Why I love Soeul – South Korea

Welcome to a Disneyland like paradise, where the lights only shine brighter when the sun goes down…. Seoul, South Korea

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Stepping off the plane and into the airport, and you’ll already know you are somewhere very special and very very….. Different, to say the least.

If like me the first thing you do once you get off a long flight is find the closest restrooms, then prepared to be amazed, South Koreas high tech toilets are about to blow your mind. You will be greeted by systems with a button for everything from playing music, and heating the seat, to an oddly enjoyable water squirt directed certain points of the rear??? So, now you’re sitting there listening to the relaxing waterfall sounds and finish up your ‘duty’ (Pun intended), wave a hand over the sensor and receive a precisely measured amount of toilet paper, once you stand up the toilet flushes automatically and then begins to clean its self with sanitized, as it bids you farewell.

If this isn’t enough to freak you out, then take a casual stroll down the road and checkout the k-pop street performers, the girls dressed as dollish anime characters and the occasional Owl, Raccoon or poop café.IMG_7837.jpg

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Take a deep breath in and guess what you’ll smell? Korean BBQ of course, what were you thinking off ? That’s right BBQ!

Korean BBQ is a whole new interactive experience! Take a seat at a table witht a giant woke style BBQ at its centre. Let the waiter know what you fancy and a few moments later some raw meat and veggies will be delivered. Don’t go blaming the cheff if you food is over cooked, because now you’re the chef!!

A little nervous? Its okay because even an idiot or a baby could do this, I know because I can sometimes be both. Let the sizzling magic begin with a bottle of typical Korean beer Mekju.

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Seoul is one of my favorite cities to date, its not just for the unexpected, strange and futurist sights that make you know you’re a very long way from home, but the culture and people. I found that even though Koreans are always moving forward in technology and business, they have managed to maintain and live by their old traditions creating a buzzard and beautiful balance between the two.

Being a young girl who always finds herself lost in a big city, it’s life saving to have multiple strangers stop and offer help, even when I wasn’t in need of any. On one particular occasion a few Koreans actually caught the train with me just to help me get to my destination.

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Koreans are polite and respectful, so much so that even on an empty street and 4am in the morning, they will wait for the little green man to tell them when to cross, or during peak hour on a Monday they will line up to board the subway.

I could write on for pages how beautiful this city is, but really its one to discover on your own.

Happy Travels!

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Where to find the best coffee in Toronto (trust me i’m Australian)

 

Take it from two Aussies arriving in Toronto who strongly live by the mentality of ‘death before decaf’. After a painstaking 30hour flight, a strong amount of caffeine was the only thing that could break us through the jet lag. We had heard the rumors and knew the Aussie standard would be hard to come by and therefore opted to ask some local Canadians that confidently directed us to try Canadians famous Tim Horton’s. I don’t even know where to begin in reviewing this beverage, I refuse to call it coffee, unless you can classify dirty bean water, and sugar as coffee. Additionally I made the mistake of ordering some food to company this disaster. And was served a plate (cardboard box) of calories, carbs and what may or may not have been a vegetable, this yet to be determined.

Don’t, go here, just don’t.

 However before you subject your taste buds to the torture of repulsive imitations of coffee I have endured over the past few weeks, there is hope found in a handful of cafes. Below are some of our favorite cafes in Toronto that not only supply consistently great coffee, but fun hangout areas you’ll want to stay in all day.

 

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Jimmy’s Café

Get yourself downtown into one of the 6 ‘jimmy’s’ cozy cafes and surround yourself with inspiring walls covered by rap legends and Historical figures, the design layout changes from store to store.

The Blend,

Now lets get a little technical and dive into Jimmy’s many coffee blends, you have a few choices from the blend hall of fame, each is named after a famous “jimmy” from jimmy Hendricks to James dean. Combine that with a pretty unique drink list, including such delights as the Purple haze, Goth Latte or JVO (Jimmy’s very own). You’ll find your classic cappuccino a bland beverage in comparison to these awesome specialty mixes. Additionally no one likes coffee that drains your pockets even if its good coffee, and lucky for you, this isn’t as issue. The prices are descent for Toronto standards and leveled by the amount of shots per coffee.

To top it off the staff are very warm, if not a little eccentric and are always up for a chat. You can find one of these little gems everywhere from our local Baldwin Village location as well as Kensington, Gerrard, Queen west, McCall and Ossington.

 

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Dark horse

The dark horse also has 6 cafes within Toronto, with one situated right in the heart of Chinatown and located right next to a funky record store.

This place is cool, everything and everyone in there is super modern with a quirky, rustic edge. It has a awesome contemporary interior with wooden flooring and a large communal table that looks designed precisely for the purpose of whipping out your laptop and Mooching off the hour of free Wi-Fi (it’s okay we all do it). Decoratively vaulted ceilings, exposed old brick and elaborate polished metal, bordering the espresso bar gives this café a unique character and style. Additionally is front is complete with large elongated windows that allow you to watch the chaotic street go by while you relax with a hot cup of chai accompanied by some trendy folk music.

The Blend

This is a specialty café with beans from Detour and 49th Parallel to give their customers a seasonally diverse and interesting espresso. You will have to expect to pay a little extra for a good cup of coffee here, however if you craving a little afternoon delight, swing up after 3pm and treat yourself with a baked goods at 50% off. These treats looks so gold you could but on a kilo just looking at it, but with 50% off, it’s worth it.

 

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 Crafted bean Coffee

Crafted bean is along Dundas West Street, amongst half a dozen private art galleries and opposite the famous Ontario Art Gallery.

This is where I grab purchase my vital morning caffeine dosage after a run. I love the charming staff, atmosphere and the beautiful printed designs that is printed onto each coffee (check out the pictures below). Additionally there is a large range of delicious Tea’s and student discount. This café is never super busy so you would have to wait long for your coffee, and finding a table for you and your laptop is easy.

 

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De mello palheta Coffee Roasters

De Mello Palheta is only a short walk from my house, situated by Young and Eglinton, it was originally recommended to be by a local, however this place is listed at the top of almost every coffee review in Toronto.

It is an absolute hipster haven, and an undisputed crowd pleaser.

The beans are roasted in store and distributed to some fine-dine coffee establishments like Sorry coffee co., Neo Coffee Bar and Toyko smoke.

The masterminds behind this concocted creation are two Melbourne born Aussie brothers (like I said, Aussies know their coffee).

I have even read reviews by Californians who order their beans hear in bulk and have them shipped over.

When walking into De Mello you will be welcome by inviting and fun décor and friendly and attentive staff with excellent customer service. You will find that only after a few visits they will have remembered your name, coffee and ask how your aunt Mary in hospital is doing.

If you’re after a non- douchey or pretentious staff that genuinely make you feel like an extended family member visit De Mello Palheta . Don’t just take my word for it, get off your computer, jump on the TTC and come up to the best part of Toronto; Eglinton (totally not want to be bias, but this is my neighborhood and it’s the best part of the six).

 

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Bicerin Espresso Bar

Bicerin has taken over the coffee scene within Baldwin village offering free wifi, comfortable seating and of course that great coffee. Freshly roasted single origin beans make for great tasting coffee, and if like me you prefer a healthy alternate milk, you have the option of soy, coconut milk and my favorite; almond milk. One of my favorite aspects of this coffee joint is that it feels very personal with close wooden tables that are often shared with 2-3 people, plus friendly staff that make it very easy to strike up convocation.

 

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Café plenty 

A chic nook along Dundas west and a new recently opened store in the Financial district. Fall in love with the modern blanc white layout and the smooth coffee taste. There is a huge range of pastries, paninis and salads that makes this a already popular brunch/lunch stop, so don’t expect to get a seat at lunch time unless you’re ready to fight for it. The paninis will cost a steep $10 but they serving sizes are huge and come with a complementary side salad, and for the vegan and gluten-free species out there you have not been forgotten, there is plenty of item on the menu, you’ll be sure to fall in love with. Go ahead while yourself and support a small growing business.

If you know any great cafe’s in Toronto that I haven’t listed please let me know in the comments below 🙂

Bonappetit!