The Temple of Literature

Everyone knows I love to read. So what better excursion than going to the Temple of Literature. But before I went there I had other things to do.

On my last day in China which I spent in Guangzhou I walked most of my time around in shopping malls. First a small one, and then a bigger one. Even though I tried my hardest to withstand all these offerings, in the end I gave in and bought some small things. Of course small things add up too and I had another bag in hand when I arrived at the airport.

So on this lovely Monday morning I walked first to the post office which I had noticed on my round about the lake.

As I said I only had small stuff but these few things added up to three kilograms. So now they are on the way to my office and will hopefully await my return.

I had looked up online what else there was to do in Hanoi since the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum was closed on Mondays. And on this list for day number 2 I saw that there was a visit to a restaurant to eat some fish. Since I had a lovely fish on the food tour I was ready to try this one. Of course it was still super hot in Hanoi but since I couldn’t change the weather, I would just work with it.

At the restaurant I met a French woman traveling for business who had gotten a recommendation for this place from a friend of her’s who had lived in Hanoi for a couple of years. So I was at the right place.

After lunch I was finally ready to see the Temple of Literature. It was only a 25 minutes walk but of course in the heat it felt more like hours. The temple was not only a temple but was also the oldest university in Vietnam established in 1076. It had steles right next to the entrance to remind the horse men to get off them.

    On these turtle steles the names of the persons successful at the royal exam were inscribed and are therefore very important documents.

      It was a really lovely building with five different courtyards. But there were no books on display which I would have preferred to see. On the other hand books in this heat and humidity don’t survive very long. I walked back in the heat to the hotel but made a small stop on the way to have a sugar cane juice and later a freshly made watermelon juice. So tasty!
Just by watching the women on the motor scooters I got hot flash. They really don’t want to get tanned here.

For dinner I met the Austrian guy again since it was my last night in Hanoi. The next day I would leave to Ha Long Bay. We stayed near the lake area and eventually settled on a restaurant right next to the lake. Th view was great but dinner was not so good and really expensive.

          

We said goodbye early since I wanted to do some shopping, but another torrential rainfall changed my plans. I had started moving in the direction of the hotel once it started but when the rain began in earnest I stayed the rest of it underneath a small roof. I was waiting for quite while. Yours, Pollybert

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On Market

After a lazy stroll around the Freihausviertel and the Naschmarkt, we settled on ON Market for dinner. Evi and I were joined by Cat which made dinner all the merrier. Love it when there are more plates to try from.

Anyway here is the restaurant, beautiful as ever. The huge ceiling lamp has such a big impact style-wise. This and the clothes panels give the place a very distinct feeling. 012013

For drinks I decided on something new and tried the cherry soda. Definitely something you should avoid, tasted totally chemical. For the same color go for the raspberry soda, 014has probably the same chemicals inside but tasted way better.

The menu overwhelmed us a bit with lots of delicious sounding descriptions. Besides the regular menu there are also weekly changing dishes. We finally ended up ordering squid, spicy beef and Asian fish & chips.015
I know the squid looks weird but was excellent. Very juicy and cooked to perfection, easy to cut and not rubbery at all (rarely achieved in Vienna).

016Spicy means hot here, even though it looked harmless it was far from it. So if you can’t take the heat, order it toned down.

017Must have been really good because when I wanted to try it, the fish was already gone.

It was as usual a pleasure to eat here and I loved it that the service has improved.
Yours, Pollybert

Marani

After indulging for a weekend in Berlin in various ethnic cuisines there was no way I could go right back to Austrian staple food. Therefore last Tuesday Pat and I tried a new Georgian specialty restaurant called Marani.

The moment I entered a waiter came to meet me and led me to a table. Although the restaurant was empty except for two tables we were placed smack in the middle of these two, right next to a window. IMG_0131IMG_0132
Right away I noticed a problem, the restaurant was uncomfortable due to low temperatures; I had to put my coat back on because I was freezing. The radiator next to me appeared to be merely decorative since it was not heating. Nonetheless I decided to stay put because the critique I had read sounded promising.

And the Marani did not disappoint. We shared the starter choice which consisted of two different kinds of filled aubergine slices and 4 kinds of salads. Everything was delicious! Sorry for the poor quality of the photo and as usual we started to eat right away.IMG_0133 As a main course we had spicy beef and beef in walnut sauce with soft white bread. Also delectable!
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After a while our young waiter took pity on us and beside placing candles all around us, he offered us a ‘Marani special’ on the house. This Georgian grappa warmed us from within and made up for the lack of warmth in the room, as did the service. Our waiter was attentive and efficient all through the evening. If you don’t care for the ambiance but prefer good food, then the Marani deserves your visit.
Yours, Pollybert

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

Kussmaul

With a bunch of people I tried a new place for breakfast two Sundays ago and I promised you here its own review. There is definitely a lot to say about this place.

I had heard quite a bit about it, some not so great things from friends but also some very promising sounding reviews. So when the chance presented itself to have breakfast there, I took it. Kussmaul doesn’t look like much from the outside, but man it’s beautiful from the inside. Almost spectacular.069
It looked really well renovated and while sitting in the winter garden there was no draft, a big problem at the last place I reviewed.067

On both ends the window front was decorated with herbs and edible plant boxes which added a nice touch. The effect was a bit ruined though because some plants looked as if they needed more attention.
This and the irritating toilets (the jungle style was a bit much and my eyes needed some time to adjust to know where to go) were the only not so great features decor wise in this restaurant. Whoever planned it did a great job.

The menu offered three breakfast combos, extra dishes and breakfast à la carte. Since we were a bigger group our table ordered all three combos, plus some extra stuff so I could take pictures of everything. These were the three combos:
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Let’s start with the positive: it’s really well presented except maybe the plate with all the bread. But from now it all went downhill.

I had the first combo and both the egg and the sausages were cold. Urgh, that was quite disgusting for breakfast. The “Tzatziki” in the middle was leaking on my cheese, which was totally bland by the way. The duck sausage had little bone pieces inside which made me constantly check my teeth. Also the plate was on the small and since the sides were curved upwards there was no space to maneuver on it. Just cutting the sausages was difficult. To be fair the ham was great and I liked that the egg was already seasoned.

It was astonishing that also the soft boiled egg on the bread plate as well as the “hour” egg, the avocado/banana tartar and the hummus on the vegetable combo were cold.
The bacon and eggs dish on the other hand was hot and still steaming when it came to the table though the bacon was not crunchy as asked for but soft.065

Also the separately ordered bread with cress looked tasty. 062
Prices were on steep side for breakfast especially since the coffee was not included in the combos and the overall impression was disappointing. We didn’t try any of the brunch combos so I can’t say anything about these. But judging from our experience it seemed as if the à la carte dishes were freshly made while the combos were already waiting to be ordered.
Service was considerate and very friendly. Our waiter was schlepping liter after liter of water to our table which was sorely needed after the night before. Only when we told him that the food was cold did he get a bit defensive.
All in all a beautiful place with a lot of room for improvement in the food department.
Yours, Pollybert
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