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SEOUL CAFES

July 10, 2019 Seoul, South Korea

There are so many cafes sprawled in Korea that it's almost impossible to choose and just have one cup of coffee. I love how unique and beautifully designed each coffee shop was, they each had their own vibe and were meticulously curated. One thing I noticed was that a lot of cafe's open late (expect for franchised cafes), around 10:30-11am, but they close late. I will say that Korea doesn't have that many plant based alternatives, but iced americanos are usually the staple drink in Korea.

Below are a list of cafes I would recommend going when you're in Seoul!

LOW COFFEE HANNAM

An adorable cafe with outside seating! I would say it's a bit on the pricier side, but Hannam is an affluent residence area in Seoul which is probably why everything is priced a bit higher. My sister found this place on Instagram and we thought we'd check it out since it was only a 15 minute walk away from our airbnb. The green tea pound cake was moist and my early grey milk tea was amazing. Only downside would be the limited seating, but I would stop by if you're in the area. There's also a mirror outside of the building where you can take a selfie! Check their instagram here and location tag here.

COFFEE & CIGARETTES
What caught my attention about this cafe was the incredible view you can get if you're early enough to get a window seat. It's in an office building so you need to take the elevator, but once you get off you'll see huge glass doors that leads you inside the cafe. I didn't have many expectations for coffee, but this is probably on my top 3 for coffee. One tip is to get there right when it opens or during their "off hours" when people who work in the building aren't on their break. The cafe also smells wonderful because they use Jo Malone candles and have Jo Malone lotion inside to use! Check out their instagram here


WET COFFEE

I stumbled into this coffee shop when I was walking around Hannam and loved the simple, but cool branding. I got an iced americano and was surprised at how strong, but smooth the coffee was. Plenty of seating inside and outside seating as well! I loved how there were pops of color in contrast to the brown benches and tiles inside. It is located in a quiet street next to homes, but I would stop by if you're in Hannam! Check their instagram hereRAW COFFEE STAND

Love love love this coffee shop. Probably my favorite coffee shop in Korea because coffee was amazing and cheap! Definitely where a lot of the locals go and it's right next to the metro. Perfect place to people watch or grab a coffee to go. I loved that it was in a quiet alley and people of all ages came to drink coffee with loved ones or friends. It's also perfect place to take a snap! Check their instagram here and tag here.MOMENT COFFEE
This is the smaller Japanese cafe called Moment Coffee in Hongdae. They're known for their bread which is available at their bigger store in Yeonnam-dong. It's located next to the street shopping in Hongdae so if you can't find seating at first, I would suggest checking back in after you do some shopping. It's a tiny coffee shop with limited seating so I would try to come early to grab a seat. Check their instagram hereTHEIR COFFEE

A homey cafe in Hongdae's residential area called Their Coffee by a couple who had a passion for coffee. They sell adorable totes and home goods that you can browse while sipping on coffee. A perfect place to stop by if you want a break from the hustle and bustle from shopping in Hongdae. Check their instagram hereSEOUL COFFEE

I saw this coffee shop on Instagram and was fascinated by the design, it was a mix of traditional with a modern twist. I ordered drinks and a green tea tiramisu without any expectations, but it was amazing! On the pricier side, but I loved the concept and traditional drinks they offered. I would definitely go back! I got iced misugaru and my sister got pumpkin sikhye, which she couldn't stop raving about. Check their instagram herePEER COFFEE

Another beautiful cafe in Hannam with outside seating as well. I love how welcoming the people were and seemed like they really knew their coffee. The first time I passed by this coffee shop I already had coffee at Low Coffee (literally a two minute walk away), so I came back in a couple of days to check this coffee shop out. I had their iced latte with almond milk, so good! They roast their own beans, you can check their instagram here.OTHER SUGGESTIONS
I wasn't able to go inside Coffee Nap Roasters or Thanks, Oat because it opened too late but I was able to stop by outside and take a snap for future reference. Both popular places and they're only 3 minutes from each other! Paik's Coffee is everywhere and I had it at least twice when I was in Seoul. It's owned by a popular chef named Baek Jong Won, and he started it hoping that everyone would be able to have drinks that are affordable and delicious. Stop by inside and you won't regret it!Any other cafes you'd recommend? I can't wait until my next visit to Korea so I can go cafe hopping! I hope you'll be able to stop by one of these coffee shops when you're in Korea! You can also check my instagram here and see my Korea highlights. 


  






Love, Sharon

POSTCARDS FROM BUSAN

June 24, 2019 Busan, South Korea


I would have to say my short stay in Busan was one of the highlights of my trip in Korea! Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and has a totally different vibe than Seoul. I took the bullet train to Busan from Seoul and it took about two hours. I spent most of the train ride looking outside and enjoying the different landscapes as time passed. Busan is unique in its own way because there is a different dialect and I would say it's more chill compared to Seoul. With only one full day in Busan I tried to make the most out of it by starting the day early. Below are my recommendations on what to do when in Busan, enjoy!                   





Jagalchi Fish Market is a tourist trap but also an interesting experience if it's your first time visiting Busan. I wanted to know what the buzz was all about because family and friends told me there's a variety of fresh seafood that you can have cooked in front of you. I arrived around 9am or so and was surprised at how many vendors there were outside and inside the market. I wanted to eat sashimi, but I wasn't confident enough to haggle and figure out what was a reasonable price for it. Typically, people go buy fish and then have it prepared as sashimi or cooked, but I heard there were additional fees such as the cooking charge or seating charge. I became overwhelmed with people coming up to me and telling me to come look at their selection and go into their restaurant that I went straight to the second floor. I found a restaurant based on google reviews called Kidari Sashimi (키다리 횟집), but Jacky's Seafood is also a popular restaurant located on the second floor. The restaurant already had a set menu and didn't have any extra charges so we ordered seafood soup since my sister wanted soup. The soup tasted fresh and came with a variety of side dishes. One thing I love about Korea are all the side dishes that come with the entree - yum! The market stalls outside you can find a variety of dried snacks and food that you can take back with you, I bought a couple of dried seaweed and filefish to take back home.



Gamcheon Culture Village was on top of my list, but sadly I was only there for about an hour before it turned dark. I would bring comfortable shoes since you'll be climbing up and down and be prepared to spend some time here, but the view is worth it. A lot of cool cafes, souvenir shops, and photo ops. I would give yourself at least 3 hours if you want to find the photo spots as it's all in different spots around the village. I went after closing time so the visitor's center wasn't open and I didn't have a guide map so it was a bit difficult finding things. I found the village charming and picturesque, but one tip I would like to give is to be respectful since these are people's homes. The twirling stairs and thoughtful touches such as the colorful book stairs and the Little Prince and Fox statues are the highlights of this place. Don't be afraid to get lost in this magical village. This village was freshly repainted and given artistic touches in 2009 to attract tourism as it once was a slum in the mountainside. It is now nicknamed the "Machu Picchu of Busan" and one of the major tourist spots, highly recommend stopping by here!



Ok this market was my favorite market in Korea! I lost track of time here that I didn't get to do more sightseeing, but it was worth it. Best place to get a lot of your shopping done here so I would be prepared to bring enough cash and get ready to haggle. I would have to say the highlight of my Busan trip was Gukje Market! It was amazing to see so many vendors and to just explore the different shops, it truly is a one stop shop. You can literally find anything you need plus more. There are also plenty of places to stop by and grab street food and rest along the way. I found prices for the same things in Seoul a bit cheaper in Busan. I bought snacks to bring back home for my parents and found apron dresses I've been waiting to get my hands on. Sadly, I didn't have much luggage space so I only bought things I could fit back in my carry on. I enjoyed just people watching as I think Gukje Market is one of the authentic experiences in Korea where you can be a part of the culture and shop like the locals do. 




So many cool and different streets in Busan and Arirang Street was no different. Perfect place to go shopping and grab street food! A lot more choices for clothes and accessories that was similar to my taste than Gukje Market. I found the lowest prices for socks and cute dog clothes that I were eyeing back in Seoul. Socks were only 500 won, so about 45 cents for a pair! One tip I would suggest is to go to multiple shops to compare prices as some may be cheaper than others. Usually the shops further in provide discounts as they don't get as much business than the ones closer to the streets.




There are endless cafes in Korea and they typically offer the same menu, but each cafe had their own unique vibe. Jeonpo Cafe Street in Busan is a hipsters paradise with cafes, restaurants, and shops lined up. Coffee can get pretty expensive and can at least be the same price as a meal, the priciest coffee I had was about 7,000 won. Considering how cheap food is in Korea I thought coffee would be relatively cheap, but there are some coffee stalls that sell americanos for about 1,500 won. One thing I noticed was there there's a difference in price for take out and with or without ice. Cafes generally open around 10:30am at the earliest, but close around midnight. The current popular coffee drink in Korea is cold brew with a thick cream on the top, it has a perfect balance of bitter and sweet. FM Coffee House in Busan sells this drink and it's their most popular drink, it called "tomorrow". Some cafes I would recommend are  On a Season, Cafe Lovesome, and FM Coffee. There's also a cute lifestyle shop called Object.                                                                                                                                                     
Other suggestions:
-Haeundae Beach
-Bosu-dong Book Street
-Oryukdo Sykwalk
-Igidae Coastal Walk
-Gwangalli Beach
-Haedong Yonggunsa Temple
-Amnam Park Coastal Walk
-Songdo Beach
-Yeongdodaegyo Bridge






Love, Sharon

BLOSSOMS WITH JO MALONE LONDON

April 16, 2019 London, UK















I'm so excited to share this blog post about my recent trip to London! I can't wait for the Blossoms collection to finally launch in the states and for you to get your hands on my (dare I say) favorite collection thus far. A couple weeks ago I packed my bags and flew to London to celebrate Jo Malone London's newest launch. I checked into the hotel and found my room filled with few of my favorite scents from Jo Malone London, the classic Lime Basil & Mandarin, Grapefruit, and Orange Blossom. To this day, whenever the aroma of Lime Basil & Mandarin candle fills my house, it brings me back to my first trip to London.Jo Malone London doesn't hold back when throwing one of their brunch parties, and this celebration was no different than the previous ones. As soon as I arrived I was immersed with the different sensory experiences. I walked down the stairs into a dark hallway with the sound of nature and drops of water. A relaxing moment to appreciate before heading into the bright space, which reminded me of an underground greenhouse. The table setting was dreamy and it's always an inspiration for me, with the centerpiece filled with ombre colored blooms. There were different colored rooms highlighting the four colognes in the Blossoms collection: Star Magnolia, Silk Blossom, Orange Blossom, and the brand new Frangipani Flower. Each room was scentsational and brought out the charming floral notes from each scent. Jo Malone London brought back some previously limited-edition favorites like Star Magnolia and Silk Blossom, and introduced a new scent, Frangipani Flower which smells heavenly. Each bottle has a matte bottle cap color which goes perfectly with its scent. My pick would be to first spritz Silk Blossom and layer Orange Blossom after, a mixture of delicate floral scents together. Afterwards, I headed into the workshop and was stunned at the space. A beautifully decorated space with huge windows to let the sunshine in, and even a tree hanging from the top! It was a whimsical moment, like something I have only seen in magazines. There were fun activities in line with the blossom theme! I made a flower crown and learned how to do some marbling on my own Jo Malone London box. Truly an unforgettable time and always a treat seeing friends and the Jo Malone London team! Photography by Rebekah Cheng and I





Love, Sharon

POSTCARDS FROM VIENNA, AUSTRIA

April 10, 2019 Vienna, Austria











Even though it's only been a month since I came back from Vienna, I still remember being in awe of the beautiful city and debating if I should prolong my stay so I could visit nearby cities. Salzburg and Hallstatt were on my list but I didn't have enough time to visit. I only had four full days in Vienna since I made a two day trip to Prague which you can read about here. I tried to make most of the time during my stay in Vienna and put together a list. It was a bit chilly since I was there during the first two weeks of March, but nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved Vienna. Below are a list of places I recommend visiting while you're in Vienna! I would recommend purchasing the Vienna Pass during your stay since it's a cheaper option than paying for each landmark as it can get quite expensive. You can checkout more on my Instagram highlights video here.

Eats & Cafes:
Cafe le Marche // really good coffee! they serve food from 9am-12pm so come here early to grab a seat as seating is limited. 
Cafe Telegraph // a hipster cafe with a great selection of food, drinks, and pastries. book in advance because this place is busy all the time!
Figar 1070 // came here for brunch, an amazing selection of food and really good coffee! 
Paremi // an adorable French cafe that has yummy pastries, coffee, and sandwiches. sit outside if you can grab a seat!
Das Hanil // a korean restaurant that serves delicious sushi and authentic korean entrees!
Veganista // the best ice cream shop! all vegan and they have an amazing selection of ice cream to choose from! can't tell that it's vegan, soooooo good!


Places:
Justizpalast // such a dreamy space, who would've thought this is Vienna's Supreme Court. entry is free, you can see what I mean here.
Schonbrunn Palace // stunning palace, sadly it was a bit too cold so there were no blooms surrounding the palace and garden but still worth a visit!
Gloriette // a cafe with a stunning view of Schonbrunn, go uphill from Schonbrunn and you'll be able to see the cafe
Saint Stephen's Cathedral // you can go to the top and see stunning views of Vienna, definitely worth a visit! probably my favorite thing about Vienna
Peterskirche // the oldest church building, a small beautiful church in the center of Vienna
Mozarthaus // a look into Mozart's apartment while he was living in Vienna
MuseumsQuartier // a gem in Vienna, perfect area to relax from walking around and sightseeing. plenty of places to eat 
Natural History Museum // one of the largest museums in Austria with an incredible collection that has a lot to offer for every age
Belvedere Palace and Museum // one of the more well known museums due to its large collection of Gustav Klimt, including the Kiss painting which is one of my favorites!
Hundertwasser House // probably one of the highlight's of my trip! a colorful, unique building by Hundertwasser that you can't miss! His museum is couple of blocks away, free with the Vienna pass, where you can see his artworks
Hofburg

Other suggestions: Austrian National Library, Naschmarket (only open on Saturday, an outdoor market stall that offers fresh food, antiques, etc), Vienna State Opera, City Hall




Love, Sharon
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