I completely forgot this post up to share with you all. Oops!
Children’s day is a nantional holiday in Korea was celebrated annually on May 5. If you are not familiar with Children’s Day, it’s a day dedicated to family and encourages parents to get out and spend time with their children. Schools are closed and parents are off. It’s such a wonderful concept, so meaningful and completely unlike the generic Hallmark greeting card holidays.
The traditional places families head to are children’s parks in almost all communities here, amusement parks, zoos, or to the cinema for an entire day dedicated to just fun and games! Places are just packed! Of course bumblebee and I took a stroll downtown and had to get in on the action. Getting to see all these cute little kids run around just full of smiles from ear to ear made for such a wonderful afternoon!
Enjoy some of the photos I snapped from the day. (I’m partial to the fifth photo down… USA booth food representation…. Hmmm….)
Over the weekend we attended our dear friends wedding on the east coast of Korea. The couple opted to have the wedding at the dive shop that we’ve all come to know as our home away from home on the weekends.
Friday evening we got off to a bumpy start with a flat tire along the way in the middle of nowhere…still two hours out from our destination…Lol… Thanks USAA…ehh…or not (lesson learned). So just how many did it take to change a tire? Thankfully with help from some friends that coordinated with the local police station, an ambulance, police car, a fire truck, and a local garage all came to our rescue. Unfortunately we were missing an important piece of the puzzle, the lug nut wrench. Who would have thought? Lol… Poor Mr. B he took it out of the queen Volvo and put it in my car because he noticed that I didn’t have one. He was going to pick one up to replace his, but forgot. Hence our Dilemma. Eek. Eventually we got on the road after some grumbles, f-bombs, and Korean photo ops.. Yes, after the tire was fixed they wanted a photo with Mr. B shaking the local policeman’s hand and bowing to one another. Again, we’re going to be featured on some side of the road signage on the importance of being prepared. We were again back on the road, thankfully so because we were transporting the booze, THEE dress, and dinner reception decor. Basically the party don’t start till we roll in. We can laugh about it now. We rolled in and rolled right on into bed.
We cannot take credit for the cake, it’s the one item we didn’t transport. The poor thing just didn’t make it all the way in and out of Seoul and to the East Coast. The top slid off the cake and the fondant shaped sea creatures drooped and reshaped themselves. The lovely Ms. Louise and I did our best and tried to shift some of the fondant. At the end of the day it all worked out.
The wedding and dinner reception was small but in the best way possible, sweet, and intimate. It was the perfect recipe for a relaxed and very memorable day. There were lanterns that provided romantic candlelight on the dining tables and twinkle lights strung from the ceiling of the tent above. Swoon! It was awesome getting to see all the various little details the bride and I discussed actually come to life.
The guest toasted with fabulous reds and whites the entire night, and dined on Greek salads, savory potato curry tarts, fresh grilled corn on the cob, grilled burgers, bratwurst, and vegetarian kabob. Many heartfelt thanks to Roy, Jeff, Mark, and Mr. B for being grill sergeants and keeping our bellies at bay throughout the evening.
The entertainment was absolutely perfect with live musical performances during the ceremony and throughout the dinner reception from Ms. Laura Kenny, or Kenny as she’s known to the group. Wow can this gal sing! Download her song on iTunes here! (Shameless plug)
The newlyweds brought together such a diverse group of friends. Everyone just clicked so well and really enjoyed the good company. It was wonderful getting to meet in person all the faces and names we had heard so much about. By the end of the evening we were all good pals sharing laughs as if we had known one another for longer than 12 hours.
How was your 4th of July? Did you get to celebrate with a good ol’ cookout? Take in the local fireworks display? We hope it was possibly your best one yet!
We didn’t do a typical Independence Day celebration this year, but then again are we ever doing the typical over here? Nah… But boy did I miss me some grilled cheeseburgers, bratwurst, and fresh corn on the cob, oh and our families too! Thursday evening right after work we grabbed some snacks and hit the road south to meet up with our friends at a ferry port. We purchased ferry tickets to visit the island of Ulleungdo and Dokdo. These islands are located off the coast of Korea have been on my bucket list since moving abroad. Yippee I get to now cross them off! I love getting to cross things off my list!
Friday morning we woke up early, ate our Korean breakfast consisting of a rice porridge, kimchi, fresh tomatoes, and coffee. Lol…of course we tried it, but as you know there are just something’s you can never shake…mine is an American style breakfast. I opted for yogurt, a banana, and coffee.
We boarded the ferry that took us 3 1/2 hours to reach the island of Ulleungdo. Here is a link to see more about the island. http://wikitravel.org/en/Ulleungdo
The island was absolutely beautiful! We loved how preserved and untapped it still is! There is hardly any industry, except for tourist and fishing. However even with the tourist there isn’t a ton of large luxury hotels eating up the land. The water was so clean, so blue, the air was so fresh, and the land was so lush and so green! I really had to keep pinching myself to remind myself that we were still in Korea. It was just that breathtaking.
We rented a large passenger van and cruised around the one main “highway” stopping off at all the little must see marks on the map from our car rental guy. It’s really easy to travel to all the locations, park, and walk. You honestly could do the island in one day if you rushed it, but we took our time, plus we had the entire weekend.
The guys got in some dives and were really excited about the clarity of the water and just how much sea life there was. Mr. B is already putting together a fun dive trip for the 38th Parallel divers. Something to stay tuned in for.
One morning we took another ferry, another hour and 40 minutes to Dokdo island. Here is the link http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264142 . The really awesome history about Dokdo is that Korea is constantly fighting with Japan over it, and still is. Japan has even wrote in history books that they teach their children that the island is theirs.. But Korea unfairly took it….but it’s not the case, and they found historical documents showing otherwise. While it is rather close to Japan, Japan would love to have it for the fishing rights. It’s pretty interesting. Oh and Korea has one resident living on the island. Also Korea is manning the island with stationed Korean police.
The ferry ride seemed much longer because we ended up cruising over two fishing nets that got wrapped up inside of the propellers. Oops. They did a number on the boat because it delayed our trip significantly. In the end they couldn’t cut away all of it and decided they needed to service it once we docked back on Ulleungdo. I felt sorry for the group leaving Ulleungdo that night that was scheduled on that very boat.
I think the a-ha moment was when someone decided to take a smoke break in the restrooms and the smoke detectors went off. I just sat looking up waited for the overhead sprinklers to kick on, luckily they didn’t. I’m not sure where the disconnect was with the passenger and all the signs posted in Korean not to smoke, smoke free vessel, etc. Eh…. I guess sometimes the struggle is that real.
We were nervous because the day we took the ferry to Dokdo island the waves were larger and there was the possibility we wouldn’t be able to dock on the island to get our chance to set foot on it. Thankfully we were able to dock and had some time to snap a few photos. It was really neat!
We met an older Korean gentleman, actually two different ones. Both such characters absolutely worth notating for future memories. The one worked on the ferry and kept a personal log book of guest he’s spoke with, said hello, blessed. He insisted we sign his log book and that we tell him where we were from in the states, after responding he proceeded to give us many thumbs up. We felt loved nonetheless. The other character sought us out while in line awaiting to board the boat back to mainland Korea. He handed us his business card and stayed he wanted us to return back to the island in August for a 5k that we could run or walk, all expenses paid. This man meant business and stood there wanting confirmation with guarantee we were coming. Sweet man. He then pulled us out of line insisting we get a photo with him in front of the boat, again posing with the thumbs up. Lol, I see a pattern here… So we got the photo, he seemed happy, but then later pulled just the two men out for a photo. It was harmless, but the joke was that our faces were now going to be on some Korean noodle restaurant sign that endorses just how delicious the noodles are. Do us a favor and keep your eyes peeled for us if ever in Korea. So that wasn’t the last of him, once on the boat he then purchased us all cold canned coffees and passed them out to our group. Too kind!
Fortunately and unfortunately, MERS the Middle East respiratory syndrome, has really made a dent in the tourism for Korea. Its made for some pretty fantastic advantages for travelers such as less people and discounted prices at some attractions. Almost all the attractions on the island were empty and we almost always had a discounted price.
The entire time we were on the island we ate what the locals ate, mostly seafood. Honghapbap-mussels with steamed rice, haemulcheon- seafood/green onion fried pancakes, sanchae bibimbap, ojing-eo bulgogi -squid grilled at the table with vegetables and hot pepper sauce. We tried the local flower shrimp, chicken shrimp, tiger beef, and frequented and befriended a local coffee shop.
The shrimp was out of this world! We were blown away by the taste and the fact they were only boiled. No old bay seasoning here folks. We would have ate sooooo much more, probably our weight in shrimp, but at 80,000 won a kilo…. Eek…bit pricey.
The tiger beef was outstanding as well! Again pricey coming out at 100,000 won per couple, we had three couples. But where else are you going to get to sink your teeth into a local delicacy like the island tiger beef? Nowhere but Ulleungdo so you just have to do it once.
The coffee shop was fantastic! The owner so nice and had excellent taste with his quality of bean choice. We highly recommend getting a nice treat there after a meal. Try the waffle, trust us it will not disappoint!
All and all the trip was wonderful and getting to pal around on the island with some good friends made the trip that much more! So if you find yourself needing to get away from Korea without getting to far away, check out the mysterious island of Ulleungdo.
More helpful information about traveling to Ulleungdo Island:
After spending a few days in Paris, we decided to get out of the city and booked a tour to visit the Normandy D-Day beaches, museum, and American cemetery. The tour was very informative, yet a rather emotional adventure for the both of us.
Landings on the beaches of Normandy took place over 80km of coastline that are divided into the five separate spots of attack. The beaches each named after the local men that fought on them. American forces landed on Omaha and Utah, British troops landed on Sword and Gold and Canadian forces took Juno beach. I thought it was a neat little part of history learning the reasonings behind the names of the beaches.
The weather was perfect that day! The sun was shining and the wind and sea gave off a gentle calming breeze. I remember walking along the coastline among the wild flowers thinking to myself just how beautiful this place was, how serene the countryside was, and how that very beauty of the surroundings made it quite difficult to imagine or comprehend the acts of war that occurred on the very steps we were talking. However seeing the bullet holes in the ceiling of a remaining bunker at Point du Hoc was evidence enough to quickly snap you back to reality and make realize just where you were.
Paris truly is a walking city. It’s incredibly convenient and very easy to get navigate on foot, or public transportation…well….Unless your iPhone compass gets messed up due to a magnet on your phone case and leads you 5 miles in the wrong direction. Oopsie…. Did that really happen? If you see the Mr. Casually ask him how his 5 mile excursion For his wife to grab some salt went. The below is a screen shot that shows you the spike in steps that we took while in Paris. It was really awesome to see our progress once we got back to Korea just how far we covered on our entire trip.
To give our legs a bit of break we did purchase 48 hour hop-on hop-off bus passes through the Big Bus tour company. I know, I know, our friends teased us a bit and gave us some wise cracks on our age, lol we hear you! The hotel helped us arrange the purchase, the closest stop was very convenient to our hotel as well. It actually worked out quite nice because the day we decided to use it, the morning and early afternoon it rained. We liked that there were free headphones to take and grab and plug into and listen to the audio as it provided a guided tour through Paris. This gave us more background and history on different buildings, monuments, etc. We also enjoyed the fact that it was a great way to explore Paris and enjoy the unrestricted views of architectural beauty from the upper deck. We captured some awesome photos and video this way.
We hopped off the bus and took the underground tunnel up to the Arc de Triomphe. the Arc stands at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the “Place de l’Étoile”, and is located at the western end of the ever popular Champs-Élysées shopping district. We caution not to be that guy that tries to jet across the heavily traffic congested roundabout, there are NO crosswalks. To give some perspective, 12 roads converge here and there is a lot of horns blowing. There are two entrances and exits you can use to directly access to the Arc in the center.
A bit of history we learned about Arc de Triomphe was that it was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon to recognize French soldiers, unfortunately Napoleon never had the opportunity to marvel at it because he died before it was completed.
The Arc de Triomphe is just a magnificent structure. Travel photos and magazines just do not do the monument any justice when showcasing the size. Standing there in person we felt like ants! We just couldn’t get over the size of this monument! It depicts and represents not only history of fallen soldiers and wars, but pure elegance, incredible beauty, and just outstanding design, symmetry and detail.
We purchased our two tickets for a small fee and ascended over 280 round steps up the inside of the monument to the very top. There is an option to take an elevator if need be. Many travelers provide reviews and say that this is a must do and see when visiting Paris and we absolutely agree. Once we stepped outside we were swept away with the 360 degree birds eye view of the city of Paris. Stunning! After seeing the views from high above in the bell towers of Notre Dame de Paris, I thought how could there be any better views left for us? Much to my surprise and delight the views were just as moving and breathtaking.
I remember the moment we were driving into the city from the airport and I was getting glimpses of the Iron lady standing proudly as we zipped off to our hotel. I started to get teary eyed because I couldn’t believe that moment was real, I was seeing the Eiffel tower in person!! Lol then I noticed the big ball hanging from the center of the tower for the French open. (Mr. B the comedian refers to this ball as the “truck nuts”.) Regardless those glimpses were so enchanting!
From there we leisurely strolled to the Eiffel Tower to purchase our tickets and climb up the steps. Luckily we went early enough there was essentially no line, nor wait. Tip: If you can, take the steps! It’s an awesome workout to all the French food you know you’ve been pounding during your stay, the views are just incredible, plus you can save a few euros too!
We ascended up until we couldn’t anymore. From that point we took an elevator, got out looked around on the first observation deck, than took another elevator to the very top. When the elevator doors opened, I think I recall having to pick up my mouth up from the floor. Again…. These views! Magical!!
After our crazy hike up the tower, we strolled to a near by market and grabbed some goodies (Baguette, wine and macaroons)for a picnic to continue with the celebration of our wedding anniversary. I come from a long family history of picnickers. In fact, my grandmother would put together what I remember as a little girl, some rather lavished picnics and tea parties. So you can say there is something about a picnic that just makes my heart happy. I knew as cheesy as it might sound, when we were going to Paris, we had to picnic under the Eiffel!
Looking at these pictures again takes me away and makes me feel like it was only yesterday that I was lying under the tower on a beautiful spring day enjoying a delicious picnic at the Parc du Champs de Mars (Park of the Field of Mars) with the Man of my dreams. Someone please pinch me, I need to snap back to reality….
Later that evening after dinner we made it a point to stroll back to the park near the tower, watch the sunset and catch the evening show of the tower sparkling. We snagged a park bench to ourselves, people watched, avoided eye contact with the wine and selfie-stick peddlers, and enjoyed just being in that very moment together. Cheers Mr. B!
Website: Eiffel Tower Cost: Here Schedule:
from 9 a.m. to midnight from mid-June to early September,
from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the rest of the year,
At Easter weekend and during the Spring holidays extended opening hours to midnight.
Woo-hoo!! Our Paris multi-day video is finally live thanks to Mr. B!
Location: All over Paris, France Click on 4k resolution to view this amazing city in Super HD. It is worth the download wait we promise! Feel free to let us know what you think.
Whew! Can you believe we climbed up and back down 387 narrow spiraling steps (there is no elevator) to the top of The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. Absolutely worth every single step for these unobstructed views of the magnificent city below. It was very clear why more than 13 million people visit the cathedral each year. (Thanks again for the recommendation Katie!)
To climb the to the top tower there is a small fee. The entrance is located outside of the cathedral, on the left-hand side of the facade, Rue du Cloître Notre-Dame. We waited in a line for about an hour or so. It’s not as bad as it sounds, we grabbed an orangina and munched on a baguette sandwich from the cafes that line the street and listened to the bells chime every so often. The ideal plan would be to start out your Paris city exploring by starting here to avoid a lengthy wait. Once you reach the top besides the breathtaking views of Paris, the towers offer an opportunity to get right up close with the many guarding gargoyles and grotesques. You also will step inside the bell tower and have the opportunity to see the 17th century Emmanuel bell, weighing in over 13 tons!
While we didn’t find the Victor Hugo’s Hunchback up in the bell tower, we did find the entrance to go inside the bottom portion of the Cathedral just out front. There isn’t a fee and the line of people waiting to get inside moves rather quickly compared to the bell tower wait. Once we were inside our eyes had to adjust because everything was very dim, lighting only provided by the glowing votive candles and beautiful light shining through the beautiful rose stained glass windows. We both wandered around in silence just gazing around taking it all in. Magnificent!
To take in the views from tower above:
Open everyday April 1st – September 30th from 10AM to 6:30 PM
July and August on Friday and Saturday, from 10 AM to 11 PM October 1st – March 31st from 10 am to 5:30 pm
*Last access 45 mn before the closure
*Closed on January 1st, in May 1st, December 25th
Cost: 8.50 Eur per adult
To tour inside Cathedral:
Open every day of the year from 8:00 am to 6:45 pm
(7:15 pm on Saturdays and Sundays)
To me France is thee epicenter of learning and applying gourmet and classic culinary technique. Like past adventures to new destinations, we researched and enrolled ourselves in a French cooking course through La Cuisine Paris. I cannot explain to you how excited I was to have the opportunity to take this class in Paris, France!
Once we found the school online, an even harder decision had to be made… What exactly did we want to learn? There was macarons, traditional breakfast pastries, classic French pastries and desserts, French gourmet dinner, a marketplace tour and cooking course, French tartes, French Baguettes and ‘Boulangerie’, Le Soufflé Déjeuner, classic French sauce, and so much more! See what I mean? Decisions, decisions. Staying true to form and our awesome experiences from past classes, we decided on the marketplace tour and cooking course.
We left our hotel and ventured to met up with our group at 9:30 AM just outside of Metro Station ‘Place Monge’ on metro line 7. We slowly started to introduce ourselves to one another; little by little new faces joined us. It was really interesting because we were such a diverse group from all over the world, very different occupations and stages in our lives, but with the same passion and desire to learn and create something new in the kitchen. About that time Chef Diane casually strolled up to our group and we could sense this was going to be an outstanding time. She had such a positive energy, a big smile, and personality that made you feel like you had been friends for years and years. This type of job was her glove and she wore it the best way possible. I think in that very moment I realized I desperately wanted her job too. It’s funny how long it can take a person to realize just how lost they might have become, how much of their creativity and life had become so gray until they get awarded these little opportunity to experience these life changing moments.
Chef Diane’s instructions were clear and she was very accommodating. She asked the group for any allergy or food aversions such as a lactose or gluten intolerance before we jumped into shopping at the Marché Monge Market. She gave plenty of individualized and group attention the entire time we were with her. She was incredibly knowledgeable about her ingredients, the marketplace, and the explaining French cuisine. She provided us with helpful little tips and advice on what to buy, what foods will pair well, as well as things you should avoid when cooking. It was awesome and we were absolutely drinking the culinary Kool-aid.
Together we shopped in the market at the produce, fromage (cheese), and butcher stands. We learned more about Frances organic food movement. In the U.S. the government labels “organic” as USDA Certified Organic, however in Europe the government labels organic products as “AB,” standing for Agricultural Biologique. France also uses labels for local agricultural shown as BioCert. She went on to explain that any thing marked organic will have at least one of these labels and MUST have at a minimum 95% organic ingredients, also no genetic modifications. Seriously?! What and why are we going around and around with food labeling in the U.S.?!
Once we left the market, we visited a nearby bakery, le Boulanger de Monge, where Chef Diane explained how France doesn’t really have a gluten problem. Again seriously?! In fact she explained that Most U.S. wheat flour contains potassium bromate to aid in the rising process. European wheat does not contain this additive. Perhaps this is a link to our gluten problems? She went on explaining that the sign out front of this bakery indicates that bakers are baking the breads daily on site and using only organic flour. This bakery was a heavenly place and of course was well-known through Chef David Lebovitz pastry app.
We departed the bakery and headed for the subway. La Cuisine Paris pre-purchased our group’s metro tickets to get back to the cooking school from the market area. A few short stops away we arrived at the school. We were immediately greeted and welcomed inside by other staff. (One of the staff was Korean and very kind reminiscing about Korean food with us. Hello again!) We were invited to sit, relax, and chat while enjoying tea and French press coffee as they prepped the workspace upstairs.
After we all finished our tea and coffee Chef Diane was ready for us to get to work. She provided us all with some of the recipes we’d be making, as well as some direction as to what each person in the class could start on. Everyone did a different task to prep for one of the three courses we were going to enjoy after we were done.
During the cooking class, our group learned some simple, yet amazingly helpful kitchen techniques, such as the best and easiest way to cut onions, safety with your knife and cutting board (how obvious it is to put a wet paper-towel under it… yet so many of us don’t think to actually do it?) We were all mesmerizing by her ability to maintain such an acute attention to detail, yet multi-task and guide us all on various cooking parts to our shared meal.
Our favorite dish to prepare and eat was the duck breast. It was just spectacular so mouth-watering and now has us searching how to get duck breast in Korea to recreate. We topped the breast with a nice sweet and tangy soy sauce. Also the toothsome salad was so simple and fresh with the incredibly flavorful French nectarine and two types of goat cheese. And for the desserts, three tiny treats of beguiling and seductiveness. Quite the luscious indulgence to complete our fantastic meal. Oh, yes you did notice that there is an “s” at the end of that (desserts)… Moelleux au chocolat, Creme Caramel, and Tuile aux Amandes done two ways, pistachio and poppy-seed. I suppose you can say we had a nice little sampler going on. You know me by now, a tad obsessive with sweets, I certainly wasn’t complaining, nor opposing.
Everything was almost ready, we patiently awaited the last dish to come out of the oven. We then individually plated our masterpieces and sat down at a big table with our group, poured wine and toasted one another, and ate every single tasty morsel! The group was almost silent relishing that meal and that very moment. I yearn to rewind time and taste the food and that moment again.
We cannot recommend the class highly enough! We had the very best time and wished we had more time to take a few more classes. We hope that this post enlightened and informed you and now when you find yourself in France, you will sign up for a class too. (If you do please let us know because we’d love to hear what you thought.)
La Cuisine Paris
ADDRESS: 80 Quai de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France
These are two of my favorite photos from this past weekend at the beach. I feel like they just exude summer. The calm, carefree, slow, peaceful, just be in the moment type of days that you only get to really feel during the dog days of summer (no pun intended). These are the days I find myself clutching onto for dear life as an adult.
What a view! We woke up every morning to this view of a Korean seaside village with brightly colored roofs, and the sea water so flat and crystal clear. Every spare moment I could snag I’d hideaway and find myself with the biggest grin on that balcony reading, sunning, watching the dear sweet ajumma’s tending to their flowers and vegetable gardens below, and at night taking in the beach or starry sky.
The days were filled with the perfect amount of sunshine, pillowy clouds, warm sea breeze, freshly brewed coffee, and meeting new friends. Plus I heard that the dive conditions were excellent, once you got past the frigid water temperature. The evenings just as breezy and blissful, filled with the celebratory Memorial Day Patbingsu, and BBQ. Ahhh perfection!
As we wrapped up our last evening with friends I made sure to pause and look towards the twinkly sky and give my heartfelt thanks to the many men and women that lost their lives defending our freedom. Without that selfless sacrifice we wouldn’t get to enjoy these carefree beach weekends year after year.