Barcelona 2016

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Barcelona was the first European city I visited years ago, and possibly that’s why it was my favourite European city back then, and remained special to me. I didn’t particularly enjoy flying within Europe, for I would have preferred train rides anytime. But we had to fly to Barcelona, and it was fun. It was sunny, vibrant like I remembered, colourful and relatively easier to walk about compared to Florence (the forever-maze to me). The supermarketing had to be really fun too, almost like what I remembered.

Given that I’ve already been there twice and I didn’t enjoy the flying, I wonder if I ever would be back again.

This time, I didn’t have to get any (lousy) chinese food there (for I know I would have Bun Rieu in days to come, and that’s more than enough).

Florence 2016 (2)

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Italy was at the peak of Summer when we were there, even if it could still be chilly in Paris, wet and cold in London, but it was super duper sunny in Italy. Anyway the most traditional family restaurants were all closed for their summer breaks except 1, which we went by twice. It was definitely disappointed, considering that I planned almost the entire of Florence around food. Then again, we still tried to make the best out of it. At least we did manage as much meals at our favourite restaurant in Paris (another post someday).

Chianti, Tuscany 2016 (2)

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It was a public holiday, or rather Italy most important public holiday. Hence it was an understatement to say that trying to arrange for anything on that day (even before and after) was a logistic nightmare, not forgetting the fact that we were car-less, and taxi would have cost a bomb.

We did eventually gone on a vineyard tour, with lunch. Though it was probably way too much of a summer to be in the vineyard, so it was more of a cellars tour. The fact that we were the only 4 people in the tour meant that the staff couldn’t wait to finish the tour, but we still enjoyed our short few hours there. The food’s very great, but if I didn’t have to think of getting back to Florence later the day, I would have drank everything that’s being served.

And, I think I really like Italy, even if all that I’ve seen were some Florence and Tuscany. Maybe it calls for a non-summer Italy holiday, someday, one day.

Chianti, Tuscany 2016 (1)

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Without a car, while in Florence, we still made it to Chianti.

The picture perfect Tuscany – the vibrant blue sky with white fluffy clouds, the green vineyard just outside of the window, the hanging grapes and growing tomatoes that’s about to ripe, the Tuscan cypress trees, and the lack of bustle of a city.

I just wished I would have drank more wine…

Florence 2016

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After Paris and Annecy, we visited Florence and Tuscany.

I needed a post just to share photos of Casa Caterina; probably the only place we would want to stay in Florence. Absolutely a gem – everything from its location, to facilities and host are everything that we can ask for. It’s central to all the main attractions and sights, and walkable from the train station. There’re 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms for the 4 of us. We used the kitchen to whip up meals, enjoyed our meals (and checked my work emails) at the dining area, and never lack anything. The whole unit is air-conditioned (great for the heat in summers!). There’s no lift and sometimes you get the street noises. But I know these upfront, and are really minor. And of course the ever-lovely hosts – I’m just so going to stay with them the next time we are in Florence!

And, I especially love those kitchen and bathroom tiles (no I dont think I ever could buy them in Sg), and the little decor throughout the house. Ahh I miss those nights there.

Annecy, France 2016

Annecy France is famous for Lake Annecy. But to me, I remember Annecy for Semnoz Plateau. We took the Summer Line up – I really can’t quite see how we can hike up (but I think you really can!).

It’s windy (read: cold) despite such a good sunny day when we were up there. After a while we had a meal and came down. I wish we would stay up there all day long.

And yes, after almost 18 months of cherry blossoms at Hadong being my wallpaper, it’s this blue, blue sky that I want to see mostly:

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Inspired by, Shinwha Eric E-Chef’s menu

The recent craze is cooking exactly what E-Chef cooked in the latest episode of 3 Meals A Day, Fishing Village keke

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(Starting from the biggest photo; clockwise)

Gajma Jorim/ korean braised potatoes; Pumpkin porridge with tangyuan, bossam and the soup that boils the pork (this is the absolute favourite), Maewun-tang / spicy seafood soup and butter-olive-oil fry fish; soy braised black beans (this is easy, yummy and nutritious) and smooth steamed egg (so proud that my steamed egg is now so smooth and silky)

P/S: And I’ve jus booked our family holiday to Korea next year, for the Summer!

Tongyeong 통영시 2015

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In Spring 2015, out of the 3 islands that I want to visit, in the end I picked Jangsado Sea Park 장사도 해상공원 and Bijindo Island 비진도.

Because of my friendly accommodation host (read here), I was able to visit Jangsado Sea Park the very day that I arrived in Tongyeong from Seoul.

Maybe most people would know of Jangsado Sea Park due to the popular TV drama back then, You Who Came From the Star. But to me, the best of Jangsado Sea Park is not the island itself, but the views from the island. I enjoyed the park greatly, but really love the views.

For those visiting, might as well have your meal at the ferry terminal. I enjoyed mine greatly!

Note: I’m thankful that someone is still reading my blog. I logged in to answer his/ her query and thought might as well to leave a note ^^ The times that I was away – I was doing more research about Korea kekeke

This year my family & I are spending a month in Europe, but I already have plans to visit Korea next year (more places that I can cover in the next 1 or 2 trips).

Anyway, I tend to upload my instagram more regularly than this – mostly about my (korean) cooking/ bread maker/travelling adventures ^^*

Bijindo Island 비진도 2015

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On Bijindo, time seems to stop.

You will realise just how apt CNN’s description was the moment you arrive at Bijindo (CNN article here).

First, you are likely to only bump into a handful of villagers throughout your time on the island, reasonably because there are only a hundred odd residents on the island. The day I was there, I encountered a handful of older villagers apparently cleaning up the beach, and a few of them tending their farms, or supposedly on their way home.

Second, there is minimal buzz on the island – no ticketing/ tourist office, vendors and few tourists (even fewer foreigners). There’s probably a small drinks store near the terminal, but there is no customer in sight. The owner is probably sitting around having a conversation with fellow
villagers. This is one of the things you learn to appreciate and will miss by the end of the day when you leave the island for the buzzing Tongyeong mainland.

The ferry took ~50 minutes to arrive at Bijindo. The journey was such a pleasant one – surrounded by the vast sea, a glorious sunny day (after which it was rainy seasons in almost every corner of Korea for days and days) and the many sea gulls that cruised along with the ferry. By the time I realised to disembark, it was the second and final stop that the ferry is making, though most passengers remained on the ferry that’s heading for the other islands.

A small signal read “Welcome to Bijindo Colorful Coral Beach”. And ahead of me, I saw a few Koreans walking up the coastal trail. Naturally I trailed behind and at some point asked if it was alright for me to tag along with the group. Was so glad that they speak English! Prof Byung-sun, a Law Professor who also teaches Music, and his students were visiting Bijindo for the first time as well! I am so fortunate (my good luck to miss the first disembarkment in fact!) to have met them. Prof was friendly, kind, and caring – throughout the hike, he helped me with my load, waited for me as I was slow careful on the trails, exchanged stories and always offering to help me with the shots. He later also lent me a helping me when I was hospitalised (read here).

The trail was easy and short. My new-found friends had to take the ferry back to Tongyeong as they were returning to Seoul on the same day. I decided against to join them for lunch on Tongyeong mainland since I’ve already bought my lunch with me.

After they were gone, I dug into my packed lunch, of 2 portions of Chung Mu gimbap, under a shelter near the beach. My lunch view was the bright and sparkling sea in the afternoon sun. Windy, I hid under my hood, ever conscious of how seemingly slow time has passed, or that I literally have nothing much to do.

After loitering around, like a lost puppy, I decided to try the steeper hike up, hoping to get a bird eye view of the barbell island. But the thing is, no one hikes up in the afternoon so I was all alone for most of the way up. To a point that I was on my fours, trying to balance myself and my load, and taking count of the time to make my way down so that I wouldn’t miss the last ferry back to Tongyeong. And so, I gave up halfway..

When I first came across the article on Bijindo, I thought it would be a dream to make it to the island, never imagining myself to be able to do so. It would take a non-stop ~12 hours journey from Singapore to arrive at Bijindo (the same time it takes to fly from Singapore to Paris) and my day on Bijindo is clearly the highlight of the entire trip, just for being so different.

I didn’t stay for a night on Bijindo, but if I am going back again, camping or just staying by the beach will be great.

Because of my experience in Bijindo, and Jangsado Island, I’ve come to love Korea islands (with 3,800 over Korea islands to explore!), coastal trails and just being out there away from the mainland.

Bijindo, the island you dream about, that you will forget about everything trivial but life..

Details~
My accommodation in Tongyeong (read here)