I Love the Family Feel at Irons Fruit Farm

One of the things I missed while living overseas were good old honest to goodness pumpkin patches. This being our first Fall back in the States I’ve vowed to make up for lost time. The kids and I have been to at least three so far this season with plans to hit at least two more! This past weekend we visited Irons Fruit Farm and so far it is one of my favorites. It isn’t a fancy place but that’s what I like about it, it doesn’t feel commercial, it feels like you just drove down the lane to visit an old friend on their family farm. I also like that they don’t charge you for every single little thing. There is a swing set area for the kids to play, a little train, and a few animals that you can look at all for free. They also have a small store where you can buy apples and apple cider, as well as fresh donuts and apple fritters. The fritters are fantastic, so definitely don’t miss out on those!
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Address:  1640 Stubbs Mills Rd, Lebanon, OH 45036

 

Yellow Springs Ohio

Yellow Springs is a cute little hippy town near John Bryant State Park.   It has a fun and friendly feel.  It’s a great place to stroll and people watch. My girl and I enjoyed trying to spot the “hippies” (barefoot 20 something’s with dreads). lol We definitely saw our fair share. If you are looking for import items, it’s the place to go. 🙂  Of course there are other types of shops as well and a couple of really nice cafes to stop and grab a bite.

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One of our first stops was this coffee shop.  Strolling is always more fun with a tasty iced coffee.DSC_4671DSC_4678DSC_4681DSC_4685DSC_4677DSC_4694

Who knew trash cans could be so cute!DSC_4689DSC_4688DSC_4706DSC_4702DSC_4703

Hop on Over to the Bunny Cafe in Hongdae

Yesterday while hanging out in Hongdae my daughter and I happened upon what has to be the newest animal cafe in Seoul!  Just 10 days old, Bunny Cafe lets you do just what the name suggests, hang out with adorable little bunnies.  The cafe has a cute Alice in Wonderland theme throughout, and I loved the checkered floors with the bright pink and blue color scheme.  DSC_4414DSC_4411Upon entering the cafe we were greeted by one of the owners.  She explained how to hold the bunnies.  Then we were each able to choose from 12 different bunnies which ones we wanted to pet.  They have several different types of bunnies, long haired, short haired, different colors, floppy eared ones. ❤

After choosing our furry friends we walked into the petting enclosure where we sat down and pet our bunnies.  My daughter and I do not have much experience with bunnies so these little guys were cracking us up.  You have to hold them a certain way so they feel secure otherwise they will take off on you.  My girl was a little nervous and had a harder time holding on to them.  She’d have one for a couple of minutes, but then it would escape her, and go hopping off all over the enclosure, which is very cute in it’s own right.  For an additional 2,000 Won you can buy food to feed the bunnies which we did.  Not being very familiar with bunnies one thing we were surprised about is how much bunnies poop! lol  They hop and poop, hop and poop, kinda ew, but the owners were right there sweeping everything up and keeping the area as clean as possible.DSC_4353

The enclosure area is quite large, you and three friends could easily fit.DSC_4383DSC_4376DSC_4387DSC_4405DSC_4393DSC_4367DSC_4409That floppy eared gray one, so cute!  So if you are into animal cafes or you just love bunnies, then you should hop on over to the Bunny Cafe. 😉

Prices:DSC_4410

Directions:  The Bunny Cafe is tucked away on one of the side streets off the main walking area in Hongdae.  Go to Hongik University Station, exit 9, turn left and walk to the main walking area.  Turn left again and walk until you come to a traffic circle.  Turn right down the street next to Hasty Com (where the three men are walking). DSC_4420Walk for just a couple of minutes and the cafe will be on the right (pink and blue building).  DSC_4416

 

Feeling So So about Seoullo 7017

Seoullo 7017 created a lot of buzz before it’s grand opening. I read several articles about it and was so excited by the hype that I felt the need to check it out during the grand opening weekend. Seoullo 7017 is a revamped overpass that was originally built in 1970 and has now been transformed into a pedestrian walkway in 2017. There are 17 entrance/exits from the 938me path that lead to different sections of the city near Seoul Station. The path is nice enough but as of right now, it just isn’t that special. There are over 200 species of plants and trees planted which in a couple of years will probably be beautiful, provide shade, and those types of things, but right now they’re quite small and not so impressive. There are a few food stations along the strip but most of what was offered wasn’t that appetizing. I’d read that there is supposed to be a small library where people could sit and read books and puppet shows, but those things aren’t in place yet. If the plans that I’d read about all come to fruition then Seoullo 7017 might eventually be a really fun place to take a stroll but for now it just isn’t all that. It isn’t anything that needs to be added to a must see list. If you happen to be at Seoul Station and heading to Namdaemun Market and if you prefer to walk above ground rather than take the subway, then yeah it’s good for that. The walk does provide a nice view in some areas and while I wasn’t overly impressed with Seoullo 7017, I’m thinking it will get better in time.DSC_1005DSC_1016DSC_1024DSC_1030DSC_1036DSC_0992

One of the small eating establishmentsDSC_1029

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The view of Seoul StationDSC_1082

Namdaemun GateDSC_1086

Hanging out at Hyangiram Hermitage

Have you ever just started driving with no particular destination in mind and wound up somewhere great?  That’s exactly what happened to me a couple of weeks ago when my friend and I stumbled upon Hyangiram Temple, which is one of the four Buddhist Hermitages in South Korea.  My friend and I were out driving, spotted signs for a temple, and decided to check it out.  We found ourselves in a long line of traffic, not sure what the hold up was.  We contemplated turning around but figured that this line of traffic must mean people were waiting for something pretty cool.  So we stuck with it and finally found out that the line of traffic actually ended at a parking lot and nobody could go in until somebody else came out.  It seems all the people had come for a kimchi/clam festival which was nice, but the highlight of the trip for us was Hyangiram Hermitage! The temple was first established in 644 and later would become a base for Buddhist monks who helped fight in the war during the Japanese invasion.  Buddhist temples in Korea are typically painted with very similar colors, so what makes a temple a favorite for me are the unique features that make the temple memorable, and this one had several.  Hyangiram Hermitage sits high above the sea and we had to walk several up several paths and steep steps to get to it.  DSC_6752

The first thing I noticed, after I caught my breath, was how beautifully the temple blends with it’s surroundings.  As we made our way through narrow passageways in rocks it was evident that great care was taken to preserve the natural integrity of the space.DSC_6777DSC_6779DSC_6781

The second thing that stands out about this temple are the thousands of turtle statues.  They are everywhere!  Many have bracelets around their necks and coins on their heads or backs. So cute!

In addition to the turtles there are many other thoughtful touches that make spending time in this temple thoroughly enjoyable.  It is said that it is a place where the faithful come to pray and I can see why that would be the case.

And the view, well the view is stunning!

Hyangiram Hermitage is all the way at the bottom of the peninsula and I don’t think I’d drive several hours to see it by itself, but if you happened to be in Yeosu or somewhere else not too far away it really is a special site.

Here are a few shots of the kimchi/clam festival.

And a Buddhist artist with a little shop.

My friend and I had such an awesome day.  Sometimes it’s really refreshing to forget all the planning and just go.

Hyangiram Hermitage address:  60, Hyangiram-ro, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do

Daegu’s Dalgubeol Lantern Festival

Every spring lanterns pop up across Korea to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.  You can see them strung through the trees and decorating temples.  There are lantern parades in the bigger cities.  Daegu is one of those large cities that hosts a parade but in addition to the parade and the stationary lanterns that decorate the river, they also hold a floating lantern festival.  I believe it’s the only mass floating lantern release in Korea and it is spectacular!  I saw pics of the event shortly after I arrived in Korea and thought how beautiful it was and that I should go, but then I’d get busy, and not think of it again until I saw pics the following year meaning I’d missed it. lol  This happened twice!  Daegu is a good three hour drive from where I live, I don’t go there often, and so I never really kept track of the cool activities happening there.  Finally I got smart and liked the Colorful Daegu Page so that I wouldn’t miss out whenever they have a truly awesome event.  So this year I knew in plenty of time when the festival was happening and I made plans with a photographer friend of mine to go see it.  I got in touch with Ask Ajumma who has been very helpful getting me tickets for different events and told them I’d like tickets.  The event organizers sold 2,000 tickets on one day and then 2,000 tickets at a later date to supposedly “make it more fair”.  The first group of tickets sold out almost instantly but I wasn’t worried because the following week I had Ask Ajumma prepared to jump on some tickets.  Well I guess they didn’t jump fast enough because they weren’t able to secure them, all the tickets to release lanterns were gone.  I was a little bummed, but truth be told I didn’t want to release a lantern.  I’ve been to the massive lantern release in Chiang Mai where I took part in releasing a lantern.  It was an amazing experience but it was also difficult holding on to a burning lantern while simultaneously trying to take pics of the event.  I left Chiang Mai feeling happy that I’d taken part, and happy with the pics I did get, but truth be told also a little sad that I’d missed the epic pic I’d had in mind that I’d hoped to take.  This time I just wanted to photograph the event and hopefully fingers crossed come away with an epic photo!  In addition to 4,000 tickets sold to release lanterns there were also going to be 6,000 free tickets offered on site for people to enter the venue and watch. 6,000 seems like a lot of tickets so my friend I felt confident we’d get down there in time to grab some of those tickets.  Well we were wrong!  Apparently people had started lining up early in the morning and by the time we found the ticket tent all of the tickets were gone.:(  It was at this point I knew the perfect picture I was hoping to take was not going to happen.  The festival  was held inside a baseball stadium and the outer edge of the stadium is lined with trees making a clear shot impossible.  We were so disappointed.  We’d driven all this way to take a specific picture and we weren’t going to be able to take it.  So we decided to make the best of the situation and stake out the next best location that we could.  There were gates funneling people into the stadium and if we stood by those gates we could still get a nice clear shot of the tower and we knew we’d still get decent photos.  Sure we’d have to stand there for three hours to hold our spot but we were willing to do that.  Photography is so much fun. 😉  About 30 minutes into our wait a security guard came by and told all of us hanging out at the barrier that we couldn’t stand there and we needed to move back.  My friend I were not happy, if we had to shoot from the further location it would mean a telephone wire would cut directly across our view of the tower.  We decided we’d stay back until the lanterns started being released and then we’d rush the barricade.  We continued to wait, during this time new people started lining up directly behind the barricade, the security guard came through once again and told everybody to move back.  We kept on waiting.  A third time people started standing directly behind the barricade.  The line grew two people deep, three people deep, four people deep, and my friend and I thought well Mr. Over Zealous security guard will be here any minute to push them all away.  Nope, wrong again!  Suddenly it was fine for people to stand up against the barrier and we’d lost our spot.  My friend and I knew that we’d have to join the frey and just hope that we’d get a least one shot we could be happy with.  We packed into the crowd and for the next hour and half endured the constant pushing of people trying to walk on the path behind us.  We were packed in like sardines and not having much fun.  Finally at 8:00 pm the lanterns started being released.  Floating lanterns truly are a beautiful site and those fifteen minutes made all the annoyances we’d been through worth it.DSC_8953DSC_8958DSC_8982.jpgDSC_9010DSC_9015

While this night didn’t go as we’d hoped, I still don’t have my epic shot, I highly recommend this festival.  If you are going there for photography purposes you are going to want to try really hard to get the paid tickets.  I wish I could tell you how to do that, it might be an instance where you need to have a Korean friend whose waiting to help you the minute they go on sale.  If you’re hoping to score the free tickets, go early and expect to wait in line for a couple of hours.  Just to let you know if you are sitting in the free ticket sections the Daegu Tower will be to your back and it won’t be in your pics.  However you can still take some beautiful pictures of the lanterns being released.  If you are going just to enjoy the festival and watch those thousands of lanterns fill the sky, you can still do that from outside the stadium.  If you are going to celebrate Buddha’s birthday, it’s an absolutely beautiful place to do that.  For whatever reason you are considering going, just go, it’s truly an ooh ahh moment.  Literally the whole crowd will ooh and ahh, you yourself will do it without even realizing it’s happening. lol  I wish you the best of luck for next year and happy lantern viewing!

Location:  Duryu baseball park(in Duryu park)

Gwangmyeong Cave Theme Park

Over Spring Break I took my kids to Gwangmyeong Cave.  I’m fairly certain it’s the first cave theme park that I’ve been to and it’s an interesting place.  This cave is jam packed with things that you wouldn’t necessarily think would go together and keeps you guessing what you might find around each corner.  The cave is totally random and fun now, but it didn’t start out that way.  While winding through it’s tunnels and caverns you get to learn a bit about the history and the horrible conditions that miners were subjected to when the cave was first mined during the Japanese occupation.  “After liberation, Gwangmyeong Cave became the largest mine in the capital region, producing nearly 100 tonnes of gold, silver, copper, and zinc every month.” (Gwangmyeong Cave brochure)  The cave closed in 1972 when flooding made mining operations impossible, and reopened as a theme park in 2011.  As I already mentioned this cave has all sorts of really cool things to see so I’m just going to show you what we saw while we were there.  At the entrance of the cave there are hard hats that you can wear if you like, my boys were all about the hard hats.  You start your walk through a dark tunnel and are then greeted by these cute little guys.

It wouldn’t be a proper attraction without some form of adorableness.DSC_7087

From there you take the path to the right and go down the rainbow tunnel.DSC_7088

There are a couple of led art displays in different locations throughout the cave.

There is also a small aquariumDSC_7098

An awesome laser show is held in the largest cavern.

There are several “gold” attractions where guests are encouraged to makes wishes.

The Golden TunnelDSC_7096DSC_7146

The Golden WaterfallDSC_7148

Then you come to stairs leading further into the cave.  I was hoping that we’d go down and not have to come back up, but you do have to come back up. lol

At the bottom of the steps is a really creepy exhibit.  It wasn’t open while we were there, it opens in July, but I’m kind of interested in what it’s all about.DSC_7163

In another large cavern you find the “Lord of the Cave” (the dragon) and Gollum.  See what I mean, random.  According to the brochure the dragon is the largest dragon statue in Korea and was manufactured by New Zealand Weta Workshop which is famous for it’s work on Lord of the Rings.  Pretty coolDSC_7174

As you make your way back up the steps you come to an art exhibit.  It’s a great place to stop and catch your breath before you tackle the last set of steps.DSC_7176

You can also peer down into the underground lake.  DSC_7170

And then you come to the Wine Cave portion of the cave!  The Wine Cave has almost 100 types of Korean wine for sale.  It is advertised that wine tasting is available every Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 but we went on a Friday and I was offered a couple of samples.  Sadly I was driving so I didn’t get to taste any. 😦  I’m not sure if it was a special occasion that day or if there is always at least a little wine to try, but if you’re interested in wine tasting it definitely happens on Saturday and Sunday.

I loved the vibe of the Wine Cave.DSC_7187

For a really unique experience, by reservation only, you can dine at the Wine Restaurant called Maru de Cave.  The number to make reservations is 070-4277-8908.  This is a pic of a pic from the brochure, but I wanted to show you how nice the Cave Restaurant looks.DSC_8858

The last stretch of the cave takes you through the vegetable factory, some of the veggies grown there are served in the restaurant, and a cave botanical garden.DSC_7186DSC_7185

That pretty much wraps up our Gwanmyeong Cave day.  The brochure mentions a couple of other experiences that are available, like panning for gold, but they weren’t happening when we were there and the woman I spoke with couldn’t tell me when they start.  There is one last event I want to share with you that sounds like a lot of fun!  Maybe a mini girls wine trip while the kiddos are at school. 😉 DSC_8855

When I first told my kids that I was taking them to a cave I got a lot of “What?  Why do we have to go to a cave?”  However by the end of the day we’d had a great time and they were thanking me for bringing them.  We chose to picnic that day but there are several food stalls outside of the cave as well.  If you decide to check out Gwangmyeong Cave for yourself, I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did!

Hours: 09:00-18:00 Closed Mondays  Last tickets to enter sold at 17:00.

Entrance Fees:  Adult 6,000, Serviceman 4,000, Teenager 3,500, Child 2,000.

Address:  142, Gahak-ro 85beon-gil, Gwangmyeong-si, Gyeonggi-do

Seoul’s Meerkat Friends Cafe

Oh yes you read that right, in Seoul there is a meerkat cafe, and it is awesome! The city of Seoul has over 18,000 coffee shops. So what might a cafe owner do to compete? Well in some cases they bring in animals, but not just any old animals. Sure you can find dog and cat cafes, but you can also find raccoon and now a meerkat cafe.  Last Saturday my daughter and I headed to Hongdae to find ourselves some meerkats! I couldn’t locate any good directions on how to walk there from the subway so once we exited Hongik University Station we just found the tourist helpers that are dressed in red and asked them where to go. We found the cafe easily and headed up to the third floor. As soon as you walk through the door you have to swap out your shoes for a pair of crocs and order your drink. The drinks are on the expensive side costing 8,000-10,000 Won each, but we didn’t really go there for drinks, we went to pet meerkats, and thus we didn’t mind the price. When we first arrived the meerkats were actually taking a nap so we drank our drinks and met the other cute critters at the cafe.

Sleepy meerkats.  How can I get this job? 😉
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In addition to meerkats there is an absolutely adorable kitten who was more than happy to be scooped up and snuggled.DSC_7761DSC_7731

A frisky drink stealing raccoon!DSC_7650

Trying to lick up a couple of drops before the owner shooed him away and cleaned up his mess. lolDSC_7672DSC_7718

A fox.  This guy I actually felt a little bad for.  He seemed restless, like he didn’t really enjoy being there.  He wasn’t mean at all but did not want to be pet and pretty much kept moving trying to avoid anyone that came too near.  DSC_7664DSC_7721

When he got tired he found himself a spot way behind the cages so that he could sleep without anyone bothering him.DSC_7760

There was also a genet.  I’d never heard of a genet before but according to Wikipedia it’s “a member of the genus Genetta, which consists of 14 to 17 species of small African carnivorans”  He was so cool!DSC_7751DSC_7771DSC_7785

Finally the meerkats started waking up and we got in line to take a turn petting them.DSC_7607

There are two enclosures with meerkats and once inside we had about 10 minutes to sit and hang out with them.  The cafe gets crowded so I’d recommend getting there early, the hours are from 12:00-22:00.  You must be 15 to enter and agree to follow the posted rules.DSC_7723DSC_7609

My daughter and I had to wait probably 20 minutes or so before we could pet them but it was definitely worth it.  These little guys were so cute and sweet!  DSC_7638DSC_7617DSC_7703DSC_7614

If you are an animal lover or just looking for a unique animal experience I definitely say head over to Hongdae and check out Meerkat Friends Cafe!  I also just recently heard about a cafe with capybara!  Stay tuned to hear how that goes. 🙂

Address:  19-12 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

The Sweet Swans Swimming in Seokchon

There is currently a rather large and Sweet Swan family swimming in Seokchon Lake in Seoul.  The swans were created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman who also created the traveling Big Rubber Duck Project.  These swans are meant to signify spring and love.  I think they are cute and fun and if you head out to see them soon you’ll also be able to see the cherry blossoms that circle the lake.  You have until May 8th to see these sweeties and then they’ll swim away. 🙂DSC_7547DSC_7551 DSC_7541

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Address:136, Samhaksa-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul

Finally Crossed Boseong Green Tea Fields off the Bucket List!

My time in South Korea is winding down and I’m busy trying to see those last few sites that I just haven’t made it to yet.  The biggest site left on my Korean bucket list was the Boseong Green Tea Fields and I finally checked it off this past weekend.  This destination made CNN’s list of 50 Beautiful Places to Visit in Korea and is popular with Korean’s and foreigners alike.  I’d mentioned to my very good friend that I really wanted to visit during the spring and she suggested we just do it, so two days later we threw our backpacks in her car and headed south.  I specifically chose to visit during the spring because I wanted to see the green tea trees in-conjunction with blossoms but after looking through some of the pictures in the gift shop it seems to be beautiful all year long.  DSC_6395With around 3 million decorative trees it really is quite stunning.  DSC_6408DSC_6420

Another plus to visiting during the spring is the cooler temps, the climb to the top is steep and not something I’d care to do during the heat and humidity of summer.DSC_6547

However, once you make it to the top the view is absolutely worth it!  On a clear day you can even see the ocean.DSC_6455

Clear days can be hard to come by here, but you can kinda see it right? 🙂DSC_6489

After we finished roaming all through the rows of tea we made our way to the gift shop.  As you would expect you can buy a number of green tea items, soap, candy, tea pots, and the famed tea itself.

There is also a cute little cafe where you can buy snacks to include green tea ice cream.  DSC_6599

I don’t enjoy green tea ice cream myself so I snapped a pick of this girl enjoying hers.DSC_6587

If you don’t mind crowds the yearly Boseong Green Tea Festival will take place May 3-7 2017.  For more information on the festival you can click here.  The Boseong Green Tea Fields are beautiful and I’m so grateful to my friend for taking this trip with me!

Address: 775, Nokcha-ro, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do