the spicy chutney to bring home from the little shop portion of the restaurant. This was also good value we had drinks, both had starters and mains, and I had dessert and the bill was very reasonable.

Innsbruck
The drive from Salzburg to Innsbruck was beautiful, but we struggled to find any food as we didn't realise it was a national holiday and everything was shut! In the end we stopped at a garage and cobbled some breakfast together with some bread, a pretzel and some of the stuff I bought from Veganz!

We were self catering here so I don't have many food recommendations, but generally the old town was very nice and there were plenty of restaurants. Food seemed expensive in the supermarkets (although at this time the pound was worth naff all against the euro so it could have just been the exchange rate), especially certain fruit and veg so this is something to bear in mind. Tom also said certain meat was quite pricey too. Just something to bear in mind if you are self catering.

Switzerland
Again we were self catering, we stayed in Alt Sankt Johann in an AirB&B and it was beautiful, lots of walking and lovely scenery right outside the door. The kitchen was also very well equipped (I could have done Christmas dinner in there if I felt like it!) which was great, we made pizzas and pasta and nice breakfasts.

Luxembourg
We only stayed here one night to break up the drive home as Switzerland to the UK is along drive. We ate at a bar called Snooze, originally we just went in for a drink but we noticed they had a good range of veggie burgers. This was the only place we ate in Luxembourg as we arrived late in the afternoon and left early in the morning.

So that's the trip, I'll do a post on general tips on eating while travelling soon :)

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