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The Glutenator

France And Spain...can I Make It A Month?

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I have the chance to backpack around France and Spain for a month. I don't want celiac to prevent me from traveling, and would appreciate how to eat and stay gluten-free (with out starving) for a month in France and Spain. Thanks!

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I haven't been to France since being gluten-free but we did go to Spain for 3 weeks. It was not hard at all. All restaurants seemed to know what Celiac disease was and they nearly always pointed on the menu to what we could have. Twice someone told us that they didn't have anything so we just moved on to somewhere else.

We ate a lot of tortillas- which are not what they are here. They are potato omelets. Just about every restaurant we went to had this on the menu. We also ate a ton of serrano ham. Some places sold only ham- I can't remember what they were called- it started with Jamon.

Overall, we had a lot of good food. They were usually very willing to help us and on occasion, made us special food that we didn't order!

I would learn how to speak a few sentences of Spanish about Celiac and wheat. Pointing usually does the trick past that.

We had translated cards but just saying, "Tengo enfermedad Celiaca" was faster and really all we needed.

The grocery stores also offered a large gluten-free selection. We found a bunch of stuff at Cortes Ingles.

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I'm going to Spain in August :D :D and I haven't spent a second wondering about how I'm going to eat.

When I travel I buy food from markets. Fruit and veggies are always edible. Ham and smoked meats are pre-cooked. Hard cheese travels well in a backpack. Buy a little hot pot thing when you get there so you have something 'clean' to cook in at hostels and other shared kitchens (actually a good plan for anyone using those kitchens :blah: ). Lots of food in markets have the ingredients in several languages including English.

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Thanks for all your support. I am 24 and my parents have actually said they "forbid" me to go because they are so worried. I don' know what to say to ease their minds and it is really stressing me out.

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I am from Germany and I live in the US. I'm traveling a lot and have been both to France and Spain also. However since I was diagnosed glutenfree I only have been in Spain. My France travels were before my diagnosis. I can only agree with everything said on here. People there are very friendly and most people (not all) know celiac in those countries. I don't speak french (yet), but I'm very good in spanish. If you want, I can translate whatever you need, just pop me a mail over the forum. Sometimes in France however, people take great pride in their country and language and you won't get them to speak anything but French... even if they understand english!!! That might be viewed as rude over here, but the French see it as National pride. So it doesn't hurt to speak a few words of french either.

As to the travels, your parents are correct to a certain degree. Just don't walk around with your backpack at night. Don't drive with strangers. If your feet get tired, use the bus, or the train, which is very, veeeery common over there. Over here of all the trains it's like the trains are to 5% for people and to 95% for merchandise/goodies. In Europe trains are for about 90% for people and only 10% to transport goods. So everybody uses them. It's safer than sticking your thumb out and waiting for somebody to stop. Don't do it, if you are alone. It's just common sense, especially for a woman. Other than that you should be fine. Both countries are very friendly.

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Thanks for all your support. I am 24 and my parents have actually said they "forbid" me to go because they are so worried. I don' know what to say to ease their minds and it is really stressing me out.

Worried about your Celiac Disease or about your safety? I was running all over the place when I was around that age (I feel pretty old writing that sentence, by the way), and the worst trouble I ever got into was getting my wallet stolen. Hostels are super fun. I traveled alone sometimes and with a friend or my sister more often. I'm sure you'll be fine.

But... do your research and put your parents' minds at ease. They have no right to forbid you if you're 24 (unless they're paying all your bills), but they're still your parents and that forbidding is probably coming from genuine worry and love.

Who would you be going with? Is that the stem of some of their concern?

Anyway... back to the topic at hand, you should be fine eating-wise. Grocery stores abound, and hostels usually have kitchens. :)

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I will actually be doing the traveling alone. I am going to Germany for a work conference, then taking the opportunity to travel after. A travel partner would be ideal, though unfortunately my student-friends don't have the money and my working friends don't have the time at this stage in life. I have spent a couple months backpacking in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia (before celiac) so have some travel sense about me. I know my parents can't actually ban me from doing something, but my conscience would run wild if I were doing something they were adamantly against. Plus, some financial aid would be helpful! I think the gluten thing is their biggest concern, compounded by being a single woman traveling alone. I think you are right, though, and the more prepared I can show them I am the more supportive they will be.

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Maybe these vocab print-outs would be helpful? http://www.food-info.net/allergy.htm

In Germany you can find gluten free stuff in DM stores, Alnatura and most organic stores (bioladen) if you are looking for substitutes. there's also a blog with lists of stores and restaurants for different cities in Germany http://www.glutenfrei-unterwegs.de/. Its in German but google translate should sort it out ok.

You can also try translated cards form delicardo.com, selectwisely.com or www.celiactravel.com

Just plan ahead and it will put your parents at ease maybe, europeans are well versed in celiac disease (in Italy you get free gluten free food for example!) so the only problem would be the language barrier which can be overcome.

Enjoy your travels and cross your fingers that dormant volcanoes stay dormant while youre in europe, it was crazy here last week.

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