The Land of the Rising Sun – Kyoto Part One

Bobby and I booked a hotel in Kyoto for five days, but made it six when we accidentally left Tokyo by train a day early.  I must say in all our hotel stays, that was a first. Luckily, our “sold out” hotel had an opening for the additional night (for 150% the cost, of course), so we didn’t have to search out somewhere new to stay.  Six days may seem like a lot of time in one city, but Kyoto was a good one to have a little breathing room. I think you could stay in Kyoto for three months and not see all the temples in the city.  There really are *that* many…. [Read More]

The Land of the Rising Sun – Tokyo Edition

The 3 lanterns

Before leaving Korea, we made a short list of places that we would like to visit.  Although we won’t complete it in time, we marked a huge one of my dream list by traveling to Japan two weeks ago.  We can’t really travel like we used to – changing hotels and cities every day or two – because we have a baby in tow.  We have to respect some semblance of a routine for Stella or we will be in for a difficult day, so we made the decision to base ourselves in two places -Tokyo and Kyoto.  We flew in to Narita International Airport and one of Bobby’s friends, who is currently stationed in Japan and lives in Tokyo, picked us up.  We spent 2.5 days in the capital city.  Even though I expected Tokyo to be just another big city, I was pleasantly surprised.  We ended up really enjoying ourselves and preferred Tokyo over the Korean capital city of Seoul…. [Read More]

A Weekend in Seoul

Jogyesa Temple garden filled with chrysanthemums

When Stella turned 4 months old, she was up for her second round of immunizations.  I switched over her Tricare insurance plan so she could be seen at Osan AB, where a pediatrician is on staff. Osan AB is north of Kunsan and is only about 30 minutes from Seoul, so we figured it would be a great opportunity to see the city.  Stella should at least get to have a little fun if she has to be poked and prodded, right?  Of course, the clinic on base is only open on weekdays, so Bobby decided to take a Monday off and we spent the long weekend together.  On Saturday, we went to the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (air show), we walked around and saw the sites on Sunday and poor Stella received her shots on Monday…. [Read More]

The Baekje Cultural Land and Naesosa Temple

This was actually my favorite structure in the complex (it's not the actual temple. This houses the large drum)

When Stella and I finally got on Korean time, we were ready to take our first trip (albeit small) to some of the neighboring temples.  Our first jaunt was to the Baekje Cultural Land near Buyeo.  A fellow Air Force spouse had mentioned this complex and considering it wasn’t a very long drive (just a little over an hour), we decided to check it out.  Our second trip came the following weekend to Naesosa Temple in the Byeonsanbando National Park, south of base…. [Read More]

Sicily – Stepping Back in Time [Part 2]

Scala dei Turchi

Carrie is currently working some other web tasks so I decided to pinch hit for her again.  Now that you’ve officially been warned, let’s talk about Sicily!

Our western loop continued with a trip to the Scala dei Turchi (the Turk’s staircase), a stark white rock formation that juts into the Mediterranean.  On our last trip to the Valley of the Temples, we passed really closed but didn’t quite make it there.  This time we vowed to see the calcium and clay formation that’s been a popular sunbathing spot since the Greeks populated the island.  Unfortunately for us, the wind was ripping and a storm was on the horizon so we didn’t get to layout.  We did however admire it from afar and above…. [Read More]

Sicily – Stepping Back in Time [Part 1]

The wildflowers made for a gorgeous landscape

I’ve been a bit slow about blogging lately, so here’s to catching up!  In mid-April, Bobby and I took a nine-day trip to Sicily and it was our second time visiting the island.  On our first trip, we visited some pretty amazing places – Taormina, Siracusa, and Agrigento (to name a view), which are located in the eastern half of Sicily.  This time, we wanted to make a western loop.  I guess you could say our “loop” got a little out of hand being that we ended up covering 3/4 of the island and driving over 500 miles.

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Southern Exposure – Sicily [Part 2]

Upclose of the salt art

The second part of our Sicilian journey brought even more archeological sites: a couple Roman amphitheaters, another Greek theater, and the best preserved Greek temple in the world.** We had the pleasure of traveling along the eastern coast from Taormina to Siracusa, across the southern border to see Noto and Agrigento, and then finally north to see Monreale, a suburb of Palermo.  Sicily was an interesting place.  The island’s overwhelming beauty is combined with some not-so-great everyday occurrences.  We saw several blatant tax-evasion schemes, a couple “mafiosi” throwing their weight around, and a few very clever driving techniques.  Bobby and I agree that south of Rome, Italy is a completely different country and this was certainly capitalized, underlined, and placed in bold in Sicily…. [Read More]

Where it all [or, at least most of it] began……Athens – Part Two

Caryatid Statues on the Erechtheion

The second day brought more heat and more history.  We spent most of the day at Athens’ main archeological and historical site, the Acropolis, and then spent the night looking at it from nearby Mars and Philopappos Hills.  The Acropolis is located on a flat-topped rock that rises 150 m (490 ft) above the city of Athens.  The complex atop the hill contains the remains of several important ancient buildings, the most famous being the Parthenon.  The Parthenon was constructed in 447 BC and since 1983, the structure has been under heavy restoration.  Nowadays, we are incredibly luckily to even get to view the ancient temples on their original sites, as the Acropolis has been set fire to, bombed, looted, and defaced over thousands of years.  … [Read More]

Benvenuti al Sud!

paestum

In Italy, there is a clear distinction between north and south.  It’s not a physical distinction — it’s more of “oh you live in the south?” (followed by a grimace) or “oh, you are one of those northerners” (again followed by a grimace, famous Italian gesture, etc.) Benvenuti al Sud! Each region in Italy has strong pride and each region thinks it is better than all the others.  Then, the northern regions collectively band together and think they are better than the south and vice-versa. … [Read More]