It didn’t make sense to do a post about vegan food for each of the countries we visited on our flixbus adventure back to the Hoek of Holland because we only visited one city in each and couldn’t possibly imagine the vegan scene based on that city.
We didn’t spend a huge amount of time in any of these cities, so I’m sure there are huge amounts of vegan food we didn’t discover. This list is more of a flavour of what to expect when you’re travelling.
We arrived in the late afternoon to Zagreb and immediately realised that my bike had been broken in transit – the pannier rack had pulled off the frame, bringing the steel frame attachment with it.
After walking our bikes to the hostel, we sat in our warm room, sipping miso soup and wondered if it was worth going out. In the end, we went out. We only had one night in the city and we desperately needed some distraction from the worry about the broken bike. We headed to the Museum of Broken Relationships, which sat atop the hill in the centre of town and was possibly the best museum I’ve ever been to. We were strangely convinced that Zagreb wasn’t going to do much for us, but what we found was a beautiful city, with so much to see, loads of cool shops and a great art scene. We were both very sad we weren’t able to explore more.
Onto food then. We’d already eaten, so we picked up some basics from Spar, where it was easy to find hummus and other essentials (but nothing particularly vegan specific). However, one of the best things about the city at night is the number of hot chestnut stalls dotted around. We bought a cone and walked about, peeling chestnuts and enjoying being somewhere new.
It ended up being one of the most magical nights on the tour. Looking at Happy Cow, there are 6 entirely vegan restaurants and 29 vegan-friendly restaurants listed, so we will definitely be back to explore properly soon!
After Zagreb, we hopped on a bus to Mestre (the town across from Venice) where we were staying for a few days. The bus journey was long and at a service station in Italy we got off to stretch our legs. Amazingly, the services sold vegan Fruit-ella koala bears, which were an absolute lifesaver on the long journey (and a helpful insight into what to expect from vegan Italy).
In Venice mestre, we shopped at the Alì supermercati ( a chain prevalent in north east Italy). We were taken aback by the vegan options (and the low price of prosecco!) and treated ourselves to loads of treats, including some amazing fake meats (wafer thin and flavoured perfectly like different cured meats). In Co-op there was an even larger range of vegan alternatives, included ‘mozarella’, cheezy tortellini and even a vegan sandwich! On top of this, the quality of produce in Italy is exceptional, and we really enjoyed cooking with really fresh ingredients.
In Venice itself, it was easy to find vegan ice cream. And we were surprised to find a couple of vegan pizza places on some of the main thoroughfares through the city.
Things went very wrong in Brussels. Arriving after a 12 hour night bus, exhausted and sleep deprived, I left my bag on the pavement for 5 minutes. That was all it took for it to be stolen.
Usually I wouldn’t have been carrying all of the electronics, but we were out of routine on the bus and so our computer, ipod, camera and power pack were all in the rucksack. Luckily, Lili had our money and passports. Although, this makes it even more frustrating, as the only thing worth money in the bag was the camera (the rest being obsolete models) so they gained very little. We lost pictures, the latest draft of our book and a load of useful things I used regularly, like my mooncup… All of this made it very difficult to enjoy anything Brussels had to offer.
We did eat in one vegan cafe, a Copper Branch, like the one in Angers, whilst we reset all of our passwords. I had a waffle with cherries and chocolate (when in Belgium…) and Lili had a tempeh sandwich. The cafe was tiny and in a mall, but it was just as good as we remember, and went some way to making up for the terrible day we’d had. Lili popped to the supermarket where vegan options were very easy to find and we spent the evening eating sandwiches and crisps in our hotel room.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
We were still feeling pretty miserable when we arrived in Rotterdam, but I’d found a vegan restaurant just opposite the train and bus station where we could eat and get ready for the short ride to the ferry.
We ate at Jack Bean and oh my god we were not disappointed. This food saved us a little. We hadn’t eaten very well since embarking on our flixbus adventure and we felt pretty mentally done in, but this food made it (mostly) better.
We had the mac n cheese, coleslaw, chips, ultimate mushroom burger and buffalo tiger sandwich. It all tasted spectacular. If I had a single criticism, it’s that the portions weren’t big enough, but I think it’s just because I could have eaten a tonne of it. The Netherlands has always been good for vegan food when we’ve been there and obviously Rotterdam is a big city so it’s going to easy to find great food. If you’re just stopping over or have just got the ferry from the Hoek of Holland, I would very much recommend checking out this place before you continue on.