I feel like I have been around the world and back in the last few weeks – I have only been home two of the last six weeks. I have to admit that I have a travel bug. Every so often I just need to go somewhere!
When we first went GF I mourned the fact that travel would be hard. How could we ever eat out for an entire week, much less in a foreign country? As with all things about this diet, we have come to adjust and have had numerous and various treks during the last eight years. It may take a little more planning, and sometimes it takes us to unexpected neighborhoods, but being GF has never slowed us down.
Right before the end of the school year, I embarked on a trip with a dear friend to Iona Scotland to participate in one of the Iona Retreats. If you have never heard of Iona, it is a tiny island (one mile by three miles long) on the western side of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides.
There are more sheep than people on Iona - with one small road about half a mile long.
It is the place to which Saint Columba brought the Celtic Church to Scotland and had a great impact on the spread of Christianity in Scotland and northern England.
I was getting a little burned out before this trip. I love being a Mom and try my best to be a good Gluten Free Mom too, but sometimes it is exhausting! If you are a mom with a child with some kind of extra special need, then you know what I mean – the always worrying, checking, researching, cooking, planning . . .. I was just plain worn out.
I had a completely relaxing and lovely time in Scotland. How could you not relax in a place like this?
The retreat on Iona was a week of restorative rest, great food, and peacefulness. I started the trip feeling like I was wound tight as a spring about to pop and came home with my old calm self back in place. Everyone says it – you will be a better mom if you take some time for yourself. Sometimes it is really hard to squeeze that time in. But if you can, do it! Go for a walk, read a book, go to a movie – whatever it is that feeds you. Just take a little time.
Gluten Free Eating in Scotland:
As to eating gluten free, when we were on the Island of Iona we stayed in a house with a cook. We were served local, fresh naturally gluten free food for the entire week and it was wonderful – fresh seafood, lamb, quinoa salads, and vegetables from the garden. The food alone was restorative.
- We did go out to eat one night at Martyrs' Bay Café - one of the only restaurants on the island. There was plenty of food that was naturally gluten free on the menu but they only wanted to serve me an omelet and boiled potatoes.
- Spar Shop is the one and only grocery store. They had a surprisingly good supply of GF treats. I found a few cookies and some crackers.
- Lastly, if you go to church service at the Abby (which I highly recommend as a once in a lifetime experience) they have Gluten Free communion! This was such a wonderful treat.
- I recommend the The Waterfront Fishouse Restaurant and Bar for dinner. I was so happy to unexpectedly find a gluten free menu at this restaurant. The Waterfront Fishouse is the winner of the 2010 Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards for "Best Use of Local Food and Drink." Sit at your table and enjoy panoramic views across Oban Bay to the Isle of Mull. The food is exceptional. You will not find GF rolls or pasta, but wonderful, fresh and naturally gluten free food. I had the vegetarian option and it was delicious – eggplant, sundried tomatoes.
- We stayed at the Maridon Guest House – clean and inexpensive. Very close to the train and ferry station. They were more than happy to serve me a gluten free breakfast with bacon (more like American ham), eggs, sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes. It was very delicious and filling.
If you happen to pass through the little town of Pitlochry stop in at The Plaice To Be for the best Gluten Free Fish n Chips you will ever have in your life. Melt in your mouth white fish with a light and crisp batter. Have a shot of the local whiskey to go with!
There are a few GF options in Edinburgh:
- We had dinner on our first night at The Orchard. Fun restaurant with a great atmosphere. They do not have a GF menu, but there were happy to accommodate my diet. The lamb was delicious with a flavorful au jus sauce.
- You can also get a GF meal at the Italian Restaurent CentOtre. Conveniently located in the downtown-main tourist area. The menu is clearly marked GF and they have GF pasta.
- We stayed at the Ashlyn Guest House. The Guest House was about a mile walk from the Royal Mile so may be too far out for some people but we enjoyed the fact that it was near the Botanical Gardens. It is affordable, clean and comfortable. Again, they easily made me a gluten free breakfast and even provided soymilk for my coffee.
For more information, check out Gluten Free Traveler's blog.
Before you go, read The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon - a fiction romance novel set in the Highlands.
For tourism books, I think Rick Steves always does a great job.
Blessing for the Traveller
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To bring the self along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home.
How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening a conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart
Would love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of your spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.