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Ljubljana.. Try Say That Fast 3x Over

Located almost in the middle of Slovenia and smack bang where all the trade route intercept, Ljubljana, (the “j” pronounced as an “i”), is the largest city in Slovenia and it’s capital. The symbol of the city is the Ljubljana Dragon shrouded in myth and legend.

The Dragon

The Dragon

As you walk into the center of the city you come across this amazing set of 3 bridges, aptly named Triple Bridge. These/This bridge connects the medieval town on one bank of the Ljubljana river to the modern city on the other side and is truly remarkable and quite beautiful.

Triple Bridge

Triple Bridge

Food Fair

The day we arrived was a food fair of sorts, where local chefs and restaurants come out and sell small tasters of what is on offer. Delicious is an understatement and only around €1 to €8. We wasted no time, me starting with dessert first, šmorn . A yummy pancake that is torn into pieces and then smothered in powdered sugar and preserves. I got berry mix on the right and apple on the left… sooooo yummy!!!

šmorn = yum yum!!

šmorn = yum yum!!

Then a couple of fried egg rolls, Kaja went for spring rolls (she is a little healthier than me). Her next dish was delicious spicy coconut red curry, cleared out the sinuses for sure, even on the sweltering hot day we were having. My main dish was a chicken tikka massala wrap from a local Indian stall.

I look down right Diabolical here

I look down right Diabolical here

We spent the next couple of hours idly wandering around and exploring. A bathroom break was a fantastic excuse for a local and very unique iceacream shop. I got something like lemon, strawberry, white chocolate with milk chocolate drizzle… yummy but not quite convinced…

delicious... I think

delicious… I think

Our True Mission In Ljubljana

Kaja and I both being avid cat lovers had already decided our real reason for coming to the city was to find the Cat Cafe – Ljubljana. And oh boy was it worth it, we must have taken 3 hours here alone, sipping our drinks very slowly and staring at the cats, which napped most of the time we were there, but did come out an socialize eventually.

Hooray, the Cat Cafe

Hooray, the Cat Cafe

Your Cat Menu

Your Cat Menu

The cats have a great walkway system throughout the cafe and outside
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Diva

The Diva

The Maine Coon

The Maine Coon

Everyone’s favorite is… Chilli the Devon Rex

Chilli chillin' on the outdoor cat walk

Chilli chillin’ on the outdoor cat walk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then there is Jonas…. Jonas has a thing about bags…

From Cat Cafe Facebook site

From Cat Cafe Facebook site

And then he found my bag… and was infatuated with it…

Jonas vs my bag

Jonas vs my bag

Remembering I had my leftover Chicken Tikka Masala wrap inside I moved it out of the way and then popped into the loo to powder my nose, so to speak. I was gone maybe 4 minutes and when I came out EVERYONE turned to stare at me… us there toilet paper on my shoe?? There was Kaja holding my, now chewed on, chicken wrap and a very annoyed Jonas staring at her… lol guess when there is a will there is a way.

All in all a great day, a hot day, but a great day with the highlight being the Cat Cafe (Hrenova ulica 19, 1000 Ljubljana), which just happened to have aircon!

A few more pics from the day:

artwork

artwork

different kind of artwork

different kind of artwork

flowers

flowers

more flowers

more flowers

Slovenian sausage shop...

Slovenian sausage shop…

stunning church door

stunning church door

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2015 in Slovenia, Travel

 

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Seoul, Korea – Final Days

Calling Number 2

It was Friday already only 2 days left before I was due to leave Korea. I decided to try call number 2, my second taekwondo master. He was so dubbed by me, because it was easier to tell my mom, number 1 or number 2 and she would know who I was talking about.

When I called he got super nervous and just said:
“Oh Kathy, uh oh uh oh….”

I think I got it across to him that I was leaving on Sunday, but no guarantees.

Meeting the Parks for Lunch

I was meeting Jinsoo, finally, for lunch at his sister’s house. Esther had gone all out with Sam Geup Sal, my favorite version of Korean BBQ. Christine had insisted they go buy all the supplies the day before to have everything perfect for when Jinsoo and I arrived.

Christine with our lunch spread

It was a fantastic lunch and I was so happy to have finally got to see Jinsoo. Afterwards, Esther, Christine and I walked around her neighborhood, running some final errands for me and looking for a glucometer for the animal shelter in Thailand as they suspected they had a diabetic dog.

Unfortunately, all good times come to an end and it was time to say goodbye, I hope to see my wonderful friend again soon!

However, we left on the note of potential work, as Esther is thinking of starting a small hogwan and would need an English teacher… so who knows maybe I will be back sooner than expected.

Picking Up Strangers

When Esther and I had been at the Cat Cafe with her daughter, I got to chatting with a British couple on holiday from Singapore where they lived. We hit it off immediately and chatted about all sorts of things. They asked a lot of questions about my traveling and plans and I was very interested in the project that Kathleen (yup same name) worked with in Cambodia (one of my favorite countries).

We all decided to meet up for a beer Friday night and just managed to connect as they were running late and I decided to wait for just one more subway train. Low and Behold it was the train that they were on.

We had a great evening that started off with being yelled at by a Korean ajuma, older lady. We had gone for a beer in this comfy looking place, but when the lady insisted we order food we decided not to stay, of course the beer had already been poured. So we ended up staying and ordering a couple of very large pitchers and no one bothered us to order food. All rather amusing, but those Ajuma’s are scary!!!

Last Day

My last day in Seoul… kind of bitter sweet. I have been happy to be here, loved all the food (even when it didn’t love me), seeing all the sites and friends and reliving all my memories. But at the same time, as much as I would love to come back, it almost feels like I would be going backwards if I returned.

I spent the morning with Jamie exploring Godeok Dong, my old school’s subway stop, wanted to show her some pillows she had been interested in. We had some kimbap for lunch in the little park.

I was thrilled when I discovered they had my favorite and something I had been dreaming of for years. Mot Nan Ni Kimbap also known as Ugly Kimbap. Instead of the typical California roll style, this one is rather lumped together with rice and meat and flaked salty seaweed and made into balls then rolled in the flaky seaweed. Sooooo yummy, found it hard to concentrate on the serious conversation Jamie and I were having.

Final Friend Meeting

I had got a text message from another friend from OOPS inline skating group. I remembered her but couldn’t quite place her face, until I saw her. It was so good to meet up and we went and sat at my usual coffee place and had a very yummy coffee and vanilla choux pastry.

Photos of Seoul

More Western Style Toilets, for all sizes, With Toilet Paper. No More Hover Loo


Subway Stops Are Now Very Impressive With New Safety Doors


Ko-nglish


Yup, It Is Advertising “Shit Bread”, the exact translation. I am fairly certain it is just in the shape…. some things never change

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Korea, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Seoul, Korea – Week 1

1 Oct 2012

Flying United

You would think by now I would be an expert at packing. But add in some dive gear and I am lost… Trying to fit in my fins turned out too much work.

The most important aspect to my packing was my faithful friend, who traveled all year with me in 2011 and never once demanded a mention. Well here he is my faithful African Wild Dog:

The shuttle picked me up at 3.45am for my 6am flight. I wonder why I do flights at these ungodly hour, literally before the butt crack of dawn.

My fabulous, amazing parents allowed me to use air miles to get a flight to Seoul on United Air. I have flown United many times and usually they are ok, not brilliant but ok. Well this flight lived up to all the expectations… of other people who say United is shite! The flight attendants looked miserable and never smiled, only offering water once during a 6hr section of the trip. They even refused to help anyone with their bags. So much for it being a customer service based industry. The lunch they served was almost inedible, it tasted like they had warmed the salad up with the “chicken” dish. They had also run out of choices by the time they got to me and the back half of the plane, and of course the only choice they had was the one I didn’t want.

The entertainment was still the old way with the TV in the center of the aisle every few rows, and about 25 people didn’t have any sound… it was a 12 hr flight! But it felt like longer.

Luckily the passengers were super nice in my area, some of them helped me get my bag up into the overhead as the attendant just glared at us. As I got to my seat, I realised there was a couple behind me with a 8mth old little one, named Hudson. My first thought was “blooming hell, 12 hrs with a screaming child”. But then the mom handed out little pieces of paper attached to ear plugs introducing little Hudson and apologizing for nay crying. You can’t be angry when the parents are considerate.

My seatmate was flying her first international flight and was super nervous. She tried to upgrade, even to first, but they refused to let her since she had already boarded, once again United steps up to the plate. She had booked a window seat and been assured she would get one but instead she had the 2nd seat in from the aisle in the 4 seat section. I had the aisle, and I would have switched but I couldn’t do a 12 hr flight in an inside seat.

She was on her way to visit her husband for their anniversary, he is a soldier at the Yongsan Army base in Seoul. We chatted a lot and I helped her through immigration and customs.

Old Friends

As we came through the doors I saw Jamie, I had not seen her in almost 8yrs. We met on a Korea Tourism trip and had stayed in contact ever since. When I told her I was planning to go to Thailand she said I should visit her in Seoul as she would be returning there to do 2yrs at an international school. Sounded like a plan to me and it meant that I could try meet up with Korean friends and hopefully my taekwondo masters.

It was fantastic seeing Jamie and chatting about everything, both good and bad that had happened in the last few months. The shuttle bus took almost an hour to get to her place and then we hopped in a taxi to go the last 10min rather than lugging my bags… I was already sleep walking as it was. After a shower I felt much better and then we headed out for my first meal of Sam Geup Sal (Korean BBQ with thick bacon like pork), my favorite.

Visa Run

Wednesday turned out to be a public holiday so we couldn’t go to Itaewon (the Foreigner area) till Thursday. We spent Wednesday meeting a friend of Jamie’s to help her with an application essay. I was really jetlagged and tired, but after some Donkas (fried pork cutlet) I felt much better. We also went for coffee and a delicious brownie. I ordered an iced coffee and had to pay 200won for the ice, how funny is that!

Then we walked around Namdaemun market (South Gate Market). One of my favorite places from when I lived here. I was still able to find my way around even after 8yrs…

Thursday morning we got up early to find the Thai Embassy in Itaewon. If Jamie had not been with me I would have been lost for sure!! To find the Thai Embassy you go out exit 3 and walk straight until you see, what I termed, the lego building on your left, then turn right and go downhill till you find the embassy on your right.

I went to pull my number noting about 20 people in front of me. As I pulled number 4 the dinnger dinged and showed 4, well that was quick. Less than 5min later we were out the door and I could pick up the visa in the morning. Turned out I couldn’t get the 90 day visa, as I hoped, as the letter from Lotus Divers was not an original.. dangit. But I have a 60day visa and can do a visa run to the immigration office near where I will be staying.

Time for breakfast at a place called Gecko’s, Jamie, being a veggie, ate all the non meat, I cleaned up the rest. Then a treat for ourselves, a pedicure. Bit more expensive than I would have liked but it was fun. Of course in the subway on the way home a lody rushing for the door stood on my foot and took off half the paint on my left big toe. Dammit!!!!

Meeting Masters

Jamie headed home but I went to meet my 1st Taekwondo Instructor, Master Kim Eun Cheol. I hadn’t seen him in over 8yrs. He had sent me text saying I must go to Jamwon and exit 4. Finding his school again was going to be a miracle, but then again if I can find a curio shop in the middle of Namdaemun market, there was hope. Low and behold I found it. I just walked straight then a left and then there was something about the door across the road that looked right, 3 floors up and woohoo, there was Sindong Taekwondo.

Now, since I had 2 masters during my 3yr stint in Korea, it became easier to describe them as Number 1 and Number 2 when talking to my mom. So for future reference that is how I will write them here.

Number 1 was out of the office when I got there but his assistants, who spoke no English, looked like an honored guest had arrived and scurried around finding me coffee and getting me a chair, it was kind of cute. They called number 1 and he said he was bringing the van and to bring me downstairs. There was much bowing and smiling when they took me to meet him.

I got in the van and it was like we had just seen each other last week. He took me to lunch at a place famous for its beef soup and kimchi, delicious. He showed me pics of his 2 kids and caught me up on all the other masters I had known. He called number 2 who nearly had a heart attack when he tried to give me the phone, as he was terrified of speaking English to me. It was all rather bemusing.

Back at his gym we chatted more and he told me about his second gym he had opened. We planned to get everyone together and meet at the restaurant of one of the masters, Maximus had opened a korean BBQ place and also had a gym. I looked forward to seeing all of them, but wasn’t holding my breath as we all know how busy Koreans can get.

Back at “home” I made Jamie some Pasta Italiano, thanks again to vet Nicola from Italy who taught me the recipe in the jungle of Ecuador. It has been a favorite of all my vegetarian friends.

Visa in my Hot Little Hands

Friday I got an early start and left a note for Jamie. Got to Itaewon and went straight to the embassy. This time I had to wait a whole 2min before it was my turn. What a pretty visa it is, 60days sorted need to make a visa run to Koh Samui at some point to get a 30 day extension.

Then went back to the nail place to have my pedicure fixed, no problem and no charge. The fascinating thing was, that when she switched on the dryer for my toes, there was air blowing. Yesterday there hadn’t been any and I just assumed it was one of those ultra violet type ones… no wonder the pedicure didn’t dry properly.

The Insanity of Myeongdong

Jamie is a bit different to me on the shopping scale. In other words she got the shopping in stores and malls gene while I didn’t, much preferring the open market crowds vs the mall type crowds. She needed to get a few things for winter and so we planned to meet at Myeongdong. I think I have been to this area once, and now I remember why. It was blaring music and signs and lights and people…

Since she was running a little late I went to find a coffee shop, which turned out to be harder than expected. Eventually desperate to get off the insane street I picked a place and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, a lemon tea for 5500 won ($5.50). It tasted like hot lemon crystal light with a piece of lemon in it and it looked a rather luminous yellow color. But it was out of the noise and street so I guess that’s what you pay for.

Did You Say Cat Cafe???

Jamie, still recovering from being sick, arrived and looked pretty miserable and sick, but we decided to give shopping a try. As we walked towards H&M I saw a sign for a Cat Cafe… I insisted we go look, Jamie thought it was just some stupid name, but I was certain it was like the ones in Japan I had heard of, where you have a coffee and can sit with a bunch of cats.

It was heaven and the cats were fantastic. Only photos can do it justice:

This little bugger is in time out for peeing on a customers bags and escaping.


Our favorite Juno, who gave Jamie some much needed kitty therapy

After some much needed cat therapy Jamie looked much better and was able to shop all afternoon. Can’t say that I faired very well, but then when we figured out the girls outside the beauty shops were enticing us with free face masks and such I was much better. You don’t have to buy you just have to look. Sounds good to me and I get free stuff… I really have no shame in that department, Jamie felt bad though and bought something in almost every shop.

Stir Fry and a Korean Movie about a Tsunami that wipes out Busan (city in the south).

1 week down another to go. So many things to see and do and friends to meet up with…

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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