Tag Archives: snow

YongPyong Resort – A Winter Wonderland

23 Dec

Last weekend my friend Sonja and I headed to Phoenix Park and Yongpyong resort for a mini vacation. It was so good to get away for a few days and the scenery up in the mountains was spectacular.

We spent all day saturday hitting the slopes in Phoenix Park ski resort which has a great variety of slopes to suit all levels. Everything was so easily accesible even the laziest skier in the world could not complain!

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You could literally ski straight down any slope and into a Dunkin Donuts, Coffee shop or Apres Ski bar. The ski rental place was less than 5 minutes walk from the chair lifts and there is even a youth hostel overlooking the slopes.

As we went as part of a WinK tour group, we got amazing discounts on both ski rental and lift passes. The full day including skis, jacket and pants and lift pass was only 50,000 won (about 30 euro) which you really can’t beat. Even though it was very busy and there were groups of school kids and students everywhere, the queues remained pretty short throughout the day which I was very impressed by.

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After a long days skiing on only about 2-3 hours sleep we were absolutely shattered come 6pm. Luckily all we had to do was sit on a bus and relax as we headed to our hostel which is part of the YongPyong ski resort. Following quick showers and naps, a big group of us all headed out for a delicious pork BBQ dinner.

Another relatively late night of bowling, arcade games, socializing and making new friends meant come 8am Sunday morning nothing (not even giant chocolate muffins and hot tea) were getting me out of bed. Maybe it was a waste, maybe it could be considered laziness, but in a move to help my aching muscles and tired body recover, I opted out of skiing at YongPyong and decided the spa and waterpark was more to my liking.

Again thanks to WinK we got an amazing discount price, and only ended up paying 10,000 won to enter. What we discovered inside…and more specifically outside…meant we knew within seconds we had made the right decision!
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Outside the waterpark, was an assortment of hot tubs full of various colored, scented and therapeutic water. Oh, and thanks to the fact that it’s winter, all surrounded in snow!

Sitting in rose scented jacuzzi with the sun shining brightly while taking in the breathtaking, snow covered surroundings was an incredible experience. We literally sat outside, dashing through the snow from pool to pool, for about 2 hours. In fact we were enjoying ourselves so much we failed to realise how sunburned our faces were becoming. Small price to pay for a little taste of paradise in the mountains!

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Lost in Latvia!

6 Mar

This is a travel article I wrote that was published in Backpacker Europe Magazine about….6 years ago! 

Have you ever been ice-skating at 5am? Have you ever dunked your head into a frozen Baltic river when the temperature is -19° Celsius? Have you ever tasted the diverse and unfamiliar food that is Latvian cuisine? Well, we have!

Contrary to people’s pre-conceived ideas about Eastern Europe, it must be said that Latvia truly is a hidden treasure. When the idea of a class trip to Latvia first arose, many of my classmates had reservations and cast forth images of cold winters, soviet bunkers and poverty. However, after a little research and a lot of persuasion on my behalf, a group of 22 jetted off in anticipation of arriving in a winter wonderland.

Following the directions given to us (pre-departure) by the very hospitable Frank, we arrived safely in our hostel. We were welcomed whole-heartedly with free beers for one and all. After settling into our cosy dorms overlooking the snow-covered Deguava River, we were ready to make tracks and discover Riga. We were not disappointed.

Soon after setting off, we stumbled upon an ice rink where we only had to pay the equivalent of 50 cent for one hour’s ice skating. After an hour full of fun and frolics (in my case much of this time was spent on my backside), hunger set in. We ventured en masse through the old town, along narrow and winding streets, past beautiful buildings, before descending upon ‘Lido’ – a buffet style restaurant specialising in a Latvian fayre. Suddenly decades melted away, and the wait staff appeared, all dressed in traditional Latvian costume.

After paying the total owing per head (a grand total of less than €3 per person!), we strolled along to a Local Latvian club, where Frank’s hostel staff had pre-arranged free entry for the entire gang. With vodka and cocktails flowing like water into the early hours of the morning, it has to be said that what we remember of our first night in Riga was unforgettable!

At around 4am, one bright spark suggested that we go ice-skating by the light of the silvery moon. This newfound hobby, it appears, was to become a nightly ritual for the duration of our stay. For four nights in a row, the night was never over until we had strutted our stuff on the ice rink! Even then the Latvian nights were not complete. A lively ménage of travellers in our 24-hour hostel bar kept the place buzzing, exchanging stories and experiences until sunrise.

Our second day in the Latvian capital saw us exploring its bustling open-air market, and local landmarks. The Church tower permitted celestial views of Riga and beyond from on high. The Museum of the occupation of Latvia was an eye opener. While there some classmates experienced the once in a lifetime opportunity of shooting loaded AK47s from a real soviet bunker – something never to be forgotten!

That night our first destination of choice was The Skyline Bar on the 27th floor of Hotel Latvia. Ascending floor by floor in an elevator taken directly from Willy Wonkas’ chocolate factory, views were spectacular. Later we set off for what had been described as one of the biggest and most happening clubs in the Baltic states-Club Essential!

There were so many rooms and dance floors within this amazing labyrinth of tunes that I was lost within minutes. There was music for all tastes and space for the entire world to dance, or so it seemed. After boogying until closing time (6am), we went for a refreshing round of the ice rink. 

Returning home well after 9am, we decided it was a ‘do or die situation’. We decided to salvage the day ahead. summoning up any remaining energy we set off for the mountains an hour from Riga. Sigulda was our destination of choice – renowned for its bobsleigh tracks.

The quaint town was a huge contrast to Riga. Suddenly we were in a winter wonderland and there were Christmas decorations everywhere we looked. Falling snowflakes persuaded us to purchase bum boards in a local super market and venture into a nearby forest for some fun in the snow. As it got darker, our sense of adventure heightened and we flew down hillsides like the children that we used to be!

Our trip to Latvia was unforgettable. Old Riga is a beautiful place but in order to experience the full picture, a trip to the countryside is a must. Almost a year has passed since our trip and not a day has passed without one of us reminiscing, about the true hidden treasure that is Latvia.

Time Lapse Photography

29 Feb

This was my first attempt at time-lapse photography on my Gopro. I set the camera to take a photo every 2 seconds, edited them on iMovie to playback in high speed, added some pretty music and VOILA!  

Lesson learned? Take more photos!! Oh and clouds are freaking cool! :)

Snap Happy Sunday

13 Feb

Just some snaps I took over the weekend before all the beautiful ice and snow melted away.

Let  me know what you think as this whole photography malarky is new enough to me!

Enjoy! 

Eleven Cities Ice Skating Tour

6 Feb

Having only been in The Netherlands a week everything is totally new and interesting.  At first I loved exploring the streets in the warm evening sun, walking over the canals and becoming mesmerized by the sheer number of bicycles in one city!!! Now, with night temperatures dropping to -14 and below, I have something else to me mesmerized by…ICE-SKATING! Unlike the lame miniature and over-priced, fake ice-rinks we have in Ireland, in Holland it is all natural!

I spent the weekend wandering through Noordersplantsoen Park, walking across the frozen lakes as locals of all ages skating around me in circles and young kids climbed any hill they could find and rode their sleds down into the frozen lake! A pretty amazing sight.

Children Sledding across a Frozen Lake in Groningen

Dogs can have fun in the snow too.... ahem...

 

This all seemed very impressive until the sight I saw today when walking home form college… The main canals that surround the city that are home to tall ships, house boats and the odd broken bicycle were no longer peacefully undisturbed, but brave souls were crawling down the canal walls, onto the ice and cautiously walking into the middle of the canal on top of the ice.

Within 20 minutes there were people everywhere walking on top of the canal and then out of nowhere people started speeding past them on skates, skating their way around the city! Was craziness…might be brave enough tomorrow to walk on water myself!

Ice Skating and Sledding on the Frozen Lake

Bare trees in the Snow at sunset

With all the canals and lakes frozen over, everyone is starting to talk about “Elfstedentocht”, an almost mythical skating event that hasn’t taken place in over 15 years! Elfstedentocht (or “Eleven cities tour” in English) is the longest and largest race of its kind and involves 1000′s of skaters speed skating over 200 km across canals, ditches and lakes and through the 11 cities of Friesland in Northern Holland. The race is unique as it can only happen when the weather conditions are perfect and the ice is over 15cm thick across the whole course. 

Talk of Elfstedentocht is reaching fever pitch at the moment with temperature dropping to -14 at night, perfect weather for creating thick ice, horrible weather for everything else!! Our lecturer even told us that she will broadcast the skating during our lecture if we have a class on the day the event takes place. Fingers crosses that this legendary event gets to take place in the next few weeks…watch this space for updates!!

They broke a hole in the ice for the Geese to swim in

Snow all over the Frozen canals

 

Snowing faster than an Irishman drinks

14 Feb

*Beep Beep* coming through, coming through! Crash. Bang. Brrrrrr.

Who knew maneuvering a bike on ice would be so difficult?! Well put two clueless girls on a tandem bike, give them a push start across a frozen lake and the task is no less difficult! Transfer said girls to two separate trikes where one must lean towards the cold ice in order to get the trike to turn and you have yourself a highly entertaining exhibition!!

Last weekend on ski trip to YongPyong resort on the East Coast, my friends and I took a detour from the ski resort and found ourselves at the PyeongChang (the town that is bidding for the 2018 winter olympics) Ice fishing festival.

Now THIS is extreme couchsurfing!

Brittany attempting the Ice Trike

The initial idea of ice fishing sounds cool. THE IDEA. But once you are standing on the frozen ice looking at people freezing their asses off while attempting to catch trout from the icy river with crappy plastic sticks the novelty dies fairly quickly.

We opted out of said frozen nastiness (man I HATE the smell of fish, vom…) and instead decided to do all the kiddie activities, much to the amusement of Junho our Discover Korea guide and personal translator! For the BARGAIN price of 8,000 won we got an all in ticket. Now, we didn’t think there would be much involved in this “all included” ticket. After all, what can one do when it is -24′c and snow is falling from the sky faster than an Irishman can drink.

Beautiful Britters

Tubing down a mountain

How wrong we were. One thing Koreans know how to do is winter activities. First up was the sledding, where we picked our tube of choice, climbed to the top of the hill and, waiting for the magic whistle and , surrounded by elementary school children, flew down the snowy mound, racing each other to the finish. We stopped to pose for a quick photo than ran to the top to do it all over again..oh the fun!

Next we headed over to the frozen lake to check out the ice bikes but were mesmerized by the choice. 1st there was a trike, next a tandem bike, a sled and a weird contraption involving a small block of wood which you sat on cross-legged and 2 poles with spikes attached to pull yourself along. Endless entertainment!!

BEEP BEEP

TOO MUCH FUN!!

Brittany tried to kill me on the sled, Laurel and I were in fits of giggles as our trike almost collapsed as we were whizzing around a corner and we all had lots of fun “attempting” to turn the little trikes without colliding into kids on electronic bikes or the mounds of snow which were forming fast.

So after with a full day of fun and frolics at the ice-festival, a few posed photos on a sofa carved from ice, we headed back to our resort in order to get our beauty sleep in preparation for a full day on the slopes. YeongPyong resort was truly beautiful. I guess the 3 foot of snow that fell over night (a record snowfall in Korea, most snow in over a CENTURY!!) helped! The powdery snow meant the slopes were perfect, the scenic views from the top were spectacular and despite the freezing cold temperatures the sun shone from morning til night making it one of the best weekends thus far in Korea.

On top of the world

An array of color on the slopes..at dragon peak

Like a child in a candy store..I HEART snow

Seasons in the sun

25 Jan

I don’t often blog “Photo posts” as I am no photographer and have quite possibly the crappiest camera ever (thanks a lot homeplus.. Grrrrr) but I just got an idea for a post from my friend brooke (whose blog you can check out over at Jayoke). Seasons in Korea are very distinct and equally beautiful. Having now experienced 3 out of 4 seasons, here are my favorite pictures illustrating each season, as seen through my eyes.

Summer in Korea;

 

Autumn in Korea;


Winter in Korea;


“SHIVER ME TIMBERS”

19 Jan

“Shiver me timbers (or as we like to say in lil old Ireland “timber me shiversssssss!”) it’s damn cold outside!”. But as there is not a lot one can do about the weather I may as well build a bridge and..GET OVER IT. Which is exactly what I plan on doing…except instead of building a bridge I’m going to climb a mountain and instead of getting OVER it Im going to slide DOWN it!!

Confused?

Well…This weekend the Geumchon crew, myself included, are embracing this icy weather (with an average of -15 degrees this week its a little chilly) and heading to the Taebaek Snow and Ice Festival in Gangwon-do with Adventure Korea. It is set to be an eventful weekend of hiking in the snow, sipping hot chocolate in the Igloo Cafe and admiring the snow and ice sculptures…and , if we are feeling brave, taking part in a national ice climbing competition!

Brrrrrrrrr.

I am a little sad I never made it to Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival last weekend where apparently 100′s and 1000′s of Koreans descended on the frozen river trying their hand at ice fishing, something I have always wanted to try despite my dislike for fish! With nearly a million people visiting the festival each year, the crowds alone would have been a sight to see.

Oh well, there is always next year!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

30 Dec

Murphys Law: Pray for it to snow on Christmas every year since you were a child and it will never snow. Leave the country for 2 winters in a row, and it will snow more than it did it the previous 2 decades!! Typical!!

Ever since winter starting to creep up on us in Korea, the temperature slowly dropping further and further below 0′c I’ve been praying and praying for snow. I even had a bet on with a friend over whether it would snow here on Christmas day, a bet which I lost miserable. But alas, fear not, my years of hoping and praying were not a complete waste of time for alas my winter wonderland has appeared.

Thanks to the snow I have had to queue for nearly an hour to get a taxi to work resulting in me being VERY late for work two days in a row. I have fallen on my ass while legging it down the road trying to make it to work on time, but ending up late, yet again. I have got frost bite on my arse from making too many snow angels and icy hands thanks to attempting to cycle home in the snow without gloves. Despite all these woes…I STILL LOVE SNOW!!

 

Now THAT’S what I call STYLE!!

8 Dec

Korean snowboarders are awesome. Well, their balance anint all that good and they seem to fall and their backsides too frequently for comfort BUT boy are their clothes too cool for school. Who are these ghetto-tastic guys and gals covered from head to toe in multicoloured designer snowboarding chic, aweswome hats, snzzy boards and overly baggy pants that cant possible be comfortable when flying down a mountain at dizzying speeds.

I’ve been skiing many times before in Europe, where the slopes are packed with skiiers in their chic matching, designer oufits and oakley sunglasses. In Korea, It’s ALL about the snowboarders. In fact I spent so much time on Saturday gawping in Amazement at their out-of-this-world ensembles that It’s a miracle I didn’t tumble down the mountain and seriously injure myself!

First you need an multi-coloured hat!

Newxt you need some funky snow-boots!

Get yourself a funky board...

Reading to rock the slopes!

Rocking out!

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