After 3 years of residency in this fine city, I realize that except for the numerous restaurants I have been to, I have pretty much avoided popular places in Seoul like a plague. I always have a tendency to avoid tourist traps, or generally places with too many people… you get my point.
Thank God(?) I now have 2 friends fresh from Europe who are eager to soak in the atmosphere of this city. As much as I hate to travel outside of the Sinchon-Edae vicinity these days, courting these two curious folks to popular places in town is a perfect excuse/motivation for me to actually look at Seoul from a non-foodie POV.
Ugh I speak too much. Let’s cut to the chase. Yesterday was the biggg day for Seoulites because it was the time for the annual firework festival. I hate fireworks, I think that it is a waste of money, but due to various reasons I listed above, I decided to go out and have fun (lol). Determined to avoid the insane crowd of firework-lovers by the river bank, the friend and I aimed to a higher ground.
If there is only one place to go in Athens, I’d head straight to Anfiotika.
Don’t get me wrong. Athens is quite an amazing city. The Acropolis is mindblowing. The food amazing and the coffee incredible. Athens, in a way, reminds me a lot of Hanoi–that bustling, chaotic city with too much heat and too much traffic. Just like how I cannot quite identify my feeling for Hanoi, be it love, fear, hatred, confusion–I am not sure how I felt about Athens. Athens is so different from the Western European cities I have been to; it possesses a totally different vibes from Mediterranean destinations I have visited. I tell everyone I know to visit Athens because, heck, it’s cheap, and I usually stop there.
But if there is one place that makes me want to go back to Athens, again and again and again, it must be Anafiotika.
As I mentioned earlier, taking in the view of Lisbon from one of its many miradouros is hands down the ultimate Lisbon experience. But don’t ever think only from a high altitude can you enjoy Lisbon’s distinctive beauty, a walk through the streets of this fine city, especially in Alfama–the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon, is nothing sort of an incredible experience.
Finally, finally I got around to write about Lisbon–the last city I visited during my winter break. I booked roundtrip tickets to Lisbon on a whim, simply because the prices on easyJet were tempting and because I wanted to fill my free days with as much traveling as possible (come to think of it, during my 5 week winter break, I only spent 3 days at home!). I did not expect much, to be honest. All that I had known of Lisbon and Portugal were 1) my favorite pastry in the world aka pastel de nata aka egg tart came from Lisbon so I was sure in for a treat and 2) Portugal is not Spain. Confident with my immeasurable knowledge of the world, I hopped on a late flight and arrived in Lisbon at 11pm on a fine winter night.
Warning: heavy flow of photos ahead.
I’m sure we all have heard about the fabled Keukenhof of the Netherlands, otherwise known as ‘the garden of Europe’, where, every Spring, around 7 million bulbs of flowers vie with each other demanding we miserable ugly human beings’ attention and admiration. The legend is true. But, oh, the legend you hear is nothing compared to what you can actually see in Keukenhof in real life.
As an expat living in the Netherlands (or anywhere in Europe for that matter), not making a pilgrimage to Keukenhof from mid-March to mid-May every year is a crime. Simple as that. I am all for a clean record, so, yesterday, amid a shitstorm of papers, assignments and other unnamed tasks, a friend and I still braced ourselves for an adventure into the real heart of this windmill-tulip-clog-cheese-dike country.
Prepare yourselves for the best of cherry blossoms at Kyunghee University because boy do they bloom and beam right to the depth of your soul.
Continuing with my own edition of spring destinations in Seoul, this time I’ve chosen two places that I think are what make this flower admiring season a bit different from your experiences (if you’re not from Korea of course). Introduce to you Deoksugung palace & Changgyeonggung palace.