Well, for now.
It was, without a doubt, a must-see place for me. It’s somewhere I had researched and researched. I had looked at hundreds of pictures, read hundreds of blogs, I’d even dreamt about the place. So, when I visited, it felt extra special.
Tuesday 5th June 2012
After breakfast in Hanoi, we joined a coach full of others and set off for Halong Bay. Unable to sit next to each other, I spent the journey sleeping and listening to the Regina Spektor album I had just downloaded. Now, every time I listen to that album, I relive the excitement of that journey.
Following a brief stop, we arrived at the port. We were offered a strange looking (and strange tasting tea) and settled down to play cards for about twenty minutes.
Later, on the boat, we were treated to an amazing buffet lunch. Not one for seafood, I accepted that I’d have to be experimental and made a conscious effort to try everything.
I know, I know. When in Rome and all that. But is it so wrong to want a little bit of Rome in Vietnam? I understand that it’s important to eat local food when abroad, but does that mean I can’t indulge in an epic spag bol in Hanoi?
The Italian restaurant in question is El Mediterraneo and the food was AMAZING. It isn’t just me who thinks so – TripAdvisor has numerous equally positive reviews (although it also has a few rather scathing comments dotted about).
I don’t in anyway regret choosing to eat there because it was a lovely meal and I really do love Italian food. But, now, looking back, I can’t help but think that it was a little bit strange to visit an Italian restaurant in Hanoi. It wasn’t as though we had weeks and weeks available in which to sample the Vietnamese cuisine, so I wonder whether I should have been more experimental (it was, after all, me who insisted on having an Italian meal). In total, we visited this restaurant twice, although we did spend a few days away from Hanoi in between visits. If I recall correctly, I also had a cheese and ham toastie in Vietnam.