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. 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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Vegan Travel – Vegano Italiano Festival in Italy – July 2015

During the month of July this year, the “Vegano Italiano Festival” will take place in Italy! Tierno Tours and Green Earth Travel are offering four, one week vegan travel tours of the Amalfi region. Renowned vegan speakers will be featured during each of these weeklong tours. The tour groups will be taken to visit Cilento, Vetri Sul Mare, Felitto, the Monastery of Padula, Villa Cosilinum, Palinuro, the Castle of Roccadaspide, the Amalfi Coast, the port of Salerno, Pompeii and Peastum.

villa gin1


Guests will stay at one of six bed & breakfast accommodations in the National Park of Cilento.
It is Italy’s second largest national park. Cilento is one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area. The Cilentana diet has always been very plant-based and organic as well. This region is extremely vegan-friendly.


The speakers during the tour will include the following:
Week One:Saturday July 4–Saturday July 11 – Jason Wyrick from “vegan tacos” and Jasmine Singer and Mariann Sullivan from “Our Hen House”
Week Two:Saturday July 11–Saturday July 18 – Dr. Ruby Lathon from “Veggie Chest” and Carolyn Scott-Hamilton from “Healthy Voyager’s Global Kitchen”
Week Three:Saturday July 18–Saturday July 25 – Miyoko Schinner from “Artisan Vegan Cheese” and Matt Frazier from “No Meat Athlete”
Week Four:Saturday July 25–Saturday August 1 – Fran Costigan from “Vegan Chocolate”



Itinerary for 8 Days & 7 Nights

Day 1 – Saturday

Arrive in Naples (NAP), drive to Cilento, stopping in Vetri Sul Mare, a small town where we will see ceramics-making demos in almost every shop along Main Street. Then we will continue south to check into our villa and meet for our Welcome dinner. (D)

Day 2 – Sunday

Felitto – Harvest nature walk, where we will learn about all the wild greens, vegetables and herbs that have been used for centuries in the local dishes of Cilento. After our harvest walk, we will have lunch in a local farm house. After lunch we can choose to take a ride down the river on a paddle boat* or a nature walk throughout the mountains of Felitto. (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Monday

Our first stop is the Monastery of Padula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest antiquity of southern Italy. We will have lunch in Villa Cosilinum, a beautifully restored Villa at the top of this village. After lunch, we will have a tour of Joe Petrosino’s home before heading back to the villa for dinner and a cooking lesson from our host. (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Tuesday

Drive down the Coast of Cilento to the village of Palinuro, where we will get our boat ride to the five Grottos (caves) of the cape. We will have lunch overlooking the water and then free time on the beach. Dinner includes a cooking lesson from host. (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Wednesday

Tour of the Castle of Roccadaspide, built in 1242 by Fredrick II, passed down to the Duke Ettore Giuliani, who will give us the tour himself. After lunch at a local trattoria we will take a ride to the city of Agropoli where we will have free time to explore the city. Next we will drive back to the villa for Pizza Night, where we will make our own brick oven pizza. (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Thursday

We are heading to the Amalfi Coast. Leaving from the port of Salerno you can choose to spend the morning in Positano or the Island of Capri. Dinner back at the villa. (B, D)

Day 7 – Friday

We are spending our last day in Pompeii. We will have a 2-hour guided tour of the ancient city then drive back to the villa, stopping at Paestum, where you can see three of the best preserved collections of Greek temples outside of Greece. (B, D)
We will provide a list of things to do and vegan-friendly places to eat and offer the option to come with us to see your favorite spots on free days.

Day 8 – Saturday

Transfer to airport Naples – NAP.

* Boat rides are subject to weather and seasons


Single supplement is $385.00. Single rooms are very limited.

This Fully escorted Tour Includes:

7-Breakfasts continental
4- Lunches, including wine
7-Dinners, including wine
7-Nights in four-star Villa/B&B,
Transfers to and from airport – Naples
All admission to sites
English speaking guide throughout your stay
1st class motor coach
Tips for baggage handling, taxes and hotel gratuity, except Tour Director.
*Please note the airport transfers are included only if you are arriving and departing on the dates selected. If you arrive a day early or are staying later then the transfer is not included in the package

Please contact Donna Zeigfinger for bookings, questions, etc. at (301) 229-5666 or


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