Posted by: rebeccajrobare | September 8, 2011

Traveling Gluten-Free

We just got back from vacation in Israel, with stops in London. We had a lovely, relaxing time and missed all the dramatic weather and geology here on the East Coast.  I’ll pause to shill http://www.restoringrutland.org/, where you can find out about helping my shattered home county, but mostly I want to write here about my first experience of international travel while on the GF diet.

First, I want to tell you that I love British Airways.  I was continually impressed by the air service crews in a general sense, and was specifically impressed by the ease of getting gluten-free meals in-flight.  I requested these meals ahead of time on the British Airways website , where they specify that they may not be able to honor all requests. I therefore traveled with snacks. But for every meal service on four flights, I had a tasty gluten-free meal that included some sort of bread or substitute (once I had rice cakes, twice rolls, once a sandwich on GF bread).  There were two occasions in which my meal included more food than that of my boyfriend, who had regular meals. BA has won my loyalty with this.

Our first stop while traveling was in London, where we had a 12-hour layover during the day. We went out into the city, and I want to tell you about 2 things: Pret, and pubs. Pret a Manger is a British sandwich chain. I’ve been a fan for quite a while. On this trip, I discovered something new: a “no-bread sandwich” that included everything found in that day’s specialty sandwich except the bread. It made for a nice lunch and I was excited to have an option other than a salad. We visited a couple of pubs with a friend later that afternoon, and both had cider on tap — something I consider a mark of a good bar here in the states, but which is clearly easier to come by in the UK.

The main part of our trip was in Israel, and I am pleased to report that the country is very celiac-aware. I traveled with Hebrew cards explaining the condition, but found that a couple of words either in English or in Hebrew (from my boyfriend) were followed by quick understanding and a willingness to check or change whatever was required. Bonus points to the Frida Kahlo restaurant in Tel Aviv for making slight alterations to my meal (and their fabulous sangria). I found that GF items such as bread and cake tended to be better than their American counterparts. So I found my travel to be overall very easy and pleasant in terms of dealing with my gluten-free diet. My only close call in the whole trip was half a French fry (okay, a chip) in our London hotel on the way back. I didn’t ask about the fries, just took one off my boyfriend’s plate, and discovered that it was battered. My stomach sent up a few warning signs, but no major consequences ensued (and I am again reminded that even a little gluten can make a big difference, and I should not cheat no matter how tempted).

So, we had a great time, I found food all over that I could eat and enjoy, and now I’m happy to be home!

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