Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Desktop Wallpaper Downloads

One of the things I'm mildly obsessed with are desktop wallpapers (or tablet/phone). They're kind of like the 21st century version of a beautiful book printing (remember William Blake used illuminated printing for his works). Anything from a good quote or a cheerful design, and I'm sold. I just discovered Love Design Fest, and Bri has a whole section dedicated to lovely desktop wallpaper downloads on her site. I combed through her archives because I like to know all my options before I pick something (and, ya know, I have half days of work for winter camp), and I picked out a few of my favorites. Click the "Click Here" link to go to the post with the site and her link for downloading.

What do you think? Can you guess which one I chose?
 There's a ton more desktop wallpaper downloads on her site!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Seeing a Musical in Seoul

One of the main reasons I went to Seoul last weekend was to see the Gone with the Wind musical! Yes, they turned Gone with the Wind into a musical. Multiple times actually. This version is based off the French musical, Autant en emporte le vent. Being a fan of the novel, movie, and SNSD, of course I had to go see it! My friend was more than happy to join me, and I looked up when exactly Seohyun would be performing to see which dates worked best. Turns out Saturday was key, and after I got my tattoo, we headed over to enjoy the show. 
In terms of buying tickets, I actually called Seoul Arts Center, but you can easily book them online at Interpark. I wanted to do a bank transfer and not pay with a credit card, so I had to call. They texted me the account number for SAC, and I transferred the money right away. Easy, peasy. The musical was lovely, and even though it was all in Korean, I'm familiar enough with the story to know what was happening. Side note: If  you want a chance to see the stars, it's just like in the States-- go to the Stage Door. Except, I feel like in NYC it's a secret where the door is, but here it's very clearly labelled.
Can you spot Seohyun? It was actually pretty funny because all the other actors just rolled out without much fuss, and then the main stars came, and it was slight chaos. The main guy who played Rhett came, and all the ahjummas followed him out, and then everyone pretty much followed Seohyun once she came out. I suppose if you go a day that her famous friends come to watch, you'd see them as well. My advice? Get excited about the actors and actresses who aren't the main leads. You could probably get a picture with them or at least talk to them face to face to say how good they were. I wish I was more familiar with the other actors (next time!) because I didn't know who they were until they were gone, and I actually really like the actress who played Melly (we were standing next to her friends the whole time!). Anyhow, Bada, S.E.S., is also playing Scarlett, and she's actually in the musical a bit more frequently if you'd like to see her! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vacation Dreaming

Vacation Dreaming

I have vacation on the brain! Two more weeks, and I'm going to be soaking up the rays in Thailand and Cambodia. I can't wait! I don't know why I feel like the winter here is worse than at home despite the slightly higher temperatures, but I'm dying for a taste of something warmer. I can't wait to roam the market in Bangkok, go hiking in Chiang Mai, explore temples in Siem Reap, and laze about the beaches of Krabi. Here's a taste of what I'm bringing with me (more extensive packing post will be later)! Who else is ready to shed these trillions of layers? 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

No Camera, No Problem

What to do when you've lugged your DSLR all the way from Namwon only to realize you left the SD Card in your laptop at home? Resort to the iPhone life... I wanted to update my various profile pictures, so I figured, no camera, no problem. My friend and I hopped on over to Children's Grand Park (off the olive line) to take some photos while the sun was out. Think of this as practice for when it's warm, and CGP is blooming with spring time life! If you want somewhere a little less touristy, check out Kongdae and Children's Grand Park. Kongdae is like Hongdae without the crazy crowds!
Also, major shout out to Elissa who took these photos and was a good sport about me trying to get her to pose! She also lets me crash at her place whenever I'm in Seoul, and I can't wait to return to the favor when she comes to Namwon in the spring!
My Outfit: Yellow Sweater-H&M (Similar) // Jeans-American Eagle // Ankle Boots-G-market

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Places to Visit in Spain

If you haven't read it yet, I wrote a series of posts describing "50 Reasons Why Madrid is the Greatest City" However, everyone I've ever met wants to go there or Barcelona, and I feel like the smaller, lesser known places to visit in Spain were by far my favorite. It took me living in the country to really fall in love with its incredibly unique story. Everything from the Arabic influenced history to even the marks of Franco's dictatorship created this country with its own style. While I obviously didn't get to see all the towns it has to offer, here are my favorites from the ones I did. If you find yourself able to travel around the Iberian Peninsula, here are the places to visit in Spain: 


Segovia is located roughly an hour from Madrid. It's #10 in my "50 Reasons Why Madrid is the Greatest City" list, but I'll elaborate on how amazing it is here. I went to Segovia on a whim, joining friends who were going, leaving the club at 4 a.m. and waking up at roughly 8 a.m. to hop on the bus to go. Segovia is utterly charming. On the scale of touristy towns, it's low even on that list, so you can really immerse yourself. As soon as you arrive, you'll notice the Roman aqueduct. It's stunning, and if you want history to really hit you in the face, here's twenty centuries of it.

There are two things that pretty much every town has in Spain-- an alcazar and a cathedral. Segovia's cathedral is gorgeous, but don't waste money exploring the inside. Save it for the alcazar. The Alcazar of Segovia was created over the remains of an Arab structure, and it serves as one of the inspirations for Disney's Cinderella Castle. Climb all the way down the side of the hill on which it stands and get the best view, but also spend the money to climb the Tower of John II to get a gorgeous aerial view of Segovia. I went here twice, and if I could I'd spend my fall months writing here every year.


Toledo was actually the last of the Spanish towns I visited. It's the closest of these five to Madrid at around 30 to 40 minutes, so you can actually take a train ride. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it's a bit more touristy, but you won't find yourself frustrated by the crowds. It's elevated and surrounded by the Tagus River, so you'll be able to get some really beautiful scenery shots (apparently the sunset around one of the bridges is stunning). 

Because Toledo was a more religiously tolerant city, you will be able to find a lot of Arabic and Jewish sites in addition to Catholic ones, and often times the architecture style is mixed. For example, the main cathedral is Gothic but still has Mudejar influences. In terms of souvenirs, Toledo is also home to the famous Don Quixote, so you can find a ton of trinkets inspired by Cervantes' famous tale. It's also the place to buy knives, if you want to buy a knife.


Salamanca, another UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in Castille. The University of Salamanca is going to be 800 years old in 2018, and is the oldest university in Spain while being the fourth oldest in Europe, and the first to be granted a "university title." Let's just say, Christopher Columbus was one of its lecturers. I wish I had stayed more than a day, but this was the only school-sponsored trip I attended, so I was kind of at the mercy of their schedule (which was rapido rapido, I want to go back to my life).  

Being a university town, Salamanca has got quite a bit of cheek. Take a long look at the university's super detailed facade. You might find some interesting characters. For some reason, my tour guide informed us that while Salamanca had a younger population, it was home to quite a number of STD-related deaths, and the skull with the frog coming out of it in the facade was a warning. Work hard, play hard? Also, the Plaza Mayor has the face of every important Spanish leader (royalty, scholars, etc) in its history, including Franco because he demanded it. However, Salamanca being its cheeky self, used a duller material to make his face and the pillar itself is dirty, and no one intends on cleaning it up.  Other places that might interest you are Casa de Conchas, Casa de las Muertas, la Cueva de Salamanca (see it at night for a scare), and the most gorgeous cathedrals in Spain (because this place doesn't just have one but two of them).


Granada, aka land of the pomegranates, is probably the most well known on this list. It's the last Arabic stronghold, and thus it has the strongest influence in its architecture. My friend from university studied here, and she gave me a ton of recommendations for it. Do yourself a favor and visit the Alhambra by booking a tour guide to explain all its different aspects. When you learn how much this fortress has been through, it's kind of surprising it's managed to survive at all. 

You also have to visit the Capilla Real because that's where Ferdinand and Isabel are buried, and that's possibly the craziest thing I've ever seen. Even the most ignorant world history student knows Ferdinand and Isabel. There's also Parque Lorca which is based around Lorca's summer home. The tour is an interesting look into his life, and the park has everything from floor trampolines to a zipline. If you want to experience a Hammam, you can, but keep it mind it's very touristy. I went to this one.


So, I actually prioritized Cordoba over seeing Seville because Cordoba was the actual name of the caliphate, and I was intrigued to see what it had to offer. Also I still had memories of my high school Spanish class going over "El Burlador de Sevilla" and this terrible show, "Destinos." Anyhow, the minute you get into Cordoba, you'll notice everything seems to painted in this mustard yellow color, and it makes the whole city feel warm, even with torrential downpours on the horizon. We got caught in it on El Puente Romano, and it was the kind of rain that soaks you in a split second. 

Cordoba is also famous for La Mezquita-Catedral because it's a mosque cathedral that has very strong influences of both. It started as a church, was turned into a mosque, and then turned back into a church, and you can see how these influences mixed (like the cross of Jesus encased in Arabic arcs). Also go to the Alcazar of Cordoba, another place that went back and forth, as this is where Ferdinand and Isabel stayed during the campaign against Granada. The garden was my favorite part. Other places include the Jewish Quarter and the Synagogue and, if you have time, take a trip out to the Medina Zahara. The Medina was the technical capital of al-Andalus, and you can bet I'm going straight there the minute I return to Andalucia.

All of these places are fairly small, and you can easily walk around them. I suggest picking up a map at the tourist center, picking your places, and just wandering for a bit. 

O T H E R  P L A C E S  I  W A N T  T O  S E E:
  • Santiago
  • Seville
  • Bilbao
  • Palma de Mallorca
  • Ibiza
  • Malaga
  • Ronda
  • Zaragoza
  • Pamplona
  • Navarre
  • Gibraltar
  • Valencia 
Now that I think about it, maybe I should just do a year in Spain traveling around. I mean, I ought to use my Spanish language skills for something other than bad telenovelas. Do you have any places to visit in Spain that aren't quite on the map for tourist destinations?