Just wanted to return and report on our trip to Krakow. I was a bit nervous because it's the first time I've travelled internationally since my diagnosis. I packed a bunch of food in my carry-on - Go Picnics, Jif-to-Go cups, rice crackers, Lays Stax. No one at security had any issues with it.
We flew Lufthansa. I had pre-ordered gluten-free meals and confirmed with the airlines the day before. When I got on board the plane I informed the flight attendant that I had a special meal. Still there was a mistake in Houston and the entree for my meal didn't get loaded on the plane. The flight attendant was so wonderful about the situation. She understood gluten-free completely and was pulling things I could eat from First Class trays - apples, pears, rice cakes, etc. And she apologized about 15 times for the error. Still I was glad I had my food in my carry-on because I was getting a little sick of fruit
Unfortunately a lot of the local Polish food was off limits - no pierogi, no pretzels, no potato pancakes (they have flour), no local beer. I printed the restaurant card from the Polish Celiac website and that made it pretty easy to order things in restaurants. Plus, most Poles under the age of 40 speak really good English, so that helped with the restaurant ordering. We also had the advantage of staying with two Polish-English speakers.
You can get gluten-free food at the health stores. Unfortunately we didn't find one until about 2 days before we left. But that was okay. There are a ton of little markets with fresh fruits and cheeses that are really good. And all the bratwurst I ate was gluten-free and super delicious.
Two issues that I had there were ice cream and alcohol. First the ice cream. Everyone there loves it and there are little shops selling it everywhere but most people eat it in cones. When I would ask them if I could get it in a cup, several places couldn't accomodate me. Next, the alcohol. Beer and vodka are the two drinks of choice in Poland. Some places have wine but it's more expensive because it has to be imported. And I saw cider at one store, but it was barley cider. I'm not a big vodka fan, but I don't have reactions to it like some Celiacs and the flavored stuff was pretty tasty. Ironically enough, many of the restaurants in Krakow made awesome mojitos with fresh lime juice. Yum!
One of our best dinners was at an old king's hunting lodge. I had cold beet soup, a summer specialty. Plus venison steaks and fries (cooked in a dedicated fryer) and sorbet for dessert.
The country is absolutely beatiful and I highly recommend visiting it. It's also very inexpensive once you get over there. (They are part of the EU, but not on the Euro.) But there were moments that were hard for me because it seems like a lot of the food is off limits. I certainly didn't starve, but I did get tired of walking past bagel stands, pastry shops, stores with baugettes, etc. Luckily the couple we were staying with were very understanding. Their son has severe peanut, dog, cat and horse allergies, so they could sympathise.
We flew Lufthansa on the way home and they remembered my meal this time. Dinner was edible, but breakfast was just nasty. It was a dry, dark bread sandwich with globs of mayonaise and slices of tomatoes and cucumbers. I told my husband it was too gross to eat but he didn't believe me. When he tried it he had to agree. Luckily once again I had my trusty supply of snacks with me.
I would love to go back and visit again soon. The people are so friendly over there and Krakow is a beautiful city.