Monthly Archives: January 2019

Vietnam, Hoi An and Danang – my annual Chill Fest

I haven’t gone into hiding but have enjoyed two weeks chilling in central Vietnam – a place I have been coming back to for over 15 years.

On this visit my friend Jo – who has visited many times with her daughter Hannah – joined me for part of the visit. She proved to be an excellent food guide and a good shopper too!!

On the food front – it is just not possible to ever get bored with Vietnamese food which is fresh and healthy – mostly! Below is just from one of our favourite restaurants in Hoi An – Morning Glory. Ban xeo pancakes (a Hoi An speciality); chicken, bean sprout and mint salad; eggplant with garlic and chilli and caramelised pork belly. Divine. Go hungry!

This time we went to Danang for a day. It is very close by so worth a visit but has none of the charm of Hoi An (see below). It is a commercial centre so busy and bustle with a food and flower market and a riverside walk which allows you to take in a lot of colourfully lit bridges (not to mention dried sea horses!).

Glad we went but no particular hurry to get back – I am a Hoi An and local beach girl when over here.

So why do I love Hoi An so much? Although it is much busier than when I first visited it still retains its charm and I remain impressed by how much of the old town (which is conveniently pedestrianised) has been preserved in line with its UNESCO status. For history buffs there are many old house and shops now part of a “museum” you can wander in and out of to get a feel for how people lived here not that long ago.

Or you can just drink cocktails and people watch….

Or wander down by the river and check out the boats plying their trade…..

Or appreciate why this town is known as the City of Lanterns …..

Or head to a spa in the quiet rice paddies – only 10 minutes away but an oasis of calm (I recommend Calm Spa if you are visiting) – great value and venue…..

Or just hang out at the beach which is where I keep coming back to every year. Can you see why?

Finally thanks to Jo for visiting and making it even more fun (and for excellent gin and tonic making too)

USA, Miami – My Street Art fix at Wynward Walls – Vhils

Thanks to my friend Beth I have learned to admire the work of the Portuguese street artist Vhils and searched out his work when I was in Lisbon – there is not much as they keep pulling down the buildings he uses!

This artist started by etching into the external walls of large commercial buildings and creating giant faces in the process. No idea how he does that especially given the size of the works. So I was very pleased to find five new works of his at Wynyard Walls which he did for the 2018 Art Basel event and equally pleased to find a solo exhibition of his work on different media including paper and incredibly polystyrene!!

His original works in a nearby Carpark that I saw last year.

These are the new faces on the wall plus faces using the medium of paper.

And finally, who knew you could create with polystyrene?

Reflections on my 2018 year of travels

So as we lurched into 2019 in a world which seems very confused and bifurcated, I thought I ought to take time to remember where I visited in 2018 before getting too embroiled in 2019 travel planning.

The year started off in my old home of Melbourne, Australia and ended in Las Vegas, USA. In between Australia and the US, I visited 24 Countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Grenada*, St Maarten*, Barbados, Martinique*, St Thomas*, Portugal, Czech Republic, Poland*, Greece, Spain, the UK, Germany, Austria, Slovakia*, the Netherlands, Iceland*, Greenland*, Canada, Bermuda* – *=new country, so I am now up to 99).

I was lucky to spend time with great friends many of whom hosted me in their homes, to take a cruise and make new friends, to stay in rented apartments and also hotels.

I have learned I can live out of 2 suitcases and without a base and actually I really like it. The freedom of not needing to acquire new things – because you have no base that needs to be filled with stuff and also because every item of clothing you buy means you need to throw an old item away – is quite liberating. I still enjoy shopping but it is primarily window shopping these days and clothing purchases are assessed by weight in my suitcase above all things – thank goodness for lightweight trainers.

What I have really loved is spending more time than just “ships passing in the night” with my friends in various parts of the world and the chance to spend longer periods of time in towns and cities so I can just “be” without having to cram everything I want to see in 3 or 4 days. I love time on my own too and can mooch around museums or parks or walk with no aim in mind other than finding a nice cafe for a drink or a snack while I watch the world go by or immerse myself in a book or even better listen to an audible book.

So I’m in no rush to change this strange lifestyle just yet and plan to do the same in 2019 while adding to the new country list.

Thanks to those of you who have followed my travels. It is great to see likes and comments. Below are some visual memories

(For travel geeks – more info below on exactly where I’ve stayed in case anyone wants any tips:)

Australia – Melbourne and Victoria; Vietnam– Danang; Thailand – Bangkok and Chiangmai Rai; USA – Miami, Washington DC, Pittsburgh; Buffalo; Princeton; New York City; Cleveland; New Orleans; Las Vegas; Boston; Canada – Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Gaspe and Saguernay peninsula; Labrador; Nunuvut; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland; Caribbean – Grenada, Barbados, Martinique, St Thomas, St Maarten; Portugal – Lisbon, Salema, Evora; Czech Republic – Prague; Poland – Krakow; Greece – Mykonos, Crete; Spain – Estepona, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Seville, Córdoba, Carmona, Jerez, Cadiz, Malaga, Torremolinos, Gaucin, Ronda, Granada, the UK – London, Durham, Beswick on Tweed, Mayfield, Frome, Cambridge, Kingston; Germany – Munich, Murray, Nuremberg, Bavaria; Austria – Vienna, Graz; Slovakia – Bratislava; the Netherlands – Amsterdam, Haarlem, Giethoorn,; Iceland – Reykjavik; Greenland – Nuuk, and lots of tiny towns!; Bermuda – Hamilton and around the island.

And here are a few pictorial memories

Victoria, Australia, Vietnam and Thailand

Cruising in the Caribbean

Lovely Lisbon

Prague, Czech Republic

Krakow, Poland

Crete, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

The Algarve Coast, Portugal

Pinxtos in Bilbao, Spain

Estepona, Andalusia, Spain

The Bavarian Alps, Germany

Vienna, Austria

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Icebergs off the coast of Greenland

Quebec City, Montreal, Canada

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Buffalo, New York State, USA

Cleveland, Ohio, USA


New York City, New York, USA

Autumn colours And gourmet dining in the UK

The Alcazar in Seville, Andalusia, Spain

The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Andalucia, Spain

Winter in Seville, Andalucia, Spain

Xmas in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

New Year in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

USA, Las Vegas – 2018/19 New Year

Spent the tail end of 2018 and the start of 2019 in Las Vegas with my friend Beth. Always fun to be here even at this especially crazy time of year.

Flower decorations abound in the hotels

Saw Bruno Mars on New Year’s Eve and BoyzIIMen (throwback) at T mobile centre.

And also day 2 of the brand new Lady Gaga residency at the Park MGM – and Celine was in the audience too!!