A Travellerspoint blog

Visiting An Old Friend.

Celebrating our wedding anniversary in Macau.

semi-overcast

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

We have always loved Macau and I have lost count of how many times we have been there. During SARS we used to escape there. It was relatively untouched by the disease, while Hong Kong was obsessed with it. Our love affair with the place almost ended when changes to the gambling laws meant that a million casinos shot up overnight. It was no longer the calm, relaxed place we remembered, but we decided after a few years of abstinence to give it another chance and learned to love it all over again.

It takes about an hour to get to Macau from Hong Kong by ferry, and now it's also possible to go in forty-five minutes on the longest sea crossing in the world. However, during Covid both Hong Kong and Macau had incredibly strict entry laws. At one point if we had gone to Macau, we would have had to stay in quarantine for two weeks and when we returned to Hong Kong we would have had to quarantine for three weeks. Thus even if we only spent a day looking around Macau, it would have taken up five weeks of our lives!!! As you can imagine, it just wasn't possible to go there.

Well, September the 5th was our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary and Peter said we should get ourselves a fancy hotel and celebrate it in Macau. He found an excellent deal at the Sofitel Ponte 16 Hotel. We have stayed there once before in 2017 and we liked it, but unfortunately on that visit I had terrible toothache, so it wasn't really the enjoyable experience it should have been.

It's not as easy for Peter to travel nowadays as it once was, so in some ways a visit to Macau was a perfect way to test if he would be able to cope with any future overseas trips.

The Sofitel was actually perfect for us. We booked a room on the executive floor with lounge access. This meant that our deal included breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner with drinks. We would have plenty to eat and drink and Peter wouldn't need to traipse around outside looking for restaurants. Also this hotel has a lovely swimming pool available to all guests and a second bigger one that's only available to mansion guests and executive floor guests. We both love swimming, so that gave us an activity we could do once or twice a day. I love exploring places and I never tire of doing so even if I have been there before. Peter can't do this anymore. The walking around is too hard for him, but the Sofitel is really central for all the historical sights in the old town, so after taking Peter for a swim, I would take him back to the room to rest and I would go out sightseeing for a few hours. Actually this worked out brilliantly for both of us.

So on the fifth of September we headed to Central, then walked along the waterfront to the Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan. We booked one way tickets to Macau on Turbojet. Mine cost HK$160 and Peter's senior ticket cost HK$142. The journey was fine. We were assigned seats in the middle, so couldn't look out of the window, but it didn't really matter.

Tickets.

Tickets.

On the ferry.

On the ferry.

When we arrived at Macau Outer Harbour, it was extremely foggy. We headed off to find the free shuttle bus to the hotel. This should involve exiting the terminal, going downstairs, walking through a tunnel and then coming back upstairs on the other side of the road. We did this and a young man tried to explain to us that the shuttle buses weren't leaving from there any more. We've experienced this before. This area was closed off in preparation for the Grand Prix. That's over a month away, but I guess there's a lot of preparation involved. This meant that we had to retrace our steps, get on to a walkway and follow it to the shuttle buses outside the Jai Alai Hotel. This is about ten minutes walk away, but it was roasting and I had already dragged Peter the wrong way, so he found the walk too long and too hot. By the time we found where the shuttle left from, he was feeling done in. The attendant there pointed out there would be about a twenty minute wait for the next bus. With the merciless sun beating down and with nowhere to sit, this felt endless. I was so relieved when the bus finally arrived. Peter was sitting slumped on a door step, looking half dead. I somehow got him up and on the bus and in the air-conditioning, he began to recover.

Shuttle stop.

Shuttle stop.

We noticed quite a lot of changes in Macau on our way to the hotel. There were roads that hadn't existed before and also more parks. There was, as always, quite a bit of construction work going on.

When we reached the hotel, I put Peter on a seat in the lobby and I queued up to check in. As it turned out, I shouldn't have queued, because we had booked a Club Millesime room I was able to check in straight away on the seventeenth floor. When I told reception that, they got someone to take us up in the lift. We were checked in by a very pleasant young man called Kyle. When we had completed everything, it was 4.28pm. Kyle said: "Please go and enjoy afternoon tea." So we did. We later realised that afternoon tea is only served until 4.30. Our extremely pleasant waitress didn't bat an eyelid when we said: "Yes, we'll have the afternoon tea set." two minutes before closing time. Afternoon tea turned out to be two little sandwiches and a tiny pastry each, plus two cakes and a creme brulé, plus a large plate of fruit with soft drinks of your choice. It was all served on a cake stand shaped like the Eiffel Tower. After all the Sofitel is part of a French chain. We were impressed on every level. Most places would have said: "Sorry, you are too late, you just missed afternoon tea." In some places we may have just managed to grab the last remaining sandwich, but here we were served the full works by a smiling waitress who didn't appear to mind that we had arrived just as she probably should have been clocking off. Plus we were sitting in a comfortable lounge with a view across the City of Macau that was to die for. We could see the whole of the old town including the fortress and the ruins of Saint Paul's. In addition the Eiffel Tower shaped serving dish was very cute and totally photogenic.

Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea.

Looking out over Macau.

Looking out over Macau.

The view from the lounge.

The view from the lounge.

The view from the lounge.

The view from the lounge.

The view from the lounge.

The view from the lounge.

Looking at the Monte Fortress .

Looking at the Monte Fortress .

The view from the lounge.

The view from the lounge.

When we were done with afternoon tea, we had a look at our room. It had a king size bed, a chaise long, a safe, a kettle, a coffee maker, a TV in the bedroom and one in the bathroom, a bath and a shower. We had paid the lower price for a city view, but had been upgraded to a river view, so we looked out onto the Pearl River with Mainland China just a swim away. We could also look down on the swimming pool from where we were. It was wonderful.

Our room.

Our room.

Our room.

Our room.

Looking into Mainland China across the Pearl River.

Looking into Mainland China across the Pearl River.



The view from our room.

The view from our room.

Looking down on the pool.

Looking down on the pool.

We had intended to swim, but it was so close to cocktail hour which was 5.30pm to 7.30pm, so instead we just unpacked and enjoyed the room. Then we headed to cocktail hour. We like doing these, but they vary. Some offer hot food and snacks plus drinks, others may just do a tiny sandwich and a cracker. This one offered steak, beef stew, meatballs, salmon, mackerel, vegetables, salads and much more. Suffice it to say that after this we stopped saying to each other:"Let's go to cocktail hour!" and started saying:" Shall we head to dinner?" Peter drank Tsing Tao beer, I had Portuguese wine. The service was incredibly efficient. It was a wonderful dinner and the views from the lounge at night were fantastic. Then full, and slightly drunk, we returned to our room.

Dinner was lovely.

Dinner was lovely.

Dinner was lovely.

Dinner was lovely.

Pretty desserts.

Pretty desserts.

Almost too pretty to eat .

Almost too pretty to eat .

Night time views.

Night time views.

Night time views.

Night time views.

Peter wanted a rest. To be honest I did too, but if we wanted to use the pool, we had to go for it. I told Peter: "We're too full to swim, we'll just have a little dip." However, once we got in there, we got carried away and ended up having to be reminded to leave near ten o'clock closing time. The views from the pool were lovely.

The pool at night.

The pool at night.

The pool at night.

The pool at night.

View from the pool.

View from the pool.

View from the pool.

View from the pool.

Now we were both definitely ready for bed, but I realized if I wanted to sightsee, I would need to avail myself of every possible opportunity, so although it was nearly eleven pm, I said to Peter: "I'm off out to look at the historic centre by night." Peter said: "See if you can find Portuguese beer while you are out there."

I exited the hotel and saw that a Mid-Autumn Festival display had been put up just outside. This one concentrated on full moons and white rabbits.

Hotel lobby.

Hotel lobby.

Hotel lobby.

Hotel lobby.

Entrance to the hotel casino.

Entrance to the hotel casino.

Mid-autumn display.

Mid-autumn display.

Mid-autumn display.

Mid-autumn display.

Mid-autumn display.

Mid-autumn display.

There was a Circle-K right next to the Mid-Autumn display, so I bought two small bottles of Super Bok for Peter before I even started exploring. I crossed at the green man onto Almeida Ribeiro, one of the main streets of Macau. Actually I found this in itself interesting. There are several lovely buildings here and the road is paved with black and white tiles depicting various sea creatures.

This is Ponte 16 on the inner harbour next to the hotel.

This is Ponte 16 on the inner harbour next to the hotel.

Roads are covered and depict sea creatures.

Roads are covered and depict sea creatures.

Sea creatures.

Sea creatures.

Sea creatures.

Sea creatures.

Lots of lovely buildings.

Lots of lovely buildings.

Eventually I arrived at Senado Square, the main square in Macau. Facing it, on the other side of the road, is the Leal Senado Building which means the Loyal Senate. This building dates from 1784 and is Macau's original municipal chamber. It was decorated for Mid Autumn Festival when I saw it.

Leal Senado Building.

Leal Senado Building.

Leal Senado Building.

Leal Senado Building.

Looking back at the Leal Senado Building.

Looking back at the Leal Senado Building.

Looking back at the Leal Senado Building.

Looking back at the Leal Senado Building.

I wandered across Senado Square which was also decorated for Mid-Autumn. It seeing be employing some kind of outer space theme. There are several beautiful buildings on Senado Square such as The Holy House of Mercy. There's also a pretty fountain centred around a globe. The floor of the square is paved with black and white stones that from a wave pattern. It's all very pretty.

Globe fountain on Senado Square.

Globe fountain on Senado Square.

Globe fountain on Senado Square.

Globe fountain on Senado Square.

Space bunny with moon cake.

Space bunny with moon cake.

The Holy House of Mercy.

The Holy House of Mercy.

The Holy House of Mercy.

The Holy House of Mercy.

Beautiful side street off the main square.

Beautiful side street off the main square.

Space archway.

Space archway.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Spaceman.

Spaceman.

Part of the Mid-autumn Festival decorations.

Part of the Mid-autumn Festival decorations.

Paintings on a shop front.

Paintings on a shop front.

On our last few visits to Macau this area has been drowning under crowds of tourists, but late on a weekday evening it only had groups of locals sitting outside to take some air and talk to friends and neighbours. I liked this. The atmosphere was pleasant and laid-back.

When I came to the end of the square, I reached Saint Dominic's Church. It was late, so it was closed, but I visited it later on another day.

Saint Dominic's Church.

Saint Dominic's Church.

I continued past this up Rue de San Paolo, a short street lined with food shops that hand out samples of beef jerky, or almond biscuits, or egg tarts, in the direction of the ruins of Saint Paul's, one of the most famous landmarks in Macau. This was lit up beautifully. I climbed to the top of the stairs, right next to the church's facade.

Shop selling beef jerky.

Shop selling beef jerky.

Late night shopping.

Late night shopping.

Beautifully decorated shop.

Beautifully decorated shop.

Specialities of Macau, almond cookies.

Specialities of Macau, almond cookies.

Specialities of Macau, egg tarts.

Specialities of Macau, egg tarts.

Painted shop front.

Painted shop front.

Painted shop front.

Painted shop front.

Painted shop front.

Painted shop front.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine with bat image

Shrine with bat image

Saint Paul's was built between 1602 and 1640 by Jesuit priests who wanted to bring Catholicism to the Far East. At one time it was the largest church in Asia. Much of the church was wooden and it burnt down in a fire in 1835, only the stone facade survived.

Looking up at The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Looking up at The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

There are great views looking back over the old town from here. I was very close to the Monte Fortress but decided to save that for another day in the light.

Statue near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Statue near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Statue near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Statue near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Looking down from The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Looking down from The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Looking down from The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Looking down from The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Buildings near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Buildings near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Buildings near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

Buildings near The Ruins of Saint Paul's.

After enjoying the views and the architecture for a while, I began to wend my way home. I had done a lot and I was tired, but I had also really enjoyed it.

Posted by irenevt 06:09 Archived in Macau

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

What a wonderful anniversary trip. I loved the Eiffel Tower cake stand, the pool looks absolutely amazing and I’m also so impressed with your nocturnal adventures - sometimes the loveliest of times when you have the streets and sights mainly to yourself !

by Catherine

Hi Catherine, Of course you can't really declare anywhere completely safe but both Macau and Hong Kong are places I'd have no fear wandering around on my own at night. For a start there are always people around. I only did one nocturnal walk, but I was certainly glad I did it to see everything lit up at night.

by irenevt

The lights at night are amazing. I loved your little Eiffel Tower but, as you know, I'm prejudiced.

Looks like you had a wonderful anniversary. What a great idea.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, yes it was a really fun trip and suitable for both of us.

by irenevt

seems like you guys had a wonderful stay!!!

by Ils1976

We have just come back from yet another stay here. Yes, we love it.

by irenevt

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login