Opinion and Background:
Towards foreigners, Mexicans seem united in their love for their country. However, amongst themselves, distinct (but friendly) battle lines are drawn showing off specific city pride, with everyone claiming that their city is the most beautiful and unique in Mexico. While its easy to brush this off as typical over aggrandizement of one’s hometown, it is actually quite remarkable how different Mexican cities can look compared to each other, and for once, the hype is justified.
Seoul is the city I currently live in, so naturally, I have a lot of great things to say about it. Here are three more things to do in Southern Seoul using the Express Bus Terminal Subway Exit as a reference point. I am using that station as a starting point because it is a good central location in the South side of Seoul, and a likely location for visitors who take the long distance buses to locations outside of Seoul to places like Yeoju (King Sejong’s Tomb). However, you can of course see these any time you are in southern Seoul. This is essentially a “part 3” post, so in case you missed the first two articles, they are here, and here.
1) Bongeunsa Temple and Temple Stay
Bongeunsa is always decorated with lanterns. (credit wikipedia)
This is the main Buddha statue in the temple (credit: Wikipedia)
While it feels calm inside, you are still in the heart of the city. The sky scrappers of Seoul are clearly visible. (credit: Wikipedia)
Many temples in Korea have stone pagodas in the front. This temple has been around for hundreds of years. (credit: Seoulistic.com)
While this is a different temple, the picture is meant to show a temple stay experience. Here, the monks are doing their afternoon prayers in Haeinsa Temple.
Bongeunsa is one of the largest Buddhist temples in Seoul. Despite what websites like tripadvisor might tell you, it is actually quite easy to find a Buddhist temple in Seoul. However, just like you wouldn’t tour just any regular church, most Buddhist temples are meant for meditating or praying, not tourism. This one however is quite impressive for its size and history given that it is in the heart of Seoul. Most of the other important temples in Korea, such as Haeinsa Temple near Daegu (article coming soon) or Bulguksa Temple near Gyeongju (also coming soon) are quite far from the city and are deserving of a trip in their own right. Bongeunsa however, is perfect for people on a “time budget” who don’t have an extra day to visit far away temples.
Three things were not enough, so here are three more things you can do in Venice. Why didn’t I just make a list of 6 things to do in Venice? Well, it is easier for me to handle three at a time, and I think it’s easier for you, the reader, to get bite sized information than an overwhelming list. I digress:
1) Visit Murano or Burano
The islands of Murano and Burano are islets near Venice. They are part of the municipality that governs Venice but maintains a unique, less crowded culture. Murano is known for its production of glass.
I must admit that I was not originally impressed with Murano. It was sold to me as a better version of Venice. In fact, it is like Venice, but smaller, who would want that? Now that I think of it though, maybe some people would (after visiting Venice enough time). Murano is famous for its continuing tradition as a glass producer. There are still plenty of shops who offer tours for 5 Euro and produce some of the finest glass in Italy. While I didn’t personally have time to visit Burano, I have been assured that it is similar, which is why I clumped them into a single entry.
This post is a bit of a cheat since I am going to suggest some things technically included in the Venice UNESCO World Heritage inscription. However, these three things are to fill up your itinerary once you are already in Venice. While some are obvious, others you might not have considered.
1) Stroll Around at Night Time
The first thing you will notice in Italy is The Grand Canal. What is the second thing you ask? The CROWDS! I didn’t try to look very hard, but I didn’t notice much of a “night scene” in Venice besides a few scattered restaurants that were open. Furthermore, from my personal observation, the majority of the crowds came from cruise ships and were much older than me (20’s). Maybe it was a combination of these three things that makes Venice quiet at night, which is a good thing! The canals, and the city in general is as aesthetically pleasing at night as it is in the day.
Background and Opinion:
If you have the dream of a quiet, romantic getaway taking a gondola with a native Venetian singing Solemio, about 200 million tourists thought of it first. Is that to say that Venice is not worth going to, not in the least! Everyone should go at least once! However, Venice gets 20 million visitors a year, which adds up to around 70,000 a day during high season in a city that is not very big to begin with. The crowds are something to consider since during peak season, some streets are bursting at the seems with people, especially those traveling in huge groups by cruise ship.
Venice is one of the most unique places I have ever visited. It is composed of over 100 islands linked together by bridges. Even with a map, it is quite the labyrinth. Probably the most refreshing thing about Venice is not seeing a single car (if you stay away from the bus station that connects to the rest of Italy) in the entire city. The whole transportation system is water based, with boat cops, firefighters, trash collectors, taxis, buses, etc. To truly appreciate Venice, try walking around in the middle of the night when it is finally quiet. Of course, very few places will be open, but the canals will finally settle, and you can even see the tide go up if you look at the steps that lead to the boats (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there).