Friday, May 31, 2019

Strolling Through Hong Kong

It's been many years since I last visited Hong Kong.  I've passed through (mostly the airport) to get back and forth to various places in China, but I haven't stayed in the city since it became a special administrative region of China in 1997.  It's time to see what has changed and the answer is:  a lot!

Hong Kong is composed of 18 districts with around 7.5 million people occupying the 1,104 square km (426 square mile) territory on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in eastern China.  From the airport, ferries connect directly to other cities in the Pearl River Delta, including Macao, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhongshan, Dongguan, and Zhuhai.

I am staying in Central, the main business district of Hong Kong, on the south side of Victoria Harbor, across from Kowloon, a mostly residential area.  I'll be exploring both districts over the next few days.  My hotel room faces the harbor and I quickly become mesmerized by the boat traffic (which will get a whole blog of its own later).

Looking out on the harbor

The traditional Chinese neighborhoods are as lively and interesting as I remember them.

Older neighborhoods

There are also a lot of new skyscrapers on the harbor with elevated covered walkways between them to protect everyone from the tropical heat and rain.

 Modern skyline

 Covered Walkways

There an Observation Wheel on the waterfront with great views of the harbor and the city skyline.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

The Hong Kong Metro is still an incredibly efficient way to get around Hong Kong and has added art on the walls of its tunnels.

 Art in the Metro

The above-ground trams are tall, efficient, double-decker vehicles.


As a sign of modern times, I spot a robot vacuum cleaner running around a store to make sure all is clean as they open

Cleaning the floor, modern style

It's great to be back and I'm looking forward to re-exploring this tremendous city.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Dinners in Monterosso

Every dinner in Monterosso al Mare is memorable and we visit some old favorite places and find some new ones.  Our first night, we head over to Cantina di Miky, dining outside on the boardwalk where we share octopus with potatoes and cod ravioli with olive sauce.

 Slogan to live by

Octopus, cod ravioli

Our second night's dinner is at Il Casello, again dining on the water.  We share stuffed anchovies, fried anchovies, and Il Casello's special pasta with white fish.

Outside seating at Il Casello

 View from our table as the sun sets

 Stuffed anchovies, fried anchovies

Pasta with white fish

The next evening, we're at L'Osteria di Galleno, in an ally just off Piazza Garibaldi, where we share mussels in lemon sauce and olive oil, trofie pesto (a Ligurian specialty), and quattro stagioni (4 seasons) pizza.  While we're dining, the owner wanders by and says that he remembers us from last year and we tell him we'll be back next year (and, as it turns out, a few nights later).

Mussels in lemon and olive oil

 Trofie pesto

Quattro stagioni pizza (only one season left)

On our next visit to L'Osteria, we have some of the same:  lemon mussels, 4 seasons pizza, and fruitti di mare (seafood) pizza.

 Repeats:  mussels and quattro stagioni pizza

 Pizza fruitti di mare

It's hard to imagine how dinner could get better than this:  incredible food at a  table near the Mediterranean!

To round out our dining experience, we have two meals in London, both fish and chips, the first at Gatwick Airport on the way out and the second at Heathrow Airport on the way back (where we're spending the night before catching a morning flight to San Francisco).  Both fish and chips meals are tasty, but the Heathrow offering (at the Renaissance Hotel) wins for presentation.

 Fish and chips:  Gatwick, Heathrow

However, as tasty as the fish and chips might be, I'm still longing for pizza fruitti di mare, pasta with white fish, or octopus salad (not to mention the difference in ambiance between a seat on the sea or a seat in an airport)!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Hiking up to Santuario di Soviore

On our last day, we decide to finish up with a short hike in the morning from Monterosso to Santuario di Soviore, the former monastery above Monterosso, with beautiful views of the city and the sea.  The hike starts in the usual way:  up.

 Path up

 Leaving Monterosso behind

At Soviere, we peer inside the chapel, then start down (we have an afternoon train to Pisa where we'll catch a flight to Heathrow and spend the evening).

 The chapel at Soviore

View of Monterosso from Soviore

 Fabulous sky above Monterosso

 Heading back down

When we reach town, we discover an anchovy festival in the Piazza Garibaldi, with plenty of anchovies and pots of pasta cooking away.  We head off to our lunch (a plate of lardo bruscetta and a mixed bruscetta platter:  pesto, anchovy, tomato, and ham).  As we leave Villa Steno and wheelie our suitcases to the train station, we see that the anchovy festival has everyone lined up for lunch.

 Anchovy festival setting up

Bruschetta lunch (lardo and mixed)

Anchovy festival open