Hue Day Tour

Thien Mu Pagoda

Hue is located in central Vietnam on the banks of Perfume River. Some cultural areas of interest are in close walking or taxi distance but I decided to make the most of my time by booking a day tour of the highlights. Day tours are nice because it saves you transportation hassle and it gets me out of my solitary lag. It is nice to spend the day with others every once in a while.

My Hue Vacations tour with tour guide Dany starts with a hotel pickup around 8:00 AM.

Thien Mu Pagoda

Our morning begins with a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda (see photo above). This iconic Buddhist temple is a highlight of the city.

After our visit to the pagoda there is a 30 minute boat trip along the perfume river. It is relaxing but not memorable. The boat operator tries to sell us souvenirs during our ride. I don’t buy anything but a can of soda.

Dong Ba Market

After our boat ride we have a little time to explore Dong Ba Market. I get to feed my love for food markets all over the world. A couple of my tour-mates aren’t happy with this stop but the market is right up my alley.

Imperial City

Next we visit the Imperial city and Citadel. Our guide points out lots of damage from the war. Some of the buildings that are still in place are impressive.

According to our itinerary our lunch is supposed to be at a local home but it is really a restaurant that built for handling lunch service to the various tour groups that come through daily. Lunch is pretty quick and not memorable enough for me to take note of.

Minh Mang King’s Tomb

After lunch we visit Minh Mang’s tomb. It is the final resting place of a famous Confucian ruler during the Nguyen Dynasty. The property has a long stretch of walkways that lead you from monument to monument before you finally reach the tomb which is only open on special occasions.

I enjoy walking around the quiet grounds. There is one influencer doing a photo shoot with her instagram poses but it doesn’t bother me today because the site is not crowded and they also did not block access from others while they were doing their thing – they were willing to put their photo shoot aside while others are around. I give them props for that. So much of my travels were “sullied” by instagram models rudely blocking access to famous sights.

Mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh

The last monument stop is the mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh. He was a very unpopular ruler due to his extravagant spending and closeness to the French occupiers. His extravagant taste can be seen in the tomb he built for himself.

Look at all the designs!

incense stick village

Final stop is at an incense stick village shop. We get a demonstration on how the incense is made. I thought about buying some to ship home but it was hard to pick out scents that wouldn’t cause me to get a migraine. The incense village is an interesting stop to end the tour on.

The tour guide takes us back to our hotels and I take it easy the rest of the evening.

Chatuchak Weekend Market – Bangkok

For shopping on the weekend the Chatuchak Weekend Market is the place to go in Bangkok.

Chatuchak is in walking distance to my hostel but I did end up taking the sky train (1 stop) on the way there. I am confused when looking at the map for the exact location and end up initially walking through a local market where old men are selling coins and other antiques. While it is all interesting I am obviously in the wrong market and get some weird looks. Soon I realize the market I am looking for is across the street a little further down.

Chatuchak isn’t one of those floating markets but a huge market that sells almost everything. I stock up on super cheap travel clothes, bags, and souvenirs. You can literally spend the whole weekend there. I had to stage a self-intervention and drag myself out.

Not only can you buy tourist items, clothing, and jewelry but you can also find original artwork at this market. I ended up purchasing a funky little tree painting.

Had some really great pork soup while I am shopping.

Didn’t love the octopus….

Many other food choices however….

The market is a place where people spend the whole day; breaking it up with a tea or beer and some food in the food service area. I would have done so myself but the seating section was already kind of full so I kept walking around. I did stop for an affordable massage though.

While on my way out I did come across street performers and a mini dragon parade….

Like I stated earlier, I am spending way too much money so I force myself to leave.

While walking back to hostel is it always fun to see these signs. It is supposed to be a cafe. I never ended up stopping in but I was intrigued each time I passed by.

I rest after my day of shopping to prepare for my evening food tour.

I’m in Egypt

I have finally arrived in Eqypt. I arrive the night before the tour starts to make sure I am well rested for the start. I arrange an airport pickup and there is one other girl on my flight from the tour company as well. Initially I thought she is on my tour but come to find out that she is on the “youngsters” tour. They travel side by side with us most of the trip but are in separate hotels mostly and have their own guide. They are a lively bunch that I would have been happy to join 20 years ago. However now I like my travel drama free and early bedtimes.

When I arrive at the hotel I am less than thrilled. We have signed up for a classic tour and this hotel is definitely budget hotel standards. Rooms are basic as are the amenities. Internet is terrible and I have to fight with housekeeping to get a roll of toilet paper. Most of our Egypt hotels are kind of like this but maybe not quite as bad (with the exception of one really good one in Aswan – lovely but poor internet).

I request single occupancy because I like my alone downtime. The girls I could have been paired with turn out to be quite cool but I am still grateful for my private time.

My private room in Cairo

The next afternoon we have a trip meeting and then go off to visit the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar.

I am not shopping but it is fun to get lost in the old Bazaar. I eventually find my way back to my group leader using the green lighted mosque as my beacon.

It is an early night because we have a long day of sightseeing tomorrow. Time for bed.

Mercado de la Ribera

I love my food markets and I found one around the corner from where I am staying in Bilbao.

Mercado de la Ribera is supposed to be the biggest covered market in Europe. How did I not know this existed?

Anyway I stumbled in this market because it is near my hotel and I was hot and looking to cool down.

Once entering I noticed at least two levels of fresh goods. Many stalls were closed but it could have been a the time of day that I visited. There was no lack of goods for shoppers.

I’m a traveler with no kitchen so what I really needed was the tapas food court located on the second floor.

There are so many different tapas choices that it might not be a bad idea to visit multiple times to try all you wish to try.

Mercado de la Ribera

Spain: Sightseeing in Madrid

Spain was always on my bucket list of travel places to visit. However when I dreamed of Spain my thoughts leaned towards the Seville and Barcelona. I thought Madrid would be my least favorite part of my recent trip there but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the sights and food.

We started off our most recent visit checking into the modern style Hotel Regina (see room above). The hotel was affordable and in walking distance to most areas of interest – including Puerta del Sol where we saw these ladies below trying to work the crowd.

We also saw elmo and others but could only deal with so many poorly made character costumes so we headed over to Plaza Mayor where we saw this really weird goat thing.

Bubble fun…..

Interesting frescos in plaza.

Later on in the evening we happened upon a used book store.

And a store all about SHUTTING YOUR MOUTH.

Puerta del Sol was much nicer in the evening. Many people gathering around socializing. Madrid is a very social city.

Walking back to our hotel.

The next day we set out for the Royal Palace.

Official designs of the royal palace.

After we visited the palaces we stopped for tapas. Olives and sardines are a staple of tapas cusine.

We also had some chicken and tripe soup.

And Churros con chocolate

If you wander around the city enough you will happen upon small markets like this one. I liked the war machines made out of bullets.

There was also a great supply of Greek sweets.

And some fur accessories if you need them.

Nice fountain near the market.

Some beautiful night views of Madrid.

And back to our hotel to bed.

If you want to experience more of the food night life of Madrid, visit the past posts of Mercado de San Miguel and Tapas in Calle Cava Baja.