Arena Travel Blog

  • Textiles of Vibrant Vietnam - Hoi An, Saigon & Mekong Delta

    DAY 10 - HOI AN

    Our day started early with a walk of the old town of Hoi Ann, a pretty little riverside town thriving on its tailoring and pottery industries. We started our tour at the Japanese Covered bridge and then wandered slowly through the main streets visiting the temple, the covered markets, the coffee shops and then on to the tailors. We took part in a lantern making workshop under expert guidance and this was followed by a very professional musical performance. One of the highlights of the morning was a visit to the photographic gallery of Rehahn, a gentleman who has documented most of the ethic minorities in Vietnam and not only photographed them but collected many of their costumes. These costumes are on display along with the stories of the people, their lives and his adventures to find them. In the afternoon we took a boat up the river to a local family run pottery and met a 94 year old lady who gave us a pottery demonstration with her granddaughter operating the wheel with her foot. The day ended with us returning to the old town for a wonderful meal and stroll round the night markets.

    DAY10.5 Continue reading
  • Textiles of Vibrant Vietnam - Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay & Hoi An

    DAY 5 - SAPA

    We had travelled on the overnight Franxipan Express from Hanoi to Lao Cai and arrived in teeming rain! Revived by breakfast at a French Restaurant, we piled into our buses to drive to the Sunday Market at Bac Ha. The Flower H'Mong minority bring all their produce that day to sell - fruit, vegetables, hardware, home-produced tobacco and spirits, textiles, machinery and animals. The colourful costumes provide endless photo opportunities!

    After the market it was back on the buses to a wonderful lunch at another Homestay, and then onwards towards Sapa and a remote village where the Red Dzao live. The journey was challenging as we were stuck in traffic gridlock on the side of the mountain due to roadworks. One busload struck up a Gridlock Karaoke and the other bus caught up on sleep! Eventually we made it to our turn off for the village and left the traffic behind, only to find we were on a white knuckle ride through rough and muddy roads as the twilight dimmed even further! The ladies at the village came out to welcome us and in dim light we could just get an idea of the fine stitchwork that they carried out. Before they get married they take a year to handstitich their traditional garments.

    DAY5.3 Continue reading
  • Textiles of Vibrant Vietnam - Hanoi, Mai Chau & Sapa

    DAY 1 - HANOI

    I have just arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam with a group from the UK. This tour has been organised by Arena Travel and we will be travelling the length and breadth of Vietnam, sampling the textiles (and the lovely food) all the way. Our afternoon starts at the Women's Museum to see the costumes, clothes and to hear about the lives of Vietnamese women over the last few decades. After that, we visit the Temple of Literature which was the first university in Vietnam. A rollicking white knuckle, adrenaline pumping rickshaw ride followed and the day was finished off with a lovely welcome meal at the Wildrice restaurant.

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  • News from the Bridge Room in Majorca 2017

    Host report by Mark Hooper, John Barker & Linda Williams:

    We were delighted to run this holiday for First for Bridge and really enjoyed the company of the guests and all the surroundings.

    The Bella Playa is a fabulous place for bridge holidays – on this holiday we had up to 17 tables playing.

    The restaurant offers fabulous food both breakfast and evenings and a great choice with the dishes changed daily. The hotel also has a fantastic spa complex where many of the guests could be seen relaxing in the early evening before their challenge at the bridge table.

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  • News from the Bridge Room in Menorca 2017

    Host report by Pauline & Nigel Durie:

    Menorca is known world-wide for its endless beaches, nature reserves and turquoise waters. Pine trees fringe the coast and even in October wild flowers are abundant and add to the natural beauty of the island. More than four thousand years ago, the first humans arrived on the Mediterranean island of Menorca, the easternmost of the beautiful Balearic Islands. Menorca has an exceptional heritage, reflected in its 1,574 archaeological sites dotted around the island. It was declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1993, and it is currently a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    The first week of the holiday was spent at La Quinta – a luxurious 5 star hotel close to Cala en Bosc with its lively marina lined with restaurants and bars. The hotel has a beautiful outdoor pool with a pool bar where we were treated to fresh fruit in the afternoons. The indoor spa offers a pool, jacuzzi, steam room and treatments and on the one day the weather was overcast this proved popular. The former island capital of Cuitadella boasts an impressive cathedral and harbour and is a short bus ride from the hotel. The narrow, old streets are occupied by artisan and designer shops that make a stroll through the city a memorable experience. Many guests staying at La Quinta took the opportunity to use either the hotel shuttle bus or the local bus to explore the area.

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