Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Countdown Is On

David and I are putting the final touches on our preparations for Europe, and, as always, our thoughts turn to food.

Since food is the second-biggest trip expense after lodging, we economize by making good use of our apartment's kitchen.  We'll be sampling the local deli/ carry-out fare which we can heat up "at home," of course, but we also like to prepare our own breakfasts and snacks with items from the grocery stores.

A stroll through its market reveals almost as much about a country as a trip to its museums, but the market lets you buy its treasures!  Cheese that's imported and costly here in the States can be had for pennies.  Butter that comes in forty or so varieties provides delicious agony when we have to choose just one.  And we love to carry home bread that is sliced from a ten pound round, wrapped in butcher paper and tied with a string.

The only aspect of shopping foreign markets that we don't enjoy is struggling to find what we need.  While we don't mind drooling over the cheese section of a store for hours, we don't want to have to struggle to find that particular section.

That's why our cheat sheet comes in handy.  While we could carry a phrase book with us, we find that it's a lot lighter to carry our one-sheet custom-designed shopping list--especially when we're lugging home the loot.  We use Google translator to generate the most common items we buy (partial list in the photo) in whatever language we'll need.  This way, too, we get a wonderful opportunity to interact with the people who live in the country and we can feel, if only for a little while, as though we are their neighbors!

Practicalities -

Don't forget that for most shopping carts in Europe, you will insert a euro coin to disengage the cart from the chain.  When you return the cart, make sure to secure the cart again so your coin is returned.

You will bag your own groceries and pay extra if you must use the store's plastic bags, so it's helpful to bring your own.  We always pack several sturdy, cloth-like sacks in our suitcases. 

Many smaller neighborhood-type markets use self-checkout.  These work the same way they do here in the US.

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