Why do you travel?
We all have been bitten by the travel bug for one reason or another; some travel for fear of missing out, others’ like to board that plane to find themselves, many of us are doing it out of sheer curiosity, some of us enjoy ticking off the big bucket list sights, others’ relish in taking the path unknown, some can’t even pin point why they travel, but just know they are addicted the whole notion of it. Some travel solo and like to meet new people along the way, others pair up or join groups and share their journey. It’s those different experiences, the culture, the atmosphere, the landscapes, the nature, the city life, the locals, the sights…
But for some it’s also all about the food. Am I right?
Travel is a treat for all your senses, and my trips to Europe have always been ‘What can I see’, ‘What can I do?’ and then ultimately ‘What can I eat?!’
Barcelona – Spain, Catalonia.
This dynamic coastal city won’t disappoint your taste buds. In between visits to the beach, siestas in the sun and hunting down Gaudi’s your mission should be to indulge in never-ending tapas (choose traditional potato dish Patata Bravas) and huge pans of paella. That’s an order! This vast town has oodles of restaurants so you won’t be short of choice. Head to the winding avenues of Barri Gotic, down to the beach front or amble along la Rambles and take your fancy. A jug of sangria or a large Estrella wouldn’t be a bad idea either, right? And for afters, should there be any room left, search out the churros and chocolate. Perfect!
Berlin – Germany
Berlin is Europe’s capital of all things street food. Its studenty, young atmosphere and its busy, on-the-go vibe is what demands for this quick and easy food to be cheap and cheerful. Berlin is the creator of the Currywurst, and this rather simple take out option of sausage, tomato sauce and curry power heaped on top is one of those things that totally shouldn’t work but totally does. This city is also kebab capital of the world, yes – the Doner kebab was actually developed here in Berlin by Turkish settlers post World War 2 and is now commonly consumed – although more now by the crowds falling out of the clubs in the early hours, after they’ve had their taste of the famous Berlin nightlife. Also, don’t leave this city without grabbing a takeaway burger and chips at a former public toilet at Burgermeister.
Reykjavik – Iceland
Iceland is known for its rather unconventional cuisines. It’s true, you can walk into many restaurants in Reykjavik and order yourself a whale steak, a plate of puffin or end up with a whole sheep head on your table (yup, eyeballs and all!), but if your stomach isn’t up to the challenge you’ll be thankful to hear Iceland is also very much influenced by American grub and you won’t go far without coming across some of the tastiest hot dogs and burgers you’ll ever find, including, the ‘Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur‘ (‘best hot dogs in town’) – a small hot dog stall near the harbour. With Iceland’s established fishing industry you’ll also find some of the best sea food dishes. A personal favourite is the lobster soup that can be sampled in the famous Sea Baron.
Prague – Czech Republic
Czech food was made for chilly winters and are totally winning our hearts and stomachs over with their stodgy hearty beige dishes. Goulash with bread dumplings was one of my go-to dishes when in Prague, and although it was super tasty, I think If I’d stayed in Prague much longer I’d have to fork out for two plane seats on the way home due to an rapidly expanding waist line! This dish is not for your carb-shy traveller. I also couldn’t write this post and not mention Beer Cheese. Why do we not have this back at home? This soft cheese is served in doorstep sized slabs alongside mustard, onions and heap of hot spices as a welcome accompaniment to your litre of Czech beer.
In Prague, it’s best to leave your diet plan at home.
Budapest – Hungary
Cheese – check, Garlic – check, sour cream – check, fried dough – check! Looks like Hungary made a list of my favourite foods, mashed them together and called it a Langos! Try this popular street food at the local market and forever crave its deep fried goodness!
London – England
My home country! Good ol’ Blighty!
Okay, okay, arguably Britain isn’t that well known for its fantastic food. In fact I think we’ve begged, borrowed and stole our cuisine from pretty much every other country and we’ve now ended us with a widely international menu. Us English now love a good Indian curry and on Saturdays we’ll be found ordering a feast from the Chinese restaurant in town. But if you search hard enough can find some dishes that we are good at and very proud to have as part of our national identity. Sunday Roasts are one of them. Most Sunday’s we’ll sit down to a slap up dinner with ‘all the trimmings’ – a few slices of meat, roast potatoes and vegetables and the best bit – the Yorkshire puddings!
Full English breakfasts are another thing you’ll see on your trip to London. They are best eaten from a cheap local café, with a pot of English Breakfast tea and a side of toast.
And speaking of tea, make sure you book in for a luxurious Afternoon Tea experience at one of the high end hotels, the Ritz comes recommended!
Lisbon – Portugal
New Yorkers, Italians? Actually, it’s the Portuguese that have a prevalent coffee culture to rival both. Lisbon’s cafes totally stole my heart. I’m not even a big fan of coffee in general but I found myself happily dosed up with caffeine throughout my entire Portuguese trip – it was basically any excuse to pair my expresso with one of those heavenly Portuguese custard tarts (Natas)! Find your way over to the Belem district and take at least one of your many coffee breaks at Pasteis de Belem. Order at least four (for yourself!), served hot and gooey with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
If these aren’t your new favourite food, then you’ll need your taste buds testing.
Paris – France
If there’s anywhere that can convince you to try snails, its Paris right? You’ve taken some time to fall in love with the boulevards, take scrolls along the seine, picnicked in the shadow of the Tour de Eiffel, now it’s time to push the limit of your taste buds and get stuck in with a plate of snails. There’s literally no way to make this sound appetising, but trust me when I say they are hundred times better than they look. Hey, this is what travel is all about! And if it’s really not for you, make a beeline for the boulangerie, buy a baguette and then add some cheese and wash it all down with some fabulous French wine! Don’t forget to grab some macaroons for the journey home.
Rome – Italy
Everything right? This place built for food lovers. You haven’t done Rome if you haven’t eaten Gelato like it’s going out of fashion or spoiled yourself rotten with bruschetta and Italian pizza.Eat everything and go home plump.
Ljubljana – Slovenia
Ljubljana is still pretty much off the beaten track, but it’s quickly gaining a fan base in the travel community! This city has featured on many ‘not to miss destination’ lists for this year, so no doubt you’ll be hearing a lot more from this Slovenian capital. So, food? One of the best things I tried whilst staying in Ljubljana was their traditional dessert; Prekmurska gibanica. This hard to pronounce dessert is a combination of poppy seeds, sweet cottage cheese, apples and walnuts; don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Štruklji is another traditional dish; rolled dough with a variety of scrummy savoury or sweet fillings available.
Split – Croatia
This sunny harbour town is about all things fishy. You can even spot the local fishermen lugging their haul from the dock, a few metres down the street to the local market; it doesn’t get much fresher than that. My home country of the UK doesn’t tend to do sea food brilliantly, aside from the standard deep fried cod and chips, as nothing much seems to want to lurk in our murky British waters… I wonder why? Anyway, this is precisely the reason why I like to get my sea food fill when I can, so when travelling I love to opt for the fish dish! Split offered up the most amazingly fresh sea food, and that freshness makes all the difference. I feasted on fried calamari every day of my trip. Pair it with a slice of lemon and a huge dollop of tartar sauce and you’ve got my belly rumbling again! Croatia also does some amazing local wines and you’ll also find lots of Italian inspired dishes due to it’s close proximity to Italy.
Krakow – Poland
Why did no-one tell me how amazing Polish cuisine is? Not to mention how darn affordable it is to eat out. After a successful trip to the small town of Gdansk in northern Poland, I chose to pay a visit to Krakow; a city which supposedly has the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in the world! Whether or not that’s true is another matter, but in my experience it’s impossible to have a bad meal in this place!
On the top of your foodie-list should be the polish Pierogi. This Eastern European dumpling dish is mainly a savoury option, but can be eaten as a sweet with fruit fillings and cream! My favourite though had to be the cheese. Always the cheese!
I also kind of loved this lard spread (Szmalec) that we were offered as starters. At first we only tried it to be polite, but actually its pretty delicious!
Brussels – Belgium
All too regularly missed off the backpacker trails, Brussels is still not as popular as it really should be. This gorgeous city pretty much has it all in terms of fodder; Lunch? Frites with Mayonnaise. Dinner? Moules. Dessert? Waffles. Sweet tooth still not satisfied? Belgian Chocolate. All washed down with, what else? Belgian beer of course.