magnifique

Hanoi Sofitel Metropole Hotel

Magnifique is the Sofitel Legend Metropole‘s motto for magnificent reasons. I have been dying to stay at this historic Hanoi hotel since dining at their poolside restaurant over a year ago with Laura. Paul’s business meeting and our second anniversary were the perfect reasons to return for a special one-night getaway. Upon entering this legendary hotel, you are transported back to a bygone era of chic and gracious living.

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Gorgeous 1953 Citroen cars

Fabulously, we were upgraded to the elegant Charlie Chaplin suite (his favorite Hanoi hotel) in the historical wing. From scrupulous attention to detail and divine gastronomical offerings (I would travel to Hanoi just for the croque monsieur and french onion soup!), this hotel was the perfect choice to celebrate our anniversary.

Celebrating two years in Hanoi

Celebrating two years at Metropole

The Hôtel Métropole first opened its doors in 1901 and was soon recognized as one of the world’s best and was without equal in Vietnam. It was the first venue to show “moving pictures” in all of Indochine. More recently, the Metropole was chosen as one of only two Vietnam hotels to make Conde Nast’s “Best Hotels throughout the World” list.

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Poolside mango ice cream

During 2011 renovations, the hotel rediscovered the bomb shelter used during the Vietnam/American war to shelter hotel guests.  It is now part of their fascinating Paths of History tour. Jane Fonda and Joan Baez both were sheltered in the bunker during Hanoi bombing raids. And because this is an apolitical blog, know that the hotel has also welcomed George Bush, Sr., Bill Clinton, and John McCain. More recently, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made the Metropole their home during a visit to Hanoi. No matter which side you were on during the war, most would agree that it was a horrid chapter in our world’s history. Much nicer to enjoy all the other wonderful offerings at the Metropole and in life!

Touring the Metropole’s bomb shelter

Saigon PEACE & LOVE to all, Lisa

heaven on earth

When describing how beautiful Halong Bay was to my daughter, Nina, she said “Mom, you say that about everywhere you go in Vietnam!”. I can’t help it…it is true.  Each destination seems to be more breathtaking than the one before.

Made the trip with my new travel buddy, Laura.  She was in Hanoi on business and I caught up with her on her last day. The next morning we made the three and a half hour drive to Halong Bay. We boarded the Paradise Luxury junk boat and began our three day tour.  Along the route, we stopped to visit floating villages, islands, caves and swimming locales. It didn’t matter if it was morning, evening, sunny or rainy, the view was always spectacular. And it was so special meeting locals and fellow travelers. But, none more so than the Starlin family from New Orleans. I spotted Drew’s (GOOD name!) Saints’ shirt and knew I had to make their acquaintance!

NOLA Starlin Family

I hope you find my Halong Bay film entertaining.  I know I enjoyed making it just for you!

This week, Laura and I are traveling to Nha Trang, said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam. I am running out of superlatives to describe the beauty of Vietnam. Saigon Love to all, Lisa

hanging at hanoi hilton…

…but not the one you might be thinking of! We just got back from three days in Hanoi and stayed at the beautiful Hanoi Hilton Opera. I was blown away by the graceful beauty of Hanoi. Very different vibe from Saigon. Lots of fabulous French colonial architecture and the Old Quarter which is one big outdoor market. Hanoi recently celebrated its 1,000th birthday and commemorated with an incredible 6 mile tile wall that runs along the banks of the Red River. The tiles scenes depicts different locales around the world and art projects from Hanoi residents. Here are a couple of samples:

Everything seems to revolve around the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake famous for the huge tortoises that inhabit the murky water. The one pictured here weighed over 400 lbs. at death! It is considered very lucky if you spot one as they rarely surface. No such luck for me!

Here we are with new “friends” that wanted to take a picture with us. Hoan Kiem Lake and bridge to Jade Mountain Temple behind us.

I look forward to returning to Hanoi in drier weather. Rainy and a little chilly most of our time there. But that didn’t stop me from stopping at a street stall to have some roasted pork noodles ($1.50) with some friendly locals while Paul was at work.

And of course, I got back on the cyclo. This time price was pre-negotiated!

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