Author: Natalya Nimitz

5 Best Things to do Munich (Quick Trip)

Munich is a city of historical wonder and magnificent beauty! It is the third largest city in Germany, but number one in my heart. The city is full of old churches, interesting museums, large parks, rivers (for swimming), lush gardens, delicious German food, and beer gardens. Unlike Berlin, Munich as not bombed during the war so the city still has its original historical charm.

For such a historical city, you might think that there might be a lack of a youthful presence. Yet, this was contrary to my experience. I found that there were more college-aged students that are out and about; compared to Berlin.

Exploring Munich will allow you have a different perspective German culture. Berlin is a modernized city so if you are looking for a more authentic and cultural experience, Munich is the right place. The city has countless landmarks and fun excursion to offer travelers! Here are a few places that I would recommend visiting.

Marienplatz

Take a tour of Marienplatz! This square at Munich’s central core and has been so for over 800 years. The undeniable focal point of the square is no doubt, the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus). The front of the Hall is a sight to behold, so much so, that the Glockenspiel tower attracts millions of tourists a year.

There are countless things to see here, you might spend a whole two days just in this area. Visit Saint Peter’s Church, St. Michael’s Church, Frauenkirche, and the city’s famous beer hall, the Hofbräuhaus. Beer lovers, this might just be heaven!

Visit Saint Peter’s Church

Saint Peter’s Church is Munich’s oldest parish church. It’s beautiful architecture dates all the way back to the six centuries. For a mild climb of about 299 steps, you can see lovely views of the city from the tower. “When it’s a clear day, you can see all the way to the Alps! Admission is €2 EUR ($2.25 USD).”

Grab a cold one at the Hofbräuhaus

Calling all beer enthusiasts!! Munich’s Hofbräuhaus is the world’s most famous beer hall and brings in millions of beer lovers each year. In 1607, Hofbräuhaus was constructed and was used as a brewery. Due to expansion, the brewery itself was relocated to a new place outside of the city.

Today you can enjoy a warm pretzel, comforting German meal, and sweet deserts along with your pint-sized beer. Can someone start a tab please!? People from all over the world travel to the Hofbräuhaus by the thousands for a yearly beer extravaganza call Octoberfest.  

Shop at the Viktualienmarkt

This market is in the center of the Munich and it is an excellent selection fresh fruit and vegetables, food stores, floral shops, souvenirs, and more. This is not just a tourist trap market, it’s a popular spot for the locals to shop as well. Some stalls sell very expensive items, while others are traveling college students dream!

Shop at Kaufingerstrasse

This is a bustling area is great for all shopping needs. This pedestrian friendly area extends for several blocks between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz. There are wide variety of different shops to tickle anyone’s fancy. Independent boutiques, designer stores, and large-scale department store, they have it all. Once you have shop until you dropped, drop into one of the excellent restaurant, bar, cafe, or beer garden to regain your strength. The area is very safe, so don’t hesitate to wander down the side alleys to find those gem-like shops!

Swim at Eisbach in Central Park.

Grab your swimsuit! There’s a surf park in the middle of Munich!

This is the Eisbach, a small channel of the Isar River that runs through Munich’s big, central park. During the summer people of all ages come to play swim, float, and surf it the cooling waters of the water. These river surfers have been drawn to this river since the 1970’s, but it wasn’t until 2010 that it was actually legal to do so.

Even during the winter months, you can see surfers in their wet suits riding the ice-cold waves. If the water is not appealing to you, take a seat on the green lawn that makes up Central Park and people watch, play a game, draw, or have a romantic picnic.

The Berlin Breakdown: Must-see Sites and Food

Stop to see the Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor, as the Germans would pronounce it) in Berlin is one of the most popular landmarks when tourists think about Germany. This significant landmark is not just important to the city of Berlin, but for all of Germany.

It was here that monumental German history was made. The Brandenburg Gate is a strong symbol of the country fight against past traumatic events and its diplomatic accomplishments.

The Brandenburg Gate Design

Can you guess what influenced the design of the Brandenburg Gate? It was the Acropolis in Athens. The similarities between both structures are very apparent. The inception-al work of the Greeks, no doubt!  In 1791, the Brandenburg Gate was designed by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans and executed by Friedrich Wilhelm.

At the apex of the monument is the sculpture of the Quadriga, “a four-horsed chariot driven by Victoria, the winged goddess of victory.”

After WWII, the Brandenburg Gate survived, but with many battle scars. The landmark has been reconstructed since then and the original remaining pieces of the four-horses are preserved in the Märkisches Museum.

Brandenburg Gate Today

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany were reunified. The Brandenburg Gate became the symbol of a new Germany. This landmark is special the hearts of the Germans and it is definitely worth adding to your list of must-see Berlin sites.

Gaze at the Berlin TV Tower

Got signal? Sky-high at about 368 meters is Berlin’s famous TV Tower. It is not hard to miss this structure because it sticks out like a sore thumb. In all of Europe, the Berlin TV Tower is the only highest building that is open to the general public. From the observance level at the top of the tower, you are able to have a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of Berlin!

Holy Grounds! The Berlin Cathedral

This remodeled neo-Renaissance to neoclassicist Berlin Cathedral has experienced multiple architectural renovation and religious moments since the Middle Ages. In order to follow the Lutheran branch of Martin Luther, the church was reformed in 1539 and later between 1747 and 1750 when Frederick the Great came to power the new Baroque structure was developed.

Within Berlin’s Museum Island, the Cathedral sit in all her beauty. Across from the river the runs through the island is a great place to get a full view. From the outside of the Cathedral you can see impressive details such as the intricately-designed raised pulpit, the baptismal and matrimonial chapels. If you chose to tour the inside, you are able to climb up to the dome, see the imperial staircase, the gold altar, and the 7000 pipe organ. After the tour, take a break. The areas that line the river are full of great bars, restaurants, and hookah lounges. Grab a drink, a lawn chair, a notebook (or sketchbook, like I did) and relax!

Berlin Wall Art Project

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and since then (20 year later) it has been transformed from a representation of oppression to an open canvas for individuals to express their freedom. On the parts of the wall that were either still stood or that were reconstructed, several artists rapidly began to creatively make their mark. Some of the stunning artworks are signed by its creator, but many murals remain anonymous. The walls of art are interesting and unique. If you are with a group of friends I would recommend that each person interprets a mural and discuss it! This will be a fun debate.  

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews

In the middle of Berlin is the Holocaust memorial for Germany, known as The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas). Near the end of the 1980’s, German citizens Lea Rosh and Eberhard Jäckel facilitated the construction of the memorial. On 25 June 1999, the “German Federal Parliament took the decision to build the memorial according to a design by Peter Eisenman and to establish a federal foundation to run it.”  The aura of this memorial is not chipper, nor joyful (with good reason). It is comprised of 2 711 concrete blocks in a 19000 square mile field of Stelae. People can only guess what the blocks represent.  Why are the blocks  different sizes and heights? It is a numerical symbol? Categories of the fallen Jews? No one knows for sure. The memorial is open to individualistic interpretation.

Must-eats in Berlin

German food is a very interesting, yet versatile cuisine. Some dishes might seem very appeasing to the taste buds, but there is always that dish that you will fall in love with!  German food is hearty, heavy, meaty, starchy, and delicious-y. Meat and potatoes are the staple for many dishes.

Currywurst (Street-Food)

Currywurst in Berlin is like how pizza is to New York City. On almost every street, there appears to be Currywurst shop that serves this cheap meal hot and yummy. The wurst aka sausage itself is not the show stopper, the secret is in the sauce! It is a combination of the three essential ingredients ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and curry powder. The sauce can be made either spicy (for the heat seekers) or non-spicy (traditional) with a side of crispy French fries. Each plate can will cost between 5-8 Euros.

Schnitzel

This is Germany’s most iconic dish.  Its deliciously tender meat cutlet in a light and crispy batter with a side of potatoes. Salivating yet!?  There are different types of Schnitzel; pork, beef, and chicken. The most famous version of Schnitzel is the Wiener Schnitzel!  A thinly sliced piece of veal-meat is bathed with flour, egg and bread crumbs and then fried in oil or butter until it turns golden on the outside.

Bratwurst

Nothing screams German BBQ like a Bratwurst sausage! They come in a variety of sizes and tastes, but all taste amazing. It is easily prepared. Simply grill the Bratwurst for a few minutes on both sides, add a bun, add some ketchup and/or mustard and enjoy!

Spaghetti Ice

Have a sweet tooth? Spaghettieis is a fun ice cream sundae created by “Dario Fontanella, son of an Italian immigrant and owner of an ice cream parlor in Mannheim, Germany, in 1969.” Vanilla ice cream is pressed through a potato ricer to made the “noodles,”  and it is topped with sauce or rather strawberry puree, and coconut or white chocolate shavings as the Parmesan cheese!

For several decades, Spaghetti Ice has remained a German specialty ever since then. You must try this treat in Germany because it is rarely found anywhere else.  

London at a Glance: 2 Day Travel Plan

London area of the Docklands

Sitting right along the Thames, are the once famous Docklands of London. Beginning 1802, the construction of the docks welcomed business, burgeoning, tightknit riverside communities. Although the docks were heavily bombed from World War II, the docks have developed fully in the last few decades.

After the transformation of the Docklands, it became a great place for tourists who like water and a slower pace compared to that of central London. From St Katharine Docks to the Canary Wharf at West India Docks, the Docklands offers a variety of different places. It’s waterfront streets are known for open views of the river, great restaurants, and nice hotels.

London Cable Car & Emirates Aviation Experience

Why explore on the outskirts of metro London? Right in the midst of the Docklands is the Emirates Air Line and the associated Emirates Aviation Experience. This neat attraction was created as a part of a business partnership between Emirates and Transport for London (TFL). Therefore, you can use the London transit underground card to ride the Air line.

The Emirates Air line is a gondola (cable car) that crosses the River Thames, connecting the Royal Docklands with the Greenwich Peninsula- a brief trip from the stunning O2 Arena. With over 1.5 millions riders per year it is totally safe, comfortable, and quick 0.62 mile ride.

At a maximum of about 300 feet above the river you will have spectacular views of the area. In your car, a short video will play.  It describes the development of the Emirates Air Line and Docklands below.

Be sure to bring your camera long you can take surprisingly beautiful shots of river and the surrounding Docklands. If you hate crowds, much like I do, I would recommend that you get inline for the cable car in the morning after sun rise, or in the evening before the sun sets.

St Paul’s Cathedral

Sacred Grounds

The location on which St Paul’s Cathedral stands has been deemed a religious site almost 6,000 years ago.  Originally, the church was built mostly out of wood, but it was one of the many buildings that was destroyed in the Fire of 1666. Over the centuries the cathedral had been rebuilt many times, yet the historical significance had always remained.

These days, the “services held at the Cathedral include Churchill’s funeral and the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana.”

St Paul’s Cathedral is a colossal cross-shaped church, with striking gold decorations, marble floors, and beautiful ceilings decorated with elegant frescos. Even if you are not a fan of religious structures, this cathedral is a piece of art.

I would recommend buying a ticket at the cathedral itself and to utilize the complementary hand-held multimedia guide. It narrates almost all important details of all the different parts of the Cathedral.

The Dome

Holy Dome! The dome of St Paul’s is the most impressive part of the famous cathedral. The dome composed of three circular galleries. After an initial steep trek of over 200 steps, visitors will reach the first gallery, the Whispering Gallery, that stands about 99 feet tall. “It has impressive acoustic properties so any whisper or murmur at the other side of the gallery can be heard clearly.”

The Crypt

At the Cathedral’s most central point is a large underground crypt where pieces past temples remain, as well as various memorials and monuments. Interestingly, it is a famous burial place for some of the UK’s most influential citizens, including Lord Nelson, Wellington and Churchill.

Let’s get those steps in!

Going to the top Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is no easy trek, but the view from up top seems like the best in all of London. For a total of 528 step and about 365 from ground level, it may cause even fit individuals to huff and puff. I would recommend that you wear a comfortable pair of shoes and bring a water bottle.

PICCADILLY CIRCUS?

PICCADILLY CIRCUS, such an odd name for a public place. With such a unique name, people often ponder about the meaning of it can where it came from. The​ ‘Piccadilly’ portion of the name comes from the year of 1612 when Roger Baker, a tailor who made a fortune selling ​Piccadils.

Piccadils are inflexible decorative neck collars​ worn by high-fashion individuals during the late 17th century. Overtime time the local residents referred to the tailor’s house as Piccadilly, rather than locals referred to the tailor’s house as Piccadilly Hall’.

For the second portion of the name, ‘Circus’, it originates comes from the “Latin word for ring or circle and was commonly used by Romans to refer to public areas like this.” Nowadays the ‘circle’ has transformed into a square, but the classic name has stuck around.

Now, Piccadilly Circus is usually a very popular destination amongst travelers. This bustling circle is not a place that you would want to miss either.  Here is a quick list of what you can expect to see:

Sights In Piccadilly

Open Air Circus: In the 1990’s this pedestrian friendly area was filled with many dancers and gymnasts. Now days you are able to find not only dancers, but other unique street performers and artists.

Coca-Cola Sign: In the mid 1950s, the bold Coca-Cola sign was built. This made it the longest existing sign in Piccadilly Circus. However, products were for the first time advertised in neon lights at this place in 1908.

Statue of Eros

Statue of Eros: Eros is the name of the statue, but that is not exactly what it represents. It actually represents Anteros, “the god of selfless and mature love and not his twin brother Eros, the god of frivolous and romantic love. “ You might want to touch this statue if you are having love life problems.

Afternoon Tea at the Grosvenor House Hotel

It might sound horribly cliché to have tea time in London, but there is no denying that having afternoon tea in a 5-star hotel makes you feel like luxury.  Presenting the pinnacle in British elegance, the 5-star Grosvenor House Hotel at the Park room brings its customers the most notable Afternoon Tea experience. With a contemporary design, fresh flower bouquets, and well-trained servers, the Park Room allows their customers to relax in a classy atmosphere tasting premium tea with complementing snacks.  Frequent customers come here for a retreat from the bustling London life-style.

In fact, just last year the Park Room at Grosvenor House was awarded a Highly Commended certificate at the Afternoon Tea Awards. This award recognizes the highest of quality in  Afternoon Tea service.

An Exquisite Experience

Just a bit of history about the origin about Afternoon Tea. It was  named after “Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who is understood to be responsible for starting the ritual of Afternoon Tea in the early 1800s. “

With a stunning, yet somewhat delicate interior the Park room offers live piano music, along with extravagant chandeliers, innate cutlery and well-dressed servers. Park Room offers a “seasonal twist on a traditional Afternoon Tea experience with delicate pastries  hand crafted by Executive Pastry Chef, Dale DeSimone.”

For price about 50 pounds you are able to chose from an extensive list of unlimited quality Newby teas. Unlimited assortments of various finger sandwiches, scones, small pastries, and an assortment of fresh jams. You might think that the price is too steep for tea and snacks, but you can definably leave with a satisfyingly full belly.

I chose to drink the aromatic chai tea with a selection of black currant and raspberry jam!

If this looks like an interesting experience to you, I would recommend that you make a reservation at least 3 days prior to your desired day. https://www.parkroom.co.uk/

http://www.londontown.com/LondonAreas/Docklands/

https://www.londoncitybreak.com/saint-paul-cathedral

The Basics of Korean Cuisine: Korean BBQ, Raw Fish (회) and Banchan

 

 

Korean Cuisine? Or should I say, the best food on earth? It’s easy to say for me that is definitely the case. Korean cuisine has a wide range, depth, and somewhat odd delicacies. For most of us foreigners who live in a place where Korean food is often very difficult to come by and is very expensive. Not knowing the wide variety of dishes/food that Korean culture has, I only knew of a handful of Korea’s most popular foods; Korean BBQ and Ramen Noodles. While I used to enjoy the beef and shrimp flavors of the cheap TopRamen, I was in quite a shock when saw (and tasted) authentic Korean food. As seen in the pictures above, left to right: Nakkshi (raw Octopus), Pacheon (Korean Pancake), Sashimi (Raw Fish), and lastly Pork Belly (Korean BBQ).

The most notable attribute of Korean food has to be their Banchan, otherwise known as side dishes. I would say that any tasty Korean meal is not complete without a plethora of Banchan. Banchan can consist of different foods, yet generally speaking the sides dishes are usually different types of seasoned or marinaded vegetables (such as Kimchi). Other sides can include other foods such as small pacheon, potatoes, salad and much more. When eating at various restaurants, I began to notice that the more small business; mom and pop shops have the BEST banchan! Not only are they more delicious and but often time you will have more of a variety than at the chain Korean restaurants in Korea.

Sashimi, other wise known as raw fish in Japan is very popular in Korea. Although it is commonly referred to as 회, or as we like to spell it, “hweh”. Personally, this is not my favorite of the many Korean dishes, but sushi lovers would beg to differ. It’s quite easy to understand how Hweh is made to order. A live raw fish, is pulled out of the tanks at the side or front of the restaurant, chopped and served on a large plate in front of you. Hweh may look like Japanese Sashimi, but it is vastly different. They’re using totally different types of fish species with very different textures. Korean Hweh (raw seafood) is a bit more tough in texture, while Sashimi has a buttery-soft melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

These three almost edible pictures are just the surface of what Korea has to offer. From fresh seafood and juicy BBQ meat to gourmet spicy ramen and sweet egg bread. Korean cuisine has a dish that anyone will love.

Korean Hweh

Korean Rap? 5 BEST Experiences of the Hiphopplaya Festival

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Are you a die-hard fan of Korean Hip-hip like I am? Dok-2, Jay Park, Crush, Dynamic Duo, Hashswan, Tablo and several other Korean hip-hop and R&B artists perform at this yearly music festival at the Nanji Hangang River park (Seoul)! In this post I will tell you the best parts/performances of the Hiphopplaya festival, plus I will add in some much-needed advice for those who attend this festival!

#1. The variety of the artists:

Before the festival starts there is a list (a rather long list) of the artists that will be performing. There is a pleasing mixture of the “Big name” artists such as Dok2, Bewhy, Cjamm, Dean, etc. Yet, what I really love are the small/up-and-coming artist that have the most surprising performances. I end up leaving the festival with a few new rappers/singers that I never knew of before! Some of which I am still a fan of today. CLICK on the link below to see the line up for 2017. hhp 3

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Dean and Crush

#2. Being Close to the Artists!

Depending on how early you get to the festival will depend on how close you can get to the front of the stage. If I do say so myself being near the front of the stage has its pros and cons. Pros: Being able to touch the performers, clear view, more crowd energy, GREAT PICTURES! Cons: The pushing of the crowd, not able to use the restroom, standing for hours. Is it worth it to be close? The answer is yes and no, your answer depends on what you want to get out of the concert.

ADVICE: If you want to clearly see the performances and have Top-notch pictures then be sure to get to the event 2 hours early and DO NOT drink too much water (no pee breaks for you). On the other hand, if you would like to casually listen to the music and sit on that comfy beach towel with some Kimbab, then I would suggest coming at whatever time you would like.

#3. The quality of the performances! (The Hype IS REAL!!!)

It’s time to TURN UP when you are at the HIPPHOPPLAYA FESTIVAL! Wear the comfy-est pair of sneaker that you own because you will be jumping and dancing. Korean artists pour their heart and soul into their performances and you can definitely feel their hard work and creativity. At the 2016 festival, I would give the best performance award to…DEAN. He was singing at the top of his lungs along with some smooth dance moves. The crowd feeds off of each artist energy and it is an experience that is unlike other concerts that I have been to before.

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IIlionaire Gang!

#4. Other Festival Activities (Fan signings, merchandise store, food and more)

In addition to the artist’s performances, there are other ‘tents’ that have a variety of merchandise such as concert t-shirts, bags, hats, stickers, bottles and more. They also sold some of the artists older/newer albums as well! I really liked that they had this feature because I like to have keepsakes/memorabilia for my moments of reminiscing. You will also have the chance to meet an artist and have them sign an item. (Sik-k was doing a fan-signing)

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Sik-K fan signing

With such a long festival, there has to be food right? Correct! The food here isn’t your average concert food! There is a pretty good selection of Korean Food trucks that serve a varies of food. Korean pork belly sandwiches, gourmet fried rice, chicken wings, beef tip stir-fry. I am not sure if I was more excited about the food or the music! You definitely have a happy belly.

ADVICE: Traveling on a budget? If you are not looking to spend any extra money on food? No problem. The restrictions on outside food and drinks are expressed, but it is not pressed. I did end up packing a water bottle and 2 rolls of Kimbab in my bag just in case I got hungry, and it came in handy. I would advise to pack any snacks/drinks at the bottom of your bag and place a towel or shirt on top.

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DOK2

#5. Meeting other K-HipHop Friends. 

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Concert Buddies

Whether you traveling with a group of friends to the festival or you are a lone wolf the Hiphopplaya festival is a great place to meet new friends. My first time going to the festival, I was going alone. Indeed, I was afraid of going to a concert alone as a foreigner in Korea, but I did not let that stop me from enjoying myself. There are hundreds of foreigners that go to concerts in Korea, at this festival I was supposed to see so many different people! As I was standing near the front of the stage and just minutes before the performances began, I met a stranger from France who shared the same passion for Korean music as I did. We ended up enjoying the whole concerts together and going out to eat after. She became one of my good friends and I even met up with her a year later when she came back to Korea.

ADVICE: DO NOT be afraid to go alone! It could be the best experience that you’ve ever had. Be open, talk to others, and make new friends.

Usually this 6 hour long music festival is held between the late spring/early summer months (April-May).

Visit the Hiphopplaya website for information about the festival, posts and music videos of current and up&coming Korean Rap and R&B artists, and much more: Hiphopplaya Site

Where to buy the tickets? The tickets are usually sold via Interpark or Melon.

Globalinterpark

Global.melon

MORE POSTS:

TRICKEYE Museum: HONGDAE (SEOUL)

Exploring Gwanghwamun Square at Night

From a Small Town Girl to a World Traveler: About Me

6 Places in Paris That Will Blow You Away!

#1 The Eiffel Tower

One cannot simply tour Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower! Now if you are not a fan of the ‘mainstream’ Parisian attractions you will see it from many different spots in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is about 300 meters tall (984 ft). During the nineteenth century, when it tower was completed it stood almost two times higher than the Washington Monument in D.C., meaning it was the tallest land structure in the world. It took about two years to complete, used about 12,000 iron pieces, and seven million nails to construct.

Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind the creation of the Eiffel Tower was known for his innovative bridge building techniques. His unique work is not only see in Europe, but it is also in America as well. Can you think of which famous landmark was constructed by Eiffel? That’s right, the Statue of Liberty.


During the day time the Eiffel tower is stunning in her own natural beauty state, yet the night views are spectacular. From Sunset until 1am every night on top of the hour, the Eiffel Tower is illumined with golden a covering and sparkles for 5 minutes. So grab a picnic blanket, wine, snacks, and good company to enjoy this stunning light shoe on the grassy yards around the tower.

#2 The Palais Garnier

Builtby the genius Charles Garnier between 1865-1872, the Palais Garnier, also known as the Opera Garnier, is the most impressive attraction in all of Paris! That is definitely a matter of opinion, but you must see it and decide for yourself.

This luxurious masterpiece, was basically inspired by Classic Italian architecture yet completed in a classic French form. The marble exterior of the Opera house gently prepares you for the fancy sensory overload of the interior.   

The Grand Staircase massive. The staircase is housed a huge nave made of pink, green and white marble. It makes you feel as if you are a French royal who is adorned in jewels who is ready to see the amazing performance. In the auditorium there are a plethora of minute details. Without question the main attraction is the famous “Chagall ceiling and the 8-ton chandelier hanging down from it. Chagall’s masterpiece was actually painted only in 1965, replacing a few others before it.” The Grand Foyer is my favorite of the whole Opera House! “About 18 meters high, 154 meters long and 13 meters wide hall,” the grand foyer is a beauty to behold.

The Phantom of the Opera

For those who are fans of musicals or theatre, you might recognize the importance of this Opera House. In 1896, the chandelier counterweights loosened and flew down into the crowd, killing an audience member. This event, was the basis that inspired the legendary Phantom of the Opera. If you are lucky enough maybe you will get to see the Phantom!

No matter what time of year, the Palais Garnier is open almost every day. It is easy to spend over 5 hours in the Opera House, so this is the perfect place to visits on a rainy Paris day. Tickets cost about €11 per adult and for an extra €5, you can get a hand-held self-guided audio tour (which is recommend). This is a must-see!

#3 Montmartre

What is the most charming area of Paris? Of course, it’s Montmarte! Quaint coffee shops and cafes, small art shops, cobblestone alleys, vintage markets, you can walk around for days and find all sorts of gems. Step back into the 1920’s and take scenic ride in an old Parisian classic car or walk around at your leisure. Both methods will definitely make you fall in love with this once before quite village. Get your camera ready!

A brief history of Montmartre

In the past, Montmartre was not considered not to be a part of Paris. Although it is in the heart of Paris, you will feel as if you are in the calm countryside’s of France. It was a small, yet adorable homey village. While most of Paris is modern and bustling with the population quickly increase, Montmartre is stuck in its own charming bubble. Time does not seem to age this place.

In the last 100 years, Montmartre become increasing more popular among tourists. Yet, Montmartre was traditionally a hub for creative thinkers, writers, artists, like Picasso, and Van Gogh. Nowadays, Instagram-able cafés, vintage stores, unique boutiques, are lined up on every street and around every corner.

#4 Insta-worthy shots of La Maison Rose

La Maison Rose is absolutely the cutest and most Pariisian restaurant/café that you can visit in Montmartre. During the summer months, a few tables and chairs are placed on the cobble stone at this outside of the restaurant and you can eat in ‘plein air’. The meal in the picture above, is a delicious (and vegetarian) Montmartre platen from La Maison Rose. A dish here is not cheap, but you can taste the love and fresh ingredients that the chefs use! Totally worth a pretty penny, especially for my fellow foodies! After all, La Maison Rose itself has been open for 100 years, “with artists like Picasso frequenting the establishment during his day.”

#5 Watch artists at work in Place du Tertre

Art lovers unite! Have you ever seen streets filled up with A1 professional artist? Place du Tertre is home to some of the best current artists in Paris. Stunning art is displayed and is of course up for sale to the highest bidder with the deepest pockets. Not all prices are expensive, some are available for reasonable prices (time to haggle!). For a not-so-cheap price tag, most artist will draw or paint you or anything that you request that takes less than 2 hours to complete. Oh and it is CASH ONLY!

#6 Moulin Rouge Show

The most iconic show is Paris’ Moulin Rouge (built in 1885). It was is known for its endless wine and bottomless Champagne parties that made cabaret and French cancan dance very popular. Cabaret dancers are not only female, to popular belief. Muscular males with excellent stature and dance talents add a balancing mix to the performance.

Moulin Rouge is admired for its addictive high-energy can-can dance, with a chorus lines that are sang by the most of elegant of female dancers “ruffling their dresses between a series of high kicks, splits and cartwheels. But there’s a whole range of famous performers who have graced these stages from the likes of Yvette Guilbert, Jane Avril, and Josephine Baker, and not just dancers, but also singers such as American legend Frank Sinatra and France’s national chanteuse Édith Piaf.”

Shows like Moulin Rouge do have nudity, so please do not bring anyone to the show who is underage. Tickets to the Moulin Rouge show are very expensive, but there are several other more affordable options that are just as stunning!

Sources:

https://www.aviewoncities.com/paris/eiffeltower.htm

Must-See Spots in Beautiful Barcelona!

Gothic Architecture

With a large population of 1.5 million people, Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city.

Of the northeastern coast of Spain, is where this artistic city located. Meaning it has one of the most beautiful beaches that I have ever seen. The hundreds of other people who are tanning on the Barceloneta beach would have to agree.  

Barcelona is under constant renovations, but somehow the charms of the old city still remain and are the highlights of the city. Many tourists, notice the crisp and modern public building, yet this the here and now 21st century influence. The real gems are the historic architectures.

Looking for the most iconic “European destination”? Search no more. Barcelona is packed with beaches, outdoor markets, restaurants/shops, cultural activities, museums and churches. With an extensive easy-to-navigate METRO system, it is easy to travel through the city. By using the public transportation, it will allow you more time to see the stunning masterpieces of Antonio Gaudi, Flamenco dancers, large outdoor markets, and more.

Plaça de Catalunya

You can’t avoid the Plaça de Catalunya. It is located at the start of the most famous street in all of “La Rambla” (the city’s center). You might recognize this square in many films, and with good reason. Due to the charming arcitiexture of the square, interesting street vendors, and its local feathery inhabitants (pigeons) it attracts a plethora of visitors. VIsit Plaça de Catalunya to take part in the bird feedings! But, if this is not your forte, you can also shop, eat, and watch a Flamenco performance, Spain’s traditional dance.

Flamenco Dance

Flamenco dance is a passionate and expressive, traditional Spanish dance. The flamenco is usually performed by one dancer. He or she uses repetitive hand clapping and detailed body movements, along with percussive footwork, that echoes through the room. The dance is usually complemented by a singer and guitar player, as seen in the photo above.

Flamenco Dancers

Although Flamenco is a traditional Spanish dance has be influenced by Indian and Arabic cultures. Because of the quick and rhythmic body and foot movements, it is not uncommon for a Flamenco dancers to burn over 800 calories per performance! It takes years of hard work and practice to become a professional Flamenco dancer. You can feel the power and emotions that come from the dancers bodies and facial expressions.

 During the performance expect the tempo and emotion to change with each song, be prepared to leave your jaw on the floor and your money in the tip jar. Located inside the Plaça de Catalunya, is Tarantos Barcelona an excellent Flamenco Dance performance center. Tarantos Barcelona is the oldest tablao flamenco in Barcelona (since 1963) and their performances show their authentic. You will not be disappointed. Tickets are about $17 per adult and can be purchased in advance online at https://tarantosbarcelona.com/en/.

Market- Mercat de la Boqueria

Fresh fruits, candies, pastries, souvenirs, and more! The Mercat de la Boqueria (Boqueria Market) has something that everyone will like. It is one of the most iconic locations in Barcelona. If you are a food lover, be sure to come with an empty stomach. This market is located off of the most famous street in Barcelona, yes you guess it, Las Ramblas.

This large market is the perfect place to buy fruit and vegetables for the locals, yet with an increase tourism there are more venders selling souvenir items as well.  “The colorful market is a 2,500-square meter labyrinth home to approximately 300 stands.”

Barceloneta Beach

Which beach should you go in Barcelona? Well Barceloneta Beach of course! This beach is not by any means a destination for those who want a quiet swim and an undisturbed tan. If you enjoy live scenes with bars, restaurants, street performers, and perhaps parties on the beach, then look no further.

Gaudi- Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Família is a enormous Basilica in the heart of Barcelona. This masterpiece was created by Antoni Gaudi, a famous architect that had one most brilliant minds in history. The construction Sagrada Familia start in 1882, yes that’s correct over 130 years ago.

  “Gaudí played an active role in directing the construction of the Sagrada Família until his death in 1926. He would often request that work be modified and adjusted until it was exactly what he had in mind. However today, because of the nature of the existing designs, his work is partly open to interpretation.”

When walking into the majestic basilica, you are greeted by 10 feet Ivy leaf brass doors. After passing thought these mighty doors, the ceiling opens up to what seems to be a kaleidoscope dream. The infrastructure is decorated with intricate stained glass windows and soring columns.

 Parc Güell (Park Güell)

This is another masterpiece by Gaudi that is equally as beautiful as the Sagrada Familia is the Parc Güell. This neighborhood was uniquely created by Gaudí for one of his biggest clients, Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi. In these buildings you can see the true style of Gaudi and what influences inspired his work.

Take a scenic walk through the trails and become surround by nature, art, and history, This place is a triple threat

“Most buildings have the “trencadis” (surfaces covered with irregular ceramic pieces) that is characteristic of Gaudí and Art Nouveau.” The colonnaded hall (as seen in the picture below) is the most famous places in this park.

SagradaFamilia.org

Lonelyplanet.com

5 Free Activities at the Cherry Blossom Festival 2019 (Washington, D.C.)

Top 5 Free (but fun) activities

  1. Take a scenic bike ride! What better way to stroll into the beautiful, yet busy city of D.C. During the peak times of the festival (Sat-Sun) it will nearly impossible to find a parking spot in the city. Unless you have minor children, the best way to commute into the city is by bicycle. I would recommend to park at Gravelly Point park (next to Ronald Reagan Airport) and bicycle into the city. It is about a 15 minute ride to the hotspot for cherry blossom viewing! This park may not have many cherry blossoms, but they have a large lawn area to watch the planes land and beautiful views of the Potomac River.

Gravelly Point Park

2. Watch the Kite Flying Competition (Bring your own too!) Take a seat on the grass near the Washington Monument and watch over 300 kites fly in the wind! It might sound boring to watch a kite float, but there is something almost magical about how a simple piece of fabric and string can fly to gracefully (Thanks Mozi and Lu Ban! The 5th century BC Chinese philosophers who created the Kite ). Join in on the fun and bring your own kite to fly, you don’t need to be entered into the competition to fly one.

Birds or Kites?

3. Visit the near by monuments and memorials! In the immediate vicinity of the thick of the cherry blossom festival, are the Washington monument, Jefferson Memorial and the World War II memorial. Those who are history nerds will love this and those who aren’t will still be able to take surprising insta-worthy shots. Stroll from one point to the next at your own pace and own leisure!

4. Free music, crafts, and other live events. Like the kite flying competition, there are several free musical performances, craft/games (for children), and informational events about the cherry blossoms themselves. There are booths that are lined up along the trees with countless fun festivities to partake in. For a detailed schedule/list of the DC Cherry Blossom Festival activities, please visit: https://nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/

5. A picnic underneath the blossoms. For those who don’t enjoy the crowds or dislike public activities, fear not, you can still enjoy this spring festivity. Before arriving to the main DC area or before leaving home pack a few snacks, blanket, and your camera (optional). There is nothing like good food and a spectacular spring view! Around the Cherry blossoms (near the Washington monument) there are comfortable lawn areas that allow you kick back and relax.

Take a look at my Cherry Blossom Image gallery for more great shots!

Fun Outside of Seoul! Chuncheon: Dak Galbi and Hanbok (닭갈비 & 한복)

It is easy to get distracted from visiting other smaller cities in South Korea due to all of Seoul’s magnificence, endless activities, glitter, and glam. Seoul is a city with over several millions of people. Who wouldn’t want a bit of a break from the hustle and bustle? Do not get caught up in the mirage. Seoul is a city where there are bottomless things to discover, yet you must take the time to visit various other smaller Korean cities that hold so much history and tradition. Chuncheon is a city of the old-fashioned; with traditional Korean houses, temples, tea houses, Hanbok, and DakGalbi.

Dak Galbi: The food of Chuncheon

Chuncheon (춘천 ) is located in the north-east section of South Korea. It is the largest city in the Gangwon province and it rests at dip that was created by the Han and Soyang river. This peaceful city is widely recognized in South Korea for it’s Korean dish called DakGalbi. Dakglabi is a delicious dish (my personal favorite Korean dish hands down) that is made on a large type of open-faced skillet and consists of chicken, onions, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, dok (rice cake), gochujang (red pepper paste), and other seasonings.

spicy Korean chicken-galbi

Usually, perilla leaves, lettuce wraps, grilled garlic, and rice are eaten alongside this lip-smackingly good dish. If you love this dish as much as I do, you must go to Dakgalbi street in Chucheon. Yes, a street. It is said that the DakGalbi restaurants on this street make the best Dakgalbi in all of Korea and I must say that my stomach agrees.

To make this dish at home follow Holly’s recipe! It is as tasty as the restaurants in Chucheon! Dak Galbi Recipe

Hanbok Rentals!

In Chucheon, you can also live out your Joseon Dynasty fantasy. By renting beautiful handcrafted traditional Korean Hanbok clothing for a day! Hanbok is the traditional Korean attire that was worn by every citizen, about 100 years ago. These days, Hanbok is still very much a part of Korean Culture and it is still worn today for more traditional events such as a wedding or holidays, such as Budda’s Birthday (check out my post about the Lotus Blossom festival). Not only are these stunning clothes pieces of wearable artwork, but were also symbolic of a person’s social status, marital status, and age.

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Hanbok attire

For example, Hanbok with light and bright colors, for example, were usually worn by children and girls, yet more dull colors were worn by middle-aged men and women. Upperclass citizens wore a wide variety of colors, while the lower-class were required to wear white. As seen in the picture above, I wore a yellow chima (치마: skirt), white and blue jokki (조끼: vest)! In this Hanbok, I felt like I was born in Korea during the reign of King Sejong.

There are various Hanbok rental shops in Chucheon! Almost too many to chose from. Sadly I do not remember which shop that I rented from but for about 4-5 hours the rental price of about 30,000 won($27).  That might seem like a high amount, but the particular shop that I went to had other rentable accessories such as hats, fans, purses, and shoes (I am wearing the hat and purse).

Beautiful Hanok Villages

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Hanok village

If you are looking to spend little money, but still have a good time, have no worries. Chuncheon is full of iconic traditional architecture. Hanok (한억)  are traditional Korean buildings/architecture that is very iconic to the Korean culture. Hanok’s are heavily recognized by and crisp liner lines thier pointed cornered roofs. Often times they have beautiful painted designs that cover the upper edges and ceilings of the buildings. Be sure to take a stroll through these streets and soak up the culture!

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Small garden in hanok home

Other attractions outside of Seoul: The Coastal City of Wando: Beaches, Seafood, Good Vibes

More posts: Sky Park (하늘 공원): Korea’s MOST BEAUTIFUL Park!

The Coolest Museum in HONGDAE (SEOUL): TRICKEYE Museum

Check out my personal story: About Me

Exploring Spain: Madrid

Madrid, my first destination that kicked of my summer Ultimate European Tour. Prior to the touch down in Madrid, all I knew of Spain was Paella, mid-day nap (otherwise known as a siesta), bull fighting, and greeting by kissing on both cheeks. As I walked through the lively streets, I struggled to muster up the 2 years of Spanish that I learned in high school. While I was able to say please, thank you, and where is the bathroom, my limited Spanish skills it did not help me much.

Madrid is the capitol of Spain. With over 3 million inhabitants, it is no surprise why Madrid is known to be one of the most lively, colorful, and historically impressive cities in Europe. With hundreds of historical sites, fun bars, and plenty of 5-star restaurants, it brings in thousands of tourists every year. Culturally, what makes Madrid interesting to most millennials is the mid-day siesta and late meal times.

Culture

Siesta is a middle-of-the-day nap that occurs during the hottest part of the day (12-3pm). In the past it was believed that a short nap during the middle of the day would improve one’s health. Nowadays, people use this time to either rest from work or to get other tasks done. Don’t be surprised of you see many stores closed during the lunch hour! Take this time to catch some Z’s of your own.

Food

The later the better! Yet, my stomach does not agree. In Spain, eating is a special occasion and it should not be rushed. Typically, breakfast is between 8-10 a.m. The largest meal of the day is lunch, which occurs between the times of 2 to 4 p.m. The last and lightest meal of the day is a 10pm dinner AKA. tapas.  Tapas are like a snack. These snacks are often ordered in variation to create delicious dinner arrangement.

Traditional Spanish Paella

Another staple of the Spanish food culture is the Paella. Traditional paella is made out of rice, seafood or meat, vegetables, spices, and sometimes squid ink. The word “paella” is linked to the ancient Sanskrit word “Pa” (to drink). The Paella dish above is a less traditional take, with sausage, chicken, artichokes, and peppers.

Eat at the Oldest Restaurant in the World

Restaurante Sobrino de Botín, open in 1725 as inn and became the world’s oldest restaurant in the world. Botín is famously known for its delicious Castilian cuisine, including it’s award winning suckling roasted pork. Whole pigs are roasted to udder perfection in the restaurant’s brick oven that is over 300 years old.

This is not the cheapest of the restaurants in Madrid, yet you pay for quality and taste! For appropriately 60 Euros, the full-course meal includes: a summer pumpkin gazpacho soup, large cut of the suckling pork with potatoes, and a half-bottle of wine (red or white).

For those who are huge English Literature nerds, you might want to add this restaurant to your must-see list. Botin was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite restaurants!

Landmarks

The Devil is in Madrid. No, really he is. The statue of the “Fallen Angel” is a unique site for Madrid’s incoming tourists. This 8 foot statue of Lucifer is the only one in the world that is dedicated to the Fallen Angel himself.

Placed in the midst of the Parque del Buen Retiro garden, Lucifer is 666 meters height above the sea level. The statue is set on top of a marble pillar, in the middle of a beautiful water fountain. The fountain is decorated with deep demonic beings and rather striking reptiles. Lucifer is depicting the very moment that he is cast out of Heaven.

Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is titled as the King of Spain’s “official royal residence”, although since 1967 the king as not resided here. Currently, he lives in a more residential home in the western the suburbs of Madrid (Palace of Zarzuela). The official Royal Palace is only used for state meetings, ceremonies, and special events.

The Royal Palace