Last days in Quy Nhon 

Last night I had talked to the receptionist about my futile search of the Han Mac Tu grave. In a way I really wanted to see it now and it must be possible to find it.

Which I did easily today after the lengthy explanation the evening before. Because I had already passed it. Not just once but a couple of times actually. I was sitting across from it yesterday while having coffee and I just didn’t recognize it.

So since I knew where to go I went for breakfast first. What better way to start the day than with a delicious Pho.

It had been a good idea to eat before because again I had to push my bicycle. At least it was only a small hill. Soon I parked it and walked the rest of the way. If you find that the woman on top looks like Holy Mary, congratulations you are right. He was Catholic. I have noticed more and more Catholic churches the further south I go. So this was not something that should astonish me, but it did. Han Mac Tu died at the age of 28 of lepra by the way. I couldn’t tell you any of his poems, but they are still taught in schools in Vietnam today.

From the grave I took the longer route back to the bicycle to discover the rest of the small hill. It had a great view over the beach, a small temple and a Catholic church. Except for the view no picture is worth posting here though.

Once I returned down to the crossing, I went for an ice coffee to the little coffee shop. Today I had the place to myself. My bicycle was parked as usual right outside.


Since it was again overcast and grey I went back to the hotel and decided to have a pedicure at the place I saw on the first evening.

No one spoke English and I still didn’t speak Vietnamese, but we could communicate easily and when I was done I walked out with baby smooth soles and red toe nails.

While I was worked on another woman came in who got her hair done. She spoke a bit of English and asked me if I wanted to eat curry. She had a small curry shop up at the mall.  Always open to new suggestions I followed her on the bike and ended up at her place. The fish curry I tried was very tasty.

Since I was already in the mall I thought I would get some snacks for my train ride tomorrow. The supermarket was on the second level and I explored every aisle. It’s always so interesting to see what products other countries have. It took me the better part of an hour to do that and when I ended up at the cash register on the third level I noticed that there was also a movie center in the building. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to check if there were any English movies and surprise, surprise they showed ‘Jurassic World’. I bought my ticket and had two wonderful entertaining hours.

For dinner I cycled to a restaurant close to my hotel. The Alaca had mostly ‘hot pot‘ but also other things. So I tried the grilled octopus with special sauce. Special meant only extra spicy. I could breath fire after, the octopus was grilled to perfection though.  The next day was already my last one. In the early evening I had to take the night train to HCMC (=Saigon). I spent a lazy morning in bed, posting a bit and also watching another episode of GoT. Around noon I checked out and took the bicycle once more. A last coffee at my favorite place, followed by a sugar cane juice at the beach. 

One last dip in the sea, and a short stay in front of the Seagull hotel as the only tourist on the sun bed, I read my book a bit more and then it was time to go. At the Hai Huong Hotel I could have a shower and wash my hair before leaving. So prepared I was ready for the train ride and HCMC. Yours, Pollybert



Labour Day

The best part about Labour Day is that there is no labour on this day. What better way to start a holiday than going for a run in preparation of the “Spring Run” on Sunday. We are not in form, I am actually feeling quite exhausted while running. But never mind, on Sunday morning we will run the 7k distance. This was my face after the run today, I look like I finished a marathon.008

Haha, will look worse on Sunday though. At least by 10am it’s over, this I know for sure.

So what to do with the rest of this beautiful day? I decided on soaking up the sun again. This time near the place I live. Cross the bridge with me and come on over.

015This is where I lay my head while the sun is shining.

As we all can see a pedicure is in order, will get to that tonight. Enjoy your day too! Yours, Pollybert

Porto Alegre grows on me

Foremost and most important today was to get some cash. Drawing cash in Brazil has turned quite into an odyssey. I really hope they will be able to fix this otherwise I foresee lots of problems during the Soccer World Cup.
After breakfast I tried again to draw cash at the Banco do Brasil. To enter into the service area with the ATMs I had to pass through a revolving door with a metal detector. Two heavily armed securities were standing inside and checking the area. They showed me with hand signs (it’s rare to find someone who actually speaks English in this country) to put my metallic things in a box outside and retrieve it inside. After putting my phone and my camera in the box, it still didn’t work. The female security came to the door and pointed to open the bag, for her to take a look. Then finally they let me inside. Yesterday I had no such problems to enter, although I had the same things in my bag.
Anyway, after all this time and effort, still no cash for me. Just a blank screen and later a couple of numbers I can call.
I decided on trying the City Bank again, which was already in Rio the only bank that gave us money.
Lonely Planet must have its reasons why it includes the location of it on its map. Again a revolving door, this time though the security sent me away.
Then I noticed that here you had to line up to enter the bank in single-file.
I waited my turn and could finally withdraw some cash. Yeah!!
I just don’t get it, how will that work next year and also in 2016? Lots of people will be here from all over the world. City Bank cannot be the only one for foreigners to work. Plus they are making a killer fee every time you withdraw, next to a probably very low exchange rate.

At least I also saw some more sights on my cash withdrawing mission.

With cash in my money belt, I felt relaxed again and was ready for more sights. The city today showed a completely different face than yesterday. It was full of people, all bustling along. I wondered where they had hidden yesterday. What I found interesting was that it was a working day and still the streets were full.
I get it that the homeless don’t have a job. But the rest? Because Sylvia and I noticed that Brazil must have a very high employment rate, the shops are full of young people. A small shop has easily 4-5 people serving customers.

I made my way to the tourist office to get some information. The ‘Linha Turismo’ was closed on Monday. So no tour bus ride for me. I also asked for information on a ship tour on the lake here, which was available for today. For tomorrow I wanted to get out of the city and asked about a guided tour. Tours were only available in Portugese and from two persons on. We arranged that the agency will call the hotel if there was a second person. I didn’t care about the language anymore, after a while one catches the most important parts.
Just to be on the safe side I also asked for the bus schedule. I will definitely do a tour, with a group or on my own!

After the tourist office (btw we spoke Spanglish) I made my way into the Mercado and looked at the goods that were on offer. The market building looked beautiful from the outside.
Inside it was not so grand anymore. But all the goods looked fresh and appetizing.
I took my lunch at Gambrinus, where I finally tried Feijoada.

After lunch I was tired and needed to go back to the hotel before the little river cruise. Also I wanted to leave my shopping in the room. I bought some Cachaça, the Brazilian sugar cane rum, to make the real Caipirinha at home.

At 3pm I left the hotel for the cruise which turned out to be absolutely worthless. There was nothing to see and I was glad that the boat made it back into the port. Also it was quite expensive (20 Real = ~8 Euro) for the 1 hour tour. This is what I saw.




After the boat ride I decided that I had enough of sightseeing for the day. I went for a mani/pedi. Time to pamper myself. I walked into a really small shop which I had seen on the way to the port. I was seated right away, got a perfect mani/pedi and the girl even lent me a pair of Havaianas to walk back to the hotel cause I was wearing closed shoes. How nice is that and what an excellent service?

I also finished ‘Disgrace’ by J.M. Coetzee while on the boat trip and started to read ‘Me before You’ by JoJo Moyes. Can only recommend Disgrace, quite a powerful book!

When I made it back to the hotel there was no message from the agency. Guess I will go by myself tomorrow.
Yours, Pollybert

On my way to Skopje

Finally Friday and I will leave the office early! The weather here in Vienna is beautiful, blue sky and warm. Really a wonderful fall so far. Easy to say, hasn’t even been a week so far.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be leaving for Skopje for a long weekend. Coming only back on Monday. I will have something like 2 full days there and I am trying to get the most out of it. The weather there is hot, hot, hot. At the moment it’s 32 degrees, coolest day will be Monday with 31 degrees. So have to bring my bikini because we are planning on visiting a gorge, where we can go for a boat ride and a swim. And I also promise you to snap some pictures for you. More plans for Skopje involve sightseeing (of course), going to some kind of festival called Pastramalia (will let you know what and how it is) and going for a pedicure. Really love the idea that I already have an appointment to get my feet done. Can just imagine myself putting my toes in the water on Sunday with a new coat of nailpolish. Now it is just a question of which color.

And tonight also perfect plans. Have my book club meeting and we will discuss Isabel Allende’s ‘Eva Luna’. Looking forward to a lively discussion and lots of pasta with my girls. More about my weekend next week, Pollybert