Saturday, July 2, 2011

Europe Trip Part 2: Netherlands and Belgium

And so part 2 of our journey began with a night train from Zurich to Amsterdam on the CityNightLine. When I opened the door to the compartment, my jaw dropped a little. Didn't look like the pictures I saw online. But, you know what? It was very cozy. I liked it.  The bed was pretty hard, but other than that it was fun! We had our own private bathroom, shower and all. We got a free drink when we started and it was fun, sitting on the bed, looking out the big window, drink in hand.

The morning breakfast setup:

Breakfast, which was included. Unfortunately it was yogurt, cheese, and meat. Well, they brought a bag of croissants (which I didn't eat) and regular bread. Coffee too. Luckily, I had my soymilk with me and I had some bread with jam. We took the OJ for later (we're not big OJ drinkers):

We stayed in the very nice B&B Hotel Malts in Haarlem. We had a big room looking out onto a main street. The first night was unbelievably noisy. It was a Saturday night. I mean, people were yelling in the streets until around 3 in the morning or so. The rest of our stay was quiet (2 more nights). So, maybe get an inner room if you stay on a Fri or Sat night. Breakfast was included, but we brought our own oatmeal. They had a very nice layout with lots of great breads and jams, etc. They, of course, also had meats and cheeses. There was a nice British woman there at bfast serving us coffee. She also offered freshly squeezed orange juice, if you wanted it. I had emailed the owner earlier and asked if I could bring soymilk to store in their fridge for my coffee....but she bought me some and had it in there when we arrived! Thank you, Andrea.

We stopped at a restaurant in Haarlem and they gladly made me a vegan plate out of one of their dishes:

We found a great vegan store in Amsterdam: Vega-Life. And they gave us a vegan map of Amsterdam!!! Haha...can you believe that? As it turned out, it wasn't quite as helpful as we thought it might be.

A soy latte with my vegan map:

We got the coffee, along with lunch at a wonderful place that store suggested: Bolhoed

And here's the interior:

It was delicious! S got some sort of big salad plate and I got the soup of the day plus a filled croissant, all vegan! Now, we tried to go there again a couple of days later for dinner. We arrived and they said it was all reserved and there wouldn't be anything for several hours! And the woman that day was quite unpleasant and not helpful at all.  Too least we got there once, and had a friendly waitress.

A hint for Amsterdam veg restaurants.....don't trust the place will be open when it says.  Actually, it was the same in Belgium.  As for Amsterdam, there were several places on that vegan map we went well out of our way to walk to and they just never opened.  And yes, I tried to go to Maoz....but it was such chaos inside with only one guy working and a ton of people in there.....I didn't even attempt. Actually I did, I tried asking, but it was just too busy. Maybe I just picked the busiest one??

We did get to one other vegetarian restaurant called the Golden Temple.  Let me explain that we got there when they were supposed to open, and we stood at the window staring in for about 20 minutes. We saw someone inside taking the chairs off the tables. Looked like they were going to open.  The guy FINALLY came out, and told us they were going to open about an hour late. I think someone called in sick or something and so they only had 1 or 2 people working.  But still, he should have come out and told us sooner...I know he saw us standing there for ever at the window.  Anyway, we went across the street and had a beer in the meantime. Came back when he said they'd open and the place was full!!!  How'd that happen? Anyway, we did manage to grab the last table. And I think maybe it was the owner that went around taking orders, holding his baby in his hands....hmmm.......service was ultra slow. But, the food was very good. Everything you see here is vegan, except for S's tzaziki sauce:

And for dessert, which I got "to go", was vegan carrot cake...delicious!

This was up on the wall, above our table.  Very cool....

We also found another place that had veggie food, but wasn't all vegetarian: Wagamama. It's a noodle restaurant. And they had beer! The bowls were absolutely huge might want to share. (sorry about the blurry phone pics):

You could choose which noodles you wanted, as they have some with egg and some without. It was all delicious!

At the market:

This kind of grossed me out:
A hamburger vending machine?? Ick.

But look what I found???? Isn't this awesome? We had to go in for a beer. But unfortunately, they wouldn't sell me a t-shirt. Sniff.

We visited Zaanse Schans with a friend. Here's me and S:

We took a train from Haarlem to Rotterdam and spent a few hours there. Not too interesting. If we'd had more time, we would've gone to see the dikes. Rotterdam is below sea level, like New Orleans. It was a very modern looking city.....but we did find a "pay by weight" cool place to eat: Spirit (in the Groene Passage). Everything was labeled....great place! And there's a good health food store in there too.

look at all those non-dairy milks!! (sorry they're so pics).

I grabbed one of these for dessert from the store:

Then we were on our way to Brussels. In general, I didn't find that Belgium was very veggie friendly at all. Except for the city of Ghent.  We did find a sushi place near our hotel in Brussels though...of course I only found out after it came to my table that they put mayonnaise in there......why would you put mayo in veggie sushi??  Anyway, they offered to make me a new one without and it was delicious. And then we went there a few more nights for dinner :)  There was also a nice coffeehouse near the hotel that had free wifi and soy milk! Good combination. It was called Karsmakers. They also have bagels and hummus. This stuff was all near the EU part of town. I had pricelined the hotel (Renaissance) and got a great rate, but it was about a 30 minute all uphill walk from the train station.  The hotel had a mini-bar in the room. So I took their stuff out and kept my soymilk, etc. in there! And there was a nice little health food store around the corner, so I got some soy yogurt and fruit there too. Very convenient.  I had emailed the hotel earlier to ask if they had soymilk. And they said yes. Of course, that first morning when I went downstairs to grab some coffee....they had no soymilk. They said they'd go out and buy some later in the day. Ok. Next day I did get my soymilk. Yay. But then the following morning the same soymilk. I don't get it...were there really that many people asking for soymilk that they ran out?? As it turns out, the manager came out after several minutes with the box of soymilk and told me just to take it to my room. Maybe they just kept it in a weird place..???

Rant rant rant......

So we were off to Ghent and well, the center of town is quite a walk from the main train station. But...I think there are trams and buses.  Beautiful town!! And they have a few vegan, yes VEGAN restaurants. We found one that was a bit off the beaten path, Komkommertijd. It was an all-vegan as much as you want! We got there right when it opened....except it wasn't open.  The guy finally opened the door about 15 minutes later.  I'm glad we waited.

Our placemat:


Another day we went to Bruges...also a beautiful town!

After a lack of raw vegetables for so long (do they eat those in Belgium??), we stumbled across a "make your own" salad place. Awesome!!

I forgot....we also stopped in Le Pain Quotidien in Mechelen. Did you know that place originated in Belgium? Yup. I had the grilled veggie open-faced sandwich and soup, both vegan. I also picked up a couple of vegan muffins for later.

And there you have it. My food experience in Europe. I feel as if I've forgotten something. Anyway, if after perusing my photos, I see I forgot a place, I'll add it right away.

If you want to see my beer tastings in Netherlands and Belgium, click on the links!
Read here about my food adventures in Switzerland.

Happy 4th of July weekend!!

Eat smart,


  1. I'm so incredibly jealous... All of the food looks incredible, as does the scenery of course! I was just in the Netherlands briefly for vacation last year, but my family didn't want to try any of the vegan places I had scoped out, so I really got shorted there. Seeing your photos makes me want to go back and do it the right way.

  2. It seems to be a real lottery though when trying to eat vegan in the Netherlands...will it be open? will it not? Maybe we were lucky with a few of them, but there were several others we did NOT get to eat at. You should pick up that map anyway, next time you go!

  3. I love travelling by train! I went on sleeper train when I was travelling in europe, but it wasn't as glamourous as yours! The food looks amazing. I love to travel, and I can't wait till my next trip away, I always like to be planning towards something!x

  4. I do miss those European trains. The only "sleeper" I'd been on before was me lying down across all seats in a public regular ol' train compartment in Italy, on a train to Switzerland, sleeping :) This one was much better! I'm sure we'll never do it again, but it was actually cheaper than flying and getting a hotel room.



Vegetarian Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory