Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fa-REEZING-ness is here!

Holy Taleedo--it is COLD in Korea!

We have finally--which is still too soon (ha), reached cold temperatures here.  By cold, I'm talking lows of the single digits & 0.  Eek..this really just sets the pace for what's to come for the rest of the winter.  In just one..ONE..day we have already gotten more snow than last year combined.  Last year was a fairly mild winter but this Fall and early Winter has been really, really wet.  I'm happy about it though :o)  The snow never gets old to me!  Which..I guess is a good thing because we will be seeing TONS of it in Germany!

Here are a few pics that we were able to get from today!  This is inside of our yard..

Obviously one of the pooches prefers the snow-ness more than the other ;)

We also took the biggin' to the mountain (left Dan at home because of his frozen tootsies) and Mike and Shep had a great time wrestling.  Snow is predicted in the forecast for a couple more days this week into the weekend, so it looks like it's here to stay!

We have just reached right around 10 months left here in Korea.  It's weird to think that this time next year..we'll be attending the German Christmas markets.  I'm not sure if I've posted pictures of those yet but if you have a few free seconds..just google it.  It is A-M-A-Z-ing!  Looks like something out of a fairytale.  Here are a few pictures I snagged off google...

:) !!!!!

So, recently I came across one of the BIGGEST underground shopping malls in Korea.  How I've missed it after 2 years is beyond me.  But..it's probably a good thing I HAVE missed it ;)  I've gone there like 3 times in 2 weeks..and will be going back again.  The deals are just TOO good!

The mall is endless..and it is all underground in the subway station..here are a few pictures..

As you can see...the store names are so original..like the store name "The" in the last picture :o)  Koreans & their imagination...Phew!

Hope you all got our Christmas cards by now, if not, hopefully they will arrive soon!  If you're wondering 1,000 WON is equivalent to around .95 depending on how strong/weak the dollar is.  (Right now, it is almost a 1:1, ugh!)

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday & a happy, safe rest of their week!  We love you <3

Mike & Britt

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall has come & Winter is soon on its' way!

Guten Morgan
(Good Morning in German)

I've decided to try to learn a new German word or phrase daily..TRY..being the key word :o)  It's definitely easier compared to the Korean language but still has its many difficulties.  I figure it's best to get a head start that way when I'm lost, I can say it, Ha!

Hope everyone's week has started off swell, it's Tuesday night now..this week is moving right along.  Don't know about you but I'm already looking forward to Friday!  

For our anniversary (4 years ALREADY, can't even believe it) last week..or was it 2 weeks ago, LOL.  We went to the top of Seoul Tower to the revolving restaurant.  Definitely the best & highest view of the entire city.  The restaurant does a complete rotation once every 1 and 1/2 hours.  It was just amazing.  To give you an idea of Seoul Tower here it is from a distant view...the little lit needle-looking-thing is it.  We were at the verrrry top.  It is a French restaurant, and yes, an actual person from France is the Head Chef :)

This is the view from the top restaurant..or just for 10 minutes at least :)  Seoul looks like this alllll the way around.

It was an amazing dinner & overall experience.  The food was AWESOME and it was definitely a one-of-a-kind anniversary!  Getting there is a bit tricky, it involved the bus, a subway, and an ELECTRIC bus.  Yes, and in case you're wondering..the battery literally died as we were going up a hill.  It was hilarious to say the least.  We were able to jump off and catch another bus right behind it..also electric but thankfully the battery was charged :)

Here's a picture after dinner..wanted to get what a typical subway sign looks like inside.  Of course Mike hates pictures so he refused!

In Manhattan, the subways were just plain disgusting.  Seoul's subways..not so much.  It is PACKED with cafes, restaurants, fancy face-care products, you name it.  It actually ends up being horrible because your shopping temptations are allllllways alive!  

Korea's James Bond movie poster.  Thought this would be interesting and almost a little funny!

Us before we left...

The fall leaves are sooo pretty but almost gone :o(  I think I'm more sad because I know winter is on its way!

Last pictures I promise...this is the tower right before we got back on the electric bus (I didn't die that time :) ).  And the second is a view from our table.

I hope the rest of your week goes GAH-reat!  Love & miss you all.

<3 M & B

Saturday, October 13, 2012

6 more years & our new duty station!

Helloooo everyone

Hope everyone is doing great & things on 'that side of the pond' are going well!  Things in Korea are good..getting colder by the day.  Fortunately, we are still able to pull of wearing shorts during the day but you can forget it at night or in the morning!  Don't know if we are quite ready for that yet.  We are still Floridians-weather-wise at heart :)

So Monday, Mike officially swears in to the Army for 6 more years (at least).  His new date to get out (and hopefully not) is 2020.  Feels weird even typing that number!  But we are very excited & appreciative for both the journey, as well as the job security.  WHICH brings me to my next point...drumroll...our next duty station.  The Army has opened up the amazing opportunity for us to be in.....

We will be in Germany October of next year and staying for at least 3 years.  If we like it, you usually (though it can be iffy) can extend for an additional 2 or 3 years.  Mike is set to deploy June of 2014 if we go to this one particular base (and no, I don't plan on coming home for the deployment besides for a visit).  It looks as if we will be in either Ansbach (central Germany), Wiesbaden (I believe more south-western near the Austrian border), or Landstuhl (around 45 minutes from France).  

We are very excited for our upcoming adventures but are still looking forward to traveling Asia a bit more and experiencing this side of the globe before heading to a COMPLETELY different way of life.  

Talk about brain confusion..I told Mike I'm going to be bowing (what they do in Korea instead of waving) and saying 'Gamsamnida' (thank you) and the Germans are going to look at me like I have lost my mind :o).  It'll be an adjustment..but I think it'll be so nice to be in a more laid-back lifestyle coming from the busy one we live in now.  I have finally achieved being able to read Korean and understand a large majority of it and can speak it, basics only, but nonetheless, I can get around.  And NOW...German?!?!  Ha ha.  I'm sure my blog posts are only going to get more interesting and humorous.

So, that's the 'big' news for now.  We won't know any specific locations for probably a good 6-7 months so right now we are just sitting on Germany in general.  Lots of prep for the pups to be able to go with us but they will both be in attendance while we are there.  Can't leave those stinkers behind!

Ummm, back to Korea.  There was a 'spouses outing' that I went to (which if you know me, I am usually anti-that kind of stuff) but it was a Korean cooking class near the President's house here.  It was really fun & I chose to make Dakgalbi (Dock-gal-bee) which is a spicy chicken dish with carrots, sweet potato (I know..weird), and I actually forget what else at the moment haha.  Typically you eat these type of dishes with white rice and Kimchi (which I just LOVEEEE now) It was really good and I had a great time.  Here's a few shots from the day

I started tutoring again..but this time I am tutoring an older women that lives in the church next to our house (her husband is the pastor) and other high school student who actually studied in Pennsylvania for one year!  It is really fun and forces to me to keep my lesson-planning skills up-to-date :o).

We hope everyone there is doing great!!  

Mike, Britt, Danny, Shep

Friday, August 17, 2012

Too long in between...


I apologize for the gap between posts.  Since our vacation...life has just seemed boring haha.  I know, you're probably thinking...bored in KOREA.  How is that possible?  We are near rounding our third and final year here (around October time frame), and it is safe to say that we will be VERY ready to say our goodbyes to Korea.  I'm already getting excited about where our next possible duty station could be but we won't find that out for probably another 4-6 months :/.  Patience is virtue :o).

Things here have been good.  The weather has been extremely unusual for the summer.  We had heat indexes over 109 F (which I think they had said was the hottest consecutive days in 100 something years).  Not to mention the 70-90% humidity.  YUCK.  Typically we have a monsoon season but it seems to be hitting later this year, having rained quite a bit these last few weeks/days.  Nonetheless, we are ALL ready for Fall.  Air conditioning in Korea is a 'tower'..there are no vents, central air, or circulation of any type for that matter.  This gets tricky when it tends to be very sticky in your house, even causing food to become spoiled, soggy, and stale.  The air conditioner, which is SO incredibly weak and only works if you're standing within 15 ft. of it costs anywhere from $200-$1000/month, depending on how you use it.  YES, up to $1000!!  Fortunately the Army knows this and gives us utility allowance.  

I know I've already posted pictures of this I believe last year but here are a few shots a friend of mine took at the largest fish market in Seoul.  Around this time of year, it is pretty busy.  The warmer waters here bring in quite the amount of fish and seafood.  Believe it or not, out to Korea's West coast, China, North Korea, & South Korea all fish incredibly close to each other and often bicker because of 'crossing each other's lines'.  They have similar issues on the East Coast with Japan as well.  

So after long, careful consideration...Michael and I have decided to go on ONE more trip while we are over here.  It took a while to decide between Tokyo and yet another cruise.  We decided on the Asian cruise out of Singapore.  It goes from there to Malaysia, then to Thailand, and back to Singapore.  So, it's short but we figured it'd be kind of sad if we didn't see any of the orient before leaving next year.  I've traveled to Japan for work but he hasn't so we are still a little bummed about not getting to go to Tokyo but vacation schedules just won't allow that.

Here are a few snapshots of where we'll be headed in February (and no, these countries are only 1 degree from the Equator so there is NEVER a winter.  In fact, it is best to go in the 'winter' months :o) )


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

Phuket, Thailand:

We hope everyone is doing great :o)

Love & miss all of you!!!  I promise next time I will have more updated pictures.  We just need to get out more, haha.

M & B

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Traveling around the Eastern Mediterranean


Found ourselves saying that often, as well as "gratzi" all throughout our trip (or at least in the Italy part).  We got home around noon on Thursday, about 14 hours later than we were supposed to...but we'll get into that later on :).  We are still adjusting to the time change but I can already feel that it was much easier to adjust to coming home rather than leaving home to Italy.

Our flight out was great, besides the length of course.  It was a 2 hour-ish flight from Seoul to Beijing.  Had a 3 hour layover on the way out, followed by a 10 hour flight into Rome.  The experience in Beijing was good but different.  Because China is communist, although not a radical communist, they still block a lot of things as far as the Internet and what not.  For example limited Google searches, no email checks, and definitely no Facebook.  However, Skype did maintain a decent connection.  But in order to get the "free'' WiFi we had to scan our passport in so they could monitor our use.  Weird, huh?  I guess I didn't fully realize how spoiled we are and they freedoms we have!

We met Mike's parents at the airport in Rome & went to our hotel for our first Italian dinner (consisting of pizza & pasta, of course) and then went to sleep.  The next morning we took a QUICK, very Italian, taxi ride to the port and boarded the ship.

Stop 1:  Sicily (Messina), Italy

Holy cuteness, is all I have to say.  I loved, loved, LOVED Sicily.  It had so much old charm to it.  The whole time I kept thinking of Mom because I know she'd love it here.  In Sicily we booked an excursion through the boat and went to a city called Taormina, then to the active volcano (not actually in it :) ), went to a family vineyard that produces wine, olive oil, and olive spreads and completed a wine tasting with fresh cheeses and meats (AWESOME), and then we finished up at a jewelers house to have appetizers and just enjoy the view, really.  These are just some of the pictures but needless to say I would definitely visit Sicily again!

Stop 2: Athens, Greece

Athens was definitely a historical place, great food, great views..but probably a place I wouldn't visit a second time.  As you guys know Greece has a whole is in a big financial crisis.  Surprisingly, that didn't affect the visit, but it was clear by how bad the economy is really doing.

Our tour in Athens consisted of taking a drive and seeing all the sites..eventually leading to walking up to the Parthenon.  That was quite a sight, as well as plenty to learn that I had no clue about!  They are completing a lot of restorations of it so I tried to get some shots of it without all the 'stuff' in the way.  

I'm not sure if any of you have eaten a Gyro but O.M.G. it was so good.  Of course I had to get grape leaves and bakliva, too :).  Only here once!

Stop 3: Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey

Now, when we first booked this cruise, Turkey was the only location we were "iffy" about.  But we were so pleasantly surprised!  Turkey was a close, close second to my favorite stop.  The one really great thing I loved about it here was that they were so proud of their culture and so rich with culture.  Now Turkey is if not 100% Muslim then awfully close to it but it didn't interfere at all with our tour (considering we went to some very biblical-based stops).  

Our tour consisted of visiting the house of the Virgin Mary, where she was said to have spent her last days.  We collected holy water from the house fountains in a personalized container the tour provided.  We thought that was really neat.  We also saw the prayer wall.  Next, we went to the Ancient ruins where we saw the first National Theater, National Library, and so much more I can't even name (or remember :P ).  Our tour finished with visiting a famous Turkish rug shop.  This company, rather owner, has personally made rugs for President Bush, the White House, the Prince of Monaco..and so much more.  In fact, a few U.S. State Senators were on business the day before we came and bought a ton of rugs from him.  In case you are wondering they are SO expensive, like ranging from $500-90,000.  Yes, $90,000.  We ended up buying a smaller one but I haggled them in HALF :)  I think I have a bit of Jewish in me.  LOL.

Stop 4: Crete (Souda), Greece

Crete, I think Greek's largest island, was really neat & laid back.  We toured a very large plantation that grew pretty much everything.  Crete is said to have one of the most healthy and best diets in the world, so it was cool to be able to sit in on how they make their dishes and then actually get to taste them :).  After the walk through the gardens (by the way Nana you would've loved it!), we went to Chania town.  If you google it, it is the cutest little town full of cafes, shops, and tons of other stuff to do.  Crete was a nice, relaxed way to end the touring on the cruise.

That wraps up the cruise.  We had a great, great time and it is always so tough leaving the boat.  It really is my idea of the best vacation...and that was my 7th cruise haha.  I should be VIP by now :).

After we got off the ship it was time to tour Rome.  We spent the next day touring all over seeing famous monuments like the Colosseum, the Vatican & Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the list goes on!  Here are a few shots we got...

I could show pictures & write for a long, long time but I don't want to bore you!  Hope that you enjoyed the post, sorry it took so long to get it together.  Earlier I mentioned how lovely 14 hour delay we had coming back.  Our flight from Rome back to China was smooth.  We had a 5 1/2 hr layover in Beijing, long, but no big deal.  Well, we boarded & waited on the tarmac for 2 HOURS before they cancelled it because of weather.  The airline was accommodating, however, they sent us in a bus and HOUR away from the airport to stay in a disgusting hotel overnight.  We woke up at 3:30 AM the next morning (got to the hotel the night before at 11 PM).  Needless to say we didn't sleep for over 2 days.  It was a treasure, haha.  That satisfied my needs to never go to China again.  Talk about an experience where you are 100% out of your comfort zone.  But I guess that is just the adventures of traveling.  Before all the delays, I bought a Beijing magnet because I collect them from each country we visit.  I contemplated if I really deserved a magnet because we were just staying in the airport.  BOY WAS I WRONG.  :)  I earned that thing!

We love you guys & will chat with you soon!