My journey to Europe began on February 5, when I flew from Los Angeles International Airport to London Heathrow. So began a whale of a tale for my sister Jessica and I. Over the course of 15 days, we visited London, England; Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; Brussels, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Munich, Germany; and at last reached Marburg, Germany, where I’ll be studying for the next four months.
There are so many unforgettable moments that we’d love to share with anyone who will listen, but I’ve set out with a very specific purpose for this edition of my Be International blog – with the juiciest, most delectable, even borderline sinful details. Yes, that’s right, I’m here to share with you the various meals I had along the way.
Each city I visited had very distinctive cuisine. One thing I’ve noticed across the board is Europe’s love affair with pommes frites, known to Americans more commonly as “French fries.” However, the chips/pommes/fries here are not just something out of the freezer; they’re always fresh, and they don’t make you feel exhausted after eating them like many (most) American food chains do.
A few things I looked forward to were mushy peas, fish and chips and a traditional English breakfast – and oh boy, did the city deliver. I enjoyed one of London’s most famous dishes at Lehman Street Tavern. I don’t usually like fish, but when in London! (The mushy peas were much more delicious than they look, I promise.) On the last day we spent in London, we stumbled upon a small café near the Tower of London, where I was able to try the traditional English breakfast of sausage, bacon (side note: why isn’t our bacon this tasty and big?), toast, baked beans, blood pudding and eggs.
Dublin and Paris tied for my personal favorite cuisines. I hadn’t originally intended on visiting Dublin, but added it to my itinerary for my sister. I couldn’t be happier that we did go, because the city is absolutely beautiful. People were so friendly and helpful and extremely interested in meeting two Americans with Filipino heritage, which I guess is rare there. The best meal I had in Dublin (and there were many) was at the pub Nancy Hands. We enjoyed an Irish cheese plate, onion rings and a chicken stew served over mashed potatoes. I’m pretty sure this was my favorite meal on the entire trip.
First of all, the one thing you should know about Paris is that no matter where you are, and no matter what you choose, you will never go wrong. Your food will always be incredible because Parisians take so much pride in the quality of their ingredients and the final product reflects that. We walked into a café near our AirBnB and I ordered for my sister and I in Spanish because our waitress didn’t speak English (in France, imagine that! – joking). I chose something familiar, spaghetti Bolognese, and I CAN’T BEGIN TO DESCRIBE how good it was. This classic dish is ruined for me forever. Thanks, Paris.
No, really, THANK YOU. I’ll never forget you, Bolognese.
Upon arrival to the country that I’ll be calling home for the next few months, we made the pilgrimage to the world-famous Hofbräuhaus. I thought it was just another tourist trap, but we encountered tons of locals in addition to people visiting the beer hall just like us. The beers were fantastic, not to mention HUGE. I had a traditional Bavarian pretzel and finally got to try a real schnitzel! At Hofbräuhaus, it was a piece of breaded pork fried and served with potato salad and cranberries. I’m not a huge fan of pork, but I really enjoyed this dish. The beer may have factored into that.
I’m writing to you all from a small café in Marburg (actually, everything is small in Marburg). If I learned anything from this trip, it’s that stepping outside of your boundaries can be awfully rewarding, even if it’s exhausting. I used to think I was somewhat of a homebody, but visiting so many cities and being on the go for three weeks has taught me that I can do things that scare me, and have them pay off tenfold.
I have never been more exhausted in my life, but I mean that in the best way possible. I’ll end with a quote from a lovely woman named Maria, who we met at our hostel in London. She is 61 years old, lives in Poland, has two children and is a widow. When I asked her if her children were worried that she is traveling the world alone, she said, “They can’t worry about me. I won’t let them. We are all travelers as human beings.” Such a small statement carried so much weight for me, and it’s a sentiment that I will carry with me as I continue to see more of this great, big world.
So, be like Maria, step outside of your bubble and experience the world. Or, be like me, and try some schnitzel – I’m sure you won’t regret it.
Thank you for reading! Until next time.
Julia Jaramillo is a junior majoring in public relations and double minoring in English and international studies. She is studying at the University of Marburg in Germany in Spring semester 2017.