Historic Center of Zacatecas

The view of Zacatecas from the nearby silver mines.

Location: Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico

Visited: August, 2009

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.

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Redwoods National and State Parks

Along Pacific Coast Highway 1

Location: (North of) Eureka, California, USA

Visited: September, 2007

Background and Opinion:
It is an understatement to say that these are “some big trees.” These behemoths tower higher than you can comfortably tilt your head up, making for a spectacular environment. There is nothing to really plan except for a camping stay near the beach, as this park is located along the northern Californian coast. The “avenue of giants” is a must as it is a side scenic route with some of the largest redwoods (you will see signs for it is you are driving up Pacific Coast Highway 1), some of which you can literally drive through! There are however two downsides.
1) This redwoods area contains the tallest known tree (and consequently, living thing) on Earth. However, due to past vandalism, its location is kept secret from the general public.
2) Accessibility on any sort of a modest budget is out of the question. Like pretty much anything worth seeing in the US, you have to drive to it (foreigners would have to rent a car). Being near the border of Oregon and California, it’s hardly “around the corner.”

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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 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.

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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

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.

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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 views at night are as good as in the daytime, but with less people.
The views at night are as good as in the daytime, but with less people.

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.

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