post-cancer travel

Delicious Healthy Eating in Paris and Prague for Cancer Survivors and Vegetarians

A cancer diagnosis puts life in perspective. I realized with clarity that I wanted to travel a lot more, but I also needed to take care of myself with the dietary changes necessary due to my particular type of breast cancer. With a little research, I was able to do both this fall. I even got to eat wonderfully! I might have to live off sprouted nut bars when I travel through parts of Asia, but that wasn't the case in Paris or Prague.

This is what I learned about eating tasty, healthy food on the road in Paris and Prague. Below are 10 restaurants and a few markets to keep you well fed. 

A couple of notes before I dive in: The focus of this post is vegetarian food. I'm trying to avoid hormones of all kind, meaning I'm eating only organic animal products, so eating vegetarian and vegan is an easy solution. I'm also trying to avoid as many toxins as possible, since I already got my fill of them with chemo, so I eat organic whenever I can. Therefore many of the restaurants listed here are vegetarian and organic, and all of them are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.

All the restaurants and stores mentioned here can be found in the central part of Paris and Prague. I haven't listed addresses and opening times for the stores and restaurants, because both of those pieces of information might change (which is what we found to be the case). I hope this blog post can be a good starting point, but definitely check the web for the most current information. Two great resources we used were Happy Cow, a vegetarian and vegan online restaurant guide, and a helpful ebook from the Vegan Paris blog.

Tip: In Europe, "bio" means "organic."


Le Pain Quotidien
A chain of organic cafe-style restaurants in Paris. Not vegetarian, but lots of vegan-friendly dishes. We went to the location in the Marais. I ate a couple of their fabulous salads, but they have good hot food, too. As the name suggests, they've got lots of good bread. It's a proper bakery, too, so you can buy food at the counter to take away. Organic croissants, anyone?

Bob's Kitchen and Bob's Juice Bar
Green juice and green smoothies! If you miss your Vitamix, this is the place to go. The Kitchen location also has great hot meals. The restaurant is a bit hard to spot, with only a tiny sign, so here's a picture of what it looks like.

Rose Bakery
Organic breakfast and lunch. We went here twice for brunch, eating omelettes, oatmeal, granola, and excellent coffee. Like Bob's, this place is a bit tough to spot, since it doesn't have a sign.

Pousse Pousse "Sprout Sprout"
Lots of raw food at this organic vegan restaurant. Right now it's in a tiny restaurant, but the owner said they're looking to expand into a bigger space. This was the most expensive place we went to, but it was definitely worth it. They have a few daily options rather than a long menu, and they've got green cocktails in addition to food.

Les Cinq Saveurs D'Anada
Vegetarian food plus fish in the Left Bank.

Organic health food that's both a store and a small restaurant. Lots of raw food options.

A good place to stop by for a quick, inexpensive vegetarian bite. Vegetarian falafel joint near the Sorbonne in the Left Bank.

Organic Food Markets
Naturalia is the biggest organic food market chain, and we stumbled upon several of them just walking around. I also came across two organic markets we hadn't read about: A Touch of Bio and Boutique Bio.


Country Life - Restaurant and Market
Organic vegetarian store and restaurant chain. One of the locations is conveniently located right off Old Town Square in the center of the touristy part of the city. The restaurant is a cafeteria where you get a tray and serve yourself, and your food is weighed to determine how much you pay. It's casual, but the decor is very cool. We ate lunches here most days, and would explore new places for dinner. The cabbage salad was a favorite of mine. The entrance to the store is shown in the photo I took below, and you walk through the covered walkway to get to the restaurant entrance.

Lehka Hlava "Clear Head"
Vegetarian food in a really cute restaurant. It's praised in the Rick Steve's guidebook, so it can be crowded and they recommend reservations. We lucked into getting a table at dinner without reservations because we got there early one evening before a walk along the nearby Vltava River.

Dhaba Beas Indian Cafe
Vegetarian Indian food in a casual cafeteria atmosphere. Like Country Life, you get your own food and they weigh it to determine how much you pay. Really inexpensive, and it was crowded but we always found a seat.

I hope you have a great time eating fantastic food if you visit these cities!


Night Train from Prague to Paris

Vyšehrad, Prague.
I returned a few days ago from my celebratory post-cancer-treatment trip to Prague and Paris. Now I'm jet-lagged and broke, but it was worth it! Highlights below.

Related posts: I'm posting artsy mysterious photos from the trip over at the Gargoyle Girl photography blog on Mondays for the next several weeks. I'm also writing up a separate blog post about delicious healthy eating options in Prague and Paris for cancer survivors, vegetarians, and others with food restrictions—coming next week.


We flew into Prague. I had been to the city once before, for only two days right after college. I had always wanted to go back, but at the same time I wasn't sure if my memories had romanticized the city. Was it possible it wouldn't be as intriguing as I imagined? I'm happy to report it was even better than I expected. The sites, the people, the food, the gorgeous architecture... The whole vibe of the city was wonderful. If Czech wasn't such a difficult language to learn, I would be very tempted to spend a sabbatical living in Prague.

Views of Prague from the Klementinum (National Library) Tower.

Whenever I travel to a country where English isn't the primary language, I try to learn at least a few words of the language, both to communicate and to be respectful of the fact that the world is a lot bigger than my home country. Czech was more difficult than I expected, but by the end of the week I had about a dozen key phrases down. The problem? Unlike the French, who often switch to English upon hearing my accent, the lovely Czech people were so happy I was speaking Czech that they'd try to keep speaking to me in Czech! I had no trouble finding English-speakers, though. It's true that most young people speak English. But I did use "mluvite anglicky" ("do you speak English") quite a bit once we left the touristy center of the city. 

We spent nearly a week exploring the city and surrounding areas. After visiting the requisite sites—e.g. Old Town Square with the amazing clock tower, the hidden underground level of the city, and the Prague Castle complex that includes the towering St. Vitus Cathedral covered in gargoyles—we headed further afield, including hiking down to the old fortress ruins at Vyšehrad and checking out some alchemy sites for the mystery novel I'm currently writing.

Views of St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex.

The Vltava River, from Vyšehrad.

Astronomical clock tower in Old Town Square.


From Prague, we caught a City Night Line train into France. The train station deserves a blog post of its own, if not a whole mystery novel, so for now I'll just say that it's fascinating how different the old northern train station is from the new main train station. I'm pretty sure we were either in a Twilight Zone or Doctor Who alternate reality. But the train still showed up, and a wonderful porter got us set up in our sleeper car at the very end of the train. He explained that the train would be split up in Germany during the night, with destinations in Germany, Switzerland, and France.

On the sleeper car, I felt like we were in an Agatha Christie novel! (However, no jewel thefts or murders took place on the train ride. As the husband had to remind me, that was a good thing.) We spent the evening watching the scenery go by.

Autumn in Paris: Luxembourg Gardens.

We stayed at a hotel in the Marais neighborhood (4th Arrondissement), the perfect central location for leisurely walks with frequent breaks at cafes that provided excellent coffee and even better people-watching. I love the presentation of coffee in Europe, where elegant little trays that give you everything you could need for your coffee, including a tiny chocolate.

Cafes in Prague and Paris. Below, Mama Coffee in Prague, full of laptop-users; Les Deux Magots in Paris, with an interesting literary history; one of many random street cafes where all the seats face outward for blatant people-watching.

Street art in the Marais.

Since I've spent a lot of time in Paris before, this trip was for relaxing more than sightseeing, but we did wait in line at Notre Dame to climb the 387 steps to see my favorite gargoyles.

With the gargoyles at Notre Dame.

This post is long enough, so I'll stop now and you can catch more photos at Gargoyle Girl!


Post-Cancer Celebratory Trip Planning: Prague and Paris, Here We Come!

My last cancer treatment took place at the end of July, so last week I was able to get my port out. I'm a little sore from the stitches, but I don't seem to mind, because it means I'm officially DONE with invasive cancer treatments!

What's a girl to do to celebrate?

1. Throw a killer book launch party.

2. Go on vacation to Prague and Paris.

I visited Prague briefly when I was 22 years old, while backpacking after college. It was such a mysterious, romantic city (two of my favorite things) that I always wanted to go back. Life got away from me, though, so I never did. And somehow it's already 15 years later!

But you know what? Even if cancer changes my plans along the way in the future, I'm not going to let it stop me from having the experiences I want to in life. I'm going to turn cancer on its head and use it as a reminder to focus on the important things in life, like seeing the world with my loved ones.

So we booked ourselves tickets flying into Prague and out of Paris for later in the fall, after Artifact comes out. I've already got an idea for a Paris mystery novel in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series, but now I need to think of some good ideas for a Prague mystery....


The First of Many Post-Cancer Vacations: New York City

Almost exactly one year ago, I was supposed to go to New York City. The week before that trip, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I cancelled the trip, unsure of when I'd be able to travel again.

I was rushed into surgery to have the tiny cancerous lump removed. Then chemotherapy wiped out my immune system, making travel a very bad idea. Post-chemo radiation wasn't so bad, but it was every single day for five weeks. I've still got some minor treatments, but with the big stuff over, my body bounced back amazingly well—so well that my doctor gave me the green light to travel! A new trip to New York came together, and since my diagnosis made me see clearly how much it means to me to travel, I'm also in the process of planning a trip abroad this fall after my book launch. I haven't quite figured out where we're going yet, since I want to do everything. But for now, this New York trip was a great start to live being not just back to normal, but even better.

We went to the top of the Rockefeller Center at sunset:

One of my favorite things about New York City is the gorgeous architecture that's filled with ornamental details. If you stop and look up, you're bound to see a carving through the trees like the ones below.

And even after an building has been demolished, its stone carvings might end up at the Brooklyn Museum's sculpture garden, like the figure below that found his new home in the grass lawn of the garden. (I'll be posting photos of the gargoyles and grotesques of New York over on the Gargoyle Girl blog this month.)

The apartment we stayed in made great use of space and had a solid dining table perfect for writing over morning coffee.

The apartment had a great view, but after a great trip I'm happy to be sitting at home in my Bay Window with the view of my giant cactus.