Machu Picchu, Peru

I had been planning to write something else about Peru before I got to Machu Picchu.  But, once I saw it there was no putting it off.  Spectacular. Continue reading “Machu Picchu, Peru”

Advertisements

Lily Cafe, South Korea

Well, I have made it safely to Korea.  The first two weeks have gone extremely smoothly.  I am so happy I decided to come back.  I’ve visited with friends I haven’t seen in more than two years, and made some new friends (mostly with my students, who are all adorable.)

Maybe it’s a sign that I am getting older, but my first stop in my new town was to find a favorite coffee shop.  Eventually, I will find a favorite bar, but I’ll wait until my friends are older than 12.  🙂

One of the things that surprised me when I came to Korea for the first time, was how many coffee shops there are.  There are coffee shops everywhere!  A coffee shop on every corner is not far off from the truth, as I am looking out the window of my cafe, and looking at another cafe across the intersection.  Tea is not as common as I had assumed it would be.  It’s all about the coffee, which for me means it’s all about the iced mochas.  One great trait of coffee shops here is they make mocha with espresso and hot cocoa mix, which makes it richer and chocolaty-er (chocolatier??) Anyway.  It’s delicious.

So, I’ve found my cafe.  It’s a 5-10 minute walk from my apartment… and I pass at least 4 coffee shops on the way, but this one is totally worth the distance.  Because it’s full of flowers.

IMG_20140511_042218

Lily Cafe is not just a wonderful, small, independent cafe, but also a flower shop.  So while you’re enjoying a delicious coffee beverage, you can also buy some of their flowers.  🙂

IMG_20140511_042002

There are tons of cute flowers and great vintage home-y things to decorate your home with.

IMG_20140511_032428

 

I like this cafe because I’ve rarely been there when it is very busy.  It’s always a calm place to sit and relax for a little while.  Also, all the flowers kind of block your view of the rest of the cafe, making it feel more private and intimate.

IMG_20140511_032453

 

In addition to everything else, Lily also has a small selection of vintage clothes and jewelry for sale.  They also have snacks.  I have foregone all the snacks except the really-should-be-illegal- they’re-so-delicious brownie cookies.  Which are basically sugar cookies baked around brownies.

10364113_10101193965455612_456263780298936939_n

You know it’s going to be a good day when it starts off like this!

IMG_20140511_042016

 

So, if you’re ever in Osan looking for me.  You can find me here most weekend afternoons.  And even if you’re not looking for me.  If you find yourself in Osan at any point, it’s worth a stop.

 

Herastrau Park, Romania

Bucharest is a big city.  Over a million and a half people, lots of cars, people, buildings, roads… and some really nice parks.  Easily my favorite was Herestrau Park.  The park is huge, wrapped around the largest lake in the city.  It was just such a nice calm oasis in the middle of the city. 

At the entrance to the park, you suddenly find yourself asking, wait… where am I? 

image

But, in fact, we are still in Bucharest.  The replica Arc de Triomphe, complete with insane looking traffic circle, stands just outside the park.  It is a showcase of the French influence in Romanian architecture and life in general.  So much around Bucharest was designed in the French baroque style, but I love that there was an arc de triomphe as well. 

Just inside the park, was a skate park.  Skate park’s are usually one of my favorite places to visit.  This one was not very busy, and the people that were there were mostly kids on razor scooters.  Pretty fancy what the can do on a razor scooter though.  Kids these days….

image

I did really like some of the street art around the skate park.  Especially on this big crane. (I don’t know why there was a crane there)

image

The park is huge and split up into a ton of different areas.  The first one that I came to, was the swan pond. 

image

Not only were there several beautiful swans, and lots of really cool looking ducks, there were also…. black swans! (Natalie Portman, eat your heart out)

image

In addition to all the lovely swans that were very happy to be swans, there was also this swan standing off to the side… wishing he were a flamingo.

image

(P.S.  the swan pond was in fact all fenced in, otherwise you KNOW I would not have gotten so close.  They are big, and though they’re pretty… they don’t seem especially nice.  In fact, most of the time, I just assume they are down right vicious.  And ever since the great seagull fiasco of 2012… I try to be cautious.)

After the swan pond, was the Rose Island.  A whole island devoted to showcasing the beauty of the rose.  My heart leapt!  FLOWER PICTURES!

image

Wasn’t exactly what I was picturing when I heard about the rose gardens….  However, never one to let a wilted flower get me down, I soon found some other flowers that were beautiful.

image

These flowers were part of a big canopy over the walkway around the edge of the island.  While it was a little to short for me to walk comfortably under it, I liked the jungle feeling it provided.

image

From the Rose Island, I just walked around the lake for a bit.  It really is truly exceptional.  So pretty, and so so quiet.  When you’re in the park, you can’t hear any of the sounds from the city.  It’s like the city does’t even exist, and instead of being in Bucharest- you’re here:

image

Heading back towards real life, and the big city, I came across the Japanese Garden, which was less spectacular than the Rose Island, so I’ll leave you without any of those details, but I did happen upon on of the many playgrounds spread throughout the park.  It was such a cute little playground, but I didn’t want to be that weirdo that hangs out at playgrounds taking pictures…  so I moved quick! 

image

image

And then just as I was leaving the park I came across one of the more ironic things I saw in my whole time in Bucharest. 

image

The designated space for dogs.  The dog park.  Now this is only ironic if you have ever experienced how many stray dogs there are all over the city.  Everywhere you go there are stray dogs wandering around looking for food.  This one even went on our walking tour with us.

image

It seriously followed us around for the entire tour.  So I just thought it was funny that stray dogs kind of have the run of the city and the park.  But a dog with a family is relegated to a 20’X20′ fenced in patch of grass. 

So, that was my favorite part of Bucharest, though the old town was nice as well. The park was just the one place that I really fell in love with. 

Birthday Flower Bouquet

So, over the course of this trip, and to the delight or dismay of many friends and family (hard to tell really) I have discovered a long secret love for taking pictures of flowers.  And just of flowers in general, but mostly taking their pictures. So to celebrate my birthday, I thought I would put together a collection of my favorite flower pictures from the past year and a half. 

image

I think was the first flower picture I took on the trip, and still one of my favorites for sure.  Just slightly imperfect.  But still beautiful.  Taken at Dublin Castle, in Ireland.

image

Out of focus shot of flowers at Kilkenny Castle in Ireland.  A part of me wishes that it had been in focus (the wind was blowing so everything was moving too much) but I actually really like how it looks anyway.

image

A rose, for sale in the early morning at a market stall in Manchester, England.  I just thought it was so so pretty, and would have loved to take a few more shots, but the guy selling the flower gave me a distinct ‘buy it or leave it’ look.  So I left it.

image

One of about a million beautiful tulips at Kukenhof Gardens.  So many of the flowers were overly colorful, withe tons of petals, maybe some sort of fringe around… I loved the simplicity of this one.  Not something that would immediately draw the eye, but beautiful none the less. 

image

A close up shot of a really large purple flower in Copenhagen, Denmark.  These flowers were really big.  The size of an out stretched hand or at least as big as my face. (roughly the same size)

image

One beautiful rose in a bunch of roses, from Sweden. 

image

When I started taking lots of pictures of flowers, I thought I wanted to try and photograph emotions through flowers.  When I saw this flower, I thought it looked so desperate.  I could almost feel how much it wanted someone to sit at the table with it. 

image

Yellow cala lilies from the flower mrket in Tallinn.  I loved the color and shape of them.  It almost felt violent time me in a way. 

image

One pansy from Ireland.  Just sticking up, trying to get as much sun as possible. 

image

Hydrangea flower from Hungary.  There have been so many hydrangeas around this area, probably because there is so much sun all the time. 

image

Tulips for sale in a market stall in Amsterdam.  So much potential, with raindrops clinging.

image

Purple flowers in Lahemaa National Park, Estonia.  Photographed blue.  Not sure why, but I swear to you, they were purple.

image

Everything about these roses from Slovakia looked so antique.  Just a little yellowed around the edges, they seemed very fragile and delicate. 

Alright, so there you go.  Happy Birthday me!  I love flowers!  On to more regularly scheduled blogging in a few days.  😉

Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands

I recently had the opportunity to go to Keukenhof Garden, one of the largest flower gardens in the world.  It is only open for a few weeks a year, during tulip season in the Netherlands. It was absolutely gorgeous, and a really exciting day for someone that likes to take pictures of flowers as much as I do.

The majority of the park showcased beds of segregated tulips.  Each flower bed had one type of tulip, and the next, a different type. Sometimes, however, one bulb snuck into the wrong bed.


This was all well and good, but I think the few beds with mixed flowers were much more interesting.

I had a good time walking around taking pictures, but was struck by a few things.


1. They didn’t smell. While it smelled fresh outside, it didn’t have the wonderful fresh flower smell that I was expecting.
2. It is hard to take pictures of flowers on a windy day.
3. Also difficult to take pictures with flowers where you don’t look like a silly crouchy ball.
4. About a million tulips, and my favorite flower was still the daffodil.