Hoa Lu and Tam Coc

While being on the food tour the evening before I had met another Austrian on the road. We bonded over the shared citizenship but not much more. Still it was nice to speak German again and when he told me about the guided tour he was doing the next day,  I was all for it and signed up as well.

We were picked up around 8:30 and off we went into the crazy traffic to go 150 km south to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th century.

Not only did I want to go sight-seeing, I sought to escape the city heat as well. But it was completely in the wrong direction. For that I would have needed to stay in the hotel room. There was just no escape from the heat.

In the air-conditioned car we made our way slowly south and when we got out at Hoa Lu I was immediately perspiring again. The heat was unbearable. We made our way over a bridge and followed our guide around. There was really not so much to see.

                

Back in the car it took a couple of minutes to feel like a human being again. I really don’t like AC because mostly I get a cold from it, but without one there would have been no existing on that day. Funnily enough we then went to our lunch stop and since the restaurant was reasonably cool I could eat some lunch (which was ok; so far on tours lunch in Vietnam has disappointed me).

After lunch there was a boat ride along a river very similar to what I have seen in Yangshuo. We walked over to the boat and saw rice all over the port. So this is the way how it is dried. Very interesting.

  

Then we got on the little boats, always two by two. I was paired with the Austrian guy who had even managed to bring an umbrella with him on this trip which turned out to be quite lifesaving. I sat with a long sleeved shirt on the boat not to get burned up completely.

The Austrian btw used the umbrella to creep nearer and nearer until I had to tell him that my thoughts in this heat couldn’t be further from being touched and he should keep his hands to his side. Didn’t really help a lot but I think he got the message. Awful behavior when you think about it, especially since he was married. His wife never got mentioned though and later on was only referred to in passing. One can only wish for a husband like this.

  

Our rower was a little woman and here on this river everyone rowed with their feet! An astonishing feat!

      

The boat tour took at least 90 minutes or so and we crossed through a couple of caves which was alway nice to get some shade. Even the goats stayed in the shade.

                                

It looked all very peaceful and scenic, but most of all it was hot. And my clothes were wet when we finally made it back on land. In the afternoon there should have been a short bike ride and while on the van I had been all for it. But once back from the boat ride I couldn’t imagine going outside on a bicycle again. Actually nobody else could so the bicycling was canceled and we went back to town again after having a cold drink.

For dinner the Austrian and I (I knew how to keep my distance) went to the best Pho place in town. It had rained shortly before in one short torrential burst and the air felt a lot better after it. Maybe that was why the soup tasted so delicious? Yours, Pollybert

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What I learned in Budapest

What did I learn in Budapest? This time it is really difficult to think about something. Might be that the rain just drained my brain?
Still, there are a couple of things that I believe I learned in Budapest.

1.) Bring an umbrella when traveling in winter, if possible in color. It will brighten any day (see the black one from the hotel looks a bit depressing).IMG_8821
2.) When taking a bottle of champagne on your trip, also bring a cooler.
3.) And glasses (the plastic cups just lack in style)!
4.) Always ask for the way first before walking 20 minutes in the wrong direction.
5.) Next to the checkout in a supermarket you find usually chocolate, magazines and other junk. Not so in Budapest. There you can find condoms and matches. Quite the interesting combination.IMG_8900
6.) Bring a second pair of shoes on any trip.
7.) Make sure that your guide-book is up-to-date.
8.) Travel with people you love. Everyone can be happy when the sun is shining, but when it’s constantly raining you need to surround yourself with friendly faces.
9.) And it’s an advantage if they like to go for a drink or two.
Yours, Pollybert

Walking in the rain

Waking in up in our room in the Palazzo Zichy we still heard the rain. So apparently it hadn’t stopped during the night but was keeping a tight hold on the city. At least the view from the window showed a lighter sky than in Dublin.IMG_8758IMG_8757
Therefore breakfast turned into a lazy affair since we decided to forget about the free walking tour in Budapest. After my experience in Dublin in the rain I was not in the mood to repeat it right away. We settled on making a bus tour with the Hop on Hop off bus and enjoy breakfast a bit longer.IMG_8755 One glance up and we knew there was no chance for the rain to let up.IMG_8756

We bought our bus ticket at the reception and then asked which way to go (we are fast learners after all!). The bus station was just a couple of blocks away and we walked through another Christmas market to get there.IMG_8760IMG_8763IMG_8764IMG_8765

Not Yeti but a priest I think. At least it seemed so because he had some religious books in front of him and an instrument. So maybe he was not a priest after all. Thinking about it now…the instrument, a fagot maybe? Whatever would he need that for?

The metro station we passed looked as if a space ship landed on top.IMG_8766

Earlier on we decided to take the red bus which should bring us up to the castle, but since the yellow one arrived first we needed to change again at Deák tér (former bus station for all buses from Vienna).IMG_8769

After a short 20 minute wait the red bus finally arrived. And here are the best pictures from this bus tour (sorry, the window was dirty and wet).IMG_8775IMG_8783IMG_8784IMG_8787IMG_8796IMG_8804IMG_8802IMG_8800IMG_8799IMG_8798IMG_8806IMG_8807IMG_8808IMG_8810IMG_8812

This is Budapest in the rain, still impressive and with beautiful buildings but also not very inviting. Nonetheless we left the bus at the Buda Castle one of the few things we wanted to see up close despite the rain. We took a leisurely stroll underneath our umbrellas around the castle area and trying to enjoy ourselves.IMG_8815IMG_8819IMG_8820IMG_8825IMG_8826

A group picture at Fisherman’s Bastion rain defying without the umbrella and more pictures from above.IMG_8831IMG_8842IMG_8837IMG_8834IMG_8832

By then we had enough of the castle and were ready to turn around again and get down the hill. The funicular was our preferred mode of transportation, in the end we walked because it made for nicer pictures and we wanted to get some appetite.IMG_8848IMG_9062IMG_9052
It does look spectacular, don’t you find?
Yours, Pollybert