Tag Archives: Recreation

Three things to do in Geoje

One of the best things about Korea are the many “red” days (bank holidays – time off).  This summer I went to Geoje with two friends.  If you’re not familiar, Geoje is a small island off the east coast, near Busan.  It has some lovely beaches and can be accessed by bridge, making it easier to travel to than some other Korean islands (such as Jeju and Oedo).

Most tourist information focuses on how to get to Geoje from Seoul.  However, this account will be from Daejeon, in central Korea.  There is a direct bus from Daejeon to Geoje.  It can be caught from the Express Bus Terminal and is 18,000KRW (about $16.50).  The bus ride itself took about 3 hours.  From the terminal in Geoje, I recommend finding a love motel – we paid 70,000KRW a night for a “VIP” room with two double beds.  The hotel that we stayed in was called Maldives (말다이브스) and was near to the terminal; the bus terminal in Geoje is also the starting location for city buses, so this is where you will go to catch a bus to the beach.

If you model your trip off of ours, here is what you will do:

1. Gujora (구조라) beach.  You can catch a bus from the bus terminal; it will take about an hour.  There are many buses that lead to Gujora.  Check the screen at the bus terminal.  The cost will be about 1,100 KRW (less than a dollar).

 

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2.  Oedo (외도 ) island Botania botanical gardens.  Oedo can only be accessed by ferry.  The costs of ferry (return) plus the garden admissions are 26,000 per person.  You can take a city bus (1,100KRW) to the ferry site.


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3. Windy Hill (신선대) is a hill with a windmill.  The view is lovely and well worth the 1 hr bus ride.

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Have you been to Geoje?  Where did you go on your last trip?  Next post: Samcheok and Sokcho!

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Ireland Day 3: Glenveagh and Sligo

On the morning of the 10th, the bad weather broke, or we drove out of it.  It was early afternoon when we arrived at Glenveagh National Park, and the rain had mostly stopped.  We caught a shuttle to Glenveagh Castle and settled in for a tour of the house and gardens.

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What man wouldn’t want a dressing room like this?

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Glenveagh Castle can only be accessed by guided tour, which was €5.  The shuttle to the Castle and gardens is usually €2-3, but I don’t recall that they charged us for this; possibly because it was the off-season, early morning, and raining.  The tour itself was very basic, and the guide didn’t seem eager or engaged with the subject (this bothered Shane more than it did me).   Half of the rooms we were directed to and told that we could tour at our leisure, without commentary from the guide.  There was also a video for viewing, but we skipped it and headed to the gardens.

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From touring the house and gardens, we decided to walk back to the carpark instead of taking the shuttle.  It was only a couple of miles, but we took our time walking.  Now, I’m a city girl through and through, but I have to say that one of the things that I most enjoy about dating Shane is being taken out of my element and out of my comfort zone.  And there is something affirming about being outside together, just walking, surrounded by nature.  During our first year together, in Korea, we walked everywhere, and it wasn’t just good for our bodies: it was great for our relationship.  No distractions, just the two of us, walking and talking and being genuinely entertained by each other.

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From there we drove on to Sligo, where we were staying that night.

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My driving’s not that bad!

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Finally, after night had fallen, we arrived in Sligo.  We were staying at a Best Western, but it was very difficult to find (it was listed under a different name).  But when we found it, we were pleased with the room and ended up eating at the restaurant.

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The food was bar food: bland pasta for me and a ham and veg plate for Shane.  I thought his was good but he thought it had too much gravy.  Sligo is a very pretty town, but it was basically closed down by 8pm, when we arrived.  So keep this in mind if you want dinner or entertainment there.

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By the Yeats statue

Shane and I walked around Sligo that night.  It was a very walkable town, cute, but it was empty and I felt unsafe.  I’m sure that it’s great during the day, but I recommend to travelers that you decide exactly what you want to do in Sligo and plan your trip accordingly.

 

 

Ireland day 2: the North (and a warning)

The second day of our trip got off to a bad start.  I hesitated to write about this part because I don’t want to taint my blog with negativity, but my stat counters show that lots of travelers have been finding my blog, and they should have all the information available before making a choice.

Shane and I were set to cover lots of ground, so I rented a car.  The price for a 10 day car rental seemed to be from €160-200.  However, many of the websites confused me: lots of asterisks and tiny, grey font.  When I found Dan Dooley, I was relieved because it seemed simple, no bullshit, and even though the prices were a bit higher (€255 for 10 days), their website boasted “fully inclusive rates” and under the section Our Promise, they wrote: “All Inclusive Price Guarantee: No Extra Fees Payable Upon Arrival” and “Our Inclusive car rental low prices are just that, we guarantee there are no Hidden Extras charged when you arrive…It is important when comparing discount car hire costs, that you check what’s included as some companies prices do not incorporate the insurance you’ll need or the compulsory additional local charges.”  Pretty good, huh?

Unfortunately, none of that is true.  When we arrived (all paid up and with our reservation printed out), we were told that we had to put a deposit for extra insurance, and then the deposit would be returned to us when we returned the car.  No big deal, right?  Many companies do this.  Except that the deposit was €1,800.  That’s right.  Over $2,000.

Now, precisely because we were on vacation and didn’t want to lose a card or overspend, neither of us had brought a card with that kind of a limit.  Had we been informed of this mandatory extra fee, I would have brought one or chosen a different company.  We were told that our only other option would be an extra charge of €19 per day – that brought us up to an extra €190 for the car!  And to add insult to injury, the woman at the desk was sneering, condescending and rude.  At one point she snidely asked me, “How old are you?  24?” even though she had my license on her keyboard.  Clearly she was trying to make a point and not ask for information.  And, to make matters worse, when I wrote to Dan Dooley about this incident, I got a clipped, recriminating reply.  Obviously I will continue to mail them, but I think that customers should be aware of this hidden fee and the unhelpful attitude that we encountered.  Although they claim to, Dan Dooley does not treat their customers like “VIPs.”

To get back to our happy vacation: so the trip started on a low note, but as we left Dublin, we felt the gloom lifting.

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We had plans to visit Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Giant’s Causeway, and two friends.

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However, our day soon took a turn for the worse again with even more car troubles.  Most of you probably realized this, but driving on the other side of the road and driving on country roads was not only different for me, but nerve-wracking.  The roads didn’t seem wide enough for me and I couldn’t get a feel for the width of the car.   Due to this issue and others, driving took much longer than we had anticipated, and we ended up losing even more time that day.  And to make matters worse, Shane’s phone was unable to call numbers in the North and my phone couldn’t get any wifi, so we never met with Maeve and Laura!

On the bright side, though, we had some great weather for the beginning of the day.

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Our luck took a turn for the worse again as we neared Carrick-a-rede rope bridge; the weather worsened as we arrived, and it was shut down.  However, we were still able to go out and take pictures.

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Of course, we couldn’t resist taking a quick selfie!

From there the weather got worse, and we had a couple of hours’ drive ahead of us.  By the time that we got to the Giant’s Causeway, it was freezing and I changed into my wellies and put my hair up just to save my cheeks from being whipped with it!  (Tip: if you are going to Ireland, wellies are must, and so are earmuffs!)

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From there we drove to Donegal.  The weather got nasty during the drive…so bad that we pulled in to a parking lot to regroup.  We decided to get dinner at a nearby spot, The Drift Inn, and wait out the storm.  The restaurant itself was cozy, and it had a sort of nautical lodge decor going on.  We both had salmon and talked about whether or not to tip (even after a year and a half in Korea, it still feels unnatural to me not to leave at least a little something).  The storm had passed by the time we left, so we headed to The Lake of Shadows to stay the night.  The reviews had been mixed, but it was a great place.  The reception staff were incredibly helpful and went out of their way for us, even making phone calls for us and helping us find our way around.  So, despite the stress of that morning, the night ended on a high note.

A late happy holidays

It’s been so long!  I’ve been incredibly busy, but I’ve got some fun posts planned, including: what’s in my bag, what’s in my carry-on, Detroit from a Detroiter, how to prepare your cat for a separation, and more.  Before I get ahead of myself, the good news:

  1.  I’m home!  I’m visiting my family in America.  I’ve been here about two weeks with two more to go.  And then
  2. Ireland!  Although I won’t be liveblogging it, you’ll all get to experience my reunion with Shane and our vacation in Éire.  Everything is planned now and I can’t wait to share it all.
  3. I got a university job!  This was the main reason that I’ve not been blogging: I wanted to keep everything shrouded in secrecy until contracts were signed and plans were made.  More about that later.

Before I get caught up in all that’s new, I’d like to share a couple moments from my Christmas dinner, which, in keeping with tradition, was spent with my friend Jordin.  This year we decided to go out for shabu shabu instead of cooking and staying in, and also this year her student joined us:

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christmas07 christmas08Delicious!

If you’re in the Jeonju area and want to drop in on this place, good luck!  It’s quite good (and, actually, it’s the first place I ate at when I came to Korea) but it’s hard to find because the name changed about two years ago and nothing has been updated.  It’s in new Hyoja-dong (효자동),  and it’s called Da Chae Woo Mi (다채우미), formerly Hae Ddeul Nal (해뜰날).  Click here to access the Jeonju city map, scroll down to “Shabu Shabu – mushroom and beef” and you’ll get a map (link opens in a new window).

I hope everyone is having a warm, safe winter season.  If you have any suggestions for posts that you’d like to see while I’m home, let me know!