After our short hour plus flight from Da Nang, we were greeted by our guide, Ms One. She is truly “Thee One”. Raised in Communist Vietnam, with a grandfather that ranked high in the party; you can imagine the fascinating stories she is sharing with us. Our 5 Star hotel L’Opera Hanoi Mgallery by Sofitel is no joke. We are located in the French Quarter with wide open streets, majestic buildings, high-end hotels, restaurants and shops.
After a brief 2 hr rest, well most rested but Portlock hits the ground running every time and immediately gets the lay of our surrounding land. Thanks, Steve. Soon we were whisked away from the hotel for a cyclo tour. This was really the Kat’s Meow, right up my alley. Here we were in the capital city, a fascinating blend of east and west. I was kicked back sitting in my cycle lost within my own thoughts as we rolled through the city, passing our neighbors of Prada, Valentino, Maserati, Louis Vuitton – all in the French Quarter. Intermittently taken from my private thoughts by my driver tapping me on my shoulder, “Madame, Madame….as he pointed out various landmarks. Oh he loves Obama and Clinton, said he didnt like our current idiot president. You can imagine I get a lot of that sentiment worldwide. We went through the chaotic but intriguing OLD QUARTER jam packed with shops, hole in the wall eateries where back in the day the streets were named by what was sold on that street. Hang means “merchandise or shop”, thus the Silver shop or the Silk shop, etc.
Most of us could have continued another hour but it was time for our welcome dinner at the WILD RICE RESTAURANT. Our cyclo drivers dropped us off at the restaurant. I had arranged for a surprise birthday cake for Michael. He and his wife, accountant, travel person (she’s his everything and he’s hers) have been traveling internationally with me since before 2005. After we settled in, they dimmed the lights, played some pretty cool happy bday music and presented him with a candle-lit cake. Nice!!! Our 5 course Dinner was served family style and yes, another hit, everything was delicious. After dinner our private bus picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel. A purr-fect ending to a most wonderful KATTRAX kind of day.
There are stories about Hoa Lo (the POW prison) aka Hanoi Hilton now referred to as MAISON CENTRALE, where Senator John McCain ( Navy pilot) , spent time and stories of Hanoi Hattie and her propaganda radio broadcasts during the war, but I will revisit later.
Tomorrow, a day trip to HALONG BAY