Our stop motion video of most of our trip!

Colorado to Florida, Mexico, North Carolina, Israel, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, India, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, California and back to Florida! Perhaps it’s disproportionately Colorado, Florida, and Mexico but oh well! hope you all enjoy it!

much gratitude for all of you we got to share our experience with…

tommasina and julian

Advertisements

Austrian Delights

Thinking back to our food experiences in Germany and Austria I fondly remember two things:  Sauerkraut und Bier!  Beer is so abundant and cheap in Deutschland and Austria had plenty of beer to offer as well, plus lots of sauerkraut.  So, in remembrance of foods from our travels in honour of vegan mofo, I present to you…dinner, Bavarian style.

Sauerkraut Dinner

Grilled Field Roast Sausages with Sauteed Onions and Homemade Sauerkraut

Taters to the mix

And for an added bonus…How to make Sauerkraut!  It’s easy and it should never cost 10.99 a jar!

0.5 Kg Cabbage

5 g Non-Iodised Salt

1-2 Litre Glass Vessel with wide mouth

1 glass jar with lid that is roughly the same size, but smaller than the wide mouth jar’s circumference.*  Filled with water.

1 Sheet of Cellophane Film.

Optional spices:  dried juniper berries, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, bay leafs.

 

1.  Chop cabbage into thin strips.  Having a food processor with a slicer attachment really helps.

2.  Place chopped cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt and spices, if you’re using them.  Toss to coat with some tongs.  Let this rest for at least 30 minutes.

3.  If some liquid has been pulled out of the cabbage, then you’re on your way.  Use the tongs again to put the cabbage-salt mixture and all the juices into the 1-2 litre jar.

4.  Take the cellophane film and wrap it around the base of the second jar filled with water.  Place the jar and film combination on top of the cabbage in the larger jar and press down.  The weight of the jar with water should be sufficient enough to keep the cabbage submerged in the brine.

5.  Let sit for 2-4 weeks.  Check periodically to make sure the cabbage is always submerged.

6.  It’s ready when the cabbage has turned a yellowish hue and smells like sauerkraut!

 

*You want the 2nd jar to fit into the larger jar, but not leave a lot of room on the sides.

Sauerkraut making apparatus

Finished Product

By Julian

Transit days on our way to Spain

We stayed a night with Bishawjit and Dipika in Karlsruhe in order to break up our trip to Dusseldorf where we were to catch a flight to Madrid the next day.  Bishawjit waited up for us and fed us another delicious Bengali meal of kitcherri, fried eggplant, and other veggies.  (We’re so spoiled by the food people feed us!)  We left early in the morning and caught our train.  Once we made it to Dusseldorf, we made a split second decision to find a vegan restaurant to eat lunch at so that we wouldn’t be left hungry at an airport without any good food options.  We hopped off and somehow found our way to a Starsmucks where anyone can now get free wifi!! We managed to get on Happy Cow and find a place nearby, and some strangers at the next table offered directions.  We walked another twenty minutes and found the restaurant.  It had a hot bar and salad bar so we were able to eat quickly and run back to the station.  Once back on the train to the Weeze-Dusseldorf airport (which is actually very far from Dusseldorf! silly cheap airlines and their silly misleading airport names), we made friends with this other traveler named Bastian.  He was going to visit friends in Spain.  We talked about academia and traveling until we finally boarded our plane. The three of us even got to sit together in the bright yellow seats of the front row of the plane and he reassured us that the ride would be smooth even though it is a discount airline with a gaudy interior color palette.  And a few hours later, with a cheesy recorded horn ensemble announcing our arrival on the intercom, we made it to Madrid! 

Germany: blissed out with Bangladeshis

After our stay with Fred, we headed to Karlsruhe to stay with our good friend Bishawjit and his family. Bishawjit couchsurfed with us for a week in Colorado when he was presenting at the Global Governance conference at CSU. Within a few minutes of meeting me back in May, he insisted that when we come to Germany, we had to come stay with his family.

Months later, and there we were.  We had such a nice time with them. Dipika, his wife, and he make the most delicious Bangladeshi food, and we got to eat it for every meal.  Dipika is so well-known for her sweet achar (in Bengali cuisine, it’s a sweet chutney) that  her friends delight in being pregnant so they can ask her for achar as a baby shower present. She also made us these amazing banana fritters with bananas we brought and gram flour.

 We were invited to go with them to an Eid celebration with all of their Bengali Muslim friends.  They themselves are Hindu, but the beautiful part is that they all respect each other’s religion, and because mostly, they identify as Bengali.

Dressing up for Eid in gifted clothes

As I mentioned elsewhere, the most touching part of the celebration was the cultural talent show when everyone joined in singing popular Bollywood/Hindi love songs.

Bishawjit recited from memory a very beautiful poem by Tagore (a Bangladeshi!)

When he had time, Bishawjit gave us a great tour around town and his university.  The town was really nice, with great public transportation by tram to nearly every place, and lots of shopping, cafes, and museums.  We got to see his office and department where he is working on his PhD at KIT (and he’s almost finished! woweee!).

Bishawjit's office

We spent one evening having good conversation and beers with his good friend who also just completed his PhD in chemistry. Another day he walked us around the royal palace and explained how he had helped create a 3D map of the place.  It’s so neat to me to think how this man all the way from Bangladesh has settled down in this German town and made it his home.  He’s lived here with Dipika and Netui for 6 years already, and they just had a baby (well, about six months ago) so baby Babui is here now too.

He and Dipika had to learn German (Netui just picked it up naturally, of course) and adjust to a new environment, but they are doing really well.  They and all of their friends are incredible: they’re highly educated since almost all of them are in school for their MAs, or PhDs and they all speak Bengali, English, and German (and some of them speak more languages).  I was really inspired.

The funniest time we spent together with the entire family was when Bishawjit wanted to take us to the river.  We walked and walked and walked and Dipika and I were laughing about how men always think they know where they’re going.  We finally asked directions and got on another tram to the river.  It was perfect timing though since the sun was starting to set and was glowing golden on the grass, so I snapped this picture of the family.  They’re so lovely!

Dipika invited me to go with her to a women’s gathering one afternoon and I was glad to attend, though it turned into a co-ed affair.  We were served this tasty Bengali snack called Chaat Pooti.  It consists of: a thick dahl, raw green chilies, paprika-seasoned potato chips, extra spices sprinkled on top, homemade tamarind sauce, and fresh lemon juice squeezed over everything. I can’t wait to have some in Bangladesh!

Chaat Pootie

I also got to listen to their conversation which was hilarious.  At first I thought everyone was arguing over something silly with the women on one side and the men who snuck their way into the gathering on the other.  Then when someone apologized for speaking only in Bengali and asked if I understood.  I said no, but asked what the argument was.  They laughed and laughed and explained that this is just how they talk when they get together and are all excited.  I was embarrassed but it was still funny.

We were also lucky to get to hang out with Bishawjit and Dipika’s adorable and precocious daughter, Netui.

She is only six but is fluent in German, Bengali, and English. She also understands Hindi from watching so many Bollywood films.  We spent hours making clay animals and figures with her.

Julian's work

One day we also got to go to Switzerland and Rhein Falls with Bishawjit, Netui and Bishawjit’s friend.

Netui usually avoids people taking pictures of her, which probably happens a lot because she has this endearing cheeky face, but on the train back to Karlsruhe, I showed her how to make stop action movies using a camera, and so we had fun making a movie with her as the star running up and down the stairs. Hopefully one day I’ll put it together.

OH also, we were able to visit a vegan grocery store which we luckily found out about before we left. It hadn’t been on Happy Cow when we looked months ago but we looked again and saw it! We rode our bikes there and bought way more than we intended. Such good snacks!

Owner of Karlruhe's vegan store: Schilfgrun - Der Vegane Laden (and our purchases)

We even got some vegan honey made from…. DANDELIONS! I was so excited.  The bottle had actually expired recently so the owner gave it to us for free!! It was a wonderful day.

Germany: Berlin and WWOOFing

so… what did happen in Europe?! Here’s your long-awaited summary of our travels in Germany! enjoy 🙂

Berlin: I flew in from Germany and Julian surprised me at the gate. He then expertly led me through the public transit system to eat lunch at a vegan cafe, La Viasco.  We explored Veganz, an amazing all-vegan grocery store before heading to our CSer’s apartment.  Veganz was huge, and by far the largest vegan grocery store I’ve ever been in.  I was still hungry so we had some cakes before we started shopping.  We ended up getting some fake salami, a mangosteen, gummy bears, cola gummies, and jelly.  This selection might seem odd but we were planning out food for our long train ride the next day, and also had to try some of the vegan gummies which are hard to find!  (Non-vegan  gummies contain gelatin which is made from ground up animal bones.)

We definitely met a kindred spirit in Christoff, our CSing host.  We had fun talking about vegan foods and animal rights, and he showed us vegan options at the nearby discount grocer.  Even this store had vegan burgers, so we had some for dinner. We also picked up some organic orange juice because it was such a bargain.

The next day, Christoff saw us off to the train station (he woke up at 7 to walk us there! so sweet!) and we boarded on a great car because we found a private compartment all to ourselves.  Julian slept but I was still jetlagged and wide-awake so I happily consumed copious amounts of vegan chocolate hazelnut spread on bread.  Oh man. This spread was SO perfect: smooth, rich, creamy, and just the right amount of sweetness.  Julian picked it up in Amsterdam for 1 Euro!!  Little did I know this would be my favorite of the 3 (THREE!) chocolate hazelnut spreads we would sample over the next two weeks.   I can’t believe I’m admitting to it, but I honestly ate 75% of these three containers.  I ate it by the spoonful, on fruit, on bread, or even in my cereal.  I couldn’t stop.  Finally, we revised our budget and decided that we weren’t allowed to buy anymore chocolate or dessert unless it was a Saturday.  (This rule didn’t last long, but did save us some money…)  The chocolate was a real issue though because at every organic grocery store–I know an all-organic grocer would be a novelty in the US, but they are very common in Germany. Lucky ducks!– there were countless supplies of vegan chocolate.  Our favorites were the rice milk white chocolates which were suprisingly melty, and the Rapunzel brand “chocolate noir” with nougat inside, nougat being the key word for hazelnut filling.  My mouth is watering thinking about them!! Okay back to the train…

WWOOFing in Heidelberg
The train arrived early afternoon in Heidelberg Hbf. From there, we hopped on a tram to take it to the end of the line.  After that, our directions were extremely vague.  We were supposed to walk 10 minutes towards the northwest.  We started walking and quickly realized that we were not going to find this farm without some better help since we didn’t even have a proper address.  We ran into the Full Horn organic grocer which we knew was nearby the farm and asked around, and this nice couple said they would drop us off there if we waited for them to finish shopping.  We gratefully agreed and somehow between their knowledge and ours, we found the farm.

We lucked out working on the farm in Heidelberg.  Fred, the owner and sole occupant on the farm, was humorous, generous and easy-going. We “worked” weeding, stacking bricks and wood, harvesting lavender, and our favorite: making food with the harvests!  Julian (just call him Betty Crocker) created all sorts of stove-top meals while I chopped and made juicy tomato, basil, arugula, and chive salads.  Fred called these “rocket aktion” salads.  We also helped him put a roof on a new woodshop building.  From 11 to 2pm the weather was very warm, so Fred insisted that we take a break, which often included drinking lots of beers.  He could handle more than us, and I found that water refreshed me more but his generosity and insistence that we take it easy was very enjoyable.  We got to stay in this lovely camper van which felt quite isolated from everything, and we had our own composting toilet.  The farm is completely off-the-grid, so there was no hot water, but taking a cold shower in the middle of the day was extremely refreshing.   Fred often played interesting music from around the world that WWOOFers had left for him so our meals and hanging out sessions had very lively and diverse soundtracks. One night we met up with his friends at a bar right around the corner and Julian and I had so much fun asking them silly questions from our German phrase book.  We first played this game with our friends Travis and Bishawjit (who was the only fluent German speaker of us all) in Colorado, so we knew the game would be entertaining.

Farm life:

Delicious lunches with Chris, Fred, and Julian as chefs

I often found myself working on weeding this hedge which was acting as a barrier between the intensely sprayed vineyards next door.  Weeding is probably my favorite task.  Why? Well, it points to the complete arbitrariness of human agriculture and of species survival in general. We decide that this plant is good, and that plant is bad but it’s not always accurate.  Dandelions and nettles are my two favorite examples.  You can eat dandelion  greens, make tea from the root (it’s delicious– chocolatey and nutty) and you can make yourself a dandelion crown as well.  Nettles are delicious and garlicy, and are great in stir-fries or pestos, as long as you make sure you blanch them long enough to remove the stinging parts. Nettles are also great as an herbal tea remedy to allergies. Recognizing this arbitariness helps me in some way understand all injustices in the world.  It’s just arbitary. At first when  weeding, I felt overwhelmingly negative and destructive, like pure Shiva energy. I noticed myself pulling less carefully and just ripping the ‘weeds’ or bad plants out of the ground stabbing for the roots.  Then, two things happened. I accidentally pulled out nettles with my bare hands.  Whoops! and then I noticed that I was so close to stepping on a long worm.  Out of nowhere, Pema Chodron’s practice of taunlin came to me.  In the brief rage of pain that came like a white flash into my head from the stinging all over my hands, I breathed in deeply.  I exhaled then full of compassion for all accidents, for all arbitrary injustices.  Then I watched the very very long worm make his way into a hole.  That night, Julian and I made a walnut nettle pesto with the nettles and walnuts from the farm.  Yummmmm.

Another fun project I worked on was building a house for a prospective hedgehog.  I asked if we actually had a hedgehog around the farm who might move in, but Fred reassured me that doesn’t matter if he moves in or not, but we’ll make it the most attractive we can to convince him.  In every thing he does, Fred keeps an eye out for the local animals to make sure they have their own space to live as well.

Favorite foods from Heidelberg

Walnut and Nettle Pesto:

Julian workin' the nettles

the final dish: sautéed veggies pesto pasta!

Muesli with fresh peaches, raspberries, and apples:

morning fresh fruit- wish I could have this every day!

Local beers:

Vegan gelato from in town:

Tangerine and Dark Chocolate-- a winning combination! (Julian hates this picture, hahaha)

 

Heidelberg Highlights:

riding bikes into town

that’s all for now!

From Florida to New York, and Israel to Germany

I’m laying on the bed in our green “wagon hut” at the farm in Heidelberg. It’s thundering and sprinkling outside. Julian and Fred are both taking a siesta at the main farm hut (Julian on the couch and Fred in his room) and I inconveniently just did laundry in the sink, so it’s hanging to dry but nature is giving it another rinse cycle. Reflecting on all that’s happened since Florida is a daunting task but one that’s been on my mind. My thoughts are scattered and are becoming even more so as the wind keeps slamming the door that lets in my light so I keep fashioning new doorstops (the water bottle seems to be holding though so readers may be in luck).

Florida: notes from my journal

8/1 at the Tampa International Airport

I’m not yet over the hiccups left in my throat from my tearful goodbye to my mom when three kind souls sharing coffee on the other side of security greet Julian and me with recognition of our upcoming travels. Something about these two older smartly-scarved woman and bearded man puts me at ease and I am happy to answer their questions. They pointed to our bright yellow Z-rest sleeping pads which are claiming space obnoxiously on the outside of each of our backpacks.  We discuss the merits of these silly foam things and they wish us luck on our journey. I say good-bye feeling embarrassed like a kid on her way to sleep-away camp but in better spirits.  Julian seems nervous and doesn’t want to talk. Suddenly I wish I had my I-ching cards with me [The I-pad keeps wanting to correct ‘ching’ to ‘change.’ This strikes me as funny.]

On the plane

It smells like bananas up in this club (do I always sounds like Julian?). Fog is rolling curiously out of the ceiling. (Is this normal?) Babies.

Julian and I have seats next to each other but he is already zoned out listening to Democracy Now podcasts. Our cheerfully chubby seat partner is donned in a well-worn leather jacket and I’m surprised to find that he’s a singer in a gospel band and on his way to Nashville for a concert. His advice: Do it [traveling] while you’re young. You won’t regret it. He gave us each a butterscotch candy (no ingredients listed). Julian pockets his and I’m tempted to eat mine in the spirit of generosity and gratitude. (days later I wrote in: Later during the ride found out this man is an act NRA fanatic. His second piece of advice was for us each to purchase weapons to carry with us. yikes!)

In any case, lessons so far: share with strangers, make friends with people who start conversations with you, people love to be talked to and to help others.

8/1 through 8/6 Colorado friends/TRiP reunion! in Asheville, North Carolina

During the layover in Charlotte, I finished up many notes and postcards to friends so I hope some of you were greeted with snail mail treasures from my efforts! We got into Asheville and found the $1 public bus into town (wow!). The Ipad has already helped us with WiFi in the airport so we load directions to the Food Coop for once we get off at the downtown transit center. We are tired but happy happy happy to be back in such a beautiful town on our way to the store for a yummy lunch! Julian and I each have a backpack and we walked each with a handle of my Pigs Peace grocery bag which carried our books and other miscellaneous goodies which wouldn’t fit in out bags. Upon arrival at the Coop we decide that we have $10 total to spend on lunch (so begins our spontaneous money saving strategies!)  I pick some macro sushi (brown rice, sweet rice, carrots, daikon, kale, tofu, sea veggies and pickled ginger- 6 big pieces for $4.50) and Julian goes for a passion fruit drink and some bread. We hang out and use the internets while we wait to hear from our good friend Mariana who is due soon to get off her studio-duty (she’s a potter!). Once we met up with her, we head to Firestorm Cafe where her partner and new fiancé wahoo! Travis works. Firestorm definitely lit our fire and we were psyched to hang out there. It’s basically a worker-run 99% vegan cafe (they have cow’s milk for coffee drinks) with a book-store and free space for community events.  We promptly are offered an abandoned bagel courtesy of Travis.  We masticate while ruminating on the baked goods case. I decide on a raspberry chocolate cupcake. [we end up eating a lot this day, so pictures to come!]

We get to hang out with them for a day and the next we meet up with Jackson, McKenzie, Bobby, Bryan, Rachel, and camp friends (Tim, Houston, and a few others) for Linvelle gorge-ing. A late afternoon drive with groceries and speeding ticket stops found us at Linville Gorge (though first we had to stumble our way down the headlamp-lit and stinging nettles-filled path).  We camp for a few nights next to the beautiful river.  Daylight is spent exploring the boulders and swimming holes (and jumping off cliffs, some of us at much persuasion! coughRachel and Julian!)  In any case, Julian and I find ourselves extra-dexterous due to our Vibrams. We decide to leave the fun early with Mckenzie in order to further prepare ourselves for our European adventure.  An hour shopping excursion at REI sets us up nicely. In case you’re wondering dear diligent readers, we exchanged our ginormous yellow Z-rest pads for the children’s REI brand inflatable sleeping pad (only $40!). We make our way back into town on the airport bus again, and arrange to have dinner with Travis and Mariana at Rosetta’s Kitchen.  Dinner was pretty tasty, but dessert was the best.  We shared a coffee crumble cake, pecan pie cheesecake, and my favorite the chocolate peanut butter cake.  (The frosting on the latter has oft been visited in my gustatory memories!)  The next day we spend planning planning planning before we meet up with Frank, O’Bar and Jill at the Food Coop to head out to the reunion. We pick up some snacks and start towards the cabin. Upon arrival, we marvel at the grandiose affair which Jackson arranged for us. There are endless bathrooms, bedrooms, and hang-out rooms in this shiny mountain home. The revelry had already begun so we hurried to catch up. I can summarize this event in a few words: Jungle Speed, Franzia in the pants, and hot tub.  Two nights later, Julian and I are more exhausted leaving than when we arrived, but we drive away in our posh Ford Escape rental car (and I prepare to sleep on the drive up to NYC).

Drive to NYC

Early this morning, we picked up our Craigslist rideshare fellow, a nice dreaded DeadHead named Jeremy.  He had lots of fun games to play like, naming your favorite Grateful Dead song every letter of the alphabet.  Even with my few years of typical teen-aged Dead listening, I was not a winner at this game! No worries, Jeremy quickly lost interest in our poor game playing.  After displaying his beautiful blown glass (and LED light up! whoa!) ‘pieces’ which he sells at festivals, he slept almost until Pennsylvania. Once there, he woke up to use his smartphone to get us directions to Vegan Treats, a bakery in Bethlehem. (Everyone has one of these stinkin’ phones. I’m sure my mother–who to this very week gets desperate phone calls from me asking for directions–would love for me to get one! She literally helped me out of a sticky lost situation in Tel Aviv two nights ago.)  Anyways, we drop him off at the NJ Transit Center near Newark $20 richer for his ridership. (I believe we got the short end of this deal, but renting a car was still much cheaper than flights for two from Asheville, so whatever.  May good karma come back our way!)

After some very tense direction-giving, direction-rejecting, and direction-correcting, Julian and I find our way to the rental car return at JFK (don’t ask us to recall the traffic on 34th St. in NYC!). After receiving unsolicited but much needed directions from strangers (one a business man back from Tokyo, the other a young boy whose purpose in life seemed to be directing people at the rental car return stop at the airport tram), we traveled on tram, and subway to my lovely cousin (definition-of-amicable) Kimi’s apartment. She was still out when we arrived, so we used the time to indulge in a delicious meal at my *most favorite* vegan restaurant, Peace Food Cafe. A phone call to Beth, two plane ticket purchases, a re-packing, a shower, 3 hours of sleep, and 2 hours of public transit including one bewildered hurried kiss goodbye to Julian and a flighty dash to the NJ Transit train found me back at Newark Airport ready to leave on a Birthright trip to Israel.

As I write this now twenty days later, ten days of Israel travels and ten other days have blurred together in my mind. Daily plans have a new ephemeral quality since the plans themselves change daily and change throughout the day. (Those that know me understand I am often flexible with plans to a fault so perhaps this feeling isn’t new; it’s just that the weightiness of this adventure, that everyone says ‘you will remember this for the rest of your life’ makes me question every re-scheduling and weigh pros and cons that will never leave my memory–though the durability of my memory is already something I know not to trust.) Traveling on a budget means that Julian and I have to be flexible enough to take cheap transport options like ride-share whenever possible. Meals and places to stay for the most part are decided in advance, but traveling always means that these aforementioned luxuries are negotiable. In any case, to return to the subject of memories, I’ll just offer a quick summary of my trip so far–definitely more for my benefit than for yours.

Israel: Best times were in the Bendouin Tent in the dessert. Andrew (a friend from UF) and I and a few others (Robby and Alex to name two) shared great conversations under the stars near the campfire. Andrew, Alex, and I decided to camp outside under the stars instead of in the crowded hot tent so we awoke around 5am to a glorious sunrise much like the one we witnessed a few days earlier on top of Mount Masada. We fell back asleep and woke later to crowds of other birthright trippers heading to their camel rides (poor camels barely get a rest!!). In response to their loud nearness, we practiced our Sun Salutations right on our sleeping mats. It was a lovely morning. (Little did I know I was about to take a shower and leave behind my birthday present Lucy yoga leggings in the bathroom. boo for that, but yay for someone else’s great find.) Floating in the Dead Sea, a delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant in Jaffa next to live jazz band, and shopping in markets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were also highlights for me.

The worst part was definitely having food sickness on the third day. I vommed four times total, and once at the Southern Wall. Whoops! Immediately afterwards we went to see the Western Wall. I wrote down a prayer note, watched people praying, and left for the walk-in clinic with Jon, one of the trip leaders. I felt so much better by the time we got in the taxi though, and the other trip leader claims I was cured by the Western Wall. It being such a holy place, I can’t really argue. The power of the space was tangible and a little overwhelming. In any case, I was fine after that.

Some highlights:

Yoga with Syria in the distance

Enjoying delicious mango and passionfruit smoothies with Tomer, Andrew and Robby

Mount Masada sunrise

My sweet friend Arielle (and fresh lemonade!)

Andrew and I enjoyed these mini-popsicles, even if they weren't what we expected...

In the beginning I was chewed out (by Customs), and by the end, I was Jew’d out. [It should be obvious to you that Julian made this joke for me.] It was fascinating seeing how Judaism manifests itself in Israeli lives, and American lives but it was so clearly just half of the conversation. How can you have a whole conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the Palestinians are only referred to as ‘terrorists’? I felt lucky to see the country, but left feeling pretty critical of the propaganda given to us. Well, of course, I was critical before I left so I suppose my expectations were met. Regardless, visiting a country full of so much sorrow, built up out of death, and perpetuating oppression and death of the Other, was utterly exhausting spiritually and physically.

UPDATED Vegan tips: many restaurants keep kosher and as such, are either meat or dairy restaurants so if you can figure out which one a place is, you can focus on less obvious items with more specificity. Explaining that veganism is like keeping kosher also helped. Things marked “parve” are most likely vegan IF they don’t have eggs or fish. (Essentially, it means ‘dairy free.’) Also, you can check the cholesterol on the back if the ingredients are only listed in Hebrew. (Only animal products contain cholesterol, so vegan products should have none.) Vegan foods that I enjoyed were: falafel and hummus (pronounced correctly of course), the spicy sauce that you can order with it, Druize pita (without cheese), halva, fruit shakes (passion fruit and mango was my favorite combination), a bag of dark chocolate wafers found at a petrol station, fruit popsicles, and white chocolate chips! This last item is for sale at any of the major vegan online retail suppliers, but it was neat to see it for sale in a normal grocery store. Not vegan, but presumed to be vegan are the marshmallows. Kosher gelatin is from fish usually, so beware. The food (apart from the gross but sufficient buffets that birthright hotels supply) was delicious and very fresh. Organic options were extremely hard to come by on the trip, but are available in grocery stores.

Okay, that’s all I have time for now! Germany and Amsterdam updates to be continued. (Julian just told me “If I were a catepillar born in a gourd, I would have bored out by now!”) Tschüß!

Israel/Amsterdam/Berlin!

Phew! Julian and I just met up after a long 11-day separation. It’s so nice to be back together! We just ate lunch at a little vegan restaurant called Viasco and are now back at our CSer’s apartment. (Luckily for me, J’s become a wiz at the public transit system so I’ve been mindlessly following him.) Somehow I only got 20 minutes of sleep last night, so I am aching for a nap. As I type this, Julian has already fallen asleep. Traveling. Exhausting! More detailed updates to come soon…

to encourage you to check back, I’ll give you some teasers:
-Julian’s strange CSer who warned him about unexpected bathroom invasions
-Tommasina’s food poisoning at the Western Wall
-the vegan groceries in Amsterdam and Berlin
-and! the perks of Parve labeling (this is really fun, trust me!)