In June 2019 we headed to Germany for a family event, and as we seem to do more and more often now that we’re retired, tacked on a few other countries to the front end. The trip presented us with a great opportunity to try local specialties, enjoy fine cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients, and to generally eat and drink our way across the landscape.
First stop was Iceland, basing ourselves in Akureyri on the north coast. Akureyri is Iceland’s “second city” and is small and the core very walkable, with some good restaurants, plus it doesn’t seem to be quite as expensive as Reykjavik. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s expensive – just not as bad as it could be; and to mitigate costs a bit we bought our beer/wine at the Duty Free shop exiting the airport in Keflavik. 🙂 I’ll also point out that there’s no tipping in Iceland, and many of the restaurants have limited table service – it’s more typical that you’d order at a counter, your order will be brought to you, and you walk up to pay when you’re leaving.
What to eat in Iceland? Fish, of course, and lamb, and we generally kept to more modest fare. We did give more interesting local specialties a try with plokkfiskur (thick fish stew) and the “Taste of Akureyri”, which included sampling minke whale 😦 and guillemot in addition to cod, sausage, and lamb. (Have to say we will stay in the “don’t eat whale” camp.)
Note that the photos are optimized by WordPress (hmmm) for mobile devices. If you’re on a desktop you may be best off double-clicking any photo and then just stepping through them.
By the way, have to give the B&B Keflavik Airport a big thumbs up for starting their breakfast service at 0400. They clearly understand that much of their clientele is there only overnight and have very early flights.
Onward to Scotland, where except for a day in Edinburgh, we were generally out of the city and roaming around the Scottish Highlands. Of course we had to try the haggis, which we had served as a deep-fried appetizer, and the black pudding at breakfast; we found them both very tasty. The full Scottish breakfast would keep you going all day, but truly was too much food; we did better just one of us ordering it and then dividing it up somewhat. Our niece Maureen suggested we try a pork sandwich at Oink in Edinburgh (see photo above); when we first went by the Oink on Victoria St around the noon hour there was a long line down the street, but returning after 1 pm we got right in. Messy and my fat quota for a week probably – but what’s not to love about yummy pork in a good bread roll stuffed with haggis (or sage stuffing)?
We spent about a week in the Highlands, in Grantown-on-Spey and then on the west coast in Oban. We’re not whisky drinkers but had a wee dram each night just to try a few out; also a gin and tonic to sample a local gin. Most of our meals in Grantown-on-Spey were at the lovely Grant Arms Hotel, as part of a short birding tour; their menu changed nightly and featured local products thoughtfully prepared. Even the last couple of nights when we’d moved on to a B&B, The Spey, we returned to the Grant Arms for a last dinner, it was that good.
Over on the west coast in Oban, we overate at an Indian (and Bangladeshi, Thai and Chinese) restaurant called Spice World – doesn’t seem like a trip to the UK unless we enjoy some very good Indian cuisine, and these guys didn’t disappoint. (I think they should warn people a bit about the portion sizes, though.) On a day trip that included visiting Doune Castle, we lunched at the charming Buttercup Cafe in Doune. We finished our time in Oban with an “early bird” special at a fine fish restaurant on the north pier, Ee-Usk.
So did I already mention the whisky, gin, beer, and cider?
You’d think we had eaten plenty by this point – and we had – but next stop, Germany! What can I say, we love our schnitzel, bratwurst, and beer. Find yourself any restaurant with outdoor seating, or go to a less-touristy-fussy biergarten, and have a great time. We were in Berlin, Halle (Saale), and Munich, plenty of wonderful options. And don’t forget the döner kebab (gyros), anywhere.
So by the end of this month-long food-fest, this was about all I could manage for breakfast (I know, still, leberwurst, and chocolate…haha can’t go back to light eating too abruptly!):
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