Vientiane 

I arrived in Vientiane shortly after 6pm and after I got my visa I was met by a pickup from the hotel. All arranged by Dudley, the South African guy I had met in Hanoi and who had told me to go to Cham Island.

When we had discovered in Hanoi that we both were heading to Laos eventually we discussed meeting up somewhere. In the end we traveled the country together.

So that first evening we went for the dinner at a steak restaurant. So no Laos food testing for me since Dudley is quite big on meat.

The next day we started with the sight-seeing and got first a lift downtown from the hotel. We were booked into Rashmi’s Plaza Hotel which had a rooftop pool but was a bit outside the center.

We started with a glance at the presidential palace (you are not allowed to visit it)

and then went first into the Sisaket museum. It was less a museum than a temple with a collection of Buddhas in all sizes. Please note that it was also smoke-free.

     

  

Next up should have been the Haw Pha Kaeo right across from it but due to elaborate renovations the temple was wrapped up like a sausage in a hot dog bun and we couldn’t see anything. Therefore we decided on walking to the Victory Gate which seemed to be only about one kilometer away. In this heat it wouldn’t have mattered if it had been only 500m away. We had to make a pit stop at a shopping mall along the way to cool down. Both of us were sweating profusely. Not really such a great show.

At least at the mall I could buy myself a SIM card for Laos and an ice coffee. Something the hotel with the rooftop pool couldn’t manage. After this short break we started walking again and really the Victory Gate was not that far off. It looked really great from afar, close up it was a bit of a let down. But since we were there we climbed up and took some pictures of the view from the top.

Yeah, it didn’t get any better in Vientiane. So far, so good though. Upon exciting the Victory Gate we took a tuk-tuk (Dudley needed a bit of coaxing to get in one) Pha That Luang, a golden stupa a bit out of the center.We made it there with 15 minutes to spare before lunch break. But it was enough to go inside and take some pictures.

  
There was not really so much to take pictures of. A stupa of course is a closed structure so there was just not more to see. Once outside we saw women selling little birds in cages (and I have no clue what kind of birds) and it was the perfect day to buy some of them their freedom.


Next to the stupa was a temple and a monument for some guy (again no clue who he was or what he had done and Lonely Planet doesn’t say).

  

After the successful visit to almost all the sights in Vientiane we went back downtown with the tuk-tuk.

We had arranged with the hotel that we would take the shuttle at 2pm back to the hotel so we were left with a bit of time on our hands and decided on lunch. Always a good idea to eat something. I ordered a lime mint juice and this is what I got.


Looks quite green, doesn’t it? I later ordered a strawberry mint juice, you really don’t want to know the color of that one.

We also ordered some real food which tasted very good, spicy though. It seemed as if almost everything I ordered on this trip was going to be spicy. So good that I got used to it from the first.

The rest of the day was spent in and around the pool. It was just too hot to do much else in the city and we had decided to leave the next day down south. Which was actually where I wanted to meet in the first place but due to a two day bus ride up from Siem Reap I opted for a meeting in Vientiane. Yours, Pollybert

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A weekend with “Greek” friends

As all of you know (and the ones who don’t click here) while on vacation in Ios with my friends Pat and C we met a group of Americans/Brazilians and had a fun day/night with them. Now one of the girls just lives around the corner, in Milan to be precise, and she came to see us last weekend.

We started the evening at Mari’s 25h Hotel which had the advantage of a great location, great food and an amazing rooftop bar.050The perfect spot to begin especially with this theme. After dinner we moved up to the rooftop to enjoy the view and a drink before moving on to another party. While taking the elevator up we tried our hand on a group selfie. I like these ones best since we all made it on the picture in one way or another.007010
The car ride to the party was thankfully uneventful but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The picture is just from the back row.001The party then turned out to be a mad house. It’s always astonishing how small Vienna is and who knows whom and whom you meet when you least expect it.

Since Mari hadn’t any breakfast booked we had free rein on taking her to our favorite spots. Nothing beats a Saturday morning breakfast at the Naschmarkt Deli. And the weather god was with us as well since it didn’t rain.015
After boosting our system with a hearty breakfast we made our way into town for a small sightseeing tour. Meet the bunny in front of the opera house and then take a look inside the Hotel Sacher.

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From the Sacher we walked through the Burggarten,042

passed the Hofburg and ended up in front of the Demel. Here we took a closer look at the open kitchen and the various deserts.022023

And one more, just for Fay and Robert.025
Mari ended up buying Christmas cookies and not this little boot stuffer for Saint Nicholas.029030
When we reached the Meinl am Graben I suggested a short pit stop to refuel.031034
After a walk on the Graben and passing St. Stephen’s Cathedral046

we finally reached the destination for the afternoon. Café Diglas at Fleischmarkt is small and homely and has amazing cakes (and it was Fay and Robert who told me about this place first) And this is what we had.048

After the sugar shock it was time to go home, relax and recharge the batteries for the rest of the evening. We had another night around town planned and for this we needed to dress up. We met for dinner at the Plachutta Oper which was ok. It was good but far from great and sometimes I think it is more for tourists.
Never mind from there we moved on to Roberto’s for a quick drink which turned out to be bit longer. In the end we left the place to go home instead to another party location.055057

So it was great that the next day we met only at 11am for breakfast. Gave all of us a chance to catch up on sleep and revive our “doused” spirits. We tried a relatively new place called Kussmaul (I will have an extra post on this one).070
After breakfast it was already time to say goodbye for some of us since C had to go back the office while we girls were off to Schönbrunn. It was a gorgeous day with sunshine and blue sky, perfect weather for a stroll on the castle grounds. 081083084076086087092094102105

And then we had to go back already to the hotel. One last coffee at Lieblingsflohmarkt which was held at 25h Hotel that day and then outside to wait for the airport cab. Which took its time, and its time, and its time. Actually it never arrived but another airport cab was waiting for its passenger, so Mari got lucky and could take that one. Our goodbyes were a bit more stressed than we had hoped, nevertheless Mari reached the airport on time and made her flight. I had to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening on the couch, exhausted from sightseeing and partying. In the end what matter is that we had a great time. Which definitely calls for a repeat performance.
Yours, Pollybert
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What I learned in Ios

As done before here and here I will try to put together a list with things/feelings I took from this vacation.

– It’s totally agreeable to visit an island where there is no sightseeing possible
– Greek meze rock!
– There is only so much I can read while on the beach, sometimes all I want to do is watch the sea
– I actually wrote the above sentence, which must make it true
– Doing nothing gets better every day
– I could watch my girth grow every day
– Healthy food does not mean diet food
– It does seem weird for other people when three single adults travel together, but not all dare to ask how we are connected
– Ios is great for all ages
– Life doesn’t get much better when you travel with your friends!

Yours, Pollybert
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(Pictures thanks to Pat!)