Finding WiFi is hard when you’re traveling and not staying in hotels! Even when there is WiFi, sometimes it’s so darn slow that it isn’t even useful. I was going to post during my layover in Iceland (it was 9 hours long and a few adventures were had within those 9 hours), but for lack of WiFi connectivity, couldn’t. My room in Paris has no WiFi, and I neglected to take my computer to Berlin n my holiday over there, where there was WiFi.
Long story short, there are a few things to go over, so we will take things from the top.
- Iceland was amazing! It was a balmy, 55 degree day in August when we landed. A perfect summer day in my world. Anyways, as we stumbled off of the plane at Keflavik Airport about 8 hours after we had originally been packed on, absolute hunger took hold jof my stomach. Despite having gone to lunch with mom prior to taking off in Seattle, nerves had prevented any real food consumption, and I was starving. Sadly, airports are generally terrible places for people with food allergies. And my emergency snack stockpile was only so big. Luckily enough, the Icelanders have good breakfast options. Within ten minutes of getting off the plane, I was enjoying a lovely breakfast. The single restaurant had a buffet line, which included platters of raw red and green peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, cold cuts and bacon (amongst other things). With a little ketchup, I was ready to go. After breakfast, I hopped on a bus for a short ride to the Blue Lagoon, a naturally occurring hot springs about 20 minutes away from the airport. The water is a cloudy, baby blue and is known for its anti-aging properties, healing properties, and contains over 200 microorganisms, 60% of which are found only in the Blue Lagoon. And part of it is open for the public to bathe and relax in, complete with mini facials made with volcanic ash. I hung out for about three hours, napping on the shore of the lagoon, wading around, slathering myself with the silica-filled mud, and saunaing. Needless to say, it was very sad to leave and get back on a plane…even though it was a plane to Paris.
- France has been a mild obsession of mine since about the fifth grade. Our teacher would have a “person of the week” (generally whoever’s birthday was closest) and they got to sit on a stool on Monday morning and the rest of the class could ask them questions about anything. Talk about preparing for job interviews ahead of time. Anyways, as I recall, almost all of my responses intentionally related to France somehow. Times have changed. France is now a very scary place full of gluten, dairy products and eggs. Although that toasted baguette scent that wafted through the halls of the building this morning were very alluring. Basically, eating in France has been an absolute horror of a challenge. Forget restaurants; I tried a salad my first afternoon and felt so horrible an hour later that I had to trip back to my bed and sleep for a few hours whilst the worst of it passed. The Bio (Biologique) store was okay, but it really depends on which one you go to. The one near my room is pretty good, with nice produce and is well-stocked. A different one that I visited because David Leibovitz professed it’s beauty on his blog, had rotting produce and absolutely no meat. My host family’s kitchen in Bordeaux (leaving on Saturday!) is looking SO welcoming right now.
- Germany is great if you have food allergies. Flat-out lovely. Not only are the Germans super nice (don’t let the language throw you) but, as stereotypical as it is, they really do eat a lot of meat and potatoes, albeit with a lot of vegetables on the side. What’s more, Berlin has the only Paleo restaurant in the world! At least that’s how they market themselves. I went, of course, and it was delightful. A very meaty piece of pork belly with a wonderful crust with mole sauce, served with some absolutely amazing cauliflower. The cauliflower was steamed had mustard and black caraway seeds and vinegar on it. It was so good. I could have eaten a huge bowl of it by itself. After the main course, I had to inquire about the dessert menu and found that while the hazelnut torte didn’t have any coconut in it, the frosting did. But, the waitress pointed out, frosting is removable from cake. Alas, it was a wonderful torte. Super moist and fluffy. The frosting looked good but never made it past my lips. Accompanying the whole meal was some really lovely rhubarb lemonade (with xylitol sweetener!). Germany seems to have tons of things, from drinks to candy, with rhubarb flavoring; it’s really good! Anyways, it was lovely and worth the long (25 minutes from the U-Bahn station) walk. Much closer to the U-Bahn station, however, was the Deutsches Currywurst Museum. Yes, before you ask, currywurst is a thing. And it’s rather good. Although it seemed like a silly stop at first, I thought it would be a good mood-lifting stop after the Checkpoint Charlie/Berlin Wall Museum. Basically, a currywurst is a sausage (the type can vary) made with special spices and then doused in a curried ketchup sauce, which you can get either spicy or mild. After going through the museum, it was evident that currywurst contain nothing offensive allergy-wise, so I had one. It was pretty good, although it may be one of those delicacies that are nice to try once but you never need to have another of.
So, to review: Iceland is totally worth the visit. Iceland Air does flights so that you can have up to a weeklong layover in Iceland with no extra charge on your ticket. DO IT IF YOU CAN! I wish I could have stayed longer! They also have really nice dairy-free chocolate there. France is a lovely country but very stressful and nearly impossible with food allergies, at least in Paris. Then again, it is probably possible to survive off of gelato for a week or so. Finally, Berlin is not only an awesome city (it’s extremely walkable and there are tons of really interesting, different museums), but it is great if you have food restrictions. There are a few places that serve gluten-free and vegan goods in Berlin that I did not make it to, but they sure look good online. Berlin also has a much larger variety of food types than does Paris. Walking down the street by my hostel, there was everything from Thai to Indian, Mexican, Spanish, German and American. The Parisian restaurant scene is a bit dominated by traditional French brasseries (and not all of them serve steak-frites unfortunately).
I’m so nervous and excited to move on to Bordeaux and have a kitchen! Oh yes, also excited to meet my host family. Hopefully all my luggage and myself will make it there in one piece. We’ll see.
Paris and Berlin are also wonderful in that they are pretty temperate in the summer. It’s been around 75 degrees in both cities every day so far.
Hope wonderful travels are in your future!