Cities on my radar (2)

My last cities on my radar post was not accomplished at all. I mean, I got distracted. I moved to China. So now that I am in eastern Asia, I have a whole new list of places I want to see. These are mainly cities that I wouldn’t have thought about before being in such close proximity to them! Now that I am traveling with a bit more frequency, I hope to keep up this series more.

Busan, South Korea After visiting Seoul, I really feel connected to South Korea. This city has beaches, mountains, temples, and probably a good bike rental system which really gets me going. Some friends tell me to go to Busan, get a beer on the beach and drop some soju in it. Which sounds really fun and wild, but I’m a bit more interested in the mountain views, winding roads, and tiny historic towns. Either way, we know Busan has a lot to offer.

Hong Kong I will soon be checking this one off my list. A more tropical city, a little more expensive than China, but still very interesting. It will be cool to see how different it really is from mainland China. I have heard that it’s really boring, but also that is has some of the best juice anyone can ask for. And who doesn’t love juice?

Osaka, Japan I have not been to Japan yet, but I am extremely excited to go soon. Osaka seems like a great place to start. The seafood, the history of the temples, and then there are the cool dotonbori and and namba areas. Neon lights, street food, and hip shopping.

Cambodia Before moving to China my knowledge about the history of Southeast Asia was slim. I had watched the Ken Burns documentaries about the Vietnam war this past fall. Of course, I had taken history classes in high school about world history but in college I mainly studied west civ. Being in China though, you kind of have to face the facts that you walk by people who have had a harder life than you and lived through things you only heard about from a text book.

So I want to visit every country I can to meet the people, learn about the stories. Cambodia was where I wanted to start because the ruins of Angkor Wat are fascinating and huge, the people there are working so hard to rebuild their country. I will not go there until I read the book First They Killed My Father.

Manazita, Oregon Yeah, super random because I’m currently in China but this place is on my mind. I met someone who took a van trip down the pacific coast and it just made my desire for the west coast even stronger. I have never been! After living in a city like Beijing the smallness of Manazita might be perfect for a trip.

 

So let’s see if I actually make it to any of these places this time! I hope I can cross off at least a few of them, I mean why live in Asia if you aren’t going to see Asia?

Our half-cooked Seoul itinerary

I made a super chatty post about Seoul and my feelings about traveling and moving for my photo dump this month. That made me want to give you a bit more of a “just facts” post about my seoul trip. Maybe you hate it, maybe you like the chatty versions! Either way this should help fill in the gaps if you felt like you missed all the information.

THURSDAY

Arrive at airbnb by 3:30

Daelim Museum

  • Address: South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, 통의동 35-1 대림미술관
  • Directions from Airbnb
  • Walk to Namsan Gymnasium and take Bus 402
  • Take it ten stops to Sejong Center
  • Walk around ten minutes north to the Museum.

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Bear Cafe

  • Address: 24 Jahamun-ro 24-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Directions from Museum
  • Walk toward Jahamun-ro, the main street.
  • Walk North, then turn right on Jahamun-ro 24-gil and then follow the road
  • Arrive at Bear Cafe.
  • Relax

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DINNER:

Nuenejip

  • Must order: soy sauce ddeokbokki, with two additional dishes.

We totally did not find this dinner place. Instead we went to a Thai restaurant in the same area. It was right next to a sushi place, but man we made the BEST choice. It was delicious, the owner was wonderful. I felt really treated.

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BAR

Volstead

  • Jazz bar/speakeasy

We DID find this one, it was amazing. You head down some stairs into a dimly lit room. the music alternated from Santana to Drake but the vibe still worked. A hand written menu, a sketchy portrait of Volstead on the wall, and some antique wall hangings made this bar feel less dive-y and more cozy.

Thursday was the only day I really planned. The other days I just picked out options for us to see what worked best. I didn’t know how easy it was to get around the city or how expensive it would be. It turned out to be very easy. When you arrive to Seoul, head to a 7eleven and ask for t-money cards. We put around 15000 on them, and they cost 4000. They lasted us the whole weekend, it was super convenient.

So next you will find a list of some places I found that I wanted to go, some I managed to get to but some I didn’t.

BREAKFAST

BIM BOM

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Very close to airbnb, great reviews on brunch.

We went here because it was RIGHT across the street from our airbnb and MAN it was DELISH. I miss yogurt a ton so I had a granola yogurt bowl, and Johnny had this intense egg, bacon, arugula crepe situation. Obsessed.

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LittleNeck

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Fresh food, breakfast, lunch, and dinner options highly rated! Small location.

Plant

  • Opens: 11:00 am
  • Vegan cafe, great reviews. Good for a meatless option.

Hell Cafe

  • Opens: 8:00 am
  • Great lattes and coffee, finishes latte at table!

LUNCH

OTTO Kimbap

  • Opens: 9:00 am
  • Kimbap location recommended by caricakes, good location to walk around.

We did eat at OTTO Kimbap and the area was amazing. We walked around, saw a few vintage stores, a record store. A lot of the stores opened later but it was still pretty cool. Caricakes, who is a youtuber, recommended this place once while walking around Itaewon.

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Root

  • Opens: ??
  • Main Ingredient is AVOCADO. Health focused meals.

Bad Farmers

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Health focused food, lacks taste or reviews often say small portion for the price.

The Veggie Eating Bear

  • Opens:???
  • Vegetarian bibimbap! Located in Hong-dae so you know it’s cool.

CAFES

Meerkat Cafe

  • Opens: 12:00 pm
  • Um, it has a meerkat and a fox??

Thanks Nature Cafe

  • Opens: 11:00 am
  • HAS SHEEP

We went to this cafe, it was in Hongdae where we were doing some window shopping (turned into real shopping, oops). It was really cute. The cafe was a little busy so the sheep seemed really tired and overwhelmed but CUTE CUTE CUTE.

WATCO

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Beautiful exterior, lots of good coffee reviews.

AFTERHOURS

Strange fruit

  • Opens: ???
  • Bar and concert venue

NEIGHBORHOODS

Naeja-dong

  • Area near art museum on list
  • Possible date: Thursday?

Sangsu-dong

  • Area near water by Hong-dae
  • Possible date: Saturday

Yennam-dong

  • Area in the top of Hongdae
  • Possible date: Saturday

Gugro-sil

  • Area over the river
  • Possible date: Friday

 

 

Never Bored Cafe

Have you ever heard a song and within the first few seconds, you know it was going to be one of your favs? That’s how I felt when I saw the adorable store front of Never Bored. Bright, silly yellow doodles, a giant giraffe, and plants hanging all over the place. This store screamed JOYFUL to me, and so I dragged Johnny in. The owner was so kind and helped us order in Chinese, I got milk tea and he bought a latte, “Wǒ yào nǎichá hé ná tiě.”

So some quick and practical reason why I will be returning here even though it’s not close to where I live: the tables are high enough that I can cross my legs under them comfortably, the drinks are so good and, honestly, affordable. Going out to coffee can be as expensive as going out to dinner here, so if I am going to spend 60 yuan on two coffees it is going to be GOOD. (By the way 60 yuan is like ten dollars.) The atmosphere is so cute, too. It’s definitely a cafe for chatting and hanging out. Some cafes seem like a quick bite and then leave type of place, and some are places you can sit on a laptop and never look anyone in the eye. This is the perfect middle. I can sit and work, but also not feel weird for talking out loud. This cafe is pretty close to a hoppin street, which is fun for when you come to Beijing and want something hip. So go to Gulou street (a post about this will be coming soon), walk around and eat some street foods in the big crowds, then head over to Never Bored. I recommend the milk tea, it’s so good. The espresso there is also GREAT QUALITY. Third wave coffee seems like it is growing here, so hopefully we will find more and more cafes with great espresso. I know, here I am in one of the countries that know tea best, and I’m going to coffee shops. But guys, I can’t STOP! I love it. I have a list of other ones to go to, but Never Bored just fell into my lap. I had to write about it right away. If you have any recs, PLEASE let me know. I always love hearing from you!

Quebec City Weekend Itinerary

A few months ago I mentioned going to Canada, and I actually did not think it would happen. Until my friend Corynne texted me with some dates, I asked off work, and now I’m sitting in an amazing airbnb, packing from a very wonderful weekend. While Corynne and I were planning the trip, we had general ideas of what we wanted to see in this city. Instead of having a strict itinerary, we just floated around knowing we had three full days to experience this.

We arrived late Thursday night after driving 18 hours from Northern Kentucky to Quebec City. Our airbnb was incredibly welcoming and allowed us to rest up so we could walk around for hours the next day.

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The delicious breakfast from the oddly Lord of the Rings themed cafe

Friday Morning: We walked toward Brugels, both of us are serious breakfast lovers so trying somewhere that offered Montreal style bagels was a must. We sat and talked about our life goals and growing up, while also really enjoying the amazing homemade jam and bagels. Guys, they really are different that the United States! This is located in Montcalm, a lifestyle and art focused neighborhood.

 

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A house from a neighborhood near the Plain d’Abraham

After breakfast, we headed to the Plains d’Abraham. This a super beautiful garden thats peppered with museums, beautiful vistas and a lot of history. While enter this area Corynne and I kept exchanging looks like, “Oh yeah. This is why people love this city.”

This expansive park can lead you straight down to Rue Saint- Jean. It’s kind of like where you really notice Vieux Quebec is starting. This area is full of artists on the street, historic buildings and churches, horses with carriages, and occasionally many tourists.

Still following the flow of both the streets and the people walking along them, you can find yourself near the charming streets of Petit Champion. It was incredibly quaint. When we weren’t taking pictures of the village-esqe houses, we were stopping on terraces for tea and coffee so we could people watch.  If I had forgotten that we were in a french city, this area would have reminded me.

Friday Afternoon: After seeing all the classic charm that Vieux Quebec could offer us, we steered toward Saint-Roch. Guys, this neighborhood!! It has this wonderful grungy, but also very fresh vibe to it. We ate lunch at Le Projet, it was a beautiful bar full of natural light and reaaaally good beer. I asked the waitress for a beer recommendation and she brought me one of their twenty four beers.

After lunch we walked along Rue Saint-Jean, which is the main street of the Saint-Roch area. This street has everything you could want, including a clothing boutique/taco bar. We spent some more time here later this weekend.

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I cannot talk enough about our amazing Airbnb- I’m definitely staying there again!

Friday Night: Since Corynne and I had such an incredible airbnb, we decided to cook dinner and sit in our temporary home. The Canadian grocery store that I went to was not nearly as complicated as some of the french grocery stores I have experienced.

Saturday Morning: Today we headed out early to go to the Chutes des Montmoncy. We drove to the big waterfall, I would recommend going and seeing it but definitely in the morning. Then you’ll skip the massive crowds and get better majestic photos. Another place close by is the National Park, they have a ton of trails online ranked by difficulty so you can plan accordingly. We stuck with just the waterfall though. After the waterfall, we headed to the Ile d’orleans, a beautiful island full of fruit stands, friendly restaurants, and vistas for dayssss. We actually returned here later this weekend.

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Saturday Night: Since we knew someone in Montreal, we decided to head there for the evening. Man oh man, I had done research. I had plans, but nothing could have prepared me to how much bigger of a city Montreal is! In the one night that we were there: the metro was free for an event, there were fireworks competitions, a $40 tattoo and $3 succulent sale (yes, that was one event), the Just For Laughs comedy festival, and we also saw a few art installations across the city. IN ONE NIGHT. I will tell you about this night in a later post, but that is just a taste of the city.

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Sunday Morning: Quebec City has a heavily Catholic background and it’s filled with many beautiful churches. Corynne headed off to mass this morning, while I went off to Saint Roch. I honestly didn’t know what to expect on a Sunday. In Switzerland, this usually meant the hours were very different. In Quebec it seemed that everyone was still out and bustling. I stopped by Maelstrom, a cool coffee bar, then strolled while looking at all the incredible buildings. I cannot stress enough how much you guys need to schedule time for strolling. It’s so important!!

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This city had green every where you look, so many building had vines and plants all over them!
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In Saint-Roch I felt perfectly content to just walk and look at all the amazing things

I also picked up lunch and a sweater at Deux 22, a taco bar and boutique. The clothes here were super adorable, but I did have to stick to the sales rack when picking out a sweater. It was a pretty penny, but worth it to say “oh I got this at a taco/bar/clothing boutique in Canada!”

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The island has so many places that we wanted to get out and stop. I made a mental note make sure I go back in the fall one day!

Sunday Night: When it was getting closer to sunset, Corynne and I headed to Ile d’Orleans again. We had dinner while looking out at the water, imagining what it would be like to live here permanently and if the beauty would wear off. Before we drove off the island, we stopped one last time to get out and take photos. It was the perfect lighting, the perfect weather, and the perfect end to a wonderful trip.

Guys, I cannot wait to head back to this city! Next week we have a Quebec Coffee guide coming, ya know I love my coffee. Have you been in Quebec City? Let me know what you loved about it!

 

 

AWAY Hostel: The best place I never stayed at

Away hostel is one of the best places to stay ever in Lyon.

One day in Lyon, I was feeling like a total grump because my boyfriend was placed in a higher level french class than I was, so I went on a little exploration with out him. I found this amazing hostel and I cannot stop recommending it. I was going through major coffee withdrawals so my instant reaction to see an espresso machine through a window was to run inside. Oh. My gosh.

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The cafe area was super calming, I felt welcome even though I wasn’t a guest. Once I realized it was a hostel not just a spacious AF cafe, I asked for a tour. They have really adorably designed rooms. Um, hi I just was looking at an airbnb in lyon that I thought was a steal. UH NAH. I love the fact that you can have a private room in the coolest part of the city or share a room with other travelers, neither options putting you wildly out of money.

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Now, I am an Airbnb girl. I love the system, I have a ton of experience with staying in peoples homes. Which seems kind of weird, but the idea of a ‘hostel’ just totally scared me. I don’t know why, it’s probably something that was instilled in me by being told I looked like the girl in Taken. You know, the one where the girl travels and gets TAKEN. So I steered clear of hostels until I saw how incredible they could be.

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This place has planned activities every week, live music events and even gives you the option of adding on a delicious looking breakfast. Even though I currently live in America, I still follow them on Instagram (you should too) just to see the drool worthy brunch that they serve up. Currently on their up coming events (besides making us actually excited to get out of bed): live concerts and an aeropress championship. How random, but also great that they can host events that draw in not just the average traveler.

You guys know how much I love Lyon, so when I head back there I will definitely stay in this hostel. Maybe I’ll see one of you there! You can check out their website with all the deets here.

 

Photo dump ft. travel woes from a recent trip to New Jersey.

I just arrived back home after a really lovely memorial day weekend in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. I went for a wedding, it was super beautiful. I saw so many friends from college, the bride and groom are such inspiring people to me, my roommate from college stayed with me for a bit, so it was all really great. But not without a ton of travel mishaps.

I had a flight out of Lexington at 5:20pm, and I was supposed to arrive around 7:30 or 8pm in Newark. Unfortunately, because of a millions different reasons, my flight did not take off until 8pm. Yeah, it was an insanely long time in the airport, and there is nothing to do in the Lexington airport. Once I arrived in Newark, I spent about 30 minutes waiting for my one checked bag, I bit the bullet and asked someone if it could be lost.

and it was!

So I have to complete a full on top model challenge before going to the wedding the next day. It was a huge success, I bought a dress and shoes and make up all before 9 am! It was very intense. If you guys don’t already, make sure you pack all of the essentials in your carry on. I decided to check my bag at the last-minute since I had wedding presents in it, so I really should have made sure I had some kind of outfit plan for the next morning.

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I also headed into New York City again, this time with my boyfriend for part of the day. We met up with my parents later to see a show and go to dinner.

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We walked up through Central Park, I reenacted a scene from Little Manhattan, ate at Tom’s diner for lunch where I made many jazz sounds, and took the subway. A very exciting time. Something I used when I went into the city was an app called Cool Cousin. It features interesting maps made but unique people who live in various cities. It’s kind of like the USE-IT maps I’ve talked about before, but I like how you can find a person who is similar to you and use their specific maps. Stay tuned to a travel app specific post coming in a little while- and no, google translate will not be on there.

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The rest of the weekend was spent canoeing or playing games with my little sister. Then I headed home to get on with my regularly scheduled trivia games nights. Did you know that every night in Lexington there is trivia going on somewhere? It’s true. Below you’ll find photos from my week, a visual story of what I see and do weekly. IMG_0498

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Lyon: Snacks

Best Bagels, Mercière: Bagel stores. They always seem to be better in Europe, but very American themed. The bagel shop I went to in Lyon is not an exception. It even offers American sodas and Arizona Tea to go with its pictures of NYC on the walls. If you’re feeling homesick for some good old Jif peanut butter or Big Red Soda, you can find that here. There are other locations of this bagel shop around town too, if you find yourself craving a bagel, but you’re far from this place.

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Crock and Roll: A very cool shop that features a twist on the classic croque monsieur. It’s settled in Croix Rousse, my favorite area of Lyon, and it even stays pretty popular. This could be because they have a Nintendo available for play, and a bathroom with some pretty weird ceiling art? I don’t know, but if you’re heading there soon, I just looked at the new spring menu. It looks delish.

Frite Alors: As an American, I guess if I was looking for easy French access, I could just go to Canada, but instead I went all the way to France. And there, at Frite Alors, I tried the Canadian classic, poutine. This spot seems like a really fun place for friends, and for just a nice hang out. The food is super delicious, Johnny and I both got fry dishes (because duh) and I scarfed mine down.

Celest: Okay, maybe this shouldn’t be in a snacks post… but seriously, I have to mention it somewhere! The bar does have snacks, as well as great cocktails that change seasonally. Charcuterie is one of my favorite things to order because I’m such a snacker, and with this plate you get so many bits and pieces to munch. If you have saved a night to treat yourself, I would do it here.

Do we dare talk about bouchons? Just walk anywhere in Lyon, and it is jam packed with bouchons. I could tell you which ones are the best, but I think part of going to a bouchon is walking through the streets and picking the one that feels right for you. Look at the menu, discuss the options, and then choose. I will tell you that Daniel and Denise is one of the most popular, for good reason too. So mark that down in your notebook. IMG_4691

Honestly, if you guys see or hear about a restaurant, TELL ME! I always say this. I love getting to make notes of places to visit for when I return. Also, you can always browse Le Petit Paume — they have reviews of the restaurants in Lyon.