Travel, Books, Food - Indian Wanderer Raised in Africa: A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I

My sister just got back yesterday from Cheonan in South Korea after a 2-week work trip. So we were discussing about her experiences in South Korea since it was her first trip there. One of the biggest problems she faced while she was there, was food. She is also a vegetarian like me. After surviving by having only fruits for dinner for the first three days, she finally gave in and found the nearest Indian restaurant. She had no other go and could not survive only on fruits.

Being frequent travellers, we still try to eat local food, whenever we are visiting a new place. Compared to her, I was definitely lucky when it came to finding vegetarian, non-Indian food in Europe. But I had my moments of starvation too. I also accidentally ate non vegetarian food but more on that later.

A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I - Travel, Books and Food
Sinatra Palace's Kitchen




I eat eggs while she is not particularly fond of them (Yes, most vegetarians in India do not eat egg as well). I am definitely thankful that I eat them since I remember eating only omelets for 3 days in Algarve, Portugal (there are numerous Indian restaurants in Algarve by the way).

Do you want to know the best travel hack for finding vegetarian food in Europe? Go to Google and search for ‘Vegetarian Restaurants near me”. This saved me multiple times and I found some hidden gems because of this.

After my first few days in Europe, I realized that I could not have three full meals by European standards. I ended up wasting a lot of food and this is when I decided to eat only 2 full meals every day. The portion size is comparatively bigger and there is a limit to how much cheese and cream your stomach can handle in a single day. That did not mean I would starve the whole day. Every day I would stock myself with some fruits and yogurts before I ventured out roaming. If my hunger was still not satisfied with these, I would find something to eat that would last me till dinnertime. 

One of the biggest advantages of being in Europe is that all hotels (95% of them) offer an all-inclusive cold buffet breakfast with your room charges. Some offer hot meals too. Even though breakfast is not included in most hostel’s room charges, you can easily buy them at the reception for 4-10 Euros. I made sure that I had a heavy breakfast every day before I left the hotel.

Since food comprises of a good chunk of the traveling expenses, many people wanted to know how much I spent every day on food. That varied from place to place. One of the cheapest meals you can find in many places around Europe is a Falafel. They cost less than 5 euros in most places for the vegetarian option

Alternatively, if you want to go spend a quiet evening at one of the many roadside cafes around Europe, you need to shell out something in the range of 15-25 Euros. So for this amount, you will get an appetizer, a main course, a dessert and a cocktail/mocktail in most cities (Remember that I used to eat only 2 meals every day and hence I used to have a heavy dinner). In the more expensive cities like Paris, I ended up paying around 20 + Euros for a plate of pasta. 

A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I - Travel, Books and Food
Omeletes and Algarve


Another good thing about all these places is that the menu is often hand written in a board outside the café and you need not enter the place if they do not offer any vegetarian options or are too expensive. Most places also offer free wifi and you can login to their network while you wait for the food.

It is always best to talk with the locals to find out the best things to eat and the best places to find them. I love hotel receptionists since some of them gave me some really good recommendations.

So let me start by recounting some of the best and worst food experiences during my trip to Europe. I will be splitting this into multiple parts since I definitely cannot finish all the cities in one part.

  • Lisbon - Portugal:

Since Lisbon was my first stop, I took it really slow. I was still getting used to my jet lag and hence did not want to experiment too much when it came to food.

I mostly ate different types of pastas. Since I was staying close to Baixa/ Chaido, there were numerous places that were just walking distance from my hotel. 

A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I - Travel, Books and Food
Lisbon and Ice Creams

Anyone who goes to Lisbon knows this. Don’t forget to get those delicious egg custard tarts (Pastel De Nata) from Pasteis De Belem

Since I went around Summer, there were quite a bit of ice cream shops around the place. If you are off to Sintra, then don’t forget to have the Queijadas, another sweet pastry that is usually found in Sintra.

I think you would have got the general idea by now. I did eat a lot of pastries while I was in Lisbon. I even went searching for the best chocolate cake in Lisbon. I had just fallen and I wanted something to cheer me up. I saw that this place Landeau was close by and went ahead and had a piece of chocolate cake. I am not sure if it is the best chocolate cake in the world since I am yet to try out all the chocolate cakes in the world (how I wish) but that definitely was one delicious piece of chocolate cake. You don’t need any more pick me ups other than this.

A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I - Travel, Books and Food
Best Chocolate Cake in the world?

I also tried the Ginjinha which is a Portugese Liqueor made out of cherries. But let me say that I did not like this that much. If you want to go out drinking, then Bairro Alto neighbourhood is quite popular with both locals and tourists alike.

Try to find one of those non touristy restaurants around the place where you are staying where they play Fado (a music genre popular in Portugal). You will not know how time flies by when you are sitting in one of these restaurants. 

  • Algarve – Portugal

Since this is a beach destination, it reminded me of Goa. Every beach has similar shacks and you get the similar stuff to eat and drink. Unfortunately, the vegetarian options are limited and I had to alternate between eating a lot of vegetarian sandwiches and Omelets. This is a heaven for people who love eating fish (I don’t since in my part of the world, fish is also considered as non-vegetarian).
A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I - Travel, Books and Food
Specially made for me


Thankfully, the hotel I was staying in had an excellent chef and he made sure that I had something new and vegetarian to eat every night. It was quite decently priced and I was thankful of the thoughtfulness of the hotel staff there.

A Vegetarian Foodie's Adventures Across Europe - Part I - Travel, Books and Food
Specially made for me

Since I did a lot of swimming around here, I did eat 3 meals here every day.

So that is it for today. So I will continue with my foodie adventures next week. So what else did I eat over the next few weeks in Europe? Stay tuned to find out. Also check out the similar post I wrote about USA.

Any vegetarians heading out to Singapore, please do check out this post by a fellow vegetarian. 

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