A nice gift I bought from my last trip in South Korea

There’s a myriad of places you can visit in South Korea, but one of the most popular destinations by far is the busy capital city of Seoul. I recently had the chance to visit it, and although did not have a lot of time to go sightseeing, I did take a trip to several shops to make sure that I got at least several souvenirs for friends and family.

Upon stepping inside such a shop, I quickly found out that Korean souvenirs are like no other. Many Americans and Europeans who have no Asian friends might have little to no knowledge when it comes to the cultural differences between one Asian country and the next. The fact of the matter is that Koreans definitely stand out from the crowd, and that’s because they have unique customs.

Although it is hardly characteristic to Korea, the first thing, I purchased when I got there was a brand new chinchilla wheel. Don’t get me wrong — it was hardly my intention to go scouring pet shops. However, I had my daughter in mind when I decided to get something nice for her pet, which seems to be her whole world right now. My wife and I decided on a chinchilla because it was considerably more low-maintenance compared to a dog and, as long as our daughter cares for it properly, it can live a long and happy life.

Getting back to what you can get for friends and family while you’re visiting South Korea, I would say that one of the most common things you might come across in many shops is dried seaweed. Everywhere I went, people kept adding it to soups or eating it as a snack. Something I wasn’t aware of, until my trip, was that seaweed is jam-packed with vitamin K, calcium, iodine, iron, and copper. It’s also low in fat and calories, which is definitely a plus. So, I made sure I bought a bunch of them even though I heard they were also available in the United States.

Bowls and cutleries are also rather popular if you want to make sure that your souvenir will make an impression. Something that I particularly enjoyed was sifting through the many options available in tea shops. I was in awe with the plethora of cups and kettles I stumbled upon. These people sure take their tea seriously.

Yet another gift that I didn’t fail to be impressed with was Hanji. What this term actually refers to is handmade paper. Some of the designs I saw were downright breathtaking, and upon having a talk with a seller, I found out that this type of paper is sometimes crafted from natural materials such as barks of the mulberry tree. Nowadays, artificial alternatives are more common, but they are still largely utilized to create stationary, hanging lamps, paper dolls, and a variety of other decorative and functional items.

It would be a shame not to eat pasta while in Rome, so I had to try out kimchi. Available in a broad array of varieties, this snack or side dish is a uniquely fermented type of cabbage that contains a plethora of natural probiotics, which is why it is particularly healthy. Koreans eat enormous amounts of kimchi per year, and it has recently become rather popular in the Western world, as well, and that’s mostly due to its nutritional value.


My amazing weekend in Cracow

That wasn’t my first trip to Poland as a teenager, I have an opportunity to visit this country if I remember correctly that was the summer in 2000 so it passed almost twenty years! There were three main reasons why I choose Poland, and to be more precise Cracow for my trip. First of all, as I mentioned I have some memories from this country and I taught that it will be a great opportunity to refresh my associations connected with this country. Another one is the fact that currently, I’m living in the place where I can buy really cheap flights to Cracow. The last one is “pierogi” It’s been almost twenty years since my last visit in Poland but I still remember this taste. Of course, you can get them in Manchester too, for example in this amazing restaurant –   Staropolska Restaurant but pierogi is like with pizza – no matter where you will be eating them the best you will find in a local restaurant. I hope that you have been interested in this short introduction because you will find the story of my trip below.

Three steps to Cracow

Before whole travel, I have to make some preparations. First of all –  flight, which was one of the main reasons why I decided to go to Cracow. Nowadays finding the really cheap flight is easier than ever you have dozens of sites where you can find them, personally, I use global.cheapflights.com this is the simplest and the fastest way to find a flight. Last but not least step which I have done to prepare my trip was booking a transfer from and to the airport. In this case, I use quicktransfer.com.  Not only in case of saving time but primarily to save some money – booking transfer in advance is much cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport. I was also wondering about choosing discovercracow.com but finally I make my tour for my own. Finally the most difficult part of the preparation for the trip – booking hotel. Of course, the choice was really hard because I have to decide whether I wanted to stay close to the city center or maybe have a better hotel but placed outside the main square. Of course, I choose the first option, I need a room only for two nights so it is really important to have main monuments as close as it possible. After that, I have to pack my case and wait for the amazing trip.

Day one – travel and arriving

The flight was good, luckily without delays or any other troubles – less than 3 hours and I was in place. The driver from the Quicktransfer was waiting for me so I don’t have to worry about the transfer, my limousine drove me to the hotel. The driver was really kind and he gave me some bits of advice about the city or attractions but of course, I have a plan for whole my trip. As a place for my short stay a choose palace-apartment reasonable price nice room and great location that’s everything I need. When I arrived and unpacked my luggage it was almost 6 PM so, to be honest, I have time only for the walkthrough Main Square which is the heart of this beautiful and historical city. The atmosphere on the square is amazing, you can find there a lot of performers and street musicians. However, if you decide to go to Cracow during the Christmas holidays you will surely fall in love with this city, the smell of the mulled wine and flavor of polish cuisine will take care of that. On the square, you can also find “Sukiennice” which is the cloth hall and impressive Town Hall Tower. After this pleasant, it was time for a dinner. As you know I’m big fan of dumplings so I can’t miss this opportunity.

Day two

Cracow is a beautiful city with amazing history, After breakfast, I went to learn this history. My first steps were directed to the Kazimierz district which before XIX was a separate city. For many years Christian and the Jewish community are coexisting together. During this walk, I can’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the most important museums in Cracow – Old Synagogue. Inside this building, you can find an exhibition dedicated to Jewish holidays. Another part of my tour leads me to the Oskar Schindler factory. This place has a long story – during WWII it was the shelter for many Jews, furthermore in 1993 famous director – Steven Spielberg filmed Schindler’s List there. Nowadays the building is transformed into the museum. Another step of our tour will be a st. Benedikt castle. This is a really unique fort in European scale. It is part of the fortress of Cracow, this building was designed by famous architect Feliks Ksiezarski. Now It’s time for the main attractions of the day and the whole trip – the Wieliczka salt mine. This small village is placed only 14 km on the southeast of Cracow. The mine has more than 300 km of tunnels even 327 m underground. The whole mine have 22 chambers which are open to public tours, believe me, this is an unforgettable trip. 135m underground you will find sanatorium where allergic diseases are treated by overnight stays! After this tour, I have get back into the Cracow city center. It was pretty late when I got to the place, but it was only a beginning of my adventure. Believe me, night life in this city is really intensive.

Departure day

That will be the last day of my trip I have time only for early dinner and walk along the Wisla river. After this refreshing walk driver from Quicktransfer comes for me and I went to the airport. Of course, flight to my home city was quick and safe. That was a really amazing trip, unfortunately too short so I definitely return to this City.

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