Vegan Travel: My Weekend Visit To The DC Travel Show

It had come to my attention that two of my favorite and most respected tv travel hosts would be giving presentations at the Washington DC Travel & Adventure Show! Many people get excited and even “giddy” at the thought of meeting their favorite actor or rock star. However, as a travel enthusiast and travel blogger, I was thrilled at the thought of meeting my favorite travel hosts from popular television travel programs! Rick Steves and Samantha Brown are beloved travel hosts on PBS tv and The Travel Channel, respectively. Since they do not give talks at my local travel show in Boston, I headed to Washington DC to attend their presentations and to “soak in” all of the travel wisdom that a large travel show has to offer!

Before embarking on the ten hour overnight journey from Boston to DC, I thought it would be a wise decision to purchase a pair of rain/snow boots, since the updated forecast called for some snow on the previous day. Sudo Shoes(Sudo Shoes) in Cambridge, Massachusetts is an all-vegan shoe and accessories store. They carry a vegan rain boot brand called “Bogs”. I purchased a pair of Bog’s stylish green rain booties to help me manuever the snowy and slushy sidewalks of DC.

The midnight bus from Boston took me on an overnight ride, arriving in DC at approximately 9:45 the following morning.

The first item on my agenda was breakfast, of course! We need to be alert and full of energy for our travels! I’ve written about DC restaurants a few years ago during a longer trip there. For this visit, I would only be in town for the day, taking the return bus home at 6:50 right after the travel show. Thus, my breakfast would need to be at a location not too distant from the bus station or the conference center where the travel show was being held. Fortunately, there was a restaurant that opened early for breakfast and was fairly close distance to the Union Station bus depot.

“Dangerously Delicious Pies” (Dangerously Delicious Pies) is a small restaurant that offers several vegan savory and sweet pies on their menu.

The day I visited, there were a couple of savory options for vegans. I purchased the vegan chili pie for breakfast. The pie contains kidney beans, onions, tomatoes, and spices in a flaky crust. It was a fabulously delicious meal!

I also purchased a vegan ratatouille pie to bring with me to the travel show as my lunch. This pie contained a variety of winter vegetables in a stewed tomato sauce. My meal was really tasty and filling! The pies are an inexpensive meal option for any time of day! For those craving a sweet snack, all of the fruity berry pies offered as vegan.

I flagged down a taxi immediately after breakfast and got whisked away to the Washington Convention Center where the Travel & Adventure Show was being held! The show offers travel advice seminars, tv travel show host presentations, travel agencies and tour company exhibitor booths, world dance performances, cooking demos, and vacation giveaway contests.

Lo and behold, the very first exhibitor I noticed upon entering the exhibit hall, was The Travel Channel booth! My heart went pitter patter as I beheld the logo of my favorite tv network on the booth!

The show volunteers gave attendees a couple of Travel Channel gifts when stopping by the booth. My gifts included a tote bag and luggage tags, displaying the Travel Channel logo!

At the Global Beats Stage, I spent a few minutes being entertained by a dance troupe performing classic Kuchipudi dances from southern India.

I stopped by a few exhibitor booths which represented tour companies from destinations that I would like to visit in the future, such as India and Tanzania. Attendees could speak with the tour company representatives and pick up some travel brochures.

Several vendor booths offered travel-related clothing, gear, and accessories. One vendor sold clothing that claims to be “pickpocket proof” due to hidden pockets. What a cool concept this is!

The time had arrived for the first speaker presentation on my itinerary! Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel gave a noontime presentation on “Then and Now: How Travel Has Changed”. The room was packed! I was fortunate enough to get a seat in the front row, directly in front of the podium!

Samantha was exuberant and enthusiastic, as always! The talk began as she spoke of some of her favorite vacations and experiences.

She then spoke of travels of the past, where a trusted guidebook would be our only knowledge base. Travel agents would provide travelers with all the details of their vacation and would book the complete package for them. These days, in a web-based society, we google our travel destinations and book everything online. Travel apps for our mobile devices make travel easier, as we can check our flight schedules, weather, and tours. Samantha mentioned several of her favorite apps, such as google translate for foreign language translation assistance.

After her presentation, Samantha did a “meet and greet” with her fans.

While we were waiting in line to meet Samantha, we were able to hear and see a travel tips presentation on “travel safety”. The speaker mentioned RFID-protected sleeves to protect credit cards from identity theft during travels.

Samantha graciously took a photo with each of us and also gave us her autograph! She was really nice! We spoke of the Massachusetts/ New Hampshire region where both of us grew up! I told her that my favorite vacation destination in the USA is the same as hers.. Cape Cod! This presentation with “meet and greet” was one of the highlights of my day!

The next presenter would not go on stage for about 45 minutes, so that gave me plenty of time to enjoy more of the exhibitor halls!

Back at the Travel Channel booth, guests could take a photo in front of the ‘green screen” with their selected travel destination superimposed in the background of their photo. I chose a backdrop of “Rome, Italy”. For props, I selected a pair of binoculars and a sign that read “Bucket list”. It was a fun activity that made me feel like an actual Travel Channel host for that brief moment in time!
Me at the travelchannel greenscreen

The next presenter to hit the stage was Josh Gates. His new program on the Travel Channel is called “Expedition Unknown”. This guy exudes an adventurous spirit! He has no fear! His travels include exploring Mayan civilization with underground caverns teaming with bats and human skeletons, tracing the route of Amelia Earhart, and finding a lost Inca city in Peru.

Attendees were offered the opportunity to pose a question to him at the microphone in the audience. I stepped up to the mike and asked him how does he prepare emotionally and physically for his dangerous adventures? He stated that he just “does it”! He does not spend time worrying. In his opinion, the only thing that can be a roadblock or needs attention prior to travels, are the trip logistics and contact persons.


Josh encouraged attendees to be fearless in their travels. He presented a list of exciting adventures that travelers can experience during their holidays. He seems like a really cool guy that could relate well to his audience and express his passion for adventure travel.

The final speaker of the day was the well-respected, long time, PBS travel host Rick Steves!

It was a packed house for his presentation!

Mr. Steves spoke of his “off the beaten path” travels. Rick encourages his audience to visit the spots where locals spend time, to really get to know the local “heart” of that destination. He also stressed how important it is to meet the locals because the “people” are what defines a travel destination.


He was not allocated time to take photos with his fans. However, he kindly mentioned to attendees that we could stand around him in a circle, and he would make his way around and give each of us his autograph! He was friendly and greeted me with “hello”, as I awaited his signature.

The amazing DC Travel&Adventure Show had come to a close for the day at 5pm. It was time for me to head back to Boston, but not before I had an evening meal.

The Union Station train and bus depot houses several restaurants on its premises. A couple of the dining establishments display vegan options on their menu! This is perfect when one is visiting the city for a one day conference with time constraints,

The ShopHouse Kitchen Restaurant (ShopHouse Kitchen Restaurant) offers a “Vegan Bowl”.

The entree contains brown rice, organic tofu, seasonal vegetables(collard greens), peanut sauce, pickled vegetables, herb salad, and crispy garlic. The inexpensive meal was really flavorful and delicious!

My beverage was a really tasty coconut juice.

My day was absolutely amazing! I truly enjoyed the DC Travel&Adventure Show, meeting the travel hosts and listening to their presentations, and feasting on the terrific vegan meal options near the DC bus station! It was quite a memorable day that lingered in my happy thoughts as I boarded the 6:50pm overnight bus back to Boston.

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Vegan Travel – Ice Castles, Chocolate Festival, Skiing & Snowshoeing, and Vegan Dining in The White Mountains of New Hampshire

It had come to my attention recently that a veritable winter wonderland of ice castles had been created in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The fairytale-like spot is nestled among the towns of the White Mountains region. The Ice Castles concept was designed by a gentleman named Brent. He had created an ice rink, complete with ice slide and ice castle in his backyard to entertain his family. The rest is history, as the Ice Castles attraction is now enjoyed by all in four states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, and Utah. The Ice Castles are built by hand. Each location grows more than 5,000 icicles each day that are harvested and sculpted together.

My reasons for visiting the area were twofold: 1. I wanted to experience this magical “Ice Castles” attraction(Ice Castles) and 2. The following day I would head thirty two miles east, to the town of North Conway for their annual “Mount Washington Valley Chocolate Festival”(Mount Washington Valley Chocolate Festival) complete with skiing and snowshoeing activities!

Hence I went forth on my two hour journey to spend this past weekend at these two unique and memorable events in the White Mountain region.

Upon reaching the town of Lincoln, it was time to grab some lunch. As every seasoned vegan traveler should do, I did some pre-trip research to locate vegan-friendly dining. Since none of the vegan websites mention any restaurant in this town, I did a general search of restaurants in town, then went to each of their websites to determine if their menu included any vegan possibilities. Fortunately, I was able to uncover a couple of restaurants that do indeed offer a few vegan options. For my lunchtime meal on my first day in town, I thus headed to Gypsy Cafe (Gypsy Cafe). This “hidden jewel” offers a vegan option or two on their menu.

My entree selection was the Cashew Long Bean Stir Fry with tofu, served over jasmine rice. The Chinese green beans were tossed in a zesty sesame sauce. The meal was fabulous!

Since check-in time at my accommodations had arrived, I went directly to the motel after lunch. The Riverview Motel and Cabins in Lincoln, New Hampshire offer very reasonably-priced stays during high season in the mountains. Though a motel by name, they were actually furnished cabins with heat included. I was really pleased with the clean and nice accommodations.

After unpacking and resting up a bit from my lengthy drive, I went back into town for dinner. Another “hidden gem” found by my research was the “Common Man” restaurant (Common Man Restaurant ). This spacious restaurant provides upstairs dining in an elegant atmosphere. A cozy hearth setting downstairs provides tired travelers a place to unwind and the glow of a fireplace to stay warm while enjoying each other’s company. The extensive menu offers gourmet quality meals.

I started off by ordering a cup of hot ginger lemongrass tea on this cold and snowy evening.

For my dinner entree, I selected the “Farmer’s Harvest”. This dish consisted of roasted butternut squash, beets, portabello mushrooms, and braised spinach with a chickpea ragout and gingered basmati rice. Boy was I happy to find this place! The meal was delicious! Such a flavorful variety of vegetables, beans, and grains! This is another restaurant and meal that I highly recommend for vegan travelers to the region.

For dessert, I was offered a bowl of fresh sliced strawberries. It complemented my savory meal nicely.

Finally the time had arrived for my scheduled 7:30pm visit to the Ice Castles! The castles may be visited during daylight hours. However, night time visits are best, as that is the time when they may be seen in all their glory, illuminated in ever-changing colors every few minutes! It was snowing when I arrived, which only enhanced the beauty of the wintry landscape.

Visitors are greeted by a heart-shaped cave entrance. Through its snowy tunneled passageway, one can see the ever-changing color displays as they illuminate the icy structures on the other side!

Upon exiting the entrance tunnel, I looked up in awe at the monumental and vivid ice formations before me! Perched upon a hill, was a magnificent ice castle. First I was first struck by the purple hued “crown” on the ground, formed entirely by ice and icicles. One moment the structure would be illuminated in green. A few minutes later, the hue would change until it shone a deep blue, then red, then pink color, then back to purple again. This color-changing extravaganza set the tone for the exciting evening visit!

Massive Ice Castles stood proudly in our sight. This was truly a vision that reminds one of the movie “Frozen”! Icicles of varying lengths and shapes graced the surface of each castle. The jagged edges of the ice produced that fairy-tale look and feel of its exterior.

One of the castle interiors housed a colossal ‘beanstalk’ made of ice. One moment it was a striking green. The next minute, it would become a vibrant aqua, then settling on a purple-ish pink shade for a while. The intricately detailed icicle ceilings of the caves reminded me of fancy glass chandeliers.

Visitors, including myself, enjoyed walking through the narrow passageways and cave entrances, while gazing in wonderment at the changing colors on the icy surfaces.

As I strolled through one particular walkway, I was admiring the variety of hues and brilliant colors of each icy formation. One shone a striking aqua shade, another a rich red, and yet a third shone a vibrant green.

The next ice castle in the panoramic view was a large icy cave illuminated in a pretty purple tone. We wandered through to glance at its interior and to see what icy configurations we would experience once we reached the other side!

The next formation was a elongated dragon made entirely of ice. From its spiky scales to its curvy spine, this ice creature was quite impressive! He was illuminated in an aqua blueish hue. It was absolutely stunning!

A lofty ice tower stood across from the dragon.

My time at the Ice Castles had come to an end. It was truly a memorable experience, worth every minute of the journey to get there! My cabin was warm and cozy for a good night’s sleep. The snow was still falling and blanketed the landscape with shimmery fluffy flakes, as I dozed off for the night.

The next morning, I arose bright and early. An hour’s drive was ahead of me. Though the distance from Lincoln to North Conway is a mere thirty two miles, the drive would take me through the White Mountain National Forest on long and very windy roads over cliffs and ridges.The time estimate during decent weather conditions is approximately one hour. First priority was getting my morning meal. My breakfast was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich served on toasted Ezekiel bread at the Purple Tomato Market (Purple Tomato Market). It was a filling breakfast and quite tasty! The peanut butter and jam were made locally. The cafe staff graciously offer to customize vegan-friendly sandwiches or salads.

I also purchased a vegan oatmeal raisin cookie as a snack for my drive home later that day. The market sell several vegan snack items.

Further up the road, I stopped by the Half Baked And Fully Brewed Cafe(Half Baked And Fully Brewed Cafe) for a smoothie. My “Brain Booster” smoothie was made with raspberries, strawberries, bananas, ginko biloba, and soy milk. I enjoyed the refreshing fruity beverage to start off what would become my very active day! Their deli and lunch menu include a few vegan choices such as a quinoa salad and rice salad.

An hour and a half later, through winding snow covered roads in the forest, I reached my destination of North Conway, New Hampshire. The popular Mount Washington Valley Chocolate Festival is an annual fundraiser event that includes a day of cross country skiing and snowshoeing at ten trails in the North Conway region, with several trail stops offering chocolate desserts. The chocolate, the skiing & snowshoeing at any of their trails, and the shuttle bus transportation between stops were all included in the $30 festival ticket cost.

As any vegan should do, I contacted the office running the event, as well as the individual restaurants listed on the event schedule, to find out if any would offer vegan chocolates. The Local Grocer Cafe(The Local Grocer Cafe) was the only participating vendor offering a vegan chocolate. One is better than none, so I felt good about this one option! My number#1 priority was to stop by the Mount Washington Touring Center to pick up the ticket I had purchased online. Afterwards, I stopped by the Local Grocer Cafe to pick up my chocolate. The vegan chocolate was a dark chocolate with a cherry filling. I really enjoyed the flavorful cherry and yummy chocolate treat!

Then off I went to do some snowshoeing on the trails behind the The Local Grocer! These trails brought me through snowy woods, by sparkling streams, and onto some open fields with a backdrop of majestic mountain ranges.




Shalimar Of India (Shalimar Of India Restaurant) was the restaurant where I dined for lunch. The restaurant is very vegan-friendly. Many items are already vegan. Others that are not, can be made vegan by request. I started with a roti bread.

My entree was the vegetable navratana korma. Instead of a dairy based broth, they were able to substitute a curry base for me. The mixed veggies included potatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, squash, and broccoli. It was accompanied by a side of rice. What a lovely meal! The dish was filling and very flavorful! For a truly authentic and delicious vegan meal in North Conway, be sure to include this restaurant on your agenda!

After lunch, I set forth on my next adventure. The trails behind the Ragged Mountain Equipment Center, at The Mount Washington Touring Center were where I spent the remainder of the afternoon doing some cross country skiing.

I skied my way through the forest trails. Fresh air, invigorating exercise, and spectacular vistas made this a rewarding trek!



When my time at the festival had completed, there were two more stops I wanted to make in town. Several colorful and picturesque shops reside in North Conway Center. I strolled through the center to pop into a couple of shops for browsing. Ski gear shops, gift shops, and an old time general store lined the touristy road.

Along the White Mountain Highway, another popular tourist stop is the Adventure Suites Hotel. This theme hotel is one of the top ten theme hotels in the word. The exterior has several facades representing the Old West, including a bank, a saloon, a chapel, and other significant buildings. Its interior rooms run the gamut from psychedelic 1970’s decor to a jungle theme or a romantic Rome theme. As a stop for skiing on its outdoor trails during the day’s festival, the hotel was also open for self-guided tours to ticket holders. The intriguing look of this place captured my curiosity, so I did indeed embark on a tour here myself.

I had quite an amazing weekend in the White Mountains! The spectacular Ice Castles, superb xc skiing and snowshoeing, and the excellent vegan dining and chocolate made this a wonderful winter weekend getaway! I encourage all vegan travelers to partake in next year’s chocolate festival and to find some time during this winter season to enjoy the Ice Castles and skiing in the region.

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Vegan Travel – My Vegan Ski Weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

A few weeks ago, I traveled to the state of New Hampshire for a ski weekend in the White Mountains region. A local ski club was inviting non-members to visit their ski house as guests for that particular weekend. Skiing, snowshoeing, and a couple of parties were on the agenda.

After checking in and dropping off my overnight bag, I headed to a vegan-friendly cafe for breakfast. The Local Grocer (The Local Grocer), located in the town of North Conway, is a grocery market selling healthy food products. Inside the shop, a small cafe offers nutritious vegan-friendly meals, smoothies and juices, and baked goods. The meal options include vegan burritos, sandwiches, and breakfast items.

In the market section, one can find items such as vegan faux “meats”, fresh produce, almond milk, vegan mayo, vegan snacks, and skincare products.

My morning started with their wonderful, freshly made “Immune-a-licious” juice containing orange, lemon, apple, carrot, ginger, and cayenne. You can definitely taste each of the nutritious fruit flavors!

The “Jumpstart Breakfast Bowl” was my menu selection. It consists of a blend of strawberries, Maine blueberries, banana and almond butter topped with cranberry granola, seasonal fresh fruit, coconut and chia seeds in an almond milk base. Wow! Such a tasty breakfast! My filling meal fueled me for my day of skiing!

Along the White Mountain Highway road, an overlook presents visitors with splendid vistas for photos! I stopped there to admire the view.

After my drive around the area to appreciate the gorgeous snowy panoramas, I chose to have lunch at The Local Grocer, as it was on the way to the ski areas. My mid-day meal was the eggless salad on toasted bread. It was really good!

I purchased a dessert to snack on later and I was on my way! Jackson Ski Touring Center was where I spent the following two hours. As I am not a downhill skier, Jackson was a great spot for me to get in some cross country skiing during the weekend! With mountains in the backdrop, rocky flowing streams, and snow-covered woods made for a perfect winter wonderland! Skiers can choose from beginner, intermediate, and advanced loops.




A red covered bridge was encountered on my way to and from the woods. My afternoon of xc skiing was spectacular!

Cross country skiing is an amazing workout, so of course dinner was on my mind at this point! Moat Mountain Restaurant (Moat Mountain Restaurant) is also one of a handful of restaurants in the area that offers vegan options on their menu. It is also an extremely popular dining spot for many tourists. Their prices are quite fair for a nice, sit down dinner. I opted for the vegan Thai vegan chili. This was not a bean chili, as is popular at ski resort areas. This was a spicy and chunky veggie soup. It was wonderfully flavorful! To accompany the soup, I ordered the Thai red curry and tofu wrap with Ginger Lemongrass Rice & Sesame Slaw. The sandwich was really delicious!

For my evening dessert, I devoured the vegan chocolate whoopie pie that I had purchased earlier in the day at The Local Grocer. The cake was moist and sweet and very tasty!

The ski club parties rounded out my evening. A social party with dancing included current and classic pop music. Later in the night, the clubhouse members and guests sat by the fireplace and chatted for quite some time! Many ski houses reside in the area and welcome guests to spend the weekend, while getting to know the particular club.

After a day complete with some exhilarating xc skiing, beautiful scenery, and wonderful vegan dining, it was time to get some shut eye. For the next morning would begin yet another day of invigorating outdoor adventures.

I awoke bright and early the following morning to head into town for breakfast. The Frontside Grind Coffeehouse(Frontside Grind Coffeehouse) offers coffee, smoothies, bagels, and baked goods. They confirmed that the bagels are vegan. I selected the sesame bagel with hummus filling. For my AM beverage, I chose a peanut butter and banana smoothie with soy milk. My breakfast meal was yummy!

Time to hit the trails! Bear Notch Touring Center in North Conway is popular for both cross country skiing and snowshoeing. This day would be set aside for some snowshoeing! I first arrived at Bear Notch’s main touring area, located across the road from their visitor’s center. As I headed into the forest, I looked up and ‘took in” the majestic grandeur of the mountainous landscape.

Winding streams dotted the snowy terrain.

As I progressed further and further into the woods, the beauty of nature surrounded me with towering trees and snow-filled trails. Fresh air and breath-taking views were enjoyable benefits during my energizing snowshoe hike!

Bear Notch operates some additional trails further down the road, across from Attitash Mountain. I spent the remainder of the early afternoon doing some snowshoeing on those trails. A wooden carved statue of a bear greets visitors at the start of the woodsy trail.

I was ready for more outdoor exercise and adventure! A wide and lengthy river resides by the forest. I just had to stop for a photograph with this winter wonderland backdrop!

Grand trees with delicate orange leaves stood to my left and my right, as I glided through the woods on another thrilling and scenic snowshoeing walk!

My snowshoeing adventure was awesome but now it was time for some lunch! Visitors to North Conway will notice some whimsical snowmen sculptures throughout town. In fact, one can be found in front of the inn and restaurant where I dined. Such a cute symbol to embrace the season!

I ate my afternoon meal at Flatbread Pizza (Flatbread Pizza). My beverage selection was the unique and tasty maple syrup lemonade.

The restaurant offers a vegan pizza on their menu. I selected that vegan pizza as my lunch. The organic pizza contains wood-fired cauldron tomato sauce, organic caramelized onions, organic mushrooms, Kalamata olives and homemade garlic oil with their own blend of organic herbs. This was a delicious meal!

Flatbread also offers a vegan dessert. I ordered the vegan brownie. It arrived delightfully warm and moist. My dessert was scrumptious!

My weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire was incredible! The gorgeous scenery, delightful outdoor activities of snowshoeing and cross country skiing, and good vegan dining made this a wonderful winter escape! I look forward to my next visit to this region in a few weeks, when I return for more outdoor adventures during the Mount Washington Valley Chocolate Festival.

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Vegan Travel – My Sightseeing and Vegan Dining Weekend in Madrid, Spain

After a full day of fabulous sights and vegan dining in Barcelona, I was ready to explore yet another Spanish city! Bright and early the next morning, I set forth on the 2 1/2 hour journey by the AVE “fast train” from Barcelona to Madrid! My visit would be a brief one. I only had one day to spare, so I carefully planned and timed each attraction to see and each meal to consume from early morning until my 8pm train took me back to Barcelona.

Upon arrival in Madrid, I was pleased to find that the Reina Sophia Museum was located just a short jaunt across the street from the Atocha train station. This world class art museum showcases renowned, contemporary Spanish artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miro. I spent approximately an hour focused on the works of the three aforementioned artists. Chills ran up my spine as I examined and contemplated Picasso’s famous piece “Guernica” which boldly depicts the consequences and devastation of war.

His “lighter” subjects were showcased throughout the museum as well.

Walking through town, I admired the Spanish architecture with its wrought iron balconies and colorful orange and yellow hues.

The Caixa Forum is a contemporary-looking building that is used as a museum and a cultural center. It is a noted landmark on the road to the world famous El Prado Museum.

After a brief 15 or so minute walk from the Reina Sophia, I arrived at the next place on my itinerary; the El Prado Museum. This museum showcases exhibits from more classical period artists including El Greco, Goya, and Velasquez. Artists from other regions of Europe are also on display. Due to my time constraints, I focused solely on the Spanish artists. My visit gave me just enough exposure to the major Spanish artists and their works!

A statue of the Spanish artist Goya stands near the entrance to the museum. I highly recommend a visit to this superb museum while in Madrid!

The lunch time hour had brought me to a vegan restaurant. Madrid is home to approximately seven, all vegan restaurants. Fortunately, the one that I had chosen for my mid-day meal, was a fairly quick walk from El Prado. Rayen Vegano (Rayen Vegano Restaurant) offers a wonderful weekend brunch!

I selected the hearty full brunch as my meal. A hot white tea started off my lunch selection.

Next, a toasted grain bread with tomato and olive oil was brought to me.

The special brunch included a raw juice, so I selected a mixed fruit juice containing apple, grape, mango, apricot, and orange.

A large bowl of granola arrived next. It included muesli, fruits, agave syrup, and homemade vegan yogurt.

Thusfar, everything tasted great! I loved the muesli and especially the homemade vegan yogurt!

The included soup was a tasty spinach and apple.

Another filing item arrived next: a tofu scramble with baked potatoes and greens. It was really good!

Finally, dessert arrived. I opted for the chocolate cake slice with caramel frosting. It was really scrumptious! What an amazing brunch! I recommend this option for those who want a great meal and to fuel their energy to walk around the city non-stop for many hours.

Plaza Mayor was next on my agenda. Around its perimeters, one can find various performers such as this mime.

The square is the main central plaza in the city. Built in the 16th century during King Philip III’s reign, the plaza was designated for political events and as a marketplace. It is currently used for restaurants, shops, and entertainment purposes. A statue of King Philip resides in the center.

Puerta del Sol was the next plaza that I visited. This is one of the busiest plazas in the city. A clock bell is rung on December 31st at midnight each year to mark the eating of the Twelve Grapes. Tradition teaches this is a a way to start the year with good luck. Many street performers can be found here, as well. The plaza was initially one of the gates in the city wall that protected Madrid during the 15th century. During that time period, it was also the spot where locals would go to hear the latest news proclaimed.

One of the popular landmarks in the Puerta del Sol Plaza is the El Oso Y El Madrono (the bear and the madrone tree):the symbol of Madrid. It is a must-do photo opp for any tourist in town!

As I strolled through the area, I again stood admiring the Spanish architecture and colorful buildings in my sight.

A few vegan shops were unable to fit into my schedule. EcoCentro(EcoCentro) is a vegan health food store and deli. Planeta Vegano (Planeta Vegano) is a vegan shop that sells vegan cheese and other foods, as well as vegan cosmetics. Justo Aki Ekoethicshop (Justo Aki Ekoethicshop) sells vegan shoes and handbags.

The Church of San Gines is one of the oldest churches in Madrid, from the medieval period of the 12th and 13th centuries. It is dedicated to Saint Gines.

I walked by a couple of medieval squares including Plaza de la Villa, on my way to the Royal Palace. The former town hall, constructed in the year 1644, is located here. The oldest building in the plaza is the Lujanes Tower, built in the 15th century and designed in the Mudejar style.
plaza de la villa

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena is the main church of the Catholic diocese of Madrid. Construction began in 1883 but not completed until 1993.

Across the walkway is located the Royal Palace of Madrid. I was fortunate enough to tour its interior. The massive residence contains a wealth of artwork. Its exquisite furnishings and elaborately ornate walls and ceilings make it one of the most gorgeous palaces that I have ever visited! Though the palace is noted as the official home for the royal family in Madrid, it is typically used for state ceremonies only.


After my phenomenal tour of the palace, I headed across the street to Plaza Oriente to catch the metro to my dinner destination. The plaza is actually a park with beautiful gardens and examples of wealthy Spanish apartments from that time period.

Riding on the metro is easy to navigate. I arrived at the vegan tapas restaurant “VEGA”(VEGA Vegan Tapas Bar) just in time for dinner, before needing to get to the train station for my return journey to Barcelona! Tapas are traditional Spanish foods. Each small portion is similar to an appetizer. Spaniards typically go to tapas bars in early evening or late night to satisfy their hunger pangs before dinner or later in the night as a a snack. I dined on several tapas, thus making it my full dinnertime meal.

This all vegan tapas bar offer a nice variety of Spanish tapas, soups, salads, and main entrees. I chose a few tapas for my dinner meal. My selections included: foccacia with marinated aubergine, peppers and mushrooms; roasted potatoes with salsa; and mushroom croquettes. They were accompanied by a vegan mayo dip. The mayo contained flavorful herbs. What a delicious meal! Each and every tapas was unique and presented my palette with tasty morsels! I really loved my dinner! I highly recommend that vegan visitors to Madrid find some time in their schedule to dine at VEGA!



My time touring Madrid had come to a close. It was time to head back to the train station. However, before going into the station, I made a stop at a churros cafe. These treats are popular in Spain. Churros are vegan by nature. They are similar to fried dough, but shaped into long strips. I purchased a couple of them and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. They were a wonderful tasty treat to end the evening!

When the train arrived back in Barcelona, I had to catch some sleep, before getting up bright and early for my flight back home to the United States. The next morning, I headed to the airport feeling really pleased that I was able to accomplish and see everything on my itinerary during this short visit!

During the flight, Aer Lingus succeeded again in meeting my expectations for a decent vegan meal! An entree of rice and white beans with steamed broccoli, peppers, and mushrooms was served to me. It was accompanied by a salad and a bowl of mixed fruit.

I really enjoyed my visit to Spain! Though it was brief, I was able to see everything on my itinerary and feel as though my mini-vacation captured the essence of Barcelona and Madrid! The attractive architecture, stunning artistic exhibits, impressive medieval old town sights, and scrumptious vegan dining made this a memorable holiday!

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Vegan Travel: Sightseeing and Vegan Dining in Barcelona, Spain

Once a year, I embark on a weekend mini-holiday to a different European country. My country of choice this year was Spain. Thus last Friday, I set forth on my flight to Barcelona!

Fortunately for us vegans, Aer Lingus airlines offers some tasty VGML vegan meals! My dinner included a main entree of baked tofu, rice, and mixed veggies(diced zucchini, tomatoes, onions) in a flavorful tomato sauce. A side salad with bread accompanied the meal. Dessert was a bowl of melon slices. The meal was filling and really good. Even the buttery spread was labelled as “vegan”. Aer Lingus knows how to “do vegan right”!

Airlines typically don’t provide a vegan breakfast option, so I brought my own packaged oatmeal(apple flax) from home. It was Dr. McDougall’s vegan brand oatmeal cup.

Many of the hotels in Barcelona are inexpensive. I chose to stay at a small hotel near the university. It is quieter than the “old town” where many travelers stay, yet close enough to walk to La Ramblas pedestrian mall and the old gothic quarter within a few minutes. It did indeed provide a good night’s sleep! Upon arrival in Barcelona center, I was awestruck by the beautiful old church nearby my hotel.

After checking into my hotel, I thought I would check out the all vegan market. The walk down La Ramblas tree-lined street brought me to the location of the shop. It happened to be closed at that hour, but I made to sure to take a photo of its colorful exterior. The vegan shop “Veganoteca”(Veganoteca Shop) carries vegan food, vegan ‘meats’ and vegan ‘dairy’, as well as chocolate spreads, soy chorizo, vegan vitamins, and ecoogical products.

A vegan shoe store also resides in Barcelona, but alas a visit there did not fit into my time schedule. Amapola (Amapola Vegan Shoe Store) sells vegan shoes, handbags, and accessories.

Another place whose hours did not fit into my schedule was Gelaaati Di Marco (Gelaaati Di Marco). The ice cream shop is known to offer several flavors of vegan ice cream gelato made with rice milk.

I strolled along the lengthy La Ramblas pedestrian mall street. Restaurants and gift shops line both sides of the road. Kiosks in the center offer tourists everything from local snacks to traditional Barcelona gifts!

Pasteleria La Estrella Cake Bakery (Carrer Mallorca nº 330, tel. 0034-93-207-57-85) is located just off of La Ramblas. This bakery has a refrigerator case full of vegan sweets made by Lujuria Vegana bakers. The building sign says “Pujol”, not Pasteleria La Estrella. This is where I ate my morning meal.

My breakfast was the pistachio and strawberry cake slice. It was wonderfully sweet and melt-in-your-mouth delectable!

Walking down La Ramblas again, gave me time to purchase a few local souvenirs.

After some shopping, lunch time had arrived. Gopal (Gopal Vegan Restaurant) is an all-vegan restaurant that offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sweet treats.

For lunch, I selected the popular Spanish zucchini tortilla topped with vegan mayo and a side salad. My meal was delicious!

For dessert, I opted for a mini-doughnut filled with chocolate and topped with lavender frosting. This was a yummy snack!

It was time for some sightseeing! The top attraction in Barcelona and in all of Spain, is La Sagrada Familia. The large Catholic church was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in the year 1882 and is still ongoing. Its style is Spanish late Gothic and Catalan Modernism. It will possess eighteen spires (representing the apostles, Mary, Jesus, and The Four Evangelists), three grand facades (representing The Nativity, The Passion, and The Glory), and a Latin cross-like interior layout.


The stain glass windows are absolutely gorgeous, encompassing an amazing palette of colors!

One can’t help but to ponder over the intricate details of the exterior’s facades.

Palm trees sway on the corner across the street, reminding tourists of the pleasant Mediterranean climate here year-round.

Another popular attraction in Barcelona is Casa Batllo. This Modernist masterpiece designed by Gaudi, was built in 1877. Josep Batllo purchased the residence in the year 1900, due to its central location. The textile magnet wanted a unique home, like no other. It is known locally as “the house of bones”, due to the skeletal look of the exterior. The facade is decorated with colorful ceramic tile.

The main floor, known as the “Noble Floor” has curving vaulted walls and doorways. The stained glass windows display blue circular patterns.

The tiled walls appear to turn a darker shade of blue as one climbs up each flight of stairs to an upper level.

The roof is designed to resemble a dragon’s back spine, with four chimney stacks to prevent backdraft.

Onto La Pedrera next! Another of Gaudi’s creations, this colossal apartment residence was the last civic work designed by the architect between the years 1906 and 1910. The stone facade possesses twisted wrought-iron balconies and windows. It was built for the wealthy businessman Pere Mila and his family.

Two courtyards provide light to the nine level apartment building, of which the first floor was the Mila’s residence.

This home contains period Catalan Modernism furniture. Servants’ quarters, laundry room, dining room, living room, and bedrooms can be viewed here with Gaudi period furniture.


La Pedrera’s roof is a visitor’s delight! Twenty eight chimneys rise up in a twisted form so that smoke is released better. The stepped roof has six staircases and skylights decorated with some Valencia broken tiles.



After my visit, I scurried outside to catch the evening bus to Parc Guell. Yet another Gaudi creation, this outdoor attraction is a creative masterpiece of gardens and architecture in a huge public park system.

Gaudi’s multicolored mosaic salamander greets the visitor at the entrance on the Roman steps.

The long bench designed with a mosaic pattern, in the form of a sea serpent adorns the main terrace. The curvature of its shape forms enclaves that allow for more social interactions.

Gaudi’s furnished house “La Torra Rosa” is a museum on the property and is available for tours during the day.

Night had befallen us, so I hopped on the bus and quickly headed to the old Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.
An old Roman Wall stood behind protective iron gates.

Many of the building dates back to the Medieval period. Carrer del Bisbe was the main road of the Roman era. This charming throughway is accessed by a door in the Roman Wall with a circular tower on each side.

Performers were singing opera music outside of a medieval period church.

Roman ruins and narrow streets of the old Jewish neighborhood bring visitors back in time.


The Barcelona Cathedral of Saint Eulalia started construction in the 13th century. This gothic cathedral has gargoyle figures on its rooftop and a cloister that contains the “Well of Geese”. The cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of Barcelona.

Medieval plazas can be found outside of the narrow thoroughfares and alleys.

After my enjoyable evening walk through the historic old gothic quarter, I was really hungry! Juicy Jones is an all vegan restaurant that is located off of La Ramblas street.

For my side dish, I selected the salad with wheat tartar, mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts, and crudite.

A fresh white grape juice accompanied my meal.

My main entree was the eggplant stuffed with tofu, polenta, and leeks. It was really delicious!

I decided upon the apple crumble for dessert. This was a delectable treat! I really enjoyed this wonderful vegan meal experience.

After a full day of visiting Barcelona’s top attractions, it was time to call it a night. The touristic sights and vegan dining in this city were absolutely wonderful! I went back to my hotel to get some sleep. I would get up bright and early the next day to catch the AVE fast train to Madrid!

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