Hanoi Day One

I tend to forget what torture these long trips actually are (especially in coach).  Frankly, if I did, I'm not sure I'd keep doing it.  Nine hours after the first flight from Miami to Paris, then 11 hours to Hanoi, not including delays. 
Now that we're here, after about 26 hours, it's 7 am and we're ready to go.  We have one free day in Hanoi and we plan to make the most of it.  Our friends, Danny and Bob arrived last night so they should be rested.
We booked our private tour from a local company, Footsteps Travel, recommended by a friend who used them recently.  We thought it would be a good idea to have a guide but weren't willing to sit on one of those big busses and eat meals in touristy places.  This way we had much more flexibility and ample opportunities to mingle with the locals.

Checked in...not a large room by western standards, but clean and comfortable.  Right in the heart of the old quarter.  We headed to Hoan Keam Lake for a much needed walk and some strong Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk.  (I know I don't even put sugar in my coffee, but we had to try it and it was surprisingly good)  We did the mandatory Pho for lunch and it was yummy!

Vietnam/Cambodia Delayed

Although I wasn't able to post while I was traveling,  I did manage to write a bit of our experiences and will begin posting tomorrow.  This was a truly amazing experience...enjoy!


Technical Difficulties

Hey everyone. Having a great time but experiencing technical difficulties and not enough time to research solutions.I welcome any suggestions on how to best upload photos from ipad to blogger.


Vietnam Here We Come

Stay tuned everyone for the next adventure. This time I'm posting from an IPad. Inspired by all the other travelers out there, Im attempting to reduce the amount of bags I usually make my poor hubby carry. Althought I highly doubt I can manage this trip with only carry on luggage.



I'm glad we didn't read the poor reviews on Yelp before stopping at this place.  It was our last day in SF, and we just wanted to do a little blogging and chillin'.  We had just enjoyed some amazing oysters at Swan's and this sign that read,"Happy Hour,  Margarita Pitchers" jumped out at us from the sidewalk down the block.  Our server set us up with an internet connection while he entertained us with interesting stories about the immigrant experience in San Francisco.  Margaritas were delish!


Here's the run down if you are planning to visit...

Here are some of our favorites if you are planning to visit San Fran...

Annabelle's (for good bar/bistro food), La Folie (French Contemporary), Sons and Daughters (our fav), Swan Oyster Depot (only open during the day, very casual, freshest seafood), Polk Street (lots of restaurants, mostly locals), Amber (Indian Buffet)

Kabuki Springs (beautiful), Foot Reflexology( great Chinese style foot massages)

Hikes and Walks
The Land's End Walk (start at Sutro Baths), Muir Woods (Ben Johnson Trail back on Dipsea Trail)

Lunch at V Sattui


La Folie

My sister-in-law, Camille recommended La Folie and we weren't disappointed.  The food was amazing.  It was a bit more expensive than Sons and Daughters (and the lamb at Sons and Daughters is still my favorite) but the service here was impeccable. Although Raf continues to make me self conscious when I take pictures of my food, I noticed that everyone in the restaurant was doing the same.  These presentations are really works of art and need to be shared.


We've been before but this time we didn't drive.  We took a one day tour that returned on the ferry from Vallejo(where I lost my phone). We don't usually do tours but I'm glad we did because our tour guide, Jerry taught us a few new things.  We even met the monopoly man.


Muir Woods

This is not the first time we visited Muir Woods, but each time it is no less  magical. There are numerous trails.  This time, we walked through the redwoods to the Ben Johnson trail and returned via the Dipsea trail.  It was a pretty steep climb but well worth it.  On the way up we walked through the redwood trees and on the way down we walked through grasslands with many scenic viewpoints.


Beatiful Views

We have a beautiful view from our hotel at the top of Nob Hill.  Our window overlooks Grace Cathedral.  Feels like we are on top of the world.  But then again, it's hard not to find eye candy here no matter where you look.


Sons and Daughters Restaurant San Francisco

Got a great rec from a local and headed to Sons and Daughters on  Bush Street.  I can't begin to tell you how yummy everything was.  From the first taste of the amuse-bouche to the end of the meal.  It says on the limited menu, 4 courses...$58. Sounded reasonable so we went for it.  I wonder if everyone is  treated so well (we got more than 4 courses), and I can honestly say this was the best lamb I have ever eaten.  Beautiful presentation which included some of those molecular gastronomy techniques and delicious food.  The combination of ingredients were unique, which made the flavors so much more interesting.  Chef Moriarty was waiting to bid us farewell on our way out too.


San Francisco

Okay, okay, okay...I  will attempt to blog (if you all stop bugging me) although it is difficult on this trip.  Our conference was a success but I like to write in the morning and I haven't had one free yet.  Tomorrow it's off to Napa bright and early once again.  We've had some great meals, massages (foot massages of course), and the weather has been beyond beautiful.  Stay tuned...


Musee de la Civilisation

This museum is a don't miss when visiting Quebec City.  All the exhibits are unique in their presentation.  Aqua: A Journey Into the World of Water is an interactive exhibit in a room with 360 degree projections. The purpose is to raise awareness of water related issues but it's just plain kewl!

This museum also hosts a photo exhibit called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.  I received an email a few years back with some of these photos. They show what a typical family, in different countries around this great planet consume in a week.   I had forgotten how interesting they were and had to  purchase the book to share with my hospitality students.   


Red Bull Crashed Ice

There are always interesting events happening in Quebec City and this weekend the city is home to Red Bull Crashed Ice.  Honestly, we'd never heard of this event but were curious to check it out.  It is described on their website as..." a combination of of icehockey, downhill skating and boardercross. At speeds of up to 50 km/h, the skaters will take racing in the ice track full of turns, jumps and underpasses. Crash-landings are guaranteed in this head-to-head race, for only the two fastest contestants in each heat qualify for the next round."
The course, a giant ice roller coaster, winds through the entire city.  Unfortunately, we didn't get the best pictures of the city due to the scaffolding and equipment everywhere but it made our visit a bit more fun.

A Word About the Toronto Airport

Its crazy, all the news lately about the looooonng lines to get through customs in Toronto.  Passengers claimed 3 hours, officials said it was closer to 90 minutes.  All I know is that it was probably the best experience we've ever had.  We were the first off the plane and waited about 30 seconds.  A fluke?  Maybe.



Everything we've eaten in Quebec so far has been delicious, as we had expected.  We were curious about this poutine we heard so much about. Although it can be had at BK, and most other fast food locals, we were told to try it a place called AshTon.  Basically, it is fries with cheese curds on top, slathered in brown gravy.  The mini size was a meal for each of us.  A million calories but yummy.  I heard they are making "haute" poutine in some places with ingredients such as truffle oil but I think our curiosity was satisfied.