New year New travels….
So this year, right at the very beginning of it to be honest, me and 3 friends decided to go to Amsterdam on a mini cruise. My friend booked it as it was her idea and i’m poo at planning stuff. We planned to train it up to Newcastle to catch the ferry over to Amsterdam, stay there for the day and then ferry and train it back.
Sounded lovely, few days away with friends travelling on trains, which FYI are my favourite mode of transport, and a ferry trip on top of that to visiting Amsterdam.
However, knowing I was going to be away from my food securities of my kitchen and local shops was a little anxiety provoking. But I did as all good allergic eaters do I prepped; and I prepped better than when I went Disney, lesson learnt!
I wasn’t to concerned with the train aspect of our travels as it was still in the UK and we did have a few change overs so good pick up some goodies at those stops. It was the ferry that was worrying me the most.
I asked my friend about the facilities that were in our cabin on board the ferry, but she was unsure. We knew we’d book a window room but that was it. On checking the DFDS site our cabin did not have tea making facilities, so no kettle. Nor did it have a mini fridge or anything like that.
Which limited my food choices right down.
I could only take food which didn’t require hot water or a fridge. Thinking about it now I probably could have taken food which need hot water, I bet if i’d asked they would have filled it up for me at one of the restaraunts even if I had to pay for the water.
But, thinking the worse I prepped accordingly.
So in my bag I had:
Love Corn BBQ flavoured, tasty little corn nibbles in a resealable bag,
Beeches vegan dark chocolate bar,
Meridian peanut and cocoa bar, I got mine from Aldi,
Morrisons moroccan falafals,
Oranges, apples and a banana.
The falafals stated they must be kept in a fridge, however, it was freezing outside and I though I would take the risk. I kept them in my bag and in the cabin and they were lovely, but I would not advice people to store them incorrectly, always follow the labels storage advice.
Its travelling time…
I met my friends on the West Midland train up to Liverpool, our first stop, we weren’t in Liverpool that long but the girls went into the Marks and Spencer in the station for some nibbles, I had a look but there was nothing for both a gluten free and vegan diet, good job I food prepped!
Then we got our Virgin train up to Newcastle, the train up to Newcastle did have a tea and coffee cart but I didn’t look at its contents so not sure if the carts are allergic friendly.
In Newcastle we decided to grab some dinner before heading onto our ferry. We stopped at Frankie and Bennys and trying to stick to my gluten free vegan diet I chose the mushroom burger. The burger was goats cheese, mushroom and red pepper and all the fluffy stuff. So I asked for it without the goats cheese and mayo, no issues. On paper you’d think it would be a bit dry with no mayo or cheese but it was surprisingly moist and blinking delicious!
My friend booked us on the DFDS mini cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam and back. The ferry its self seemed really spacious, we booked into a seaview cabin for 2. However, our cabin was really small, it was in need of a freshen up and appeared dirty. However, we were only in the cabin for a few hours so we headed out to explore the rest of the ship. There was several restaurant and diners to eat in so it didn’t seem an issue initially to find me something to eat, as were all now starving form the travels so far.
On the crossing over to Amsterdam we decided to visit a few of the restaurant before choosing which one to eat in. We had chatted about the ferry and all knew it was going to be expensive to eat on there, another reason I food prepped, but I don’t think we expected it to be as much as it was. The all you can eat buffet in the Explorers kitchen was nearly €30 per person, so we decided to go to another restaurant. I think it was called the Lighthouse cafe.
It was a small restaurant but a busy one, it server items like burgers, chips and sandwiches. There was no options for me apart from chips, what a shocker.
I asked about the chips and they were gluten free, so I ordered them. I know i’d food prepped but it was the 2nd of January freezing cold and raining and you know when you just need hot food even if it is chips, again.
And blinking heck did I get some chips!
The bowl was massive! It was about €7 I think and it could have been 4 peoples meal, and they were lovely. So lovely that I took the rest I couldn’t finish up to the cabin and ate them throughout the evening.
We reached port at 9am in Amsterdam, oh it was a loooooong night. We hit a terrible storm which made the journey less than smooth so I was happy to be on land. The girls didn’t want breakfast, and to be honest neither did I after that journey we had, so after passport control we boarded a bus to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city full of hustle and bustle, I’ve been there once before as just vegetarian and had no issues as they have all the big eateries being a city. But I’ve not been as a gluten free vegetarian currently vegan due to her body hating her and stopping her eating milk, diet.
Firstly I must explain, we booked this cruise understanding it was overnight travel and a day in Amsterdam and over night travel again. However, what we didn’t realise or understand is that yes its a “day” in Amsterdam but that day is cut down dramatically by passport control and travel. Meaning by time we had got off the ferry and been through passport control then a bus trip into the centre we had all of 3 hours to visit Amsterdam before having to head back.
So, to save time the girls popped into McDonalds. I can eat in McDonalds but no shocker only the chips and having eaten my weight and everyone else’s weight in chips last night I needed food. Proper food.
So whilst they were in McDonalds I noticed a shop called Albert Heijn which looked to be filled with fruits and salads and yummy stuff.
I did do some research on how to say gluten free, vegan and vegetarian in Dutch and saved them to my phone, but what I found made me smile.
In the store they had the ingredients in Dutch but they also had pictures of what was in it on the packaging!
As I already had some “food” in my bag I decided on a smoothie, some water and a tub of strawberries.
Also in the store was lots of salads, pastas, more fruit drinks, fresh bread (not for me obviously but it smelt amazing!) and snacks. Initially I brought just the one smoothie and as we were walking around Amsterdam I was enjoying it so much I decided on getting another 2 on the way back. Throughout the day I was nibbling on my falafals, corn and snack bars but thought I would try another restaurant on the ferry back so didn’t search out any proper meals.
There are lots of little streets in Amsterdam with vendors which sell pancakes and waffles, hundreds of chip sellers and the big eateries like McDonalds, Subway and KFC. As we were so short for time I didn’t search for any specific vegan, vegetarian or gluten free places to eat but i’m sure there will be some. But if you are in Amsterdam Albert Heijn is definitely a place to pop into.
So after our short trip into Amsterdam we headed back onto the ship. If i thought the journey to Amsterdam was bad this one was horrendous. The journey was so bad it made me that ill that I couldn’t leave the cabin, nor could I eat anything. I drank water and rested that’s all I could do for many hours. The girls wanted to grab some breakfast, I did not but felt well enough to walk to the buffet with them. The buffet opened about 7am but we headed down around 8am, I asked if I could see what options they had before paying. I wasn’t going to eat but I wanted to see their options.
I was shocked.
I understand we were 1 hour into the serving but I read the labels to see what would have been there on the missing trays and it was the same as what was left. There “gluten free station” consisted of rice crackers and cereal which would have cost me €14! Erm….nope!
Once we had docked we headed back to Newcastle train station, by this point I felt somewhat better but I knew I needed to eat so we popped into the Sainsburys shop at the station to pick up a few items to snack on. There wasn’t much options but what I did get was just enough. I picked up a Alpro protein yogurt (my new addiction!), a banana and some hummus to go with my 2 last falafals.
How I made 9 falafals last 3 days i have no idea!
The Alpro protein yogurt must be the nicest yogurt I have ever tried. Its the thickest creamiest yogurt ever.
It is a little expensive for the size of it as you can get a 500g yogurt from Alrpo for almost the same price in some stores. However, I can justify the cost for the taste and texture it was perfect for a post ferry snack.
So lessons learnt….
Amsterdam is a beautiful city and definitely needs more than 3 hours to explore. If you sail with DFDS you can eat your weight in chips for a good prices, 9 falafals can last 3 days and don’t mix smoothies with choppy seas!
Oh and I met a cat who was asleep in some socks in a shop!