Quy Nhon

So here I was in this quiet beach town with no tourists (I saw 10 all in all). This was going to be my relaxation after all my traveling. You can’t really say it out loud, but traveling is not relaxing. There is always something to do or see, to arrange a transfer or a hotel. Basically you never sit still and don’t do anything. So these four days were for me, to give myself a break.
Which meant sleeping in the first day. Which was a good plan but didn’t work. As usual I woke around 6am (why isn’t that happening at home?), updated the blog, watched an episode of GoT and just took my time.

In search of coffee I left the Hai Huong Hotel with the bicycle and made my way to the beach. And this was my first impression of the beach.

  
Really quiet, really no tourists but also no sun bed and umbrella. I stopped at a beach place (5 tables, plastic chairs and a guy with one of these ‘hot dog’ carts) and had an ice coffee. Looking at the beach I noticed that my beach vacation was going to be different than I imagined.

Since it started to drizzle I hopped on the bicycle to explore the city. Away from the beach I found a small coffee place that also had bathroom facilities (haha, sounds a lot grander than it was but long gone were the days in China with bathrooms everywhere).

When I left I was hungry and searched for something to eat. The first place that looked inviting was this little street place with excellent rolls!

  
  

They were just fantastic! Warm crunchy pancakes with bean sprouts on top, rolled in rice paper with lots of herbs and salad, served with a peanut/fish sauce. Just delicious!

Since the rain had stopped but it was still overcast I drove to the beach again and  decided on a sugar cane juice. I parked my bicycle and noticed that the only other guest of the place waved me over. I sat down at the table next to him and our communication consisted of me saying ‘Xin chao’ and him saying lots of stuff I didn’t understand. Quite funny really. I ended up giving him my phone to take a picture which he did (that’s my bicycle in the back). But then he indicated that he wanted me to take one of him. So I did.


When I left a bit later because the sun had finally come out he ‘told’ me that he had paid for my juice. Really lovely!

So off I cycled to a place on the beach where I could see other people. Still no tourists but at least the local youth was out. As I realized later, no one was on the beach during the day but the locals came out around 4-4:30pm. So there were people on the beach, I just needed to wait.

There were actually more a bit later but most were wearing swim vests and some went into the water fully dressed. So I being on the beach in my bikini was a bit of a curiosity.


Kids were coming up to me, trying to bury me in the sand or offering me chocolate. Three students came to practice English and one even had his homework with him which I had to correct. Everyone was so friendly and the students told me were to go for dinner, showed me the massage places on the  map so that I didn’t mind the interruption of my reading.

Once the sun went down I said goodbye and went in search of my dinner. Which I found at the other end of the beach (see, lots of people in this town).

  

Right at the sea I figured fish would be a good choice and it was. I had one (no clue which) with salad. I really liked the way it was served, just cut in the middle which made it perfectly grilled on both sides.

The next morning was overcast again so I decided instead of driving to the beach for coffee I would go and look at the grave of Han Mac Tu, a famous Vietnamese poet. On the map it was one of the sights to see and near my place. Off I went and got lost as usual. When I arrived at the indicated crossing where it should be there where two streets to take. One up and one straight. I took the high road, even asked someone if I was going to the right place, but they probably didn’t understand me and just said yes. After pushing my bike for more than 20 minutes I gave up. I took one picture of the town from above and decided this grave was not worth so much trouble.

When I was at the crossing again I tried the straight road (don’t want to give up after all) which didn’t lead anywhere and in the end I sat down at the café at the crossing and had an ice coffee.

After a second one (weather was still not great) I was hungry and drove 100m further to a street vendor. Since I didn’t know what to order I said everything. What came was rice with a piece of an onset, a piece if fried pork and a piece of fried chicken.

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By then it was still grey but in a lighter form. There was hope that the sun might come out after all. So I decided to go to the Seagull Hotel and ask for one of their sun beds. It was a really interesting discussion, I offering to pay for the bed, the employee telling me the beds were only for guests. In the end we settled on my using it for free so long as nobody else wanted it.

  

But I could only stay so long at the beach (will I ever do a beach vacation again?) and after an hour or two I was ready for a sugar cane juice. It was served with a dish of salt to cut the sugar.

In search of another thing to see I went for the Thi Nai Bridge. Something of it being the longest over sea bridge or so appealed to me. It was definitely worth seeing. Yeah, can’t really tell you anything about it because I never found it. But I found a massage place that was not on the map. When I passed it I decided to forget about the bridge, I was on vacation after all and have a massage instead. It was glorious!

Dinner were rolls again at the same place as the day before. They were as good and crunchy as I remembered them. After that I just cycled home and watched GoT. Yours, Pollybert

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Under the Tuscan rain

We left Vienna Thursday morning around 0:20 and arrived in Porciano/Tuscany a bit over 8 hours later to have a little colazione (breakfast) at Monica’s.
The moment we passed Bologna it started to rain and all the way over the Apennines mountains to Firenze it continued. We arrived at Monica’s with a lot of rain and no sun in view. What a start of our vacation in Italy.
Monica is the owner of a small shop which sells everything from fruits to bread to diapers and toothpaste. There is one table inside and three in front where you can enjoy a cappuccino and a warm cornetto (croissant). On a cold morning nothing warms better than fresh coffee.

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We left Monica and drove down to Lia to check in at Il Lampaggio. This small restaurant/agriturismo was discovered by my brother in 1995 and since then he comes here every year for a couple of days. Lia has 6 rooms for rent and a wonderful restaurant.

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Due to the unforeseen enlargement of our group

20130601-104347.jpg(welcome Fanny and Fritz, here with Lia) we only ordered 5 rooms the year before. Since I didn’t want to spend the next three nights with my brother and his gf, I got a room 2 minutes from Lia’s place at the Casa Italia. It’s an apartment residence, rooms are larger and the shower actually has hot water and enough water pressure. Still, it’s double price and all my friends were in the other building.

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After a restoring nap and since it stopped raining, we decided to drive to Firenze. My friend Ali left Fanny and Fritz to themselves and we went shopping like in old times.

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We also had to take a look at the Palazzo Vecchio. Firenze is so beautiful no matter the weather!

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We finished our city tour with a Campari spritz and then went back up the mountain to Il Lampaggio for two rainbows

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Yours, Pollybert

PS: I finished the ‘Game of Thrones’ series of George R. R. Martin with book no. 5 ‘A dance with dragons’ and started again with Ken Follet ‘A fall of giants’. I really, really liked the GoT series, although I have now spent the better part of the last three months reading it. Just starting with the Ken Follet book made me realize what a gifted writer Mr. Martin is. His style is superior and so vivid, the characters are well drawn and coming to life from his descriptions. The Ken Follet book is a bit lacking in this department and falls all in all quite flat. Hopefully it will pick up later, because I know that Follet can write wonderfully. Do you remember ‘The pillars of the earth’?

Waiting for spring & Mick Hucknall

We finally managed to fill out the russian visa application correctly. It only needed a couple of attempts, print-outs and so on. In the end it was correct and accepted by the embassy. Thanks to my friend Tici I didn’t have to go there again. She dropped off our applications, and by applying a very haughty manner she was first in line at the visa desk. So there was no waiting involved. What are we learning here? Arrogance can pay off. We will receive our passports including the visas on Good Friday.

Yesterday I went to the Konzerthaus to see Mick Hucknall. I quite liked ‘Simply Red’ when I was younger and wanted to know what he was up to on his own.
His voice is still amazing, rich and full and all embracing. But the face…I am not sure what happened to him. I just felt he looked a lot closer to 60 than his 50 years. Also, although I sat right in front he didn’t photograph well. His face is always white. More like a ghost which you can’t catch on pictures either.

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His voice and the surroundings were amazing, some songs not necessary (he sang quite a few cover versions) but overall I liked it.

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Last Friday I finished ‘Das gelobte Land’ and started to read GoT, ‘Clash of Kings’. Am very excited that I can go on reading. The story is amazing and characters are really well developed!

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‘Das gelobte Land’ btw was quite interesting. I didn’t mind that Remarque never finished it. The story was almost done. And the endings he had in mind would not have worked for me anyway. So I am quite happy with the end it has. Also it gives an interesting insight in the Jewish emigrants lives during WWII.

Because spring keeps us waiting, I spent most of my weekend in the couch reading. The hellebore are out, but snow is still here as well.
Yours, Pollybert

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Russian winter

Two weeks in Vienna and I am ready to leave again. Since this is not possible I will start with preparations for my next trip.

I am going to Moscow for a long weekend with my friend Tici. We booked it in January, got cheap flights and a very good rate on the hotel. Still there are some obstacles to overcome. In case of Russia it is a visa which we need to get upfront.

I remember years ago I have been to St. Petersburg with my brother who was invited to speak at a congress. Getting an invitation for the visa was a very long winded process. But it was all worth it because St. Petersburg in June at the brink of the “white nights” was an amazing experience.

This time I hope the visa process will be different. Years have gone by and Russia should be used to tourists by now.

We are not up for a good start. I am already cold when I arrive at the embassy getting colder by the minute seeing the line up. Maybe this chill is a little taste of what we might expect. Including the bureaucracy at the front door of the embassy…

Finally we make it through the door, first me and a bit later my friend. More lining up inside, there is only one booth for visa. When we are first in line, I am excited! Yeah, we did it! My happiness is short lived, we don’t have the necessary voucher and invitation from the hotel. So it is back to the start for us.

This evening at least I have some cultural entertainment planned. I am going to the Burgtheater to see ‘Der ideale Mann’ based on the same named book of Oscar Wilde (An ideal husband) but adapted for the theater by an Austrian writer/playwriter called Elfriede Jelinek. To be honest the first half was very long and I had a hard time staying awake. My friend told me after she fell asleep twice. The second act was better, maybe because it was shorter?

Btw I also finished “Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin and started with the book for the book club “Das gelobte Land” by Erich Maria Remarque. I love GoT, love it, love it, love it and I can’t wait going back to the series. Nonetheless “Das gelobte Land” has surprised me. It is fast paced, very well written and entertaining. I wonder if I will mind that it has no ending?
Yours, Pollybert

Home sweet home

Or is it? I am back in Vienna, back at work and my vacations seems far away already.

My last morning in Rio was pretty much uneventful. I said goodbye to the sea, under a grey and cloudy sky.
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One last manicure and then I was basically off to the airport. Arrived in Vienna after an uneventful flight the next day around noon, went home by myself (why am I even wondering that I was not picked up) and it felt just so surreal. Being back in my own little world that can’t compare at all with what I have just experienced.

Looking back on these three weeks, I’ve just had the most amazing time. I want to do more travelling, I need to get out more. So I am focusing my energy on finding the time and the money to do just that.

Also I finished “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay, which was very interesting. I didn’t know a lot about the involvement of the French police in the rounding up of the French jews during WWII. I think historically it is quite accurate and the story itself goes along nicely. Although the love story in the present time was not so much my cup of tea.
At the moment I am still reading “Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. Love the tv series that’s how I started with it, but the book is so much better!!!

Will keep you posted about all my little adventures. Yours, Pollybert