Hanoi keeps on giving...Cruise/tour starts tomorrow...

This photo we took in one of the hotel's two lobby areas reminded us of another era.  We can easily imagine the ambiance in this historical hotel built in 1901, then called the Hanoi Hotel, now the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel.  Many world renowned celebrities and political figures have stayed in these opulent surroundings.
As it turned out we didn't have time to work on the Indonesian visa while in Hanoi in preparation for our return visit to Bali on September 1st. We called the embassy and they explained that a two or three day turnaround wasn't possible due to local holidays.


An indoor boulevard of pricey shops was tempting to peruse.  We thought of the precious little alpaca Mont Blanc when we spotted this store.  Gosh, that seems so long ago.
Instead, we'll try accomplish it using overnight mail (which actually takes three days each way) from Phuket, Thailand during our six weeks on the island beginning after the cruise ends.

A cellphone display in an expensive shop's window.  I asked for the price of this particular model to discover its US $18,000, VND $401,427,000.  Guess we don't need one of these!
We let the Indonesian visa acquisition waft from our minds satisfied that we currently have the required visas for this cruise/tour and the upcoming six weeks in Thailand. 

Antique working phones in a hallway of the hotel.
In the worst case, we'll do another three day Lovina run between September and October to get the second 30 day visa. Once that's completed, we won't need any additional visas until after the US visit ends when we'll be heading to Costa Rica for a slightly longer than allowable 90 day visa.

Its unlikely we'll use the hotel's pool.  Its rained or been cloudy most of each day since our arrival.
Thank goodness I'm feeling much better.  I may not be 100% better although I'm hovering around 75%.  Walking is easier now than a week ago in Singapore. Sitting remains the most difficult especially if the furnishings aren't conducive to a straight posture. 

At breakfast I had a bowl of pho minus noodles.  It was delicious reminding me of the pho my younger son Greg and I often ordered when we frequently visited a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Minneapolis, Kinhdo.
Last night, our cruise documents were awaiting us in the room after another fabulous fun filled evening with our new friends from the UK/Singapore; Sally, Richard and Isabel. 

The hotel's bellmen provide the utmost of bell services.
It was another nonstop laugh fest with nothing held back resulting in outrageous story telling.  How refreshing!  Tonight, we'll all get together for the final time with them heading back to Singapore tomorrow and our cruise essentially beginning tomorrow morning.

Vendors are often on foot battling the outrageous traffic in an attempt to sell their wares.
Tomorrow's first day schedule is tight with a three hour morning tour beginning after breakfast and the 8 am itinerary meeting here in the hotel.  From there, we'll board four person vehicles which at this point we aren't certain if they mean taxis, pedi-cabs or the equivalent of "tuk-tuks" one often finds in Thailand.

With over 5 million motorbikes in Hanoi, many are used for transporting products for resale.
At noon during a two hour break we'll prepare and upload tomorrow's post with photos we've taken from the morning tour.  After the two hour break we'll board  a bus for another tour of several important sites in Hanoi, reporting back with photos the following day.

One person pedi-bikes are inexpensive and a popular means of travel.
The busy day will end with dinner in an upscale local restaurant, a five minute walk from the hotel.  With a total of 56 passengers on the cruise's manifest (which was included in the package) it should be an interesting opportunity to meet and mingle with other passengers. 


These converted motorbikes/trucks are also a common means of transport.
With the usual 2000 to 4000 passengers on a typical cruise, this small group, mostly Americans,  should be interesting. Its been a long time since we've interacted with many other Americans, most likely since the wonderful people we met in Kauai, Hawaii.  Then again, we love meeting people from all over the world.



A towering cookie display.
Hopefully, we can keep political/election discussions to a minimum and focus on other topics as well as the historical aspects of the cruise. Over these past years we've heard many travelers rave about this cruise being their favorite of many.  We'll hold off speculating any further for now and report details as they occur.


Tom sitting at the hotel's shoe shine station.
Tomorrow, as mentioned above, we'll be back three or four hours later than usual, looking forward to sharing more details of this amazing experience in Vietnam.

Be well and happy!
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Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2015:

This adorable Kookaburra posed for me in the yard while sitting on the fence next to the rain gauge.  These birds are much larger than appearing in this photo.  For more Trinity Beach photos, please click here.


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