It’s been about a year since our first trip to Hanoi, the bustling Northern Vietnamese city that both assaults and enchants with its peddlers, propaganda posters, and world-famous pho.
And it was in a familiar sleepy stupor that we first wandered the streets after disembarking the overnight train from Nanning at the ungodly hour of 5:30 China time/4:30 am in Hanoi.
Good morning, Vietnam.
We stopped into a nearby noodle shop to stomach some pho and a coffee shop to grab a stiff early-morning brew, and then it was off to St. Joseph’s cathedral, the statuesque steepled church in the middle of the city. While mass was just letting out as we arrived at seven am, in the early afternoon locals gather nearby to drink fabulous lime tea under the awnings, and it’s a more festive atmosphere.
We also made our way to the iconic red bridge on Hoan Kiem Lake and enjoyed watching the locals practice their tai chi. We grabbed a couple pan chocolate (God bless Vietnam’s French heritage!) and savored them as we continued meandering our way through the colorful streets.
When we came back on Saturday from our tour on Halong Bay, we had just a few short hours in Hanoi, so we made a beeline for Cong Caphe, where we downed some fabulous little cups of coffee and stocked up on supplies for the train home to China.
We ended the evening in Hanoi by dining on a set menu at the popular (and pricey) Wild Lotus. The atmosphere was relaxing, the food pretty good, and the company excellent, of course. While our time in Hanoi was short, it did not disappoint.
More on Halong Bay and the rest of our trip to come…