My desire to visit Vietnam was ignited the first time I glimpsed a photograph of Halong Bay. It countered the image of Vietnam I had conjured in my head; the one where chaotic streets are overcrowded with motorbikes and stifled with pollution. The picture of Halong Bay showed a different scene entirely – one of tree-covered karst mountains rising from an azure sea. I was intent on traveling to Vietnam just to see Halong Bay with my own eyes. I didn’t know it then, but my expectations would be surpassed when we actually experienced the UNESCO World Heritage site on a 2-night Halong Bay cruise.
Wind in my hair, the cool breeze on my face, a new perspective of the shoreline – these are just a few reasons why I love hopping aboard a boat. In Melbourne, a boat cruise on the Yarra River is offered by a range of companies taking passengers up river, down river and all the way to Williamstown on Port Phillip Bay. There are dinner cruises, sunset cruises and water taxis for hire. With a Two-for-One offer in the Official Visitor Guide, we opted for a combination ticket with Melbourne River Cruises that included a trip up river passing several gardens and a second boat ride that would take us down river to the ports and Docklands.
It’s no secret that flying is our preferred method of travel, we are Jetsetting Fools, after all. With nearly free flights (thanks to Kris’s years with the airline), it just makes sense. Even in Southeast Asia – land of Travel-by-Bus – we relied on planes to get us from city to city. Every once in a while, however, we choose a different route – as was the case when it came to crossing the Adriatic Sea.
After our month-long stay in Lecce, Italy, we wanted to explore the western coast of the Balkans along the Adriatic Sea – and we chose Kotor, Montenegro as our first stop. Getting there by plane, especially in the off-season, was proving to be inefficient. To travel stand-by, our itinerary would be: train from Lecce to Brindisi, plane to Rome (going the wrong way!), plane to Zagreb, Croatia, plane to Dubrovnik and, finally, a bus to Kotor. We did find a flight from Rome to Podgorica, but not within our network, so we would have had to pay for tickets outright (rubbish!), and it would require a 3 hour bus ride to Kotor. Plan C provided the most direct route: Crossing the Adriatic Sea via ferry from Bari, Italy to Bar, Montenegro.