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Eastern Europe?


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#1 HannahB

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:19 PM

Hi everyone,

I am a 24 year old Australian girl who is traveling to Eastern Europe soon and am very sensitive to wheat and gluten. Has anyone been to Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary on this diet? I read a post earlier from someone who said Poland was good for gluten free but they used wheat starch, so this is not good for me.

Has anyone used the gluten free travel cards from celiactravel.com for these countries? I have recently been diagnosed and haven't traveled since with my new dietary requirements so I'm quite scared to go where I really can't speak the language.

Thank you :D
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#2 love2travel

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:44 PM

Hi everyone,

I am a 24 year old Australian girl who is traveling to Eastern Europe soon and am very sensitive to wheat and gluten. Has anyone been to Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary on this diet? I read a post earlier from someone who said Poland was good for gluten free but they used wheat starch, so this is not good for me.

Has anyone used the gluten free travel cards from celiactravel.com for these countries? I have recently been diagnosed and haven't traveled since with my new dietary requirements so I'm quite scared to go where I really can't speak the language.

Thank you :D

Hi Hannah,

Though I have not been to the countries you have mentioned since my diagnosis I have traveled to Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia without any problems at all. In fact, it is far better than I expected. My biggest problem was at the airports (delays, etc.) so plan ahead and bring lots of snacks along.

I do use the travel cards - they come in handy at most places we eat at. It is rather disconcerting when people have no clue what the cards mean so we move on to eat somewhere else. In Croatia much of the food is grilled rather than fried (rarely deep fried) so it is slick. We also have a house there so purchase groceries and fresh things from the market to cook. We are leaving again in a few weeks and will be taking cards along with us (my husband laminated them for me). We travel two months of the year.

The Czech Republic is gorgeous. We loved Prague but we loved it even more getting out into the less busy and traveled countryside. Have the time of your life! We have not yet been to Hungary or Poland but plan to.
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#3 AVR1962

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:59 PM

I have been to both Poland and Czech. The people in Poland will knock themselves out for you, speak great English. There has been alot of help to improve the country and not nearly like it was 10 years ago but you still may have young boys being for cigarettes and cookies, or wanting to wash or watch your car for money. Be very very careful as theft is high in Poland. Of all the places I have visited this is the only place where I had something stole.....my wallet was stole out of the front pocket of my coat in a crowd.....they know how to do this and act as a team. I don't want to scare you, just be careful. Ask for grilled meats in both countries. I always resort to mostly salads when I travel, I personally don't use the cards and have had no issues. One other thing I would recommend is not to drink the tap water in either country. My husband became quite sick after a visit to Czech, docs believed it wa the water. This should be a memorable expeience for you, enjoy!
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#4 BabsV

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:14 AM

I am currently living in Krakow, Poland and have found being gluten-free very challenging. Most people (shops, restaurants, etc.) do not know anything about it...wheat and barley are huge staples in Polish cooking. I've had a lot of issues with the quality of meat -- been glutened more than once by chicken breasts and turkey that I've bought at stores/butchers and prepared myself at home. I am now to the point of eating only fish that is specifically marked for allergens (yay! TESCO). There are gluten-free replacement foods here in Poland but most of them seem to include gluten free wheat starch and the breads and such actually taste bleh (the texture is abysmal on the ones I tried and I am not convinced there aren't cross contamination issues in the factory because I had a cookie that didn't include gluten-free wheat starch and got sick!); I can find Schar products which are much better in terms of taste and quality. You have to go to 'green shops' or natural foods stores for any sort of gluten-free replacement foods. Avoid sausages, lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon...all are labelled in shops as "may contain gluten." I don't think it is worth the risk. There are a few restaurants here in Krakow that are supposed to be gluten-free friendly. I'll make a list and post it.

Since I've been diagnosed (about 8 months ago) I've traveled to Greece and Italy and found in both of those countries it was much easier to eat gluten-free safely. Krakow at least has a long long long way to go to catch up!
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#5 BabsV

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 01:51 AM

Krakow Restaurants:

Olive Tree -- the owner is gluten-free (my husband knows him through work) so has tried to make the menu as gluten-free as possible. They should have an awareness of the issue but definitely mention it to the server. The owner is usually present in the restaurant and speaks fluent English. This is a kosher restaurant and closes from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. http://www.theolivetree.pl/

Pod Baranem -- this place has advertised as the first gluten-free restaurant in Krakow. They are not exclusively gluten-free; not sure how they address cross contamination issues as I have not been. They use the Polish 'bez gluten' brand products - many of which have gluten-free wheat starch as an ingredient. Be careful if you can't tolerate it! http://podbaranem.co...m/?a=page&id=14

Manzana -- has wheat free dishes marked on the menu and it is a favorite with lots of my gluten eating friends. Again, I have not eaten here. http://manzana.com.p...enus/4555900294

Yellow Dog (SE Asian cuisine) -- Any type of decent Asian food is difficult to find in Krakow but this place has gotten good reviews. Menu is limited but they usually have Thai dishes that are naturally gluten-free. They also seem to understand the cross contamination better than anyone else I've spoken to in a restaurant here. They don't have a website but are on facebook if you want to 'like' them and see some of what they do. They are located at Krupnicza 9/1, Krakow 30-123.

As for food shops...Natura is at ul. Zamenhofa 1 which is not far from the train station or the Old Town/city center. They have a decent gluten-free selection but seem to be getting more and more of the Polish brands over the Schar or other imported brands (which are much more expensive!) Read labels very carefully...

Grab and go cheap meals are going to be just about impossible IMO. There are stands where you can buy fresh fruit and veg if you like. Plus you can get yogurts and cheeses easily along with nuts and dried fruit.

Good luck!
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#6 Gluten-Free Fun

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 02:13 PM

I went to the Czech Republic in 2011 and did just fine. There are two restaurants in Prague the can easily cater to a gluten-free diet. Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce is a 100% gluten-free restaurant. They are very nice and extremely knowledgeable about Celiac and gluten-free. I highly recommend them. Also, Švejk Restaurant U Karla has a gluten-free menu and the owner's daughter has Celiac. All of the gluten-free meals come out with a flag that indicates the dish is gluten-free. I went to Švejk Restaurant U Karla twice during my visit. I also did a lot of shopping at Tesco (a chain supermarket) and Countrylife which had a lot of gluten-free options.

One thing to be aware of is that in the Czech Republic and many parts of Eastern Europe, bread has "gluten-free wheat starch." I stayed away from this because I didn't trust this bread. Wheat starch in Czech is pšeničný škrob.

Bring your translation cards. I used mine a lot while I was there.
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#7 HannahB

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:08 AM

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your help! Its nice to have somewhere I can get some advice :) I will definitely be visiting these restaurants in these countries!

I'm really excited for the trip now :)

Hannah :)
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#8 BabsV

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:07 AM

Just wanted to update an earlier post...I had lunch at Yellow Dog in Krakow yesterday and did not get glutened! The chef was amazing. He's from Singapore, fluent in English and knows about gluten issues. When I told him I needed to eat gluten free he said, "How strict are you? Do you have to or is it choice?" I guess the gluten-free diet trend has hit Poland and a lot of people are trying it but aren't strict, e.g. they will eat things with soy sauce. I told him it would make me sick for days and he then ran down the menu and told me what I could have and what to avoid. He was also aware of CC issues?!?!? There weren't that many dishes I could try but I had chicken satay to start and then Beef Rendang with rice. Both dishes were excellent -- the peanut sauce with the satay was the best I have ever had outside of Thailand! A wonderful experience with minimal stress. I will so go back again before we leave the country.
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