Breakfast is one of the reasons why I chose hotels over apartments when traveling in Eastern Europe. It was the fun part of the trip. I got to discover various forms of breakfast and sample a world of flavors without the need to go to a bunch of restaurants.
In Eastern Europe, breakfast is hearty and usually consist of a choice of freshly baked bread, sausages, pickled meats (fish), cheeses, cut fruits, cakes, yogurt, eggs, juices, and coffee or tea. Bacon, fluffy pancakes and waffles are not the usual unless you’re staying at a four-star (and up) hotel.
Take a look at what was on my plates in Romania, Moldova, Transnistria, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia:
Romania: Romanian Breakfast
In Romania, a Romanian breakfast varies from region to region. Pastries, bread, and rolls are commonplace. There are also a variety of sausages, cold cuts, cheeses, and cut vegetables.
At Hotel Cismigiu, Bucharest, the hotel had a wide selection of Romanian specialties including telemea (cheese made of cow’s or sheep’s milk). But the fried sausage, grilled mushrooms, and vegetables tempted my taste buds more than anything else (see above).
Guests are spoiled for choice in Brasov, a medieval city in the center of Transylvania. Fresh pretzels are readily available in bakeries. It’s also quite easy to get a decent cup of coffee in the old town square.
Out in the country in eastern Transylvania, Hotel Filo prepared their sausages with mustard and eggs for each guest. Accompanying the plate was an espresso. Somehow, the sausage tasted a lot like the Swabian sausage in Germany, as this region has the largest German community in Romania.
By the time I arrived at Vila Carmen Silvae, a guesthouse near Voronet (The Sistine Chapel of the East) in the Bucovina region of Romania, I already had fried sausages and a variety of cheeses every morning for almost a week. I was glad my breakfast menu was about to change as I headed east towards Moldova.
Iasi, a university town located in eastern Romania is only eight miles west of Moldova, one of the many former Soviet states. The plan for breakfast was to load on protein especially fried sausage and cheese before I said goodbye to Romania.
Moldova: Moldovan breakfast
Staying at an old Soviet-style hotel in Chisinau, Moldova was the best thing I did when visiting the least visited country in Europe. The room, common area, and breakfast room were not refurbished. There were no high-tech machines, modern elevators or trappings of a five-star hotel.
My Moldovan breakfast was a mixture of Romanian and Russian-style breakfast. On my plate were blini (Russian crepe), Russian crepe with cheese filling, fried eggs, slices of cheese and salami.
Traveling further east to Transnistria from Moldova was an eye opening experience. Technically, Transnistria, a land sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine is part of Moldova, but, it functions like an independent country with its own parliamentary government, currency and army. Some say this pro-Russia region is a “ghost of the Soviet past.” Even their breakfast is very Russian.
The breakfast was very good. Russian crepe filled with cheese and dusted with powdered sugar were served to every guest. We also got a basket of fresh bread and a plate of cheese and cold cuts to share. Coffee was beautifully served with a piece of chocolate.
Ukraine: Ukrainian breakfast
In Odessa, I was introduced to buckwheat, fried fish, blini (Russian crepe) and syrniki (cheese pancakes) for breakfast. I love blini, syrniki and crepe filled with cheese. You’ll see a lot of these items featured here.
Odessa is Ukraine’s third largest city with one million people from over 100 countries. This port city offers plenty of international cuisines. Since it is located by the Black Sea, fresh seafood is readily available.
Don’t be surprised to see batter-fried fish, chicken, and fried rice for breakfast in hotels.
Dark rye bread started showing on the breakfast table in Kiev. And I continued to see more and more of the dark rye bread as we journeyed into the northwest region of Ukraine. Of course, to my delight, buckwheat, crepes filled with cheese, blini, and syrniki were ever present during my entire trip in Ukraine.
Lviv was my last stop in Ukraine before Belarus. Lviv has the most fascinating coffee culture in Eastern Europe. In fact, Vienna’s coffee culture can be traced back to a Ukrainian man named Yuri Kulczycki, who brewed the first cup of coffee in 1683. I highly recommend a visit to Lviv if you would like to know more about the art of drinking and enjoying coffee.
Belarus: Belarusian Breakfast
Breakfast in Belarus is similar to that of the former Soviet states. There are blinis, eggs, cheeses, syrniki, and buckwheat, in addition to a unique meat aspic or kholodets (meat jelly), potato pancakes, fish, and dark rye bread.
Lithuania: Lithuanian breakfast
Besides what we’ve been previously seeing, blini, syrniki, cheeses, a variety of bread with spreads like honey, butter, and jams, cut fruits, and vegetables, a Lithuanian breakfast also includes pickled herring, smoked fish, skilandis (smoked sausage), aspic (gelatin), mushrooms and duona, the Lithuanian dark rye bread.
Latvia: Latvian breakfast
Canned sprats in oil, rye bread, pickled herring, boiled or fried eggs, smoked sausages, salmon, blini, syrniki and grilled vegetables were what I had in Riga Latvia. I don’t think the locals eat such an elaborate breakfast every day. They probably just have a cup of coffee with rye bread and sprats or herring or just a bowl of barley porridge.
Estonia: Estonian breakfast
In Estonia, it’s common to have an array of pickled fish, bread, jams, sausages, and cheeses. Like its neighboring countries, Latvia and Lithuania, Estonians eat lots of sprats (small fish) on dark rye bread.
What we eat for breakfast depends on where we live now or where we grew up. So be adventurous, try a new type of breakfast when at home or on vacation. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what is on your plate if you have a good cup of coffee to accompany your breakfast.
Here’s a list of hotels I stayed in Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia:
- Hotel Cismigiu in Bucharest, Romania
- Hotel Drachenhaus in Brasov, Romania
- Hotel Filo in Gheorgheni, Romania
- Vila Carmen Silvae, Voronet, Romania
- Hotel Moldova, Iasi, Romania
- Hotel Cosmos, Chisinau, Moldova
- Hotel Sofia, Tiraspol, Transnitria
- Black Sea Hotel, Odessa, Ukraine
- Hotel Express, Kiev, Ukraine
- Myr Hotel, Rivne, Ukraine
- Hotel Jam, Lviv, Ukraine
- Hotel Belarus, Minsk, Belarus
- Novotel Hotel, Vilnius, Lithuania
- Radisson Blu, Riga, Latvia
- Nordic Hotel Forum, Tallinn, Estonia
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