From North Point station we took the MTR to Sheung Wan as we wished to take the Turbojet ferry to Macau. Ferries depart at 15 minute intervals on hydrofoil boats, the journey taking only one hour. A single fare is HK$164 and there is no discount offered if you buy a return. We just purchased outbound tickets so that we had the flexibility to return when we wanted. Remember to take passports as these are required when visiting Macau. Allocated seats are provided and these are very comfortable – so comfy in fact that I fell asleep for most of the crossing.
The historic centre of Macau is quite a long walk from the ferry terminal but there is no need to call a taxi, just cross the road to the bus station. Here you will find dozens of coaches offering free transfers to the casinos both in the town centre and out to the Cotai strip. Anyone can take advantage of the free buses irrespective of whether you wish to use the casino hotel facilities or not. As we wished to start our sightseeing in the historic quarter we boarded the ‘Lisboa’ bus which saved us a good deal of walking. We did take a quick look around this casino hotel, one of the oldest on the island.
Leaving the hotel, Senado Square was just a short walk away. This UNESCO World Heritage square forms part of the historical centre of Macau. With its Portuguese architecture and mosaic tiled pavements it is reminiscent of Lisbon. After a welcome cup of coffee we climbed the steps to the Ruins of St. Paul’s – the most treasured icon in Macau (see main photo). Only the staircase and facade remain today of the 16th century church of St Paul. To preserve the facade it has been reinforced at the rear with steel girders.
Retracing our steps we bought some Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts) which tasted delicious. Hong Kong dollars are widely accepted in Macau but change is often given in Macau Pataca. We wandered along the narrow streets filled with locals and tourists then caught a bus from near Senado Square to Coloane Village in the south of the island. The fare was $6.40 and no change is given so we overpaid slightly as we did not have enough small change.
Coloane Village is a remarkably unspoilt village with a colonial centre featuring some fine examples of Portuguese architecture. One of the reasons for our visit was to have lunch in Lord Stow’s Cafe. Andrew Stow was an Englishman who opened a bakery in Coloane in 1989, he wasn’t a Lord but used this title for his bakery and later in the same year devised his own recipe for egg tarts. These have since become an icon in Macau and there are now three cafes in the village. Our lunch, in an elegant dining room, was served in a quintessentially English style, the menu included both English and local specialities. The waiters were very friendly, chatting to us and lunch was of a high standard.
Strolling through the village, we came to the waterfront where we could see mainland China just a short distance across the bay. It was very peaceful here, a contrast to the hustle and bustle of central Macau.
From the village square we took a bus to the Cotai Strip (think Las Vegas), this journey only took ten minutes and cost $5 each. The newer casinos are clustered together in Cotai and extensive building work is underway of more themed casinos. A replica Eiffel Tower was nearing completion, part of the soon to be opened ‘Parisian’ casino and a monorail is also being built.
We headed to the ‘Venetian’ with its replica Bridge of Sighs, Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square. Stepping indoors it’s opulent interior creates the impression that you are actually in Venice. Visitors can take gondola rides and be serenaded by a gondolier as they float along. The complex is lined with high end designer stores and, of course gaming rooms with their card tables, roulette wheels and slot machines.
When we were ready to return we followed signs to the shuttle bus area and took advantage of the free shuttle bus back to the ferry terminal. After purchasing tickets for the next available ferry back to Hong Kong we welcomed the ferry ride after a busy day of sightseeing.
There was then time for a rest back at the hotel before eating dinner in a pleasant local restaurant nearby.
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