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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Czech Out Gluten-Free Fun
You may or may not have noticed that last Friday I missed my first recipe of the week since the beginning of 2011. I am disappointed that I missed my weekly recipe posting, but I will make it up by posting two recipes this Friday. Last week I was not only busy, but majorly distracted.

Dear readers, I am excited to announce that I am going to the Czech Republic three weeks from today!

I love to travel and when I get the urge to go somewhere it is just a flurry of fast and furious planning to get out of New York City as fast as possible. I'm not sure why I plan my vacations this way, but I have been doing this for the past 6 years. My best trips have been my solo trips that I plan in less than a month. This month, the travel bug buzzed in my ear again and I was ready to pack up and take another vacation as soon as possible. Then last week, I took the plunge and booked my tickets to Prague.

I have always heard wonderful things about Prague and had two friends that have lived there at some point during their lives who continue to rave about the magical city even many years later. I started researching Prague and the Czech Republic in the beginning of March. I got every guide book I could get my hands on out of the library and started casting a really wide net over the Internet looking for resources. I am always determined to get all the information I can before traveling somewhere new, especially as someone on a gluten-free diet. So I spent the first two weeks of March researching this dream destination and then two interesting things happened to me.

At a book launch party for Allergic Girl here in NYC, I met a girl who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease right in the middle of a round-the-world trip. First of all, I always admire people that take this enormous plunge to travel THE ENTIRE WORLD. (Side note: next to blogging and reading about Celiac Disease, I am obsessed with reading travel blogs.) Second of all, this girl was literally put in the hospital for three weeks in the middle of her trip only to get a diagnosis of Celiac Disease and then kept right on traveling!! Although I only spoke with this girl for about 5 minutes during a slightly chaotic event I was more than inspired by her story and can't wait to get together with her soon to learn more about her travels and diagnosis.

The next thing that happened was that I posted on FB the following question: "Does being gluten-free stop you from doing things you did pre-diagnosis like socializing, traveling, dining out, etc.?" The answers were heartbreaking. So many of my dear readers shared their emotional struggle with going gluten-free. They drastically changed their socializing habits, felt ostracized by friends and family and basically stopped dining out and traveling. This really broke my heart, especially as someone that grew up as a Celiac and not diagnosed as an adult. I went home that night dejected and thinking a trip to Eastern Europe was more than I can handle and that I was making the wrong decision to go to Prague.

When I woke up on Thursday, I realized a few things. In my almost 33 years of life, I have almost never let Celiac Disease stop me from doing anything. Why was I going to let something stop me now? Next, I knew I had already done a ton of my travel homework downloading Czech translation cards about Celiac Disease, learning about the gluten-free diet in the Czech Republic, and finding local supermarkets in Prague. Additionally, I contacted at least two Czech Celiac organizations and found Facebook pages that were more Euro-centric when it came to gluten-free dining in Europe. I was basically looking for excuses NOT to book my ticket (my sister is sick, my job needs me...they don't, I can't afford it, etc.) but I really had NO good excuse not to go. It basically came down to me pushing myself so far out of my comfort zone that I was freaking out. As a last-minute traveler, this has happened to me before. I simply called my mom and a few supportive friends for a pep talk and I was on my way booking a direct flight from JFK to PRG.

Now, I am beyond excited/nervous/freaking out to announce that I am going to the Czech Republic just five days after my 33rd birthday. This is probably the craziest birthday present I have ever bought myself but I am really happy that I am doing this trip. I will probably continue to freak out until the end of the trip, but at least I will be doing so in Prague! I will be struggling with an utterly foreign language when trying to order my food, trying to figure out currency on the fly, and navigating a formerly communist country. Am I crazy? Maybe. Am I letting Celiac Disease stop me? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I will most definitely share my Czech tips, photos, and resources with you readers when I return but until then wish me luck and feel free to send me any additional travel tips you might have. Thanks!

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5 Comments:

Blogger ackdavis said...

You go, GAL! Life offers opportunities and it's up to us to pick and choose what we make of each - good or not so good. Just because we have Celiac is no excuse for not enjoying life to its fullest - here, there, or anywhere. Attitude, a can-do and want-to-do slant, trumps I-can't every time. Happy, Happy Birthday, Erin, from your readers.

Blogger Candice said...

I loved your post today! Like many of your readers, my diagnosis has definitely been full of emotional struggles. However, I am slowly trying to "step out of my comfort zone" and not let my gluten intolerance hold me back! Your post was so inspiring today, and I can't wait to hear about your travels.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be studying abroad next fall in Prague and I am very concerned about what I will be able to eat. Please post any information you find out about gluten free restaurants, gluten free products and stores, etc. I am very excited about going, but also very nervous about food there. Have a wonderful trip. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can check Gluten Free Hotels Guide for hotels in Prague (http://www.glutenfreehotelsguide.com/city.php?id=25 ) that serve gluten free food.
The site (http://www.glutenfreehotelsguide.com/ ) lists hotels all over the world which serve gluten free food.

Anonymous portsmouthliz said...

Hi Erin, Thank you so much for posting this! I'm about to go to Prague for my wedding... went there twice before being diagnosed celiac, and this time around I'm nervous about how to navigate the food. But you're right, there is no reason to let celiac keep you from doing things. Hope you had a wonderful birthday in that amazing city.

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