Good day to all
Looking for a few handy pointers on backpacking through Eastern Europe with T1.
We are heading to Prague and Budapest etc in the middle of winter [Feb 2011] making backing even more tricky than it already is.  My husband is a newby T1 and this is the first tour we'll be attempting with T1. My question is not on what to take with [saw this has been discussed in depth before] but rather how to go about keeping the sugars controlled with unknown new and exotic foods we don't have a clue what the carb composition could be.
We are still trying to decide whether we should go with a tour group [like Contiki or Trafalgar] where a lot of the meals are included thus you don't really have the option of trying to find the healthier restaurants, or doing it solo and trying to find supermarkets where you can purchase healthier food and then taking it back to a backpacker to prepare.

So, any T1's who have traveled Eastern Europe, please could you point me in the right direction.  Do they have supermarkets around every corner, will I be able to prepare the food if I cant read the language and are there any health chain store restaurants in Eastern Europe?


Tags: Eastern, Europe, Traveling

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I wouldn't be too worried, Margaux. If you're going to be eating out in restaurants and cafes, then it won't be any harder than it is eating out at restaurants and cafes in your own neighbourhood -- it's just a question of making an intelligent guestimate based on your past experience, unless, of course, you go out armed with a pair of nutritional scales, a calculator and have access to the kitchens to see exactly what the chefs add to the food they're going to serve up ;-)

If you're going to be self-catering, which makes eating simpler, you'll find that a lot of supermarket-bought products will have nutritional information printed on the packaging. Just find out what the word for carbohydrate is in the relevant languages (do a Google search or look through a bilingual dictionary in your nearest bookshop that stocks foreign language learning material). If you're going to be visiting larger towns and cities, you won't have any trouble finding supermarkets -- you'll even find grocery/convenience stores in the larger villages too.
You'll love the way your heightened activity lowers your BG!
There is everything you need in eastern Europe.
You can never keep sugars controlled in foods in restaurants even in Eastern Europe, but they eat healthier in restaurants than we do, so you will just have to keep your appetite in tow. Eat according to portions - veggies half a plate. Add protein whenever possible to smooth out the BG. And take into consideration that extra exercise you're getting!
I've backpacked both ways solo and with a group.(pre Dx) For your first time out you may prefer the security that a group and especially your group leader can provide. They have schlepped many groups thru the restaurants you'd be going to and as such has the ability to work with the staff on your behalf which is a HUGE help. They will also know every pharmacy in town. Even before my Diabetes- being a vegetarian could be tricky and I always appreciated the fact that in advance the restaurant would know that me and my preference would be arriving. Self catering is the way to go! European markets are awesome! Take a little soft sided insulated lunch box and gel freezer packs and hit the markets! You'll feel safer knowing that in the face of any delay you're prepared. Take tons of testing supplies as testing more frequently to see the affect of exercise, time zones and jet lag will be a big help in anticipating how to eat. Eastern European is my definition of carb intense- portion control will be key. But as someone else mentioned exercise should make those portions a bit bigger. :-) Most importantly make yourself a laminated card with key phrases in the languages of the countries you'll be visiting- "I'm a Diabetic" "I need table sugar / juice" No Potatoes/bread/etc what ever you think you might need. I am a world traveler/backpacker and am planning my first post D backpacking trip and have decided to go with a group for the first 2 weeks and last 2 weeks on my own. Good Luck and travel WELL!
Another thing you might want to consider is renting a flat as a "home base" and do day trips from there. shorter days=less stress and getting a good night's sleep in a hostel can be a crap shoot. Having a kitchen and a fridge is ideal- but trying to cook in a hostel is not. I've booked a place thru click on "apartments" under property type. Enjoy!
Hey Margaux,

I ended up backpacking through most of Europe this time last year and it was a truly amazing experience. One thing that my dad kept reminding me is "You know, Europe's not another planet...", and this eased my anxiety about it. Even though I wasn't diagnosed at the time, I was still extremely cautious of what I was eating.

I'm not sure where you are staying, but there are mini marts with basic necessities (like an upper scale 7-11) that will have food, snacks, and produce, but the grocery stores essentially like ours. You won't have a hard time finding anything that you wouldn't find here. Again, even though I wasn't diagnosed at the time of my travels, I was still able to buy things like wheat bread, nutella, peanut butter, things that have carbs and protein in them. Basically, I would suggest if you know how to treat yourself when eating things like peanut butter and crackers, for instance, this would be less of a struggle for you.

I went to both Prague and Budapest on my travels. Prague is becoming more Westernized but their dishes (at restaurants) still have European flair. There isn't an indulgence in fast food in these places, but it's always a good idea to know where the closest McDonalds is just in case. Plus, you're money will go further in Prague and Budapest as well with the exchange rates. A loaf of bread is about 50 cents USD and Nutella just under a buck. In Prague, and I'm not sure about Budapest, there is a chain grocery store called Billa that I did most of my shopping at. But they don't give you plastic bags, so bring a backpack =)

Because Czech and Hungary are sticky languages, some of the packaging will probably be in English or German, the more "popular" languages in Europe, to make it easy for shopping.

The Hungarians are HUGE on soups, stews, lentils, and paprika. Since you're traveling in February (I went in November when I was there), you'll probably end up eating really hearty meals, but they might not be as carb friendly. Like someone else in this thread, I'd do some pre-trip insulin amounts. For instance, I know that I have to take 3 units if I eat waffles with peanut butter and a little bit of sugar free syrup. Doing some mental math like that will probably be helpful. Hungarians are more likely to use English in places of business, so I'm not sure that "what are the total amount of carbs in this meal" will translate super effectively. But eye ball it. You'll also find a fair amount of international foods there that aren't indigeoness (sp?). Kebabs are everywhere. You can't go a block without finding a kebab stand. Kebabs will provide a great amount of protein and the pita it's on will probably be your only carb in take. On the paprika note, the Hungarians are crazy about their spices, but I have yet to encounter a spice that effects my blood sugar.

But I would check on the translation of carb before you go, just to be sure. Again, Europe isn't in a far off galaxy with no food ;)

One last thing - make sure your husband (and you, for that matter) should definitely carry some type of identification labeling you as Type 1. Whether it's a medical ID bracelet or a card in your passport or wallet, make sure to do this. Also, let your trip organizers know with Contiki, or whoever, because since they're travel savvy, I'm assuming they've gotten into sticky situations, and they're going to be more than helpful with anything that may come up. So just give them a quick heads up, but stay positive and enjoy your trip. It sounds like a blast!

If you'd like any more information on Prague and Budapest, message me!

Also, like the person above me stated, having a home base is a good idea. Packing food for on the go is always a great idea because that way you have control over what you're eating. I didn't encounter any really strange food when I was there, but on the fluke that you have something with an insane amount of carbs, a sandwich or a roll of crackers might be a good idea.

Wow!! You guys [and gals] have really been helpful!! I really appreciate all the inside info! We decided to go solo!! So here's hoping its going to be the right decision!! I'll definitely be contacting a few of you again to get some more info!
At the moment it looks like we'll be doing Prague, Olomouc,Krakouw, Budapest, Sopron, Bratislavia,Vienna, then two weeks skiing in Saalbach Astria before heading home via Munich.

The first two weeks [up to Saalbach] are still very flexible, so if anyone has any interesting, off-the-beaten-track, suggestions, we are VERY open to them!! Just gimme a shout! I'd love to hear them!


I also traveled to Vienna, Krakow, and Munich. It sounds like so much fun!

Krakow is totally awesome. When I got there after going to Prague, I really felt like I was in Europe. The bars and restaurants are a lot of fun and you can literally walk around the whole city in one day. Make sure to check out the Wawel (Vavel) Castle and old town for sculptures and farmers market type events.

I'm not sure if you're interested, but the concentration camp of Auschwitz is located about an hour SW of Krakow. I took a tour there with a guided group. Although it was the most horrifying experience of my life, I'll never forget it and I don't regret it. Also, Schindler's List was filmed in Krakow and there are points of interest throughout the city, including his factory. I'd recommend checking it out. They also have perogis in Poland, something like a Polish ravioli that's served with sour cream. It's awesome and worth it. The exchange rate in Poland is quite great.

Pope John Paul II was also born in Krakow. They actually have "pope" tours. Haha.

Mariahilferstrasse (a street) in Vienna has a lot of cool shopping, I'm not sure if you're into fashion, but it's pretty awesome. Also the National Museum is pretty cool too. It's located by the Westbanhof trainstation.

In Munich, check out the beer halls. The site of the 1972 Olympics is awesome, good photo opportunities. And the former Nazi Headquarters building is in Munich. It's currently a Mac Store. I got a kick out of thing about Munich is that it was literally bombed to bits during the last days of WWII. There are only three surviving buildings located in Marienplatz, also great for pictures. But it's just interesting to know that a lot of the buildings aren't any older than the late 1950s, even though they look much older.

Also in Munich, kebab (doner kebabs) are EVERYWHERE. You can't walk ten feet without seeing a shop for kebabs (meat, some kind of dressing that's like tzatziki, lettuce, tomato, pita). They have a saying that there are more Turkish people in Germany than Turkey, so the international flare in Munich is pretty solid. But also check out the Bavarian fair too. I'd recommend any schnitzel that comes with potatoes and horseradish, but I know you were asking about dietary restrictions earlier, it'll be totally within your budget. They aren't more than 3 or 4 euros.

I never made it to Bratislava, but I heard from many other travelers that they were able to do it in one day, well, staying one night and technically making it a two day adventure, but it's actually pretty small.

How are you traveling? By rail? I can give you some helpful hints if you're doing EuRail passes.

Hi Liz
I'm also involved in a discussion forum on a traveling website. I was advised there not to buy a Eurorail as travel in Eastern Europe is very cheap. We'll only be traveling short distances in Germany, thus 'they' said it's going to be more worth our while to buy point to point tickets while in Eastern Europe. What was your experience?
The Eastpass offers unlimited First and Second Class Rail travel in the following countries:
a.      Austria
b.      Hungary
c.      Czech Republic
d.      Slovak Republic
e.      Poland
The rates for the rail passes as follows:
Valid for 10 days within 1 month
1st class: Euro 325 per person
2nd class: Euro 237 per person
Plus Euro 13 issuing fee per person and R150 [ZAR]delivery fees
No seat / sleeper bookings are included in these rates
Will there be any supplements when using this pass? You will notice Slovenia is excluded, so what happens when we want to travel due South from Krakouw to Budapest? If we dont get off in Slovenia, will the pass cover this leg of the trip?
What is your opinion, looking at the rates: point to point tickets or Eastern Europass?




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