I was tired of planning and of all daily headaches and anxiety, all I needed was to escape and get aired. So on a Wednesday night before the Chinese New Year, I decided to leave to somewhere. So it was pretty much my first time ever “lastminute.com” trip. A totally unplanned trip to Hanoi on 16th February. I booked a air ticket and flew to Hanoi. I did not read any travel books but some websites and blogs. I even booked my hotel just before taking my flight! a few books, my laptop and some clothes, I was ready to leave.
As in many Asian countries, during this family festivals, the city was a bit empty first, then it gained its vivacious atmosphere after the 17-19 Feb.
I set up a basecamp at the Old District, so as for me not to bother to take transportation. I just walked again and again in the small streets. And stopped when I felt like. So I just avoided all touristic attractions, but melted in the daily normal Hanoi.
The iconic St Joseph Cathedral stands there, among thousands of motobikes, taxis, passers-by…
Hanoi has its charm, nice people, always plenty of foods in vietnamese terraces (small plastic stools).
Chicken street. Barbecued chicken, pork and deliciously grilled baguette with honey and butter. For 4 people, during 4 hours of endless barbecue meat, honey bread and 15bottoles pf Hanoi beer, in the fresh aired terrace, it costed around 1million don (45$). The food was delicious and people are nice. I bought some vegetables in a market near by, and asked to grill them. And it was amazingly good, those grilled leak, paprika and mushrooms. I did the goggy bag in backward 🙂
Every morning, I ate different types of Pho, the above is ‘Bun Bo Nam Bo’ a bo of rice noodles mixed with meat and vegetables. It is healthy and tasty. I really enjoyed this fragranced cuisine as herbs (specially coriander) are abundantly used in Vietnamese cuisine. Streets are filled with various restaurants, the Vietnam is
truly foodies’ paradise!
Another pleasure in Hanoi is the 3 times of coffee. Vietnam is one of the biggest manufacturers/cultivators of coffee. And their coffee has this inimitable fragrance and taste that is highly addictive. With or without condensed milk, the Vietnamese coffee is the best!
I specially loved the Coconut milked iced coffee at the famous Cong Caphe located at the Saint-Joseph Cathedral. It is a three-storey building, with small chairs, outside terraces, window views. Perfect to spend 1-2 hours while reading or enjoying the Hanoi city view.
Hanoi has unique charm when walking by. Small houses and apartments which are colorful filled with plenty of memories…. the time seems stopped… calm yet vibrant. Well actually the millions of bicycles (that I saw 15 years ago) are now replaced by motobikes and scooters. Maybe in 5 years from now, they will be replaced by cars? I hope to come back before that.
My aim was to get free without touristic hassles, yet the one touristic spot I visited was the War Museum. Impressive broken aircrafts, engines and archives were well exposed. Now the memory of the war is faded a lot, yet it is there to remind us the ruins and victory. I was sad to see the tiny uniforms and adolescents soldiers who fought and died.
I spent two afternoon aperitif at the Sofitel Metropole, it has a cozy breezy poolside bar.
Low end of high end, I found the irresistible serendipity in Hanoi. Thank you Vietnam. I felt relaxed and totally charmed. This was a solo trip. Maybe next time with some good friends to have a different experience. Until then, bye bye Hanoi.
Picture credit : they are taken by me and all rights are reserved. Please do not use them without my permission.