Friday, July 12, 2013

New York City, United States

A three day mid-week getaway to the "Big Apple", New York City for me, and a nine day US trip for my two noonas from Seoul. It had been six years since my last visit to NYC, so I was excited to visit and be not only a tourist but also a guide to the (North) American way of life as opposed to the culture in Korea. So I booked my stand-by flight to Newark (EWR) with Porter Airlines and we booked our stay at two hostels in Manhattan.

For their first visit to America, the culture shock was apparently there from the start. Our meeting point and time was for Wednesday morning, but their flight arrived from Seoul on Tuesday night. Their slow and odor-filled subway ride from JFK and their sights of countless homeless people could have already scared them away from this adventure, but they were fine after some reassurance by myself that its just the way of life here. There were also many firsts for myself as well: Getting around NYC without a car or coach bus, understanding how the subway lines work, and staying at hostels.

Getting to Manhattan from Newark International Airport was quite easy; going back to the airport from the city, now that's another story. After taking the airport train to the NJ Transit Station, the ride to Penn Station was $12.50, a direct train ride with easy to read signs and announcements. The return trip...well, no signs or indications of which trains from Penn Station would get me to the airport. After some assistance by some nice passengers, I was told I would still be able to get to the airport on that train but I would need to make a transfer.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

A shot of the Toronto skyline while lining up to take-off
So I finally found some time after working everyday consecutively for the past three months to have a short getaway outside of Toronto and use my travel benefits with Porter Airlines. Initially the plan was to go to New York City, but the holiday flight hours during the Easter weekend and still having to work that weekend made it difficult to plan. Therefore, the best alternative was to just visit Montreal, as Porter Airlines flies to that destination most often.

It was my first time flying stand-by, but we booked the earliest flight out, and the latest flight back on the same day- to save on cost because I didn't really wanted to spend too much money in Montreal- being there numerous times in the past, but the last time being in 2010 with my little cousins. Our plan was simple, purchase a metro day pass which is $8 and includes all buses and subways including the 747bus from the Montreal Airport to Downtown Montreal in around 30-45 minutes depending on traffic.

So the first stop was the L'Avenue Restaurant near Mont Royal Station for some of their highly acclaimed brunch menu, but unfortunately a long line up ensued, and had to give up on that dream. So we just proceeded to the farmer's market- Marche Jean Talon at the Jean Talon interchange metro station.

There was so much fresh fruits, meat, cheeses, wine, pastries, and even sea food in this market which is one of the more popular ones in Montreal. There we settled for a turkey quiche panini at the bakery, tried some apple cider ice wine, and ended the meal with a chocolate banana crepe at their famous creperie. We then ended our trip by making it back to Mont Royal for some Montreal bagels, and we passed by the L'Avenue again and still there was a long line up outside.

Anyways, it was nice being in Montreal again, but New York in 2 weeks time!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lotte World, Seoul, South Korea

Lotte World is located on the green subway line (2) at Jamsil Station, which was quite far from where I was staying near Hapjeong. It took about 45minutes by subway. Having seen Lotte World in many blogs, movies, and Korean dramas, I knew I had to plan a day to visit and enjoy myself there. Luckily thanks to my friend, we were able to purchase discounted students tickets using our George Brown student cards, which meant our admission was only 26,000 KWN which is around $20 CAD. This was extremely cheap compared to Wonderland in Toronto, or other amusement parks in North America.

The park itself consists of an outdoor and indoor phase for rides and attractions. Unfortunately, the roller coaster was under maintenance the day we visited and there were many students visiting on field trip so it was busy and longer line ups. The rides we went on were all enjoyable including the Conquistador, The Adventures of Sindbad, Flume Ride, Boong Boong Cars, and the Gyro Swing to name a few.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Namsan, Seoul, South Korea

Namsan also known as "South Mountain" features the Seoul N Tower is the highest point in the city of Seoul and offers residents and tourists a panoramic view of the city, offering hiking, recreation, work out machines during the day, and is a very popular location for couples at night.

This was the first place we visited the first time being in Seoul, as our flight had arrived early in the morning at 6AM from Hong Kong, and was brought here by bus to explore the park and hike up the hill. It offers a beautiful trail flanked with green trees and flowers with older citizens exercising and hiking along.

The second time visiting Seoul, I wanted to explore it in a different view, at night. Also instead of taking the bus up or hiking up, I chose to take the cable car up.

Once up to Namsan Park, you will see locks of love placed all over trees, and the fence which symbolizes the love between a couple that their love will never be unlocked as they toss the key over the mountain.

I don't know why, but I went up on a Monday night and it was really busy. I remember most just lining up to go up the elevator to the N Tower, then again lining up to come down the elevator, and the cable car. But the views were breathtaking and the night lights of Seoul can be clearly seen for miles out.

I was most impressed with the view of the Han River and the bridges that crosses the river. I remember hanging out by the river, and looking up upon this mountain and the tower, the beautiful view reciprocates. By the end of it all, I was really tired from all the standing in line as I took the cable car back down, and a short walk from the station back towards Myeongdong.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cars Land, Disneyland, Anaheim, California

The much anticipated opening of Cars Land was exciting for me and my little cousin being that he has a great admiration for Lightning McQueen and was dressed accordingly. We went on the second day of the park opening and arrived at the park early in the morning and was greeted with the new Buena Vista Street and the new trolley.

All the rides had long line ups, over one hour, but nothing came close to the Radiator Springs Racer, which was nearly two hours long! The first time, my uncle had lined up while we went on the Luigi's Flying Tires ride where the waiting area featured Luigi's store as close as seen in the Cars movies. The Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is also similar to the famous Tea Cup ride where the rider can control the spinning of the Mater's.

The main street of Route 66 is beautifully depicted and is flanked by various restaurants and shops displayed as a motel and gas station. At the end of the street was the City Hall of Radiator Springs.

By the end of the day and night, having lined up for the Radiator Springs for the SECOND time but was WELL worth it, we were all exhausted, especially the kids, but was lucky enough to have a picture with Lightning McQueen himself!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paju, South Korea PT. 1

Visiting Paju to meet up with a friend for a day to visit a couple places the area offered. Luckily there was a long distant (red bus) from Hapjeong Station that goes to Paju including the Premium Outlets and Heyri Art Village. Similar to the Premium Outlets in North America, this one offers 160 outlet stores from around the world for shoppers. Unfortunately, the prices were relatively higher than what I was accustomed to from shopping at US Premium Outlets because of its import status.

The next place we stopped by was the Heyri Art Village closeby to the Outlet Mall. Surprisingly, it was so similar and after awhile, I finally realized "Hey, I was here before!" And I was right, I did visit this place the year before. The village offers many art galleries, displays, and scenic nature scenery.

We ended our day at a French style village that offer beautiful gardens, cute shops, and a light show at night. We spent around two hours just waiting for the night show, and it was well worth it. By the time the night was over, journeying back home was a mission, but luckily a nice Korean couple in their BMW picked us up and dropped us off at a bus stop to catch my bus back towards Seoul and my friend back home in Paju.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Legoland California- San Diego, California

On our trip to Los Angeles, in addition to visiting Cars Land at Disneyland Resort, it was a choice between Legoland California and Sea World to visit. But the temptation of enjoying a hot summer day in California at a water park was hard to refuse. Unfortunately, the day we were there, it was nothing but hot, just borderline warm at best.


The park features many different rides, mainly targeting children, but adults like myself are still able to enjoy most of the rides. There was a driving school ride for kids, a boat ride, and a water gun boat fight- pirate style as well where you get wet.


In addition to that, we took a boat tour to view the Lego displays of replicates of world known landmarks like the Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House, and the Eiffel Tower.


There is also replicates of Hollywood, Las Vegas Boulevard, San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington DC, Star Wars to name a few. All showed great detail and replicated reality to a tee.


Ofcourse I thoroughly enjoyed the replication of San Francisco, but it was the New York City display that truly blew my breath away. It featured the entire skyline of New York City including the soon to be finish World Trade Centre Freedom Tower. Amazing...