On the road

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens

Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal

Faro, Wednesday April 12, 4.25 am

I was sleeping and I was dreaming the magnificent beach of Faro – where we had spent a wonderful afternoon the previous day, enjoying the sun, the ocean and the golden sand – when I heard the persistent “beep” of my alarm aimed to remind us that we had to catch up on the 5 o’clock bus to get to the airport in time. We had exactly fifteen minutes to get ready and leave the hostel as quietly as possible. Everything seemed to work according to our plan when suddenly something completely unpredictable happened, exactly when it was not supposed to happen: Anita’s bag was trapped in the huge entrance door as it closed behind us. No matter how much we pulled it, the strap that had been caught between the two huge doors could not be released and at 4.40 am there was no one at the reception to open the door for us. We had almost decided that we would lose the bus when, after persistent callings and ringings and perhaps a small fuss (at least we tried to leave quietly… :)), a girl woke up, dropped her electronic bracelet that opened the door (and which we had left at the reception desk) to us, the bag got released and we started running to the bus station. At 7.30 am we were in Porto.

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Όποτε βλέπω αυτή την φωτογραφία φαντάζομαι ένα magic tram να με πηγαίνει πίσω στην όμορφη πόλη – Whenever I see this picture I imagine of a “magic tram” taking me back to Porto

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens

From the airport, we took the metro to the center of Porto, in particular to Bolhão Station, which is located to one of the most central pedestrian streets, St Catarina Street. For our transportation to the metro, we purchased an “Antante” card from the airport’s automated machines, which can be “charged” with as many routes as one wants. Each route costs 1.20 euros and the card itself 0.50 cents. The morning breeze of the city with the paved roads, the sweet spring coolness (which did not take long to become heat), the shops that just opened their doors and the coffee we had right across from Majestic, the most famous café in Porto, (where it is said that a part of the book “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was written) is one of the most beautiful and vibrant images I have kept in my mind from this journey. And mentioning Harry Potter, the fans of J.K. Rowling’s books may want to visit Porto as it is, in a sense, the birthplace of the popular hero!

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Μια εικόνα από τους πράσινους κήπους γύρω από το Palacio de Cristal – View of the Garden of Crystal Palace

As Porto is not actually a big city, we had planned to spend only three days there. For that reason, we chose a hostel, in the center of the city, in order to walk through every single street of it. My opinion is that three or four days for sightseeing and getting an idea of the specialities of Porto (wine is one of them) are sufficient. However, since its beauty is indescribable and the cellars that wait to be explored many, if you have the time, you can also spend an interesting week there, drinking the famous local Porto wine, strolling along the river, exploring the picturesque paved streets, having guided tours in the historical cellars and tastings of different varieties of wines (I would definitely stay there for a month if I could!). Luckily the prices in accommodation and food are relatively low so this makes things much easier for some of us!

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Το Πόρτο θα μπορούσε να είναι συνώνυμο του κρασιού. Αυτό μαρτυρούν τα παλιά κελάρια στις όχθες του ποταμού όπου κανείς μπορεί να επισκεφτεί και να αγοράσει κρασί ή να παρακολουθήσει μια ξενάγηση γευσιγνωσίας – Porto could be synonymous of wine and the old celars across the river confirm that. Visitors can enter the celars to buy wine or for a guided visit with tasting of several wines.
Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Φρουτώδες και ελαφρώς αφρώδες “πράσινο” κρασί – Fruity and slightly sparkling “green” wine

In recent years, in Portugal and especially in Porto, probably because of the increasing number of tourists arriving from all over the world, as a vegan one can have several choices. Specifically, in a visit to a supermarket or in one of the many delicatessen shops we found not only soy milk at very low prices, but also vegan cold-cuts and plant-based cheeses and of course a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, pulses and cereals, as the warm climate of the country favors the cultivation of land and the production of excellent quality products. If you want to find fresh fruits and salads, as well as souvenirs, buns, nuts and various delicacies or just to take an idea of the everyday life in Porto, it is worth visiting the famous Bolhão market. This beautiful market is very close to Bolhão Metro Station in Rua Formosa 322, in the center of the city and it is open daily from 8am to 5pm – although before 9am most likely many of the shops will not be ready to serve customers. As this is considered one of the best markets in Europe we couldn’t resist buying some local fruits and vegetables and some nice souvenirs for our friends.

H αγορά Bolhão – Bolhão market
Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Aγορά Bolhão – Bolhão market
Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Σε ένα ράφι ενός σούπερ μάρκετ… In a super market…

Although preparing your own vegan food in the hostel or the appartment kitchen can be absolutely easy and cheap, a challenge may be eating out, in restaurants that are not clearly vegan or vegan-friendly. The local Portuguese cuisine may be rich in plant-based Mediterranean products, however they tend to add animal-derived products such as sausages, eggs, dairy and cod in most of the dishes. Moreover, although traditional Portuguese desserts are very famous between tourists and locals and especially in Porto you will find dozens of “pastelarias” (local pastry shops), most probably you will not be able to eat not even a single traditional desserts free of eggs, milk or butter. On the other hand, in Porto one can find several vegan or vegetarian restaurants as well as vegan-friendly restaurants.

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Από το χορτοφαγικό καφέ-εστιατόρια “da Terra” – From the vegetarian coffe-restaurant “da Terra”
Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Πατάτες με μυρωδικά για να συνοδεύσουμε το κρασί μας – Roasted garlicky potatoes

If you plan to eat out, the first thing I would definitely recommend is the vegan version of a local dish of Porto, which is called Francesinha and one could say that it is Portuguese croque-monsieur analogue. Frenchesina is a kind of sandwich, filled with sausages, baked in the grill and served in a thick, spicy sauce, the main ingredient of which is beer. Usually they serve it with french fries (which usually are not included in the price and they will ask you to order them separately). We had the chance to taste a delicious vegan Francesinha at the Francesinhas Al Forno da Baixa vegan-friendly restaurant (Rua do Almada, 160), with variety of choices for vegans. The one I got was made of toasted slices of bread, stuffed with tempeh and vegan chorizo, topped with a thick slice of vegan, yellow cheese and served in a spicy beer sauce. That was a unique tasting experience!

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Vegan Franchesina! Deliciouououous!!!

Another day, after hours of walking around and sight-seeing, we visited Quadal Bioshop (Rua do Rosario 177), which is both a shop that sells organic products and a cafe that serves also snacks, desserts and lunch. The cafe place is ideal for relaxing and having a coffee together with a vegan sweet or savory snack or homemade vegan cookies. From the shop you can buy organic fruits, vegetables and many other products. We were lucky enough to find Quadal Bioshop exactly when we needed some rest, a coffee and a snack. If you are as lucky as we were, you will also meet Arucula – the cute black cat that lives there, which I suspect is responsible for the public relations of the cafe!

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Καφεδάκι με φυτικό γάλα και ένα αλμυρό σνακ στο Quintal – Coffe and snack at Quintal
Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
ΗArucula, η γατούλα του “Quintal” – Arucula, the cat in “Quintal”

My last but not less memorable suggestion is the record (and burger)-store with the name Black Mamba (Rua Mártires da Liberdade, 130). Basically Black Mamba is not a restaurant, judging from the rare vinyls and cassettes that one can find there there. On the other hand, there you can have some delicious100% vegan burgers, snacks, cakes and beers, which is somewhat unusual for a record store. We had some fried vegan-cheese pies and a burger with the name “Burger Core” (all burgers, although tender and fluffy, had names inspired from the toughest aspects of rock). It consisted of a fluffy round bread stuffed with a delicious chickpea burger, a few vegan cutlets, a slightly spicy sauce and it was served with french fries and more sauce.

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens

In total, I could say that Porto is one of the most picturesque urban places I have been, and I wish to all of you vegan travelers out there to visit this enchanting city, to have great time, to feel its morning breeze, to taste unique wines and vegan delicacies and of course, to walk and see and enjoy as much as possible!

Ταξίδι στον Πόρτο της Πορτογαλίας - Vegan in Athens goes to Porto, Portugal - Vegan in Athens
Vegan παγωτό μετά από μια ζεστή μέρα στην πόλη – Vegan ice-cream after a hot day in the city
Ουπς! Ένας πετεινός! Πιστέψτε με στην Πορτογαλία θα δείτε πολλούς – Ooops, a rooster! In Portugal, believe me, you will meet a lot!
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Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens

Vegan Life festival – Thessaloniki

For about a month and a half, starting from London, and from a chubby cat I met there, I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve met amazing bipedal and quadrupedal creatures. The last trip was a few days ago by train, on the occasion of the 2nd vegan festival in Greece. On Friday night, 12th May , we boarded on the evening train leaving from Larissa Station and on Saturday at 6.30am we were walking through the streets of Thessaloniki.

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Η είσοδος του φεστιβάλ (φωτογραφία της Έλσας) – The entrance (Elsa’s photo)

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens

Well, tomorrow I will only eat sweets!”
“Me too …” , I replied.
That was the last thing me and Elsa discussed, a few minutes before going to bed on Saturday night, in the cozy room of our lovely friend, Dimitra. During our first day in Thessaloniki we had the chance to walk around the city, meet friends, enjoy vegan food and some special cocktails on the beach.

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Τα παγωτά ήταν το ακαταμάχητο θέλγητρο του φεστιβαλ! – Vegan ice-creams was the hit of the festival!
Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Επειδή είχα δοκιμάσει τα παγωτά του Πασαλίδη επιστρέφοντας από την Άνω Πόλη, στο φεστιβάλ έφαγα ένα τρίγωνο με κρέμα από τον ίδιο. – Trigono (triangle) filled with custard cream

Of course, central to our visit was thevsecond “Vegan Life Festival” that took place on Sunday 14th May, a festival dedicated to the vegan lifestyle that was recently launched in Greece. And as I mentioned before, during that day we would only eat sweets, VEGAN sweets! This may sound weird but how could we do otherwise while being in the heaven of vegan desserts such as vegan bougatsa (traditional custard pie), vegan ice creams, millefeuilles, triangles and profiteroles to mention just a few of the vegan delicacies one can find in Thessaloniki and of course in the festival exhibition!

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Vegan μπουγάτσα από τον “Τροφέα” – Vegan bougatsa (custard pie)
Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Αλμυρά πιτάκια με διαφορετικά είδη γέμισης -Savory pies with various stuffings

Shortly after twelve o’clock, after having a morning coffee next to the historical walls of Ano Poli (Upper Town) and a vegan ice cream cone from “Pasalidis”, the famous pastry shop in Agiou Dimitriou street where one can find a great variety of vegan desserts and ice-creams, we headed to the harbor and specifically to Warehouse C, where the festival was going to take place, right next to the sea. The building chosen for the realization of the festival was easily accessible and very convenient, with enough space for the exhibitors, a separate room for the speeches and benches outside the building with an amazing view to Thermaikos.

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Οι λιχουδιές του “eleφant in the room” – Fingerfood!
Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Σαντουιτσάκια από το rOOTS – Vegan sandwiches

For me, the greatest value of the festival was the trip, the beautiful people I met – some friendships just began – our conversations, the jokes and the feeling that something is going on, this peaceful way of life is spreading all over and love conquers the hearts of more and more people.

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Vegan τούρτα για τα γενέθλιας της Βάνας από τον Πασαλίδη! – Vana’s vegan birthday cake !
Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Όσοι ζουν με σκυλάκια ίσως αναγνωρίζουν αυτό το βλέμμα 🙂 – If you live with a dog, you may recognise this look 🙂

In case you find yourselves wondering, yes, everything went according to our plan and so we had desserts for breakfast and lunch (it was impossible to eat dinner after that), but we did not manage to eat as many as we would like to (there were many), having additional reasons to return to the beautiful city of Thessaloniki, who knows, perhaps on the occasion of the fourth Vegan Life Festival!

Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Στο χώρο του φεστιβάλ μπορούσε κανείς να βρει μεγάλη ποικιλία σε vegan προϊόντα, από τρόφιμα μέχρι καλλυντικά.
Vegan life festival Thessaloniki - Vegan in Athens
Σαπουνάκια vegan – vegan soaps
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Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Veganinathens.com

Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos

On July 27, while I was preparing our baggage to Amorgos, the temperature in Athens was unbearably high and I wished several times for some coolness. Bearing in mind the warm days and nights in many other camps around the Greek islands some years ago, I tried to suppress bad thoughts and instead I imagined of a cool and refreshing breeze scented with sea reaching my face.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens

On July 28, a few hours after our arrival in Amorgos, I found myself in Hora, wearing  my colorful sweatshirt jacket plus my partner’s denim jacket that fell over my shoulders with the grace of a modern sack of potatoes, while the strong wind had messed up my hair so much that I started considering  the possibility to do dreadlocks or shaving my head. I’ve started suspecting that I should have asked from the island gods less persistently cool breezes!So, the first tip I would give to the visitors of the island is to take into account that the evenings can be quite cool, depending on the area in which one can be found. And here I think I should stop commenting the weather, which, moreover, is so changeable and start writing some information for the future travelers.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens

 

1. Accommodation: In Amorgos there are apartments and hotels throughout the island and since we are talking about a mountainous island, they are not necessarily located next to the sea. In any case one can book online the room of preference on time and check where the room is located. On the other hand, if we choose to camp at a campsite it is advisable to have determined in advance what we want. In Amorgos there are three organized camping sites: a. The municipal campsite in Katapola -the one of the two ports of the island, which is located in a quiet area with copious shadow. The advantage is that it is close to restaurants, grocery stores, harbor and several beaches, so practically it can be convenient if you travel without your own car. Additionally this campsite is animal-friendly, provided of course that visitors are responsible and take care for and on behalf of their quadrupedal friends.Beyond basic services, there are also two shared fridges and a canteen, which is open all day and offers everything from coffees to traditional cooked food at reasonable prices. One minus we should mention is that there is no communal kitchen for those who wish to cook their own food. However we got in contact with a person from the staff who told us that it is possible to have akitchen area in the summer of ’17.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens

b. The campsite ” Castanis ‘, located about 1 kilometer away from Katapola, and from the sea . There are many shadowy corners where one can put a tent; it is very quiet and clean. Here, there is a tavern which offers coffees, drinks and food at good prices, a mini market and also a common kitchen with common refrigerators, but in order to cook we need to have our own camp stove. Our four-legged friends can come with us, upon request. c. The camping in Aegiali is probably the most famous among the three, and particularly preferred by young people as it is situated next to a sandy beach, bars and a beautiful sea, in a tourist village which seems to be rather more “vivid” than Katapola. Tourists in Aegiali can enjoy both the sea and the other amenities of the village without any dependency on means of transport. Note also that many ships to Amorgos go also at the port of Aegiali. But before choosing Aegiali one should also take into consideration a couple of things. First, when we called to get information, they declared that pets are prohibited in the area, so we ruled out the possibility to stay there. Moreover, when we visited it, we found that the tents were overcrowded in a relatively small space, with any subsequent impact this might have, from the cleanness and hygiene of the place to the peace and quiet one may seek in order to sleep or relax.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Πρωινό στο κάμπινγκ – Breakfast at camping

 

2. Beaches: What each of us may consider “nice” beach is certainly subjective, although some basic parameters such as the cleanness of the beach and the water are not. Well, regarding the quality of the sea water and the cleanness of the coasts Amorgos gets ten out of ten. On the other hand, the fact that most of the beaches can be reached only after walking along shorter or longer paths, as they are in less accessible points, can excite some, but it can also be a major problem for others. By car one can reach easily beaches such as Paradisia and Kalotaritissa at the Kato Meria on the island, while in others, like Gramvousa , people are transported by small boats on a small fee. Agia-Anna beach is just five minutes walking from where the bus stops or parking site is, however, since it is small in size but great in beauty, it is usually crowded even in the morning. But the most beautiful beach is called Mouros and to get there you need to follow a path, 10 minutes walking. If you arrive before noon, you can protect yourselves from the scorching sun under the shadows of the cliffs that rise on the back side of the beach. Finally a less crowded and quite beautiful beach is Psili Ammos. To get there we walked about 20 minutes. In all these beaches you have to carry with you fresh water and an umbrella.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Θέα από την παραλία της Αγίας Αννης – View from Agia Anni beach
Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Η παραλία του Μούρου – Beach Mouros
Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Στην παραλία της Αιγιάλης η παρουσία ζώων -για να μην πούμε και η ύπαρξη- θεωρούνται παραβάσεις…. – At Aigiali beach the presence of animals is not aloud….

3. Food: As in most Greek islands, pulses, rice, salads and greens have a central role in the diet of the inhabitants. Therefore in Amorgos one can find delicious Amorgian fava (or more frequently fava from Schinousa as Amorgian is more expensive), stuffed vegetables (usually with rice), stews, greens, potatoes and salads of various kinds. Those who decide to stay or visit Aigiali will likely discover «Falafel» shop -which among other things offers falafels- as well as other restaurants with several vegan options.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Vegan ποικιλία στην “Celini” – Vegan plate at “Celini”
Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Vegan παγωτό ρυζιού στα Κατάπολα – Vegan (r)ice-cream at Katapola

4. Walks: For our afternoon-evening walks there are several options considering of course the size of the island. Most visitors enjoy visiting the windmills and the narrow stone streets of the Hora, which retain the traditional architecture and the Greek island aesthetics. The same aesthetic applies also to the mountain villages Tholaria and Lagada. In all these places there are many taverns and restaurants. An interesting route that gives the opportunity to calm down and enjoy the natural landscape is the hiking trail that starts from Katapola (there are signs on the road) and rises on an imposing hill, the Moudoulia on top of which lies the ancient Minoa. Although the place was not open to the public when we went, one can observe several of the remnants that belong to the distant past. Moreover, many choose to visit the monastery Chozoviotissa which is considered one of the main attractions of the island.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Καθ’ οδόν για την αρχαία Μινώα – On the road to Αncient Minoa
Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Σιέστα στην Λόζα, στην Χώρα της Αμοργού – Siesta at Loza, at Amorgos Chora
Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Κρίταμος καθ’ οδόν για την παραλία Μαλτεζι – Kritamos on the road to Maltezi beach

5. Vegan-shopping: In Amorgos we didn’t miss almost anything of our favorite products, but one may need to be a little bit careful with the prices. For example the central groceries at Katapola sell vegan milks and other products such as whole-wheat pasta and rice-cakes even 50% more expensive than a grocery store located less centrally- though only 50 meters from the coastal road- on the way to ancient Minoa. We bought vegan milk, tofu and zea-pasta and legumes for our camp cooking. Furthermore, we found an organic vegetable garden on the road to Ancient Minoa, named «Amorgos Organics». The garden is open for anyone who wants to buy fresh, seasonal and organic fruits and vegetables from late morning to sunset except Sunday.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens

6. Transport: On the island we can go by boat departing from the port of Piraeus. As mentioned above there are ships that go to both ports of the island, so depending on where you stay you can select the right port to disembark. It is possible to transfer our car or motorbike with an additional charge, but the island has a good bus service so one can use busses to go to the beaches or visit the villages. Additionally to Amorgos you can simply follow the old-fashioned way and try hitchhiking especially if nostalgic of the ’80s! Maps of the island can be obtained for free from various shops, hotels and campings, but if you are not going to stay for more than a couple of days, perhaps a good idea would be to buy a small guide of the island before going or look for information online.

Καλοκαιρινό ταξίδι στην Αμοργό - Vegan in Athens goes to Amorgos - Vegan in Athens
Το λιμάνι στα Κατάπολα – Port of Katapola

 

 

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