Monday, 22 December 2014

Happy Christmas, everyone!

This is my last post for the year and is to wish everyone a Happy Christmas or a Happy Holiday, whichever you celebrate, and every best wish for 2015.

My local beach, St Heliers, festooned by Pohutukawa
Here, in New Zealand, Christmas coincides with the end of the school and working year and also with summer holidays. It is a time for family gatherings and many families  celebrate the day with a picnic or barbecue at the beach.  The Pohutukawa tree, a native of New Zealand, blooms in November and December and is known as the New Zealand Christmas tree.  Its flowers are stunning, adorning the beaches around the country in a festive blaze of scarlet.

My very best wishes to you all.  I'll see you next year!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Roskilde - a Viking town

A thirty minute train trip from Copenhagen is the picturesque town of Roskilde, population approx. 49,000.  From the moment I arrived I loved its pretty, laid back ambience, even going so far as to declare that I thought I could live there   Charming and all as the town was we were here on a mission to visit the Viking Museum,   so after a quick stroll through the wide pedestrianised main street we made our way down a verdant tree lined country lane to the museum set on the edge of the fjord.

Roskilde Fjord
My small grandson had been reading about Vikings and imagining their lives and battles so was very excited but, in fact, we were all full of curious anticipation.  The Museum is in two halves, the Boat Yard, a living museum  where traditional crafts from the Viking era are practised, and the Viking Ship Hall, where recovered Viking ships are on display.

Boat building using Viking tools and methods
It was fascinating to watch the craftsmen and women at the  Boat Yard making ropes, basket weaving, textile making, working the black smith's forge and, of course, boat building, all using traditional methods and replica tools from the Viking era. I love crafts, especially traditional crafts, so was very happy whiling away quite some time there. The Boat Yard harbour is home to many replica Viking craft as well as small fishing craft from the Faroe Islands and my grandson was beside himself with delight when allowed to board a full sized replica Viking Ship tied up at the jetty.

My grandson beside the replica Viking ship

Inside the Viking Ship Hall
Near by, at the Viking Ship Hall,  five full sized Viking ships are on display.
Built in 1997 the building itself is listed as a fine example of late modernist architecture but, be warned, baby buggy access is exceedingly difficult and appears not to be encouraged. It was well worth the effort it took to get our buggy into the museum, however, as to actually see real Viking ships was a first for us and quite amazing.  The five ships are known as the Skuldelev ships and are stunningly displayed in an austere hall with large windows overlooking the fjord.  Late in the 11th century these ships were scuttled in the entrance to the fjord to form a barrier to protect Roskilde from attack by enemies.  They were raised from the sea in the 1960s and a long and arduous preservation and repair process was undertaken before they were put on display.  They  represent five different types of ships; an ocean going trader, a great longship, a coastal trader, a small longship and a fishing vessel.  There is much of interest in the shipping hall, apart from the ships.  There are displays of artifacts, information on the Vikings and a childrens' role playing area where my grandson got in the spirit of things dressing like a Viking and happily waving a toy sword around.

Roskilde Cathedral or Domkirke
Eventually we retraced our steps back to the township stopping in at the Roskilde Cathedral, or Domkirke, almost as an afterthought and we were so pleased we did.  The Cathedral, built in the 12th to 13th centuries in red brick gothic style is a UNESCO world heritage site and the burial place of Denmark's monarchs and bishops.  The interior is light and starkly white since the original brightly coloured frescoes were painted over at the time of the reformation, although there are a couple of very small areas which have been uncovered to show how colourful it must once have been.

Tomb of Frederik 5, died 1766
 Sadly the original stained glass windows were lost in a major fire in 1443 and were replaced with clear glass.  The tombs of the Kings and Queens of Denmark are worth seeing as they reflect the different styles and attitudes of their eras.  We were all rather taken aback to see the tomb being prepared for the current Queen, Margrethe 2.  Apparently it will take a couple of years to prepare and they want to be ready! Her tomb will be stunning and very modern.

Ornate tomb, Roskilde Cathedral
And so to the  heart of  town again for tea and cakes at a delightfully pretty little café and gift shop and then, too soon, we were reluctantly leaving Roskilde,  happy, nevertheless to be returning to Copenhagen.

I highly recommend a visit to Roskilde.  Not only is it a lovely town but I consider both the Viking Museum and the Domkirke amongst Denmark's "must sees". It is also a very easy trip by train from Copenhagen.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Malmo, Sweden - a good day out

Coming, as I do, from New Zealand, a small country at the bottom of the world and at least a two hour flight across the sea to any other country, it is always a thrill for me to travel from one country to another on land.  It never ceases to amaze me how the simple act of crossing a border can take you into an entirely different world with a new culture, language, food and architecture.  Since I was spending a few days in Copenhagen with my son and his family, the chance to travel into Sweden for a day was too good an opportunity to miss.  Denmark and Sweden have forever gazed across the sea at each other, (Malmo was originally part of Denmark but was ceded to Sweden in 1658) however they are now, at last, joined by the magnificent dual road/train Oresund bridge, all 16 kilometres of it, which includes a tunnel for part of the way.

                                    Oresund Bridge                   Photo by Fpo74
 Opened in the year 2000 the 20 minute trip across the bridge has made it possible for people to live in one country and work in the other and for tourists like us to enjoy  a train trip across the sea. Malmo is Sweden's third largest city.  It was heavily industrialised until the 1990s when it was hit by the Swedish financial crisis resulting in the closure of many industries and the loss of 27,000 jobs. Fortunately the new Malmo university campus on the river's edge and a burgeoning IT industry are slowly bringing vibrancy and life back into the city.

Turning torso

  Our first stop in Malmo was at the canal cruising depot where we booked a tour around the city and harbour.  It was my idea to take the cruise thinking it would give us a good overview of the city before exploring by foot, but within a few minutes of the cruise starting I began to feel I had made a mistake.  The cruise headed out into the harbour past the usual ugly, port, industrial buildings, some in a seriously derelict state.  Nevertheless, there were a couple of things  to see, worthy of note, firstly the attractive light house at the entry to the harbour and secondly the amazing "turning torso" building, Scandinavia's tallest skyscraper, a spectacular feat of engineering and the pride of Malmo. 
Elegant mansions line the canal

I was relieved when the boat made its way back to the canal running through the city to show us Malmo's  pretty side.  We passed attractive tall, old mansions and townhouses lining the canal and the large leafy Kings Park  with sculptures nestling amongst the trees. 
Pretty canal cruise with traditional windmill
We cooed with delight at the sight of a traditional Swedish windmill on the river bank and my four month old grand daughter kept us entertained with her very own commentary of gurgles and chuckles.

Main Square, Malmo
Next we walked up through the town.  The pedestrianized main streets and squares
were very busy, there appeared to be a festival on, so the city was colourful and lively.  The architecture was subtly different from the Danish and we noted plenty of good shops, various artisan galleries and, of course, we just had to spend time in Marimekko, the famous Finnish fabric design store. 

Things we noticed as significantly different from Copenhagen were the more ethnically diverse population, the littered streets and the large number of beggars about.  From what I have read unemployment is still very high and there are quite clear social divisions. Although I understand Malmo is still suffering from the down turn of the 1990s I do not know enough about the economies or immigration policies of Denmark and Sweden to comment on these startling differences which were quite obvious to us.
I drink in the scenery

After wandering the city for a while we headed back to the railway station to enjoy a late lunch at a very attractive café  before catching the train back to Copenhagen.  Wishing to use the toilets I looked around the station for some time before finding one, only to find that it was pay to use and we had no Swedish currency.  Oh dear, just had to wait until on the train.

Overall I am glad I went to Malmo, it is always interesting to see a new city, but it didn't particularly excite me, for some reason that I can't put my finger on, and I would not bother going there again.  However, our main objective had been to cross the spectacular Oresund Bridge and it did not disappoint.
There are some lovely craft galleries in Malmo

 Just as an aside, there is a trend in the UK at the moment to show Swedish crime thriller series on TV which have attracted a cult following and even a craze for wearing Nordic style jumpers.  My daughter in law had watched the series The Bridge, set on Oresund bridge and had enjoyed it so she was doubly pleased to cross "The Bridge"

Monday, 10 November 2014

Copenhagen - Stroget and Tivoli Gardens

The Royal Guard and Military Band
Copenhagen's Stroget is, at 1.1k, said to be the longest pedestrianized shopping street in the world.  With its eclectic mix of shops, from high end fashion to ubiquitous chain stores to cheap souvenir and $2 shops, there is something for everyone and it is a joy to stroll its length unbothered by traffic. We planned to just window shop, however, couldn't resist spending some time in the Royal Copenhagen china shop, drooling over the beautiful, delicate pieces on display.  In the end my daughter-in-law succumbed and bought some pretty little bowls. They will hold great memories. Lingering  at Royal Copenhagen was fortuitous because just as we left the shop the Royal Danish Guard came marching by on their way to the Royal Palace.  My small grandson was beside himself with delight at the sight of the soldiers resplendent in their blue and navy uniforms carrying their rifles and marching to their band.

My morning tea
Other notable shops on Stroget include Georg Jensen, the spectacular Danish silversmith, Illums Bolighus for Danish design pieces and Lego, Denmark's famous toy company's flagship store. If you are affluent, or at least want to see where the affluent shop, Birger Christensen is very high end and the only stockist of Chanel in Denmark.  And, of course, there are Louis Vuitton, Armani etc.,  Down at the Kongens Nytorv end is Tiger.  Laid out over several floors this is the Danish equivalent of a $2 shop but with incredibly good products of Danish design.  We spent a long time in there and bought up large.  Tiger is fantastic value, I highly recommend a visit.   Morning tea was at the famous Lagkagehoust bakery with its vast selection of mouth watering cakes and pastries...what can I say?...just yum!

Fresh fish Smorrebrod for dinner

Later in the day we enjoyed a truly Danish fish smorrebrod (open sandwich), washed down with Danish beer, aboard a boat moored on the canal.  The fresh fish had been caught that day and it was delicious.

Pierrot and Columbine at the Oriental Theatre, Tivoli
Our evening's entertainment was to go to the Tivoli Gardens.  You cannot go to Copenhagen without a trip to Tivoli.  Opened in 1843 Tivoli is a wonderful mix of theme park, beautiful gardens, restaurants and, at night, superb lighting.  Many people go to Tivoli to dine and people watch from the many attractive restaurants ranged around a central lake complete with pirate ship and, of course, the rides are a magnet for the young. 

My grandson enjoys one of the original rides

Tivoli has retained some of its original rides and has kept old traditions alive. One of these is the regular performance of the ballet Pierrot and Columbine on the stage of the Oriental Theatre.  We arrived just as it was starting which entranced my grandson. For me the best part of our visit to Tivoli was watching his delight, enjoying the gardens and watching Tivoli's magical transformation as the lights came on around the park.

Tivoli comes to life when the lights go on

  Tivoli is a fun place, a perfect place for a family outing, it is beautifully maintained with glorious gardens and offers something for everyone.  Our visit to Tivoli was the perfect way to end our stay in Copenhagen. 

The lake at Tivoli

Monday, 27 October 2014

Copenhagen sightseeing - from the sublime to the not so sublime!

A cruise on a canal boat is the ideal way to get an overview of Copenhagen so when my good friends, Diana and Ian, happened to be in Copenhagen at the same time as myself and family it seemed like a good way to spend time together in a relaxing way while viewing many of the city's famous attractions. And so it proved to be, gliding along past historic and modern buildings, interesting landmarks, between houseboats, floating cafes and under very low bridges.
The Danish Royal Opera House
Interesting waterfront architecture.

 Danish architects have to be amongst the most innovative in the world. It was, after all, a Dane, Jorn Utzon, who designed the world renowned Sydney Opera House. I am a great fan of Danish design in all aspects from architecture and furniture to jewellery and homewares.  The cruise gave us the opportunity to view some fine examples of Danish architecture, including the spectacular Royal Danish Opera House (2001), designed by Henning Larsen and The Black Diamond  National Library and Museum(1999) designed by Schmidt Hammer Larsen, and so named because the sparkling water of the canal glitters on its black granite cladding.

The tower of Vor Freisers Kirke

 After cruising past the sleek Royal Yacht Dannebrog, at anchor and bedecked with
immaculately attired crew, we also viewed historic points of interest including the Royal Palace the unusual Vor Freisers Kirke, with it's external staircase winding around the spire, and, of course, the Little Mermaid, which was surrounded by hordes of camera toting tourists.

Spot the Little Mermaid

Library, Christiansborg Palace

Later in the day, and on the strong recommendation of our hotel concierge, we decided to walk to Christiania, a "free state" in the heart of Copenhagen.  Just as we set off the rain came so we took refuge in Christiansborg Palace which proved to be a very happy interlude. This vast palace houses Denmark's Parliament, The Prime Minister's office, the Supreme Court and is also used as the Royal Family's reception rooms. There was something uniquely Danish about the room  interiors - in the colour schemes, paintings and furnishings - a style which was new to me. Each room of the many we viewed was interesting, the dining table for 50 being particularly impressive, but the most stunning room of all was vast and hung with huge, brightly coloured, modern tapestries portraying 1000 years of history of Denmark and the world.

Tapestries at Christiansborg Palace

The tapestries were a gift from Danish business to Queen Margarethe II for her 50th birthday but took 30 weavers 10 years to make so were finally hung on the Queen's 60th birthday Each tapestry was complex and demanded our time and attention. This was no problem to any of us including my young grandson who was totally captivated by them.  We spent quite some time there, a serendipitous change of plans due to the sudden rain shower.
Detail from a Palace tapestry

And then the sun came out so on we went towards Christiania, first visiting  Vor Freisers Kirke on the way.  I was very keen to climb the tower but, unfortunately, on this particular day it was closed.  I think the less enthusiastic members of the family were rather pleased!

Photos are not permitted inside Christiania, for obvious reasons!
A short walk and we were in Christiania.  This so called "free state"  was
founded in 1971 when a mixture of hippies, squatters, homeless people and anarchists stormed and took over a disused army barracks. Set on 84 acres it is now home to around 1000 people who live by their own rules, thumb their noses at Danish law and seem to be forever stuck in a 1970's time warp.  It is, to say the least, a weird place. The main street is called Pusher St, which kind of gives you a clue as to what goes on there.  I have never before seen  mountains of hash being sold openly to all and sundry.  It was interesting to note that there was a constant stream of people going in and out of the commune so it is clearly well patronised by other residents of Copenhagen.  It appears that the police and local authorities turn a blind eye to this trade which is illegal under Danish law.  I found Christiania to be depressing and demoralising.  Groups of spaced out pot smokers were lying around on stairways and benches, some looking like very sad individuals indeed, clearly wasted on harder drugs. Christiania is said to be opposed to the trade of hard drugs but it is common knowledge that this also takes place there.  It is scruffy and untidy and most of the buildings are covered in vast psychedelic murals.  There is a market where stalls sell 1970s type clothing, maxi length tie dyed dresses and T shirts sporting cannabis emblems.  Apparently Christiania is the 4th largest tourist attraction in the city and I can understand it, to a degree, but I couldn't get out of there fast enough and was a bit surprised by the concierge's recommendation.  With two small children in tow we were concerned as to how much pot smoke they were ingesting...the air was thick with it.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Copenhagen - Salty Old Queen of the Sea

Every time I say the name Copenhagen the line "Salty Old Queen of the Sea" as sung by Danny Kaye in the 1952 film "Hans Christian Anderson", comes to mind and I can't stop myself from humming it.  It wasn't until I arrived in Copenhagen that I realised how apt that title was. The sea is the life blood of this city which is built on a number of small islands and serviced by canals running right through its heart.  As a New Zealander it is also interesting to note that the city is in the province of Zealand, although New Zealand takes its name, albeit slightly corrupted,  from Zeeland in the Netherlands

It had been a long held desire of mine to visit Denmark, mainly because my parents lived there for a time after I was married and my mother wrote an excellent book about their experiences.  They lived in Aarhus, which I will write about in another post, but also visited Copenhagen and no one can visit Denmark without spending some time in this beautiful city.

I was thrilled to be finally going and fortunate to be travelling with my son, daughter-in-law, five year old grandson and four month old grand daughter.  When you travel alone a lot of the time it is fun to share experiences with others and especially to get a five year old's unbiased, and, at times, amusing, perspective on things.

The Copenhagen Strand, centre
Our hotel, The Copenhagen Strand, was right on the wide Chritianshavn canal which leads directly to Nyhavn, (new harbour)the picturesque and much photographed tourist centre of Copenhagen. It was an ideal location, being also in walking distance to many other of Copenhagen's attractions.

Our first night, arriving tired and hungry and looking for somewhere inexpensive to eat - be warned Nyhavn has tourist prices - we eventually found a hamburger restaurant called Hot Buns.  Great food at reasonable, for Denmark!, prices.  It took a wee while for the penny to drop re the name but drop it did once we noticed all the very attractive waitresses wore tiny, skin tight shorts.  Hot buns indeed.


Hans Christian Anderson's home, narrow building, centre
Next morning, I arose early and did one of my favourite things, an early morning walk.  I love this time of day. I enjoyed watching Copenhagen wake, seeing fishermen preparing their boats, business men heading to work, still sleepy people clutching take away coffees, parents carting their children to day care or kindergarten on specially modified bicycles with child carrier carts attached either back of front, strolling beautiful, quiet Nyhavn before the hordes of tourists descended.  The golden early morning sun striking the tall, ice cream coloured, town houses lining the canal made Nyhavn the stuff of fairy tales, appropriately since it was home to Hans Christian for18 years. Historic wooden ships, yachts and fishing boats line the canal and their crews were sitting on deck enjoying coffee and the morning paper. 

Light house ship, XVII Gedser Rev

 I was intrigued by the light house ship, XVII Gedser Rev, now a museum.  I have to admit I had never before heard of these ships which were anchored permanently in locations where it was too dangerous or unsuitable to build a lighthouse. 

Nyhavn at dusk, lined with cafes
But Nyhavn wasn't always so beautiful, sweet, pretty and calm.  In the 17th and 18th centuries it was a notorious sea port with inevitable drinking, gambling and prostitution rife. Now it's trendy cafes and bars are packed, for lunch and dinner, with well heeled tourists. We found it far too expensive to eat there, however, acting on the tip of a friend found Nyhavn Pizza, a matter of 10 yards from the canal front, a cheap and cheerful pizzeria which we frequented on 3 evenings.  Not Danish cuisine, I know, but the perfect place to take children and feel relaxed, comfortable and welcome. And we made up for it at breakfast with the superb hotel Danish spread of cold meats, cheeses, boiled eggs and pastries.

Fresh fish smorrebrod on a fishing boat
Another evening we enjoyed a delicious fish smorrebrod (Danish open sandwich) on a
fishing boat anchored in the canal outside our hotel.  The fish was caught that day, so fresh it was almost jumping.

Nyhavn became our local spot during our stay in Copenhagen.  We walked it every day at least once, usually more often, and came to love it but there was much more to explore in Copenhagen.

Footnote: My mother, Joyce Reid's book, now out of print, was called  "It Was better in Winter"

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

British Houses of Parliament - an inside view

On a fine, sunny, morning my son and I caught the train into central London and strolled across Westminster Bridge.  I had no idea where we were heading and it  wasn't until we were at the foot of Big Ben that my  son told me he had booked us an inside tour of the British Houses of Parliament.  What a fantastic surprise, the buildings had always held a mystique for me  and I had never thought it possible to set foot inside those hallowed halls.  Needless to say I was pretty excited as we joined a queue with other excited people to pass through full airport style security before entering the buildings.
British Parliament/ Westminster Palace (free photo from the web)

Parliament is housed in Westminster Palace, the first palace on this site having been built in the 11th century, and was, up until the 16th century when large parts were destroyed by fire, the main residence of the ruling monarch. It has been the centre of parliament since the 13th century and is why you will often hear the British parliament referred to as "Westminster".

The tours, which last 90 minutes and are available only when parliament is in recess, take visitors through 11 key rooms. As luck would have it I was in London at the right time.  It required forward planning on the part of my thoughtful son, however, as tickets sell out pretty quickly. Photography is not permitted in all but a couple of rooms so I have used here some copyright free photographs courtesy British Houses of Parliament. Click on the photos to see them in more detail.

Here is a brief outline of some of the rooms we saw on the tour:

Westminster Hall
WESTMINSTER HALL All tours gather in this vast, impressive, cathedral-like hall, dating from 1097. While waiting for our tour to start we had plenty of time to admire the wooden beamed, vaulted ceiling, ponder the history of the hall, spot the carved angels on the rafters and marvel at the many famous people who have passed through.  The hall was used as a court for the trials of Charles I, Sir Thomas More, Cardinal John Fisher and Guy Fawkes, among others.  Royals lie in state here, the last one being Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and, in an unusual honour afforded to a non royal, so did Winston Churchill. Here also foreign leaders have been given the rare privilege of speaking.  In the 20th and 21st centuries speakers have included Charles de Gaulle, Nelson Mandela, Pope Benedict XIII and Barack Obama.

The Royal Robing Room (HP photo)
THE ROYAL ROBING ROOM  is used by the monarch to prepare for the state opening of parliament.  The walls of the room are painted with large frescoes depicting the legend of King Arthur with themes of chivalry and valour.  These frescoes were lovingly chosen by Prince Albert for his beloved Queen Victoria.

The Royal Gallery (HP photo)

THE ROYAL GALLERY After donning ceremonial robes the monarch then processes through this exquisite royal gallery to the House of Lords.  Once again large paintings
adorn the walls, including a depiction of Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar and many portraits of royalty.

THE PEERS LOBBY has a clubby, library type atmosphere and is where the peers meet for informal discussions and to send and receive messages.

CENTRAL LOBBY 18 metres across and 23 metres to the centre of the vaulted ceiling, is the dividing point between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.  If doors to both were open it would be possible to see both the royal throne in the Lords and the speakers chair in the Commons.  This is the place often seen on television where reporters interview politicians.

MEMBERS LOBBY Similar to the Peers Lobby but plainer it contains busts and statues of former Prime Ministers and message boards for the MPs.  It was fun to search the message board for familiar names.

The House of Lords (HP photo)
LORDS CHAMBER  is lavishly decorated in scarlet leather and gold with beautiful
stained glass windows above.  At the end of the chamber is an ornate gold canopy above a spectacular gold throne.  The monarch is seated on this throne for the state opening of parliament. Tiny loud speakers are inserted in the back of the scarlet benches to assist, according to our guide, the elderly, hard of hearing Lords who may be quietly dozing through a debate.

House of Commons (HP photo)
HOUSE OF COMMONS CHAMBER is austere and in stark contrast to the lavish decoration in the House of Lords.  This is a relatively new part of the building, the previous House of Commons having been destroyed in the blitz of the second world war. The green benches will be familiar to most from television reports.  Monarchs are not permitted to enter the House of Commons,  the last monarch to do so was Charles 1 and he came to a sticky end!  Lines are painted on either side of the house over which neither the government representatives nor the opposition may go.  A story goes that these lines are more than two sword lengths apart to ensure that debates did not become bloody, but there is no substance to this story since swords have never been permitted in parliament.

Those are some, but not all, of the rooms we visited.  I loved this tour, revelled in the fascinating history of the place, enjoyed the commentary and anecdotes from our articulate guide and was more than a little overwhelmed by the historical events that had taken place within those walls. 

I would highly recommend this as one of the best things to do in London...just make sure you plan well ahead.  Special thanks to my are a gem!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hong Kong - - Nan Lian Gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery - tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle

  I love Hong Kong and have been there many times, both for work and leisure. I have always thoroughly enjoyed the vibrancy and colour of the streets, the people, the food, just the plain excitement of the place.  As a single woman I have always felt safe out on my own until late at night walking amongst the crowds who throng the streets until early morning. Sadly, the city has been very much on my mind the last few days, for the wrong reasons. I feel for Hong Kong's  residents as they lock horns with mainland China over freedom and democracy. I sincerely hope an outcome is reached which will be satisfactory to all parties concerned.

Thinking about Hong Kong has reminded me of a very special place there that I visited last year. Each time I go to Hong Kong I like to go to at least one place I have never been before.  Last year it was the Nan Lian Garden and the adjoining Chi Lin Nunnery.  What a wonderful find! I am a great fan of Chinese and Japanese gardens so I was really in my element at Nan Lian.  Set on 3.5 hectares the garden is designed in the Tang Dynasty style using the four essential elements of hills, rocks, water and timber structures.  I happily wandered the paths of this oasis of tranquillity in busy, crowded, Hong Kong, spotting no more than a couple of other people along the way.  Apparently it is extremely busy on weekends so I suggest going on a weekday to most fully appreciate the peaceful atmosphere of the garden.

The tea house and carp pond Nan Lian Garden

The gardens are very carefully maintained

Chi Lin Nunnery
Apartment buildings tower above

Opposite the garden, and with direct access is the Chi Lin Nunnery, a Buddhist monastery. This is also in the Tang Dynasty style but is more austere and was my favourite part of the complex.  I had it all to myself so relished sitting in quiet contemplation by the lotus pond listening to the trickling fountains and the monks chanting, all the while trying not to notice the tall residential apartment buildings towering above.   I eventually realised that the chanting was a recording. No matter, it added greatly to the ambience of this serene and tranquil place.
Lotus pond Chi Lin Nunnery


The gardens and nunnery are located in Hollywood, Hong Kong.  From downtown Kowloon take the MTR to Yau Ma Tei and change for Hollywood. The gardens are directly across the road from the station which is below the Hollywood Plaza.  There is no entry fee to either the gardens or the nunnery.  The gardens are listed as the number 4 attraction in Hong Kong on Trip Advisor and the Nunnery is listed as number 5.  I think they are highly deserving of those ratings and strongly recommend a visit.  You won't be disappointed.