Yichang 

From the train station it was easy to get a taxi that knew the way to the Yiduo Youth Hostel. But easier said than done cause once the driver stopped, there was just another hotel. I mimicked him to go on searching and we drove in a bigger circle into the same street again. Since he was not giving up on that street I searched on both street sides for the hostel. And really, he was right from the beginning, the hostel was just the other side of the hotel. I am still not sure though how the numbering of the houses works.

Once checked in and in my room, I was glad to relax again. Not that I had done so much this day (except go onto the dam), but the momentarily terror of being stranded at the mini harbor had drained me of all energy and I needed to rest.

Since the room had no window except a small one onto the hallway, it was dark and quiet and I slept for 2 hours.IMG_2355

 

Once I awoke I spoke to the daughter of the owner who could speak English and was very helpful (she was also only on visit from Beijing). She had made a map of the area on where to find good restaurants and the main bus station.IMG_2357

 

There were also descriptions of the main sights in the city. I settled on a half day excursion, the 3 Visitors Cave.IMG_2363

 

The information on how to get to the airport was not so clear but once I came back from dinner she had also written up an information sheet for this.IMG_2365

 

Meanwhile I went out in search of the bus station for the next day and something to eat. On my way around I saw a Catholic Church, my first in China.IMG_2358

 

I eventually went into a restaurant that showed its communist colors broadly. From Karl Marx to Mao and Stalin, the who’s who in communism was up on the wall.IMG_2362
With the help of my efficient dictionary I ordered fish (I was near the Yangtze after all), some vegetables and the usual beer (very important to re-charge the electrolyte household).IMG_2359 IMG_2360The food tasted as always delicious although the fish was a tad difficult to eat since it was hacked into pieces from head to tail or rather fin, bones included. I think I had one of the eyes by chance. Not really sure what to make of that but I am glad I didn’t swallow one of the bones.

On the way back to the hostel which was anyway only 5 minutes off I stopped at a café/tea house/ bar. This place had a bit of the ‘Old World’ charm with cosy nooks and an upstairs dining room. I tried to order some G&T but failed on the translation of the tonic. After 10 minutes of discussion, using my dictionary and the waitress’s translation app, we gave up and I ordered her recommendation. Which was not good at all. We tried again for the second drink but then I got Gin on the rocks, really not much better. With a lot of ice and over time, it was drinkable.

It helped to get really tired and I was asleep in no time. Yours, Pollybert

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Ireland at its best

Upon our arrival in the village of Howth again we were walking towards the church when Andrea noticed a small delicatessen shop and right away made a detour.IMG_8542The shop was indeed a treasure trove of all things Irish; all three of us fell upon the products like starving maniacs (which we were) and bought an armful of delicacies. But these delicacies are now in my home and already on Monday night I tried the first of three different cheeses. And I can’t wait for Christmas to eat the pudding with brandy butter!

With full bags we entered this old-looking church which we had seen from above and were astonished to see it carpeted and heated inside. That makes for some cozy church going.Handy 747

Just half a block down from the store was a restaurant that looked inviting right away. After a peek at the menu we settled on this one. Maybe our experience from the morning when we walked for a while and couldn’t settle on anything, finally ending up in café with almost nothing to eat, taught us something? And you know what? It was the perfect place!

With The House we picked a distinguished restaurant that has been successful for years. Something you can see right away when you enter.IMG_8544IMG_8545IMG_8555

While Franz and I studied the menu, Andrea found us an Austrian wine to drink. It can’t get better than this. The Loimer “Lois” Kamptal went excellent with the fresh seafood and fish we ordered. When looking at the pictures now, I am not sure if Franz got asked but Andrea looks perfectly happy with her choice.IMG_8543IMG_8546

From the first I tended to the mussels and Andrea to the seafood chowder while Franz was undecided; in the end he settled for another Irish breakfast which looked delicious. Actually everything we ordered at this place not just looked delicious but also tasted so!IMG_8547IMG_8548IMG_8549IMG_8550
This was the best Irish meal we had so far. And although we were all happy and full we glanced at the dessert menu and of course we found something to try. Andrea and I wanted the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and Franz tried an apple crumble.

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I forgot to take the pictures right away. Both dishes looked so yummy that we had to dig in first. After coffee and a digestive we felt ready to face the road again. If you are ever in the area, go and see this place.IMG_8554IMG_8558

The road was not so long anymore but we still wanted to see the light house. And it gets dark very early here in November. Around 4:30 already I would guess. And since we wanted to take some more pictures, we had to hurry. As you can see when we came back to the harbor it was low water.IMG_8564IMG_8570IMG_8571IMG_8566

And then it was already time to say goodbye to Howth and take the DART back to Dublin.IMG_8576

On the way back we had already figured out how the train system worked and got off at Pearse station which was near Trinity College. While being there the day before we saw some things we wanted to buy at the Book of Kells store. Why we didn’t do that, I really don’t know. Point is, we went back and then the store was already closed for the day. So something else for us to do on Sunday. By now we were dead tired and all I wanted to do was to lie down for an hour. Perfect plan for everyone, we did just that and decided to regroup at 8pm again.

When we met later nobody was hungry, so dinner was out of the question. Since it was Saturday night what better to do than go for a beer. And the Temple Bar district seemed like the place to be for us. Off we went in search of a good bar and got almost slain by the amount of people crowding the streets, the bars and pubs in the area. There was not one place we wanted to enter. We finally went into The Auld Dubliner, a place that had been recommended to me. Two steps inside we turned around on our heels and walked back outside. We had entered right next to the musician and I thought my ear drum had blown. Around the corner was another entrance where we tried again. Franz walked right out again while Andrea and I braved the masses and the noise and got us some beer. Guinness again for all of us, what an amazing beer!

With the beer in hand we took up place in front of the bar where all the smokers met. It couldn’t have been a better place to check out the locals. I love people watching and eavesdropping on conversations especially when a guy tries to land a girl. And if said guy is drunk and the girl sober, all the more hilarious. Really has a lot of comic appeal.

But this fun keeps you warm only so long and after a while we decided to head to a warmer place. We ended up at F. X. Buckley, a steakhouse with a bar on top which had the added advantage of being right around the corner from our hotel. No more beer for us though, we had moved on the G&T. I really like how the storeroom was incorporated in the bar.IMG_8582IMG_8583

Some of you might know this feeling that when you stay out long enough, eventually you get hungry again. So what should I tell you, this happens to the best of us. Such a convenience that next door was a take away Indian place called Siri. We headed there for a late night snack and were surprised how good it tasted!IMG_8586

Sure enough we were up for a night-cap again. Since it was our last night in Dublin there was no point in going to bed early. In regards to the hour we expected our bar to be quiet, but far from it. The place was packed and jamming. Someone had his 65th birthday party in there and the dance floor was rocking. So what were we to do than dance as well and enjoy the party?
Yours, Pollybert

Cliff walking in Howth

From the Connolly train station we took the DART to Howth. All over Dublin we saw everything written in two languages Irish and English. Thus also on the train.
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I love that both languages are exactly the same size not giving one language the precedence over the other (unlike in Quebec).

Upon arrival we first took a picture of the map to know where to go. These maps and other signs are all over the island as well, the Irish are really nice to tourists!Handy 731
But first we stopped at the local market for a bit of sustenance, a blueberry scone which was barely edible (still, I ate half of it). And no, a scone is not the same as these cup cakes in the first picture.IMG_8463IMG_8464The sustenance was needed because breakfast had been small and the walk we planned was long. Take a look around the harbor. Can you see the palm trees?IMG_8466IMG_8468IMG_8469IMG_8471IMG_8472

For all poet lovers, Yeats lived here for a couple of years.IMG_8479
And a couple of doors further down we saw an “Emily”. If you want to read the real love story behind it, click here.IMG_8481

We passed the last of the houses and there was only nature ahead of us. The track took us up and down and since it had rained until the early morning there were lots of puddles to avoid. This was no “Handtascherlweg” (an expression I heard shortly before reaching the top of the Sonnblick, a mountain over 3000m high; meaning it was quite steep and rough), but it was well worth it. The view was amazing and all in all even I felt really connected to nature here and usually I am not into these things. The brown stuff you see on the first picture is actually fern and it was totally dry. Very weird.IMG_8482IMG_8484IMG_8486IMG_8488IMG_8490IMG_8491IMG_8492IMG_8493IMG_8498IMG_8501IMG_8504IMG_8506IMG_8508IMG_8510IMG_8515IMG_8516IMG_8518
I hope I didn’t swamp you with these pictures but it was heartbreakingly beautiful walking there and I just wanted to share this with you. We also saw a couple of birds and other animals while walking. So these are for all the animal lover out there.IMG_8513IMG_8519IMG_8535Handy 766

The whole tour took about two hours and we kind of walked a small circle, coming back to the village again from another side. Have you noticed by the way that in Ireland the gorse is still in bloom?

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And then we decided to take a short-cut which sounded like a good idea at first but involved climbing down sideways. Not something I want to repeat.Here the view looking down.

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The amazing view at this point.IMG_8532Looking back up.

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With this steep descent behind us we were back in civilization and ready for something to eat. But this is another story.
Yours, Pollybert