Vegan in Nuremberg

Check me out, blogging about a German city that isn’t Berlin.

I have actually been to Nuremberg before and eaten some decent vegan grub but did my usual thing of disappearing from the blogging world for months and then managed to lose all my food porn. Not letting that happen this time, so here I am, sleepy and drained after a 13 hour travel day yesterday!

I’ve only ever been to Nuremberg on work business, a massive organic trade show Biofach is hosted there every year. It’s a shame that I’ve only ever been there for work as it’s a cute city and I’d like to get to know it better. But anyway, this week I was sent back after a few years to see what new products are on offer, meet current suppliers and all that other important business stuff. The days are really long and exhausting, so I didn’t manage much outside of work, but what I did try was awesome.

Apologies in advance for the poor photo quality, I had no room in my bag to bring my fancy camera.

Chesmu

I tried Chesmu 2 years ago and fell in love. This is where you need to go if you want a special meal in Nuremberg though I recommend booking a table.

32863797801_066f4ea54b_o

The menu is quite small but offers a nice variety of dishes. I was pleased to see that since my last visit, there were a lot more vegan options available. Everything is veggie but the majority of it could be made vegan.

I went for the Sweet Potato Soup because I had Chestnut Soup on my last visit and it was incredible. I was not disappointed.

32834255932_90b778e4aa_o

Oh my word. These people just know how to do flavours. I usually avoid soup in restaurants because it never really feels that special and I can make a good soup…but I cannot make soups this delicious. I dunno what they did to it, but it was so tasty. I didn’t want it to end.

For my main I went for this amazing Creamy Tofu and Mushroom dish, served with Potato Rosti and salad.

32834252642_cc32faa679_o

I’ve gotta say, when the bowl of salad arrived on the table I was like ‘omg why do restaurants bother bringing lame bowls of salad?’. And then I tried it and it was not a lame bowl of salad at all, it was super tasty and worked really well with the rest of my dish. I should stop being so judgey with salads. The tofu was really really nice and I love potato rosti. It was super good.

Sadly I was too full to try dessert but they had a rice pudding and an apple cake on offer, both of which sounded amazing. Top marks for Chesmu, really tasty generous portions of food, amazing flavours and also the staff are lovely.

Vegoner

32988969905_5b1b281f0b_o

This little gem is just around the corner from Chesmu and as soon as I found out about it, I was all over it. I’m a huge fan of Voner in Berlin, so was super excited that there was another option for me to get a vegan kebab.

32863813651_3277fbdc91_o

This place is really great, you can get the usual doner wrap, or a teller but they also do burgers, stew and goulash. Prices are really reasonable, I paid €9 for a massive doner wrap, chips and a cola.

32947879636_1db03531a1_o

Oh my God, it was so good. I’m pretty sure the kebab meat is made from soya rather than the wheat gluten I’m used to. Now I love me my wheat gluten but it was nice to have something that didn’t sit so heavily in my stomach and it tasted amazing. If I wasn’t so full I would have got another one, but sadly I couldn’t even finish my chips. The chips were good but I’d say that the Voner chips that are smothered in caramelised onions and tahini are still my faves, I dream of those chips.

They also had cookies and brownies on offer, so yay for dessert! I definitely want to come back here to try one of the burgers.

So those are the two places I visited in Nuremberg, but there are a few more veggie and vegan places around that I’ve yet to try.

As always with German cities, there are organic shops everywhere which sell a huge variety of amazing vegan food, from fake meats and cheeses, pesto, mayo, cakes, cookies, chocolate. All clearly labelled and usually at a pretty good price, so lots of opportunity to pick up amazing food.

We travelled to and from Nuremberg by trains and thought I’d share some food I picked up at Frankfurt Flughafen station.

32834265792_6b96c03694_o

Tofu, Pepper and Guac Sandwich (a bit of a sloppy filling but pretty good) and this delicious Chocolate Pudding with Berries. It was so easy to find, so clearly labelled…and then I arrived back at London Euston and found nothing vegan for me to eat at all.

Damn, I need to move to Germany already.

Anyway, that’s it from me. I’m off to Poland in a few weeks so hopefully will be sharing more tasty food with you soon, but if anyone has any suggestions for eating vegan in Krakow, please comment below!

More Food & Fun in Berlin #2

Whilst I may have exhausted most of the 100% vegan eateries, there are lots of non veggie but vegan friendly places in Berlin and because I was the only vegan on my trip, I got to try many new places that did some really great food. I thought I’d use this post to show you all the great vegan food I had in non vegan cafes/restaurants.

Hot Dog Soup

26894143353_7db95be4a6_o

I’ve walked past this little place so many times in previous trips to Berlin, it’s in the heart of Friedrichshain, so I’ve always bypassed it in search of vegan kebab, crepes or cake. Daria loves this place and took me here after a night of heavy faux meat when we both craved something light and full of vegetables!

I wasn’t sure what to think of this place. It sells soup and hot dogs. Bit of a weird combo isn’t it? I was kind of hoping that the hot dogs would be IN the soup, but nah, you pick one or the other. There are always vegan hot dogs and always a vegan soup option. The day I went I think there were 2 vegan options, I went for a spiced pumpkin soup.

27467476926_ab1815fffb_k

This was one of the best soups I’ve ever had, hands down. Sometimes pumpkin can be a bit watery and tasteless, but this was bursting with flavour. It was beautifully creamy as well. Also, dead cheap, iirc around 4 euros. Soup and bread was a perfect lunch. I definitely want to come back to try the hot dogs, there are 7 different varieties…the one with sauerkraut and sweet pickles sounds right up my street!

Nil

Oh Nil, I fell in love with this place. I’ve heard great reviews of this place, but again hadn’t tried it in favour of veggie/vegan places. This place is right at the corner at the end of Sam and Daria’s street, so I ended up eating there twice. I had the Vegan Teller each time.

27467439866_42f85daf94_o

This is beautiful and I think back on this tasty teller with love. I love every bit of it, the potatoes, the hummus, the falafel but oh my word, the bread is so good! And for under 5 euros? It’s a bloody bargain. This Teller left me in agony both times I ate it, but it was so worth it.

Lemon Leaf

This is another gem of a restaurant based in Friedrichshain. Sam and Daria really did pick a great area to live!

Whilst there wasn’t a huge range of vegan options here, there were a few options and the food was really delicious. I started off with these crispy deep fried pumpkin things with a chilli dip.

27402484882_6cbc0a704b_o

I love this kind of thing. Deep fried deliciousness. I was sad when the plate was empty

I went for a Thai curry with tofu for my main

26893575163_b415a44dba_o

This was a bloody good curry. Really rich and creamy, the tofu was cooked well. Really really yummy.

I probably wouldn’t go back here if I was travelling alone or with other vegans, not because the food is bad but because I can get really good Thai food here in Manchester. This is perfect if you’re wanting to eat in a proper restaurant with non vegan friends/family though. Great service and delicious grub!

Haferkater

26893361853_438c0798f4_o

I came across this place on Happy Cow when my mum said she wanted to go out for a decent breakfast before a day of sightseeing. I thought the idea was great for breakfast lovers, a cafe that specialises in porridge! It sounded perfect for my mum…but if you’re a regular reader here, you will know that unless I’m offered a fry up or pancakes…I don’t do the breakfast thing. And I’ve never been dead keen on porridge.

When we got there and I saw a Maple, Banana, Choc Chip option on the menu, I started to get a bit excited about it.

27429275671_e25682186c_o

For good reason. This porridge effing rocked! Definitely the best breakfast I’ve ever had, I have no idea how they made those oats taste so good but they did it. Probably not a very healthy breakfast, there was a shit ton of chocolate and syrup on this, but hell, it was so good I’d eat it again as a sweet treat.

26893337513_25a7b02b43_o

We also had some really tasty drinks with our porridge. I had a soya hot chocolate and my mum had a fresh mint tea. Delicious! I definitely want to go back…and desperately want to learn how to make porridge that good!

Momos

27224519200_ea78cbba5b_o

DUMPLINGS! VEGAN DUMPLINGS

This place is heaven. It’s 100% veggie but with lots of vegan options. I found this place when I got jealous that Sam, Daria and my Mum had Russian dumplings and I couldn’t. So I found out about Momos and made my mum have dumplings for two days in a row. Best son ever.

I went for a medium portion. 14 dumplings, 2 varieties and a dip. I had the Broccoli Shiitake Tofu and a Pumpkin dumpling.

27402537132_240a4d86d4_o

They were all bloody delicious but I loved the Pumpkin best. Also 14 dumplings can disappear quick.

I loved this place, you don’t really get this kind of thing in Manchester so it was a really nice change. Definitely going back again.

That’s probably it for this round up, I’ve rambled on enough. I’m probably gonna take a look at a few places I revisited for my final blog post…until then…

27225141720_ae15976566_o

More Food & Fun in Berlin #1

So my brother and his lovely girlfriend only went and moved to my favourite city ever. I was so happy about this, mostly because Berlin is a lot closer than Beijing so I’d get to see them more…but also because…free accommodation in Berlin! Yeah! More reasons to go back again and again.

I ended up going to visit twice within the space of a month. This was due to bad planning. In my excitement I booked a trip by myself and then found out my mum wanted me to go along with her a month later. It was still great and I had lots of fun both times but I am feeling a little Berlin’d out…I need to visit somewhere else in Germany next time for sure.

So, instead of the usual Day 1, Day 2 layout I do, I thought I’d lump the two trips together and sum up my visits in hopefully no more than 3 posts.

Let’s go!

The Currywurst Museum

Yeah. I went to a museum about meaty sausages. I have spent years debating whether I should go to this museum because whilst I enjoy a nice vegan currywurst…generally it’s not a vegan dish and would visiting a museum be supporting the horrible meat industry? It was a toughy. I decided not to when I found out that the entry ticket includes a free currywurst…but then I found out that they offer a vegetarian option with that…and it is also vegan…so I decided to just go for it and find out what it’s like.

I’m actually really glad that I did because 1) It was absolutely hilarious and the most fun I’d had in ages and 2) it was pretty much all about the culture/history of currywurst in Germany, where it came from, how popular a dish it is etc and less a focus on how it’s a meaty thing. I genuinely feel like I can recommend visiting there, it’s really food fun (though a little pricey at 11 euros entry) and the vegan currywurst is pretty tasty!

There were lots of awesome things about this place. First off, you get to find out which kind of curry you are by answering questions on a screen that have absolutely nothing to do with curry or sausage. I found out that I’m a Java curry

Next up, I got to visit some tables that had radio bottles of ketchup on them. Each ketchup bottle had a different song about currywurst. Hilarious

singingketchup

There’s a sausage sofa

sofa

Also..dripping ketchup blobs that you can hit with giant fries!

ketchup

Oh my God! I loved this so much. Of course me, Sam and Daria had a go at bashing each others brains up, but I particularly liked smacking those blobs.

The best thing was getting to pretend to make currywurst in a van! I had way too much fun with this.

emilsausage

A bit too much fun..

There’s also a currywurst version of Cooking Mama and a comments book where I bigged up vegan currywurst..

Yes I know I made it look like it was dripping in sperm..it’s supposed to be ketchup you sickos.

doodle

We finished up the museum and went to get our free currywurst. You get to pick your curry powder…hot or mild. Daria decided she wanted Java, as that was our curry personality but unfortunately that’s not an option. Sad times.

Apart from the lack of Java, I recommend the Currywurst Museum. It’s funny and there’s giant fries…what more could you possibly want?

Chum & Friends

chum

This was a really great restaurant that was just a few doors down from Sam and Daria’s apartment. Squidward was drawn on the chalkboard outside advertising a vegan option so I wanted to try it as soon as I saw it. Luckily Sam and Daria love this place and were keen to take me anyway.

squidward

I had some delicious Vegetable Summer Rolls

summer rolls

And then I had the Vegan Special for my main, which was a faux fish bowl with rice and veggies.

codfish

The food here was pretty tasty and the prices were reasonable. We went during the day so it was nice and quiet and the service was quick. Definitely a place I’d suggest if I were in Berlin with a mix of vegans and non vegans.

Kontor Eismanufaktur a.k.a The Vegan Choice

kontor

This amazing all vegan ice cream parlour opened a while ago and I wanted to visit so badly. Unfortunately it’s open seasonally, so when I visited at the beginning of March it was still closed. I was so happy that it was open for business when I returned in April and dragged my mum along with me.

The reason I was so excited to visit here is because I heard that they sell Spaghetti Eis. For anyone who doesn’t know what it is, it’s vanilla ice cream that looks like spaghetti, strawberry sauce and either white chocolate or ground nut ‘parmesan’ to top it off. It looks exactly like spaghetti, which is weird and hilarious.

When I was studying German back at school, all of the textbooks made references to spaghetti eis. Apparently that’s all German kids and families do…meet up and eat spaghetti eis. I had been waiting YEARS to try this creation.

eisandme

I was not disappointed

spaghettieis

Look at that! It looks just like PASTA but tastes like ICE CREAM! What the hell Germany? Why do you have such strange food humour?!

My mum had a scoop of some peanut brittle ice cream that looked amazing. I was so sad that I didn’t have another chance to come back here, I really wanted to try the other flavours. I’ve also heard they sometimes sell doughnuts too, so I’ll definitely be returning when I’m next in Berlin.

So that’s it for my first round up. I have plenty of other great food to show you in the coming posts.

Until then, folks!

 

Vegan in Beijing Travel Tips

Now that I’ve finished my Beijing Round ups, I thought I’d write a post on how I found Beijing, how I prepared for my trip and how I found eating vegan in the city.

Preparations

Visa

Getting a visa to China is a bit of a pain in the arse. You need to do it at least a month in advance of travelling and you need to have both fights and accommodation booked before applying. Annoying right? As I was staying with my brother it was extra complicated for me to include his apartment in my application as I’d need a letter of invitation from him as well as a copy of his tenancy agreement. To avoid this I booked a cheap hostel that could be cancelled last minute without a fee, I just didn’t turn up and was charged something like a fiver for the first nights stay. If you’re staying with a friend or relative this does violate the terms of your visa but honestly they don’t seem to check, I didn’t have any problems leaving although I may have problems entering in the future. In this circumstance you’re supposed to go to a local police station to tell them where you’re staying and fill out the correct forms…but none of them speak English so this was impossible for me to do. If you’re wanting to book accommodation more last minute then go ahead and book a hostel to cancel, as long as you check into a hotel or hostel during your stay, they will send the relevant documents needed to prove where you were during your visit and you should be okay.

I got my Visa at a center in Manchester. I didn’t book an appointment and showed up on the day, the room was packed full of people. Luckily because I had everything booked, no letter of invitation and was only spending a week there, I was fast tracked and seen immediately. If you’re planning to stay longer then make sure you book an appointment or prepare for a long wait.

Learning the language

I didn’t have long to prepare for this trip at all, I booked my flights on a whim just over a month before I flew out so realistically there was only so much I could do beforehand. I felt at the time, and still do feel pretty embarrassed and awful about how little Mandarin I knew while I was out there. I felt pretty ignorant. I managed to learn a few basics such as ‘hello’ ‘thank you’ and ‘I am a vegetable eater’ before I left but that was about it. I decided to focus on learning food related phrases because I knew that eating out would be when I needed the most help. Here is a youtube video that I found really helpful by Fiona Tian

I knew that wouldn’t be enough to get me by, so I did a lot of research and checked out some blogs written by vegans who have spent a lot of time in China. Vegetarian China was a great resource for me, loads of valuable phrases are written in both Pinyin as well as Chinese characters. I printed out all of these phrases, cut them out and stuck them all in a notebook that I took everywhere with me. I can’t tell you how useful this was, it helped me make sure I’d be getting a vegan meal in lots of non vegan restaurants.

Happy Cow

Happy-Cow-peta2

Happy Cow is a life saver for any vegan traveller. If you’ve not heard of this amazing website…where have you been?! Happy Cow is basically an online vegetarian and vegan guide. All you need to do is type in the city you’re visiting, or a postcode and it will list all the vegetarian, vegan and vegan friendly restaurants and shops in the area, including user reviews. The site does rely on members to add and update information so occasionally it’s not totally up to date but I found the Beijing listings to be spot on.

This really helped with my planning, it was pretty long winded but I bought a map of Beijing and marked down all of the options available to me. This involved me writing a list of every restaurant in the area, I split it into 2 sections Vegetarian and Vegan and then I assigned each restaurant a letter or a number. I then looked up each place on Google Maps and matched it up to my own paper map of Beijing. I would then use a blue pen for vegetarian and a black pen for vegan and mark down the letters of the restaurants at their location on my map. It took hours but it was super helpful to me. When I was out and about and hungry, all I would have to do is check my map for the closest option to me, I would then carry a paper copy of the list I created (which included a description of what the cuisine was, prices, opening hours etc) and see what was available to me. This meant that even if I had any last minute plans, I wouldn’t have to worry about finding an internet connection to see where was closest to me, I had all the information in my back pack all the time.

Flights

I’ve barely flown since I went vegan nearly 9 years ago, so this was my first experience asking for a vegan meal on the plane. I flew with China Southern Airlines and honestly, I was dreading it. There are some really bad reviews online and a lot of folk complaining about there being zero entertainment on their flights. I thought they were fine, I ended up with a tv in the back of my seat that had loads of films available, including Inside Out which I loved. I thought the seats were reasonably comfy, I was offered drinks fairly regularly…maybe my expectations were low, but it was what I expected it to be.

In the week before flying out, I rang to confirm my vegan meals 3 times. Pestering obviously worked because I ended up with 2 vegan meals on each flight. Here’s a photo of my food on the way out

So what delights did I have here? The main dish was stir fried veg, tofu and some rice. I then had a pre-packed slice of rye ‘bread’ with vegan spread, the spread was actually marked vegan. The rye bread was gross. A small portion of salad…it wasn’t great but fair enough and fruit salad. All in all it was pretty good for flight food and looked far better than the shite folk around me ended up with. I also got my meal before everyone else and it was still hot. I was pleased that there was protein in my meal with tofu and the chickpeas in the salad. I just wish they wouldn’t assume vegans need to eat rye bread.

Meal 1

 

This was my breakfast. The rye bread and spread returned, I didn’t eat it this time. The main dish was surprisingly nice, it was a sort of lentil stew thing with peppery polenta. I had fruit salad and then a polenta based dessert, it was like an Indian sweet but was quite tasty. Not really breakfast food but to be honest it didn’t feel like the morning at this point in my flight anyway.

I did get 2 meals on the way back too but unfortunately I have no pictures because I realised on the way back that my phone wasn’t supposed to be on at all, even on airplane mode. Oops. I had a similar veg, tofu and rice thing and then a tomato pasta for my breakfast. I did get non vegan spread and some cakey thing that didn’t look vegan on the way back so I didn’t bother eating it. I preferred the meals on the way out, they were prepared in Amsterdam so I have a feeling they had a better idea of what vegan was than at Beijing airport but to be honest they were all fairly acceptable meals.

Travel Friendly Food Supplies

I spent a fortune bringing loads of food along with me for emergencies. My suitcase was full of cartons of chocolate milk, Spacebars, Nak’d & Trek bars, biscuits, fruit purees and Ella’s Kitchen smoothies. The Smoothies were particularly handy, forget that they’re for kids, they’re the perfect size to travel with you in your hand luggage as they’re under 100ml. Definitely worth having a few of these with you for long flights in case you don’t get lucky with a vegan meal.

I barely touched any of these supplies because I had no problems finding vegan food in Beijing, but I’m glad I brought them along with me. Unfortunately the fruit purees I bought busted out of their foil packets in my luggage, so I’d recommend bringing jars of puree instead, as they won’t burst and leave your entire suitcase stinking for days.

Here are a few other handy things to bring along: cereals/oats, dried noodles, soya puddings, crackers, pate.

How was Beijing?

Considering the language barrier and the short time I had to prepare my trip, Beijing was a pretty darn easy city to eat vegan in. I was amazed at how easy it was, I was expecting to go hungry a lot and I remember telling myself that it wasn’t a foodie holiday….but it totally ended up being one! Perhaps not as extreme as my trips to Berlin but I ate a lot of good food.

The thing I found hardest was being constantly stared at. Folk had no problem pointing at me, talking about me and having a good old laugh at me, it was so obvious…there was no shame in how they did it. It was hard to get used to that. For a while I found it quite funny that I was so fascinating to people but when I was travelling alone, sitting by myself in a park and being stared at full on for 20 minutes until I left, it was pretty intimidating.

I also struggled with the sheer amount of people in the city, it’s really crowded and there is no concept of queuing over there, it’s really chaotic. I hated all of the security every time you go through a subway station, I hated the army propaganda that played on a loop on the trains… and I wasn’t made to feel particularly welcome there. Beijingers don’t seem like us Westerners that much, I’m not particularly surprised by that, I don’t like a lot of us either but it was really difficult to visit a city that was so unwilling to help if you got into trouble. It was a miracle that I came across Donna and Percy when I visited The Great Wall, no one else was particularly nice to me, folk were constantly trying to rip me off, I ended up trusting no one because it didn’t feel safe to do so.

I found transport and map reading really easy in Beijing, it’s essentially just a grid system so very easy to get around.

A few things to be aware of

  • Be careful crossing roads! Cars do not always stop when there is a red light. I pretty much used the locals as a shield and ran across roads internally screaming.
  • Most toilets are a hole in the ground, a lot don’t even have a door or curtain…they’re pretty public affairs. There’s also never usually toilet roll available, so remember to bring your own. On the off chance that there is a Western toilet, there probably won’t be a queue as locals don’t like to use them…win? I spent a lot of the time just not going to the toilet in public areas, I really didn’t want to fail at squatting and piss all over myself in public.
  • If someone invites you somewhere for tea, don’t go! They will rip you off. Do not use rickshaws unless you can negotiate, they will rip you off! Taxis are generally trustworthy, make sure they have their meters running. Taxi drivers speak zero English but you can point to the closest subway station on a map and they will get you there safely…they’re also super cheap so a perfect solution if you’re lost.
  • The subway is easy to use, buses less so. A bus will not have stations written in Pinyin, it’s all in Chinese characters, make sure you write down your location in characters and pay attention to what comes up on the screens. There are conductors who sit in the middle of the buses, I found them pretty helpful so try and ask them to tell you when the stop is.

That’s about it, that’s all the advice I can give after only 7 days in Beijing. Have any of my readers travelled here? Can you offer any advice?

Vegan in Beijing – Day 7

So here it is, my final day in Beijing. Much like my first day, this day was very chilled out. Sam and Daria had the weekend off so I got to spend the whole day and evening with them. My flight wasn’t until around 11pm that night, so I had plenty of time before I had to head to the airport.

I slept in fairly late because I was exhausted from my walk on the wall the previous day. My thighs burnt. Daria wanted to show me the wonders of 7 Eleven’s breakfast, so we headed to the nearest shop just around the corner from the apartment. I was lucky to have Daria with me because there was nothing written in English here. So, what did I end up getting?

Warm sweet soy milk and some goodies in broth.

20150919_103650

The broth thing was cool, it was all vegetable broth and you could pick a few things to go in it. I picked some tofu, rice noodles and seaweed to go in mine. So good!

I must have forgotten to take a photo of a dish the previous night at Jin Ding Xuan because I’d bought these sweet peanut buns. I was too full to eat them but I remember dipping them in my soy milk. The soy milk in China is VERY beany but it’s okay because it’s nice and sweet. I couldn’t finish the whole drink though.

20150919_104904

Daria also recommended these tasty seaweed pots, they were yummy.

20150919_104714

After breakfast Daria had to head to her Krav Maga class for a test, so she headed off to that. I hung out with Sam for a bit and then we headed to meet Daria at The Great Leap for lunch.

20150919_130113

This place was really good, Sam and Daria had heard that the pizzas could be veganised, so there were lots of options for me. We ordered ready for Daria’s arrival. One word of advice if you end up visiting here, the base sauce of the pizza isn’t tomato, it’s cheese…so if you ask for no cheese on your pizza, you need to check they know to remove it from the base as well. The first pizza I ordered came with cheese, they dealt with it pretty well though and a new pizza arrived soon after, just in time for Daria who obviously kicked ass at her test.

Look at the lovely couple! Aw

20150919_140822

My pizza had kale, courgette, lots of garlic and courgette on it. It was really, really good.

20150919_140843

After lunch we wandered over to a cool bookshop and cafe that had a weekend market on the roof called The Bookworm. This was really cool, there was lots of tasty food around but unfortunately none of it was vegan.

20150919_155155

I experienced a Chinese Mall during the afternoon, whilst they look pretty impressive from the outside, they’re terrible. There’s nothing in them! They are really, really bad. Don’t bother going in any of them.

When the evening came we went out to eat at Hai Di Lao Hot Pot. This place was soo busy and pretty badly organised. Despite booking a table we still had to wait around for a table. It was a bit confusing. They sort of sit you down and you end up waiting for quite a while, normally this would be okay but my travel anxiety was beginning to show, I feel sorry for Sam and Daria being around me while I was like that. I was constantly clock watching.

After a lot of pestering we finally got seated and I got to experience the amazing Hot Pot. It was so worth the wait. Basically you get two hot smoking oily broths brought out to the table and then you pick things that you can cook yourself in the broth. Amazing right? Sam and Daria got a meaty broth and I picked tomato.

20150919_201703

I was so anxious that my appetite wasn’t up to much, so I just went for rice cake and mushrooms and I think I nicked a few potato things from Sam and Daria too, I can’t quite remember.

Sam and Daria ordered the best thing ever, which unfortunately wasn’t vegan but was amazing to see..they ordered a dancing noodle man. Basically a guy comes over to the table with noodles (sadly egg 😦 ) and a portable speaker and stretches the noodles out by dancing to techno music. Oh my, this was HILARIOUS! I wish those noodles were vegan! Here’s a video I found of it on youtube.

One word of advice for Hai Di Lao…make sure you wear your crappy paper apron. Eating Hot Pot is a smelly business and you will get splashed…I feel really bad for the poor people sat on the plane next to me on the way back. I reeked of Hot Pot!

The food here was good, dancing noodle guy was amazing but the wait was pretty awful, I can’t imagine navigating their system without speaking Mandarin.

And that was pretty much the end of my trip! We went back to the apartment, I grabbed my suitcase and then went with my brother back to the airport. I was really sad to be leaving, Beijing was a great experience but also I’d had an amazing time with Sam and Daria and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

Luckily for me they have moved a lot closer to home and are now living in my favourite city, Berlin! I’ll be heading out there in a few weeks so keep your eyes peeled. Also this isn’t the end of my China posts, I’m planning to write up tips for travelling there, planning etc so watch this space

Vegan in Beijing – Day 6

This day was a pretty big one for me, I decided to do The Great Wall…all by myself. I was super scared about doing this, if Sam and Daria were expecting me to get lost venturing out to the 798 Art District how the hell was I going to fare travelling a few hours out of the city?

Despite being terrified and the fact my feet were covered in blisters (goddamn the heat made my feet swell) I knew I had to do it. I did a fair bit of research into what part of the wall I would go to. I wanted an easy trip there but I didn’t want to be surrounded by tourists. Badaling is the most popular part of the wall, you can get there by train but I’ve heard it’s not a pleasant visit as it’s so crowded and it’s been completely restored so not really an authentic part of the wall. In the end I settled for Mutianyu, it wasn’t too far away, not too crowded and although it’s had some renovations to make the climb easier, it still has original parts of the wall there. Perfect.

I borrowed Sams phone, loaded up on food, packed a load of water and headed to Dongzhimen bus station. I got myself on the 916 Express coach heading to Huairou North Avenue, from there I would need to try and negotiate a price in Mandarin with a taxi driver. Scary stuff.

Finding my coach was easy, the bus station is clearly marked and they’re a lot comfier than the normal buses in Beijing. I had Huairou North Avenue written in characters in my notebook but as I knew it was a long ride I settled down with some tunes on my ipod and tried not to worry. Just as we were setting off, I moved my bag off the seat next to me for a passenger getting on board…this was a wise move. I was thanked in English by the person sat next to me and he asked me where I was heading to, he said he’d let me know when the station approached. Win!

The ride towards Mutianyu is okay, not really scenic but it went quickly, after 45 minutes I was starting to feel like everything was going okay, I’d probably get ripped off for the taxi but the coach ride was going really well, I didn’t even have to pay attention to the characters displayed on the electronic screen thanks to the lovely guy next to me.

Great right? Do you know what’s not great? Coaches terminating early.

GODDAMMIT!

Can I just say that for someone who has anxiety, a bus stopping for a reason you can’t understand in an unknown country is really bloody scary. I had no idea where I was, I had no idea how I would get home. I was so lucky to have one of the only English speaking passengers on that coach sat right next to me. He explained that the bus had terminated and that we would have to leave, during all the confusion and questions he didn’t really explain much else, I sort of just followed him and his friend around for a while. Once he had worked out what was going on, he offered to take me to Mutianyu as they were heading there for the day. He introduced himself as Percy and his friend as Donna. Basically what followed was one of my best days in China.

Percy and Donna were awesome. Not only did they get me to Mutianyu safely, they spent the entire day with me and then got me back to Dongzhimen in one piece too. I’m also in a load of their holiday snaps! I honestly can’t explain how kind and amazing these people were, they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and calm and really made the day something special. I will never forget how lovely they were, I am so lucky and grateful. If they ever come across this, THANK YOU!

I loved visiting The Great Wall. We all decided to get the cable cars up to save time and agreed that we’d walk an hour along the wall and then head back.

21747332572_a760edee5e_o

It was so hot up there and I made the mistake of not wearing sun screen. I’d not been burnt so far but I guess that was thanks to all the Beijing smog, I was completely exposed to the sun on the wall and I got pink almost immediately.

It was amazing though, the views are incredible

It was a tough walk in the heat though and I was glad that I decided not to visit a more ‘wild’ part of the wall. I drank a ridiculous amount of water but didn’t pee all day because I was just sweating it all out. Gross and too much information but deal with it.

21137982473_ec01acc57a_o

The only annoying thing about visiting was the ridiculous prices for food and water there. Yes I may well be happy to spend £1 on a bottle of water here in the UK but in China? OUTRAGEOUS! A SCANDAL! Bloody rip off, I paid it though because I’d have paid anything for a cold drink on my way back down.

I was sad when the day ended and I had to say goodbye to Percy and Donna. I returned back to my brothers apartment to his shocked face. He couldn’t believe I’d made it back without getting lost…he was even more amazed when I explained that the coach had terminated early.

It was 5pm when I got back, so I thought I’d chill on the sofa until it was time for dinner…I pretty much fell asleep immediately. I was so tired after that day.

When Daria came back from work we headed out for dinner. We were all super hungry so decided to return to Jin Ding Xuan. This was a bloody great idea. I WAS SO HUNGRY. Here’s what I ordered

Deep Fried Sugared Sweet Potato (yes, that’s actual sugar on top)

21759253075_0eeb5577b4_o

Chilli Potatoes

21571306280_769c696880_o.jpg

Rice Cake with Sesame

21571423338_591b12a7f7_o

Oh my God this was all so good. I loved it all and was super sad when I got full up so quickly.

We spent the rest of the evening walking around some night market type thing close by where I bought some cheap tack for last minute gifts. I was gutted that I would be leaving Beijing the next day, it felt like I’d only just got there.

Vegan in Beijing Day 5

After having such a nice day with Sam and Chris, my confidence was back up to go exploring. I decided I wanted to spend the day exploring the 798 Art District in Chaoyang. Despite having it’s own section in my Lonely Planet guide book, it’s not included on the map they provide. It also wasn’t on my super big detailed map of Beijing. Whyy?!

I looked up details on how to get there and realised that I would have to take a bus. The problem with Beijing buses is that all the stops are written in Chinese characters and of course I don’t understand them. Luckily for me Daria could write me a short message to show the bus supervisor (that’s what I’m calling them, basically someone who works for the bus company sits in a little box thing in the middle of the bus). I filled myself up on leftovers, packed some emergency snacks and took my brothers phone so that I could call Daria if I got lost.

I headed to Dongzhimen subway station to get my bus. You’ll need to leave at exit C and look for the stop for the 909 bus, if I remember right the markings for the bus stops are on the floor. It was really easy to find. My bus came in no time and I nervously got on and found the bus supervisor. I said Ni Hao! Smiled a lot, pointed at the message from Daria and said lots of xie xie (thank you). The supervisor was so nice to me, she didn’t speak a word of English but she got me to sit in front of her so that she could tell me when my stop was. Throughout the journey she kept checking on me, which I kept thinking meant I had to get off the bus but I think she was just reassuring me. It was about a 15-20 minute bus ride before I got there.

As soon as you get off the bus you’ll see a big sign with 798 in massive red letters, so it’s easy to find once you get there.

798 is filled with galleries, cafes, street art and sculptures, you can definitely spend a whole day here, which is pretty much what I did. There’s also a 7 Eleven by the entrance, so if you know what vegan snacks to look for, you can stock up there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I went on the Thursday, a lot of the galleries were free. It was really easy to just wander around here all day, popping into galleries, visiting shops. The gift shops here are really cool, not much of that cheesy tacky merchandise, but really cool gifts. It was so hot out that I didn’t really get hungry, I just drank a lot of water. But, there were enough places to eat that I’m sure there would be some vegan options if you wanted to go look for them. Some of the bars would at least do fries I’m sure.

I headed back late afternoon. I was a bit scared of going back because I didn’t have a message to guide me back to Dongzhimen, but I knew I should be able to recognise it. I did, it was easy, the station you can see very clearly from the window. I hopped off and headed back to Sam and Daria’s.

As soon as I entered the room Daria said ‘I can’t believe you didn’t get lost!’. Apparently it’s quite hard to find 798 and they were expecting me so phone them. Haha, I felt so proud! We ate at the apartment that evening, Daria made me a really delicious Turkish lentil soup…must get the recipe so that I can eat it again, it was really tasty.

That night we headed out to a bar called 8-Bit in the Dongcheng area…a bar where you can play old school games and drink game themed cocktails! It was so cool! Here’s my terrible photo of it.

I feel like I haven’t written a lot about this day but it was one of my favourites, I really loved 798. If I’d had more time in Beijing I probably would have gone back for another visit, definitely worth seeing if you visit.