I love cities that allow you to be in one place yet feel like you are on the other side of the globe. One moment you can stand on the casino floor and be surrounded by high rollers and bartenders, and then go just a few streets over and feel like you are in the heart of historic Europe. Macau is a city unlike any other. It has historic buildings and cathedrals like Europe, giant casinos like Vegas, and a space needle that looks like Seattle. Somehow it is able to blend very different types of atmospheres together to create a melting pot that has become a major tourist attraction for people all over Asia and the rest of the world.
My day started as I got off the ferry from Hong Kong. I do not know if this is encouraged, but I hopped on one of the casino shuttles that were parked just outside of immigration to get a ride closer to downtown rather than pay for a city bus. They did not ask questions so I just sat there quietly and looked over the map to see where I needed to go next.
One of my first discoveries in Macau is buying food is not required which is great for a cheap person like me. If you walk along Rua de S. Paulo, there are numerous merchants offering free samples of local cuisine. The specialties are almond cookies that are mixed with egg then baked, and different types of meat that are cooked like jerky. Out of all the food that I sampled, and I sampled a lot, the cookies along with “Fillet of Piglet” were my favorite. I wanted to say something to the shop owners about the name, but instead I just took a picture and laughed to myself.
After you have filled your stomach with samples, or you have been run out of stores by angry shop owners like I was, you must see the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The main part of the church was burned in the 19th century, but the front part is still intact. It sits right beside the old fortress that protected the city for many years but now serves as an overlook for the harbor and allows for magnificent views of the rest fo the city.
To continue along with the theme of trying to do everything for free, I found a bus that did not charge and got a ride to the next island over where the rest of the city is located. After spending a few hours touring some of the resorts such as the Venetian, Hard Rock, and City of Dreams, I made friends with a local university professor. We talked for about half an hour, then he asked if he could pay for my cab to the airport. Of course I obliged.
Other than the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau, I did not spend a single penny on any of my activities for the day and saw the entire city, got my belly full from samples, and had an amazing experience while I was there.