Seoul, architecture in Dongdaemun, street murals in Ihwa and Gangnam style in Sinsa-dong

with 2 Comments

On our way from Amsterdam to Seoul we had former speed skater Gerard van Velde on board of our airplane. He won an Olympic gold medal in 2002. The good old days came back when we talked to him. What a nice guy he is.

After a long flight we arrived in Seoul with a time difference of plus eight. Seoul is a city with so much to offer that you might not know where to start. But we've been here often so we could leave the cultural highlights behind us because we already visited them. We were curious about the new Dongdaemun Design Plaza, designed by Zaha Hadid. She was the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture's equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The building is fantastic. Zaha Hadid got the inspiration form the ever-changing, dynamic movements that occurs in the Dongdaemun area from dawn to dusk.

We walked via the old Fortress Wall to the district were you can find the most beautiful murals. It is called Ihwa Mural Village. Ihwa Mural Village is located less than a 10-minute walk uphill from the buzzing Daehakno area. As you head up the slopes of Mt. Naksan, the noise and crowds give way to fresh air and gorgeous, expansive views of the city, but also to something unexpected: street art. We saw a lot of locals renting old Korean school uniforms and walking around in them, posing for pictures in front of the murals. First we thought they were wearing their own uniform but we talked with some of them and figured out it was just a dress up party instead ;-).

It is easy traveling by subway, so after the Ihwa Mural Village we took the subway to Sinsa-dong. Sinsa-dong has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years with the city's trendsetters, fashionistas and foodies. There are so many nice tiny hip shops, but also shops of high end brands and nice little cafe's and restaurants in the little streets behind the main road. We ended up in the chique Elbon the Table. It is a modern European restaurant located in Gangnam-gu. The restaurant itself is located on the second floor and a high end store with luxury bags with the same name is on the ground floor. Desiré was freaking out when she saw all those nice bags! Unfortunately it was a little bit to expensive to buy a small Celine bag just for fun ;-)!

We loved to be back in Seoul. It is such a vibrant and hip city to wander around. There are so many things to do and see, so we will be back. We promise!

Watch our vlog of Seoul, architecture in Dongdaemun, street murals in Ihwa and Gangnam style in Sinsa-dong!

Toronto, Uber, Distillery District & Yorkville in 24 hours

with 4 Comments

A twenty-four hour layover in Toronto this time. The snow and the little bulb lights in the trees felt like christmas time in February. We used Uber for the first time to let us bring to the Distillery District. Uber is an American multinational mobile ride hail company headquartered in San Francisco and you can use it in fifty eight countries. We went to Cluny Bistro in the Distillery District. The Distillery District is the place to see and be seen. The Distillery features more than seventy ground-floor cultural and retail establishments in the restored red brick and Victorian-era buildings of the renowned Gooderham & Worts whiskey distillery. Cluny Bistro is a delight for your eyes and taste! Surrounded by fascinating custom details, such as cabinets filled with hand-selected antiques and a hand-painted glass wall at the raw bar. We had delicious wine and our waiter was very kind and created a personal customized plate of foie gras for us.

The next day we took the subway to Yorkville. This era is situated near the University buildings and the Royal Ontario Museum. We spoke to a local on the street and he told us that the facade of the Royal Ontario Museum cost two hundred and fifty million Canadian dollars! You can imagine that the Toronto society was not really happy with that fact. Toronto is always under construction but that means the city is moving forward and that is always a good sign ;-)! Yorkville is the place where dogs wear hip designer outfits and colored socks during winter time just like their owners. On Bloor and Bay street you find a lot of high quality shops like Cartier and Prada and in the little streets you see a lot of nice hip stores to buy cloth, home furniture and accessories, coffee shops and upmarket supermarkets. The Royal Ontario Museum is also worth a visit. Not only for its architecture but also for its interesting exhibitions.

Watch our vlog of Toronto, Uber, Distillery District & Yorkville in 24 hours!

Los Angeles, Abbot Kinney, Dr. Phil & Silver Lake

with 2 Comments

Again we discovered new inspiring places when we were in Los Angeles. The day of arrival we went to Abbot Kinney in Venice. A street full of hip and funny shops, nice coffee spots such as Intelligentsia Coffee to have coffee and for lunch The Butchers Daughter is a nice suggestion. We had dinner at The Tasting Kitchen. A small platter of anti pasti and two glasses of red wine for almost hundred dollar was a little bit overrated but the ambiance was worth it.

The next day we went to Hollywood to the Paramount Studio's as we joined a show of Dr. Phil! It was hilarious. We were in the front row. Before Dr. Phil came in the audience was warmed up with music and dancing and we screamed loud to get a Dr. Phil mug. So we got one! The show was about a woman who accused her husband of injecting her with poison every night and abusing their three daughters. In the end it was clear she had a mental problem and it was her own figment. It was great that we experienced a Dr. Phil show. Afterwards we got a slice of pizza and left the set before a second show would be recorded. One show was enough for us ;-)!

We discovered a very nice new upcoming district: Silver Lake. The neighborhood was named after Water Board Commissioner Herman Silver, who was instrumental in the creation of the Silver Lake Reservoir, located within the neighborhood. The Silver Lake Reservoir is fantastic. It is situated near Silver Lake Boulevard and it's a stone's throw from Chinatown, a short bike ride from downtown L.A. and Los Feliz. The Silver Lake Reservoir is about to end its career as a reservoir and begin its new, full-time career as a chill place to hang or whatever. The Silver Lake Blvd is worth a visit. Lots of trendy places surrounded by the Hollywood hills. The audience is hip and young and it is a relaxed place to wander around. Take a break at LAMILL coffee. W. Sunset Blvd is also worth a visit. Don't forget to visit Bar Keeper. It is a cozy shop specialized in high-quality spirits & bitters, vintage glasses & other bar supplies.

We ended our fantastic day on our beloved Manhattan Beach and watched the sunset. Again it was a great trip to our second hometown!

Watch our vlog of Los Angeles, Abbot Kinney, Dr. Phil & Silver Lake!

Shanghai and her mini me meets Lost (in) Heaven

with 2 Comments

Shanghai is China's largest metropolis. The city that never sleeps. They work on it twenty four hours a day, seven days a week during rain, snow or shine! We visited Shanghai a couple of days before China's New Year will take place. The year 2016 will be the year of the monkey. After we arrived late in the afternoon we decided not to sleep, due to the time difference. We went out to have a glimpse of the city instead. We took a taxi. Be aware that most of the older taxi drivers can't understand or read English. So, have the address you want to go to written in the Chinese language because otherwise you will not reach you destination.

The next day we discovered a great store in the Xiantidi Shopping Mall. It is called Pinla3d. The store, the first of its kind in the city, is offering a 1:1 life-size replica for people who want to have a life-like portrait of themselves (a mini-me) or of their loved ones. The store offers visitors 3D body scanning and printing. Scanning only takes three to five minutes and you can choose the right size for your clone and even an outfit! You have to wait two weeks before your replica is ready to take home from the store. These life sized, ‘Mini-me's’ aren’t cheap, costing $28,500 each. But if you’ve got the cash then why not indulge in the ultimate selfie and go get yourself a ceramic clone? Or buy a small mini-me. That will cost you around $200.

With the easiest and cheapest way to travel through Shanghai, the subway, we went to the French Concession district to Yongfu Lu and checked out the lovely spot of Lolo Love Vintage. In this shop there are gorgeous items from decades gone. Such as shoes, jewelry, hats, ties, dresses and crockery. The sprawling space of Yongfu Lu is full of nostalgic glamour and kitsch trinkets, such as typewriters and toy dolls, while standout pieces adorn mannequins or decorate the walls. Lolo Love Vintage focus on the ’20s-’40s period.

We changed from the period of the 20s-40s into modern times and had lunch at the chic boutique hotel The Waterhouse at South Bund. Set in a converted warehouse dating from the 1930s. Here, the tans of unfinished wood and grays of burnished brick emit a pleasing warm ambiance to have a nice but little bit overpriced lunch. After lunch we walked along the Bund. One of the most recognisable landmarks in Shanghai today. There is a distinct contrast between the old and classical Bund at Puxi. On the other side of the river are the sky scrapers and modern towers at Lujiazui, Pudong, the financial center of Shanghai and China. It is hard to imagine that a small fishing village would one day grow into this magnificent city!

During our walk along the Bund it snowed so we were freakin cold and wet. We were happy we could settle at Lost Heaven to have dinner afterwards. With its low lighting and minority-inspired designs, Lost Heaven sets the mould for Shanghai-based Yunnanese restaurants. But use your flashlight of your mobile phone to see what's on the menu ;-)! They do relatively authentic Yunaan food, and if you wanna do pre- or post-dinner drinks they have a really nice terrace on the roof. Prices are reasonable for the location and views. 

Watch our vlog of Shanghai!