all regional travel notes by:
Subject: A place for vegetarians to avoid
I am advised that the Lowry Hotel in Manchester have Duck Wrap listed on the menu as being suitable for vegetarians
Subject: One to avoid
Eastern Diner on Allerton Road has a fish dish listed in the vegetarian section of the menu. If they can't even sort out something as basic as that, who knows what goes on in the kitchen?
Subject: Fruits and Passion
Fruits and Passion have opened up a shop in the Arndale Centre next to Lush. They do not test on animals and the only items which are not suitable for Vegans (but are suitable for Vegetarians) are the lipglosses (which contain beeswas) everything else is suitable for Vegans. Their products contain a whole range of shower gels, hand creams, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes etc.
They also do household products, dog shampoos and a little bit of the luxury type foods & oils.
Subject: Useful websites for visitors to Southern Scotland
Subject: Useful website for visitors to the area
Dumfries And Galloway, 2008/01/28
Subject: Useful websites for visitors to D&G
Subject: Skopje for veggies
At Apr 07 the best restaurant for veggies in Skopje by a mile is Harmonija (the first and currently only macrobiotic restaurant in Macedonia). Over 90% of the menu is not only veggie but also vegan veggie.
If you are looking for a hotel in Skopje the following are close to each of Harmonija restaurant, the train station, the bus station, and the City centre:-
1) Hostel Ferijalen Soyuz na Makedonija, Ul Prolet 25, Skopje, Tel 311 4849. Hostel for the budget conscious open from April to mid October.
2) Hotel Centar, Ul Kočo Racin bb, Skopje, Tel +389 (2) 311 4844.
Midrange priced hotel tucked into the side of a fairly small complex that also houses the city's Olympic sized swimming pool.
3) Holiday Inn, Ul Vasil Adžilarski 2, Skopje, Tel 329 2929.
Top end priced hotel chain that I'm sure you have heard of.
At the bus and train station very usefully there is a big internet place. It is 1 floor above ground level and accessed from the street underneath the railway bridge. This is also the way into railway station.
Subject: Minsk for vegetarians
Out of places I have visited in Europe I haven't been anywhere nearly as frustratingly challenging to be a vegan vegetarian as Minsk (and I've been to Minsk more than once).
Firstly, there is the difficulty of reading menus in Cyrillic if like me you are a beginner in speaking Russian. This can be overcome by taking a native speaker with you if you don't know Russian but Cyrillic is only the beginning of the difficulties. Vegetarianism as a concept is something which Belarussian people really struggle to get their head round. And with the standards of waiting service if you make a complaint about something rather than expect some customer care the waiting staff may well get upset and argue (and I mean argue) with you.
Further there is the frustrating widespread practice of ingredients being included that aren't listed on the menu (e.g. cheese, butter, cream, margarine). Is the cheese used vegetarian cheese? You’ll need to ask yourself I’m afraid but I would be both stunned and humbled if it is. A number of the eateries (e.g. Saloon, Bar 05, Il Patio) struggle to entertain the concept of modifying a dish from the standard way that they prepare it. The concept is as alien to them as a landing from planet Zob. This can make negotiating a vegetarian meal quite a mission.
Places to avoid:-
What a place. If Hollywood conjured up the movie “Nightmare on Elm Street” then this place in Minsk was “Nightmare on Masherov Avenue”.
In Saloon I ordered vegetable soup. When I pointed out that there was meat in the soup I was told that, 'because it's only a little meat it's vegetarian soup. The other soups have a lot of meat.' I then instead asked for the mushroom soup emphasising without cream. Sure enough it came with cream and I was told, 'It's only a little cream'. Astonishingly when the bill came I was billed for the dishes that I had sent back. I asked for the Manager. The Manager backed the waitress completely and joined in the argument and they tried to put a group pressure on me. Fortunately I had a native with me to help. It took some persistence to get the offending items removed from the bill. In the end justice was served (if not decent veggie food). Clearly communism is well and truly consigned to the history books in this establishment - profiteering is the name of the game now in Saloon.
Although I haven’t given it too much thought this is possibly the worst place I’ve ever been to in my life. Best thing about this joint is the exit door. It is truly a victory for the human spirit that I don’t wake up in the middle of the night having the shakes from this place coming into my thoughts while I sleep. Shudder.
Despite a waitress being rustled up who spoke decent English (something I was very grateful for as my Russian is still a very poor standard) Il Patio seemed incapable of giving me a pasta dish without cheese (it took them 3 attempts). Factory production line style produced food. If you want something even slightly customised try elsewhere.
In Bar 05 regardless of what you say it will be impossible to get a baked potato served without cheese. Perhaps unbeknown to me this place is the centre for the Cheese Appreciation Society of Belarus. People could travel from miles around just to try the cheese from this place on a potato. Don't eat here. The waitress spoke decent English (again I am grateful for that when I have so much of my own linguistics to develop) but it wasn’t any use. Trying to stop them putting cheese on a baked potato was as futile as trying to stop a T34 tank.
Chinese place near Masherov Avenue (sorry I’ve forgot the name)
There is also a Chinese place close to Masherov Avenue that had a grand total of 1 dish on the menu (menu in English again I am delighted to say) that didn't appear to be meat based. This was a dish mostly of tomato. When I put it into my mouth it was an assault on my taste buds as pleasant as being rolled over by the previously mentioned T34. Again I haven’t given it that much thought but it was possibly the worst tasting dish I've ever had in a Chinese restaurant. There seems to be a lot of 'worsts' in eating in this town. I love Chinese food. Not from this restaurant.
Restaurant Voglia Matta
I am humbled to be stunned at how it can take an hour to prepare pasta with tomato sauce in a restaurant with a grand total of 1 customer. Maybe they are out harvesting the tomatoes from the neighbouring countryside, I have no idea. Cream is added to the tomato sauce whether you ask for it or not. On another visit they managed to serve 2 similar appearing dishes to the wrong people (only identified when the person who ordered the ‘without chilli’ option had their mouth feeling like an inferno).
There is a branch of Lido in Minsk but they could not offer me a single vegetarian dish without cheese, milk, cream or butter when I asked. They weren’t unpleasant about it and I appreciate their honesty.
Poor choice for vegetarians. I read a review of Minsk that listed this place as the best bet for vegetarians. I can only assume that this recommendation was a well intended attempt at comedy. Best avoided.
I had a word with the staff about what they could offer me. 'Nothing' was the answer. Again their honesty is appreciated.
If you are going to Minsk you may wish to try the following:-
A Tibetan restaurant with a very polite and helpful manager who speaks good English. Some vegetarian dishes are on the menu and he will also help in pointing out the egg / dairy free veggie options. A place of tranquillity for vegetarians when compared with the seeming vortex of madness that is ordering in so many of the other eateries in this town. There’s not exactly a huge amount of stuff for vegetarians but the choice here is as good as it gets that I’ve found in Minsk. Located about a 5 min walk from Ploshad Yakuba Kolasa metro.
This place is part of a chain with branches sprinkled through ex-Soviet Europe. A few vegetarian dishes on offer but beware the fish extract in the boullion used to make the miso soup. There's 1 on the main drag (Nezavisimosti Prospekt) and another on Ulitsa Lenina St. Both are close to Oktyabrskaya metro. A big winner in terms of mega central location.
An all together more pleasant Italian eating experience than Il Patio. Cheeseless pizzas available on request. I’m not able to advise about the content of the pizza bases I am afraid. Located centrally about 10 mins walk from Oktyabrskaya metro just past the Dinamo football stadium. They seem able to get their head around the idea of customer focus even if there isn’t very much for veggies to choose from.
A Caucasian restaurant that doesn't have a lot of vegetarian options at 1st glance but the staff were very
helpful in getting me a couple of vegan veggie variations from the menu. An extraordinary display of out of the box innovative free thinking in comparison with some of the other establishments – a commendable philosophy that I endorse whole heartedly
An upmarket place where the helpful staff eventually (and I mean eventually, it took quite a bit of perseverence between us) managed to get me something different from the menu rustled up. Better than nothing. This joint is located in between Oktyabrskaya and Nimega metro stations.
Some simple tips to consider when trying to order food in this country:-
* Learn as much Russian as you can before hand. Same as anywhere – having a go at speaking the native tongue is always appreciated even if it is just the most basic of words
* Take a Russian speaker with you if you can if your Russian isn’t so good. A native to the area would be even better
* Take a copy of the vegan passport with you – you may find a waiter / waitress prepared to read enough of it (you’ll be lucky) to take in the meaning of it. If so you might get a veggie meal somewhere
* Smile, be pleasant, stay calm, try not to let frustration get to you
* Get in some accelerated training in perseverance before you go – Be prepared mentally as an Olympian effort may be needed. Crooks like those in Saloon will try to grind you down
* When it goes wrong try to look positively on it afterwards as a character building experience. After all we’re all going to die 1 day
This is another place where sadly it feels like all the cabbies look upon tourists as fodder for a big rip off. The metro in comparison is quick, simple and inexpensive.
Best of luck.
Subject: Manchester Vegetarian and Vegan Group
For info on the above please see the weblink below.
Subject: Welcome to Liverpool
Visitors and newcomers to the city may find the following web links useful:-
Liverpool 2008 capital of culture http://www.liverpool08.com/
Liverpool tourist info http://www.visitliverpool.com/
Local public transport info http://merseytravel.org/
UK wide train info http://nationalrail.com/
UK wide coach info http://www.nationalexpress.com/
Liverpool airport http://www.liverpooljohnlennonairport.com/
Manchester airport http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/
Best wishes for an enjoyable time.
I had the pleasure of a visit to Zurich recently and left very impressed by the quality of the vegetarian restaurants that I ate in. Hiltl, Tibits and Bona Dea all had plenty of vegan veggie options immediately available that tasted utterly sensational. Meridian and Samses were both closed when I was there (it was a public holiday that day) but having 2 veggie restaurants so close to each other like that is very handy for checking the contrasting menus to suit your mood of the moment. Cafe Zahringer isn't 100% veggie but it's worth a visit if you have a non veggie friend with you who insist on non veggie food.
The restaurants were open good hours also and are in central locations. And of course the Swiss education system encourages multi linguism so you'll be unlucky not to find someone working in a restaurant who you can't communicate with.
Subject: Florence addresses
In Florence some streets have dual numbering sequences taking place. The numbering sequence for a particular address is identified by the colout of the number. For example in a street you have door number 34 blue that is next door to 66 red. Then the next door along can be 36 blue followed by 38 blue then followed by 68 red. Not all streets are like this but in the ones with dual numbering it is very confusing if you haven't twigged on to this. Hence why some addressed are listed as for example being door number 39/r (the 'r' means red numbers.
Best of luck.
Subject: Serbian addresses
At the end of many addresses in Serbia (and other parts of the Balkans) you will see the letters 'bb' after the street name instead of a number. This is an abbreviation for 'bez broja' and means, 'without a number'.
Subject: Krakow taxi cabs
I should have added; Be careful if you take a taxi cab in Krakow. Some of them are less than scrupulous in their determination to make some extra money from tourists.
Subject: Prague taxi drivers
Watch out if you take a taxi cab in Prague. I had 1 guy who was unscrupulous in his determination to make some cash. After that I used the metro; cheap and easy.
Subject: Rome taxi cabs
Watch out if you take a taxi cab in Rome. I had a couple who were unscrupulous in their determination to make some cash. I've been told by an ex resident of Rome that this is normal in there.
Subject: Sofia taxi cabs
Watch out if you take a taxi cab in Sofia. I had 2 (and I was there for less than 48 hours) who were very unscrupulous in their determination to make some cash. There is a good tram and trolley bus service in Sofia to make getting around cheap and easy.
Subject: Bucharest taxis
Watch out if you take a taxi cab in Bucharest. I have never been anywhere with so many of the taxi drivers trying to rip me off as a tourist with hugely inflated taxi fares. It felt like all of the cabs drivers were at this (but there were a 2 or 3 who were not). Bucharest is the worst place I have been for this. There is a very inexpensive metro system in Bucharest to help getting around.
Subject: Macedonia addresses
At the end of many addresses in Macedonia (and other parts of the Balkans) you will see the letters 'bb' after the street name instead of a number. This is an abbreviation for 'bez broja' and means, 'without a number'.
Bosnia And Herzegovina, 2007/03/29
Subject: Balkans addresses
At the end of many addresses in Bosnia & Hercegovina (and other parts of the Balkans) you will see the letters 'bb' after the street name instead of a number. This is an abbreviation for 'bez broja' and means, 'without a number'.
Dublin city centre is pretty compact and most of the veggie restaurants are within walking distance of each other. There are some seriously top eats to be had in the veggie restaurants in this city with plenty of choice for lacto ovo and vegan veggies. A special mention must go to "Juice" for very handily being open late when all of the other veggie restaurants have closed. (Time of writing Jan 07)
Subject: Opening hours in Madrid
Hi, My friends and I fell foul of the rigid restaurant opening hours that seem to be in place in Madrid. Restaurants seem to typically be open from 1 or 1.30 in the afternoon until 4 pm and then from 9 pm to midnight. My advice to consider is plan your eating time.
Krakow is a good spot for vegetarian restaurants. Most central is Green Way about 50 m tops just off the main square. There are 2 bar vegas and also Momo that are within about 10 mins of the main square. Momo located towards Kazimierz cultural quarter is the most vegan friendly and also makes a big play about being organic.