Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

We arrived in Hong Kong around lunchtime on our first day but by the time we’d got the train from the airport to Hong Kong Central and negotiated the shuttle bus to our hotel, the Novotel Century in Wan Chai, it was late afternoon. Having been plied with food on our flight from London we weren’t particularly hungry. Rather than having a large dinner we simply took advantage of the hotel executive lounge facilities for aperitifs and a light snack before heading out to absorb some of the Hong Kong street atmosphere at night.

 

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Wan Chai is like much of central Hong Kong – busy, bustling, people everywhere, shops, markets and an incredible contrast between the old and new, east and west, rich and poor. Monsieur had visited before for work reasons, which was just as well as it did take a little while to get our bearings.

 

The street markets were starting to pack up for the day – we strolled through taking it all in. There was something of a pungent smell but the food choices were incredible – all manner of exotic fruits, fish stalls (may explain the smell!), meat dishes and quite a few ingredients that I hadn’t come across before. The beautiful oriental flower stalls especially caught my eye.

 

About 10 minutes down the road eastwards of Wan Chai you come to the Causeway Bay area, noted for its high end shopping facilities – luxury malls, department stores and boutiques. All in all a huge contrast to the shops we found in Wan Chai!

 

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We weren’t there to shop as such but it was intriguing to peak inside the enormous Times Square Complex, probably the showpiece of Causeway Bay. A sky-high tower block, it houses many famous fashion brands – Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Jimmy Choo and the list goes on. I did a bit of window shopping and picked up a couple of things at Zara – just about in my price bracket! It was rather surreal having been wandering round the street markets a bit earlier and epitomises the many contrasts we found throughout our time in Hong Kong.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

We got back from our travels just over a week ago and have been in post-holiday sorting out mode – correspondence, piles of washing, adjusting to the new time zone and climate etc. etc.!

We had a very enjoyable sojourn in Hong Kong to break up the journey – my first time there though Monsieur has been a couple of times on work trips. I found it a fascinating place of many contrasts, a real mix of east and west. It can be a bit overwhelming with the volume of people in such a small area but there are plenty of opportunities to find some peace and tranquillity.

Here are a few photos taken mainly in Hong Kong but also in Kowloon, across the harbour on the Chinese mainland.  More to follow along with some more posts about our UK travels. Our trip was certainly a contrast of seasons and culture!

In the meantime wishing everyone a very happy Easter and relaxing holiday.

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Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Just back in London for the weekend before flying back to Perth via Hong Kong. Since my last post we have been visiting family in the West Country and Yorkshire and there hasn’t been much time for blogging. Have many photos though to translate into blog posts back home.

It’s snowing again and bitterly cold so a weekend for finding a nice warm pub and staying well rugged up! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen so much snow here in the U.K. especially in March. Funnily enough last night was quite mild and Mlle took us to an amazing Thai restaurant, Som Saa, in Commercial Street just south of the iconic Christ Church Spitalfields. I love the vibe of this fascinating area with a rich history of refugees, artisans and colourful characters each making their contribution to its unique charm. A bientot!

Finally arrived in London after a slightly fraught journey with delayed travel plans resulting from the unseasonal spring freeze, which has caused havoc across the U.K. Haven’t landed on a snow-covered runway at Heathrow before!

We have had a whirlwind weekend catching up with our younger daughter, Mlle, in London. Seeing the canal at Little Venice frozen over was an amazing sight and even the Regents Park lake was still frozen over when we walked round there yesterday.

The best thing to do – head off in search of warmth, food and drink! I have a lot of posts to write up in due course but here is a glimpse of a little discovery at Temple opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. The Temple Brew House is housed in a basement in Essex Street very close to St Clement Danes Church. Unpretentious and welcoming it was just what we needed on a bitterly cold “spring” day – huge homemade chicken and mustard pies, craft beer for Mlle and Monsieur and white wine for me went down a treat!

More about our London travels to follow – a bientot!

The weather turned somewhat inclement to say the least for our last couple of days in Switzerland – just as well we had been lucky enough to visit Lucerne before as we couldn’t see too much of it on this occasion!

 

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Despite the almost constant heavy rain and gloomy fog, the town and lake were as beautiful as ever. We were determined to make the most of our couple of days and although heading to a museum might have been a better option, we took the ferry across the lake to Vitznau and headed up to the summit of the majestic Mount Rigi on the little railway.  The train staff were cheery despite the awful weather and kindly handed out chocolates to make up for the absence of views. A good hearty lunch at the Rigi Kulm cafe followed by hot chocolates in a lakefront cafe at Brunnen, whilst we waited for the return ferry to Lucerne, thawed us out!

 

 

To get an idea of what Lake Lucerne and Mount Rigi look like in brighter conditions see here and here for previous posts (though we have experienced all weathers on top of Mount Rigi before!).  I should also point out that the Post Hotel in Weggis has undergone a couple of changes of management since we last stayed there in 2014 – reviews have not always been favourable since then. Weggis does seem to be a fair bit busier than we remembered from previous visits though as I said in last week’s post (see here) we were there in May a bit later in the season than previous visits.

On last year’s trip, however, we stayed in Lucerne itself – an Airbnb apartment in the Altstadt, part of the Hotel Krone. A light and spacious airy loft apartment gave us good views over the cobbled square below and far more space to spread out in than a conventional hotel room. We took breakfast each morning (as part of the deal) in the hotel restaurant and we found booking via Airbnb a more affordable way to stay in Switzerland rather than booking direct with the hotel. The only downside (perhaps because of building regulations in old historic buildings) was the absence of lifts up to our apartment on the top floor. Great if you’re travelling light, not so good if you’re on the road from Australia for a month!

 

 

Our last day dawned brighter. We had enough time after breakfast to walk round the Altstadt, take in the Saturday morning markets along the River Reuss and meander across the old wooden bridges, the Kapellbruecke and the slightly less well known Spreuerbruecke, before collecting our luggage from the hotel and heading for Zurich Airport.

 

 

Au revoir Lucerne!

 

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Le Chic En Rose and Monsieur will be on the road for the next 3 weeks travelling to the Arctic Circle (aka as the UK) and returning to Australia via Hong Kong (a 3 night stopover).  I may do some quick posts whilst I’m away, though more regular posting will resume when I’m back Down Under again!

Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

I’m finally getting round to finishing off the series of posts about last year’s Swiss trip (see here for posts about that trip and some archived ones from earlier travels).

I left off in Spiez, the delightful little town on the shores of Thunersee, where we based ourselves for 3 nights (see here, here and here). Our last couple of days in Switzerland were spent in Lucerne and we set off to catch the early morning train from Spiez station (Mlle was en route back to London, Monsieur and I were having a couple of nights in Lucerne before heading back Down Under).

 

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The Golden Pass Line is the name given to the rail line that links Montreux via Interlaken to Lucerne. It is, in fact, three different trains, however, being Switzerland, the next one is waiting at the arrival station to connect you seamlessly onto the next part of your journey.

Going north east from Montreux you wend your way up through the mountains to the little town of Zweisimmen near Gstaad (see here), part two takes you onto Interlaken Ost and the final leg takes you over the Bruenig Hasliberg Pass to Lucerne itself skirting past the shores of the eponymous lake.

The train ride is all part of the regular Swiss rail schedule – no extra costs are incurred for riding in the panoramic tourist carriage or the old Pullman cars. You just have to check the timetable and plan your journey accordingly. It is one of our favourite train rides and we have taken quite a few over the years!

The weather for our last couple of days in Switzerland turned grey and wet, though we had been very lucky with gorgeous warm spring weather up until then. The photos I was able to take are therefore rather moody and misty but give you an idea of the scenery round Lake Brienz and the journey up across the pass. Taking photos from a moving train is also a little tricky so please excuse the quality of some of them!

 

 

The first glimpses of Lake Lucerne are always special even on a dreary wet day.

 

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Dropping down into the valley alongside the beautiful shores of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstaettersee), the train glides along on its approach to Lucerne passing meadows, little farms and plenty of Swiss cows on the way.

 

 

Before seeing Mlle off on the fast train to Geneva Airport, we had time to enjoy a little stroll along the River Reuss to our favourite restaurant in Lucerne, Nix in Der Laterne. Occupying a charming medieval building near the old Spreuerbruecke, it serves wonderful local produce, superb wines and is still under the same ownership as our first visit in 2009. Inside is warm and cosy but if the weather permits a table by the fast flowing river on the cobbled streets is a real treat (we were in luck the rain stopped for enough time to enjoy lunch).

 

 

I’ll write more about Lucerne next week. It was as charming as we remembered but we were there a little later than on previous visits (in May) and there is no escaping the fact that it is a major stopping off point for large tourist groups. It did quieten down considerably at night and we wondered if many of the buses pass through and simply drop the groups off for a couple of hours or if they all prefer to eat in the hotels at night. However the lake remains as serene as ever and after seeing Mlle off we took a late afternoon cruise, soaking in the scenery and enjoying a pre dinner drink!

 

Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Another discovery recently down in the south east corner of the Perth Metro Area was the Pioneer Village in Armadale. This suburb is not one that most people associate with tourist attractions but it is worth stopping by if you happen to be in the area.

A replica of a gold mining village, Pioneer Village was actually built in the 1980s. Traditional colonial cottages line the high street with the centrepiece being an old wishing well. It is a little faded now and we noticed quite a few shops were empty but it does give you a feel for bygone times when Armadale would have been a colonial outpost.

The cafe selling delicious organic produce and all manner of items such as candles, soaps and a multitude of edible treats is well worth visiting. There is also a Pioneer Village Community School open to anyone in the area. We couldn’t leave without a trip to the fairy shop, an absolute paradise as far as our granddaughters were concerned. One gift only though was the strict rule!!

A few kilometres from Pioneer Village are the beautiful botanic gardens of Araluen. I have blogged about visits here before (see here and here) but have been meaning to post some photos of the early summer displays I took last year. They follow on from the “postcards” of Pioneer Village!

Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

An unexpected turn of events led us to The Old Mill in South Perth recently. Despite many years living here, we had never managed to actually visit this lovely icon of Perth’s colonial past. However a large bushfire, which had closed off our intended destination, Kings Park, led to a change of plan.

Situated on the southern foreshore of the Swan River near the Narrows Bridge and the constant flow of traffic from the Kwinana Freeway, it was saved in the late 1950s from the developers’ plan to demolish it to make way for the freeway off-ramp. A dedicated group of campaigners, including the local historical society, persuaded the powers that be to reconsider and the Mill Point off-ramp now winds round south of the mill.

Having undergone refurbishment in 1994, the mill survives to this day as a fascinating link to the early pioneering days of the Swan River Colony.

The mill is open to the public at no cost though donations are greatly appreciated! Owned and managed by the City of South Perth (see here for further details), we were fortunate to be given a guided tour by the lady managing the office, Sylvia, who, passionate about the history and preservation of the mill, gave us some fascinating background information.

The earliest mill was constructed by a young engineer from Winchester who arrived from England in 1829, William Kernot Shelton. At one point in the 19th century under the auspices of “Satan” Browne (so called because of his jet black hair) it was converted into a hotel! We looked round the cottage that was used by the miller and saw the old ovens where the loaves were baked and the extensive collection of historical kitchenware. It must have been such a tough life for those early settlers!

The little canal that led back down to the river has been filled in with locally quarried limestone but you can follow the channel back to the river where there is a lovely little picnic and play area called “Millers Pond”.

We headed off to Angelo Street in South Perth for lunch wondering why it had taken us so long to discover this wonderful gem from Perth’s past!

Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

After a week of strangely wet and humid weather courtesy of the after effects of Cyclone Joyce up in the far north, the sun has finally come out and the Perth summer has returned.

Below are a few photos of today’s morning walk on the north of Hillarys Boat Harbour. The last photo is courtesy of fellow dog walkers Anne and Lu – a sting ray enjoying a swim round the rocks beneath the lighthouse.

I have a few more posts of the Perth summer to share soon. I should be back blogging more regularly in a couple of weeks once the last of my summer visitors has left – in the meantime we are enjoying being out and about!

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

We had an early new year’s family celebration yesterday out in the Swan Valley at Carilley Estate – a lovely boutique winery and restaurant.

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It’s been wonderful having Mlle, our younger daughter, back from London for the past couple of weeks – just a few more days till she swaps our glorious summer weather for the European winter!

 

 

Hope that everyone has had a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year!

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

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