The Kimchi-ite: The End Of Cherry Blossom Season On Yeouido

Cherry blossoms mark the true beginning of spring, along with the arrival of glorious sunshine, refreshing breezes and all around spectacular picnic weather. Within Seoul, the most talked about place to see the blossoms is on Yeouido, a large island on the Han River where many of the tallest skyscrapers in Korea are located.

Yeouido’s Spring Flower Festival, which centers around the cherry blossoms, provides great views of the river, with streets closed off to car traffic, an impressive amount of food vendors and over 1,400 cherry blossom trees in less than a 4-mile stretch.

Sunset is the absolute perfect time to view cherry blossoms.

An entire evening can be set aside during cherry blossom season just to walk amongst the trees. It makes for a calmingly beautiful after-dinner treat and hardly gets boring, not even for those that never pay flowers any attention during the rest of the year, like myself.

While up close they aren’t remarkable; all together they make for an amazing sight.

Cherry blossoms are definitely worth planning a trip around, and crops like these aren’t only limited to Asia and Washington D.C. In Korea, the season typically runs from the end of March through almost all of April and there are numerous festivals built around them all over the country.

Streets all around Seoul are lined with beautiful rows of cherry blossoms.

After night falls on Yeouido, the trees are bathed in colored lights, heightening their light pink hues. It’s no wonder why so many photos are taken.

Yeouido lights up the trees at night, giving the flowers surreal colors.

As with most things even mildly popular in Seoul, there is always an enormous crowd on Yeouido during the peak blooming times.

Cherry blossoms are endlessly photogenic.

Unfortunately, cherry blossoms are incredibly fleeting and are now disappearing throughout Korea. No longer are the streets lined with gorgeous white flowers nor the light falling of its petals, marking the one time of year when gutters are actually beautiful.

A picnic under a cherry blossom tree is the perfect way to spend a spring afternoon.

As always, for more on Korean culture, food and oddities, read more from the Kimchi-ite here.

[All photos by Jonathan Kramer]

Photo Of The Day: The Cherry Blossoms Are Here

Each spring, Washington, D.C., transforms from a city of grey to a city of pink during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual springtime celebration of the capital’s most famous flower. This year’s “Peak Bloom Date” fell on April 9; today’s Photo of the Day, from Flickr user Christopher Skillman, was taken a day later.Do you have any great travel photos? You now have two options to enter your snapshots into the running for Gadling’s Photo of the Day. Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool, or mention @GadlingTravel and use hashtag #gadling in the caption or comments for your post on Instagram. Don’t forget to give us a follow too!

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Christopher Skillman]

#OnTheRoad On Instagram: Seoul, South Korea

Cherry blossoms get me ridiculously excited. The gorgeous pinkish-white flowers last for only a couple of weeks, making them truly special. They are the one true indication that spring has started here in South Korea, where cherry blossoms line many streets and park walkways. Numerous festivals around the country are held in order to take full advantage or their limited blooming period. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing their wonderful colors on Instagram on @GadlingTravel as well as providing a window into the day-to-day lives of the people living in a country that has been in the news so much lately. Follow along and enjoy the flowers.

[Photo Credit: Jonathan Kramer]

Epic Spring Break Adventures Of Past Generations

spring break

The history of spring break goes back to 1936 when a swim coach from New York brought some of his swim team down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to practice at a warm pool during the winter. That proved such a good idea that the coach brought the whole team the following year. Seizing an opportunity in a post-depression economy, Fort Lauderdale quickly grew to be the original “spring break” capital of the world. Today, spring break travelers make life-long memories at destinations around the world. But the spring break options of today are an evolution of what has come before them, some of which were epic moments.

“Most of our lives, spring break has been portrayed as a fabled experience of near-utopian bacchanalia, community with fellow youth and warm sunny weather,” says CoolestSpringBreak, a website dedicated to preserving the history of fellow and future generations of spring breakers, both young and old. They ask, “… where does Spring Break, as a ritual of youth, come from?”

From the end of World War II until the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale was a notorious spring break destination in the United States for college students as was Daytona Beach, Panama City Beach and – well, you get it – warm places with beaches ruled as top spring break destinations.

Other states caught on and started promoting their destinations as spring break-friendly too, but Fort Lauderdale clearly had the lead, drawing as many as 20,000 students in the 1950s. That number grew to over 50,000 annual trekkers coming to Florida in the ’60s but then came the ’70s and along with them a very different scene.

Gone were the wholesome times associated with spring break-defining films like “Where The Boys Are” starring teen idol Connie Francis and the clean-cut songs of the Beach Boys.

Alcohol, a spring break staple, was mixed with drugs, which played a larger role in the festivities. The moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars to bring the hippie “free love” movement. Add college students, on a beach, with little supervision and the cocktail for epic spring break experiences had been mixed.Because of the shenanigans of the ’70s, the ’80s grew spring breaker numbers in Florida to over 350,000, overwhelming city services, taking all available hotel rooms, leaving many in shambles after occupancy and quickly becoming a difficult situation to deal with – but not for long.

The 1990s saw spring break go international in spite of nearly half a million spring breakers coming to Florida as high school students joined the fun. Young professionals began scheduling vacation time during spring break to re-live their college days before turning the ripe old age of 30.

As U.S. destinations tightened up enforcement of alcohol laws, spring break drinkers looked to spring breakMexico, where the legal drinking age is “old enough to see over the bar” and “anything goes” is pretty much a way of life. Already a popular option with budget-minded travelers, Mexico’s all-inclusive resorts offered hotel rooms that held up to four people, included meals and hours of free cocktails throughout the day. Never mind the drug wars, Mexico is perfect for the spring breaker mentality.

Still today, spring break rules the beaches and ski slopes for a period of time each year as a new generation of spring breaker comes forth to create their own epic memories. Google “top spring break destination” today and results vary depending on who is rating them but thousands of hits indicate a whole lot of people are.

Throughout most of the last century, spring breakers did not have anything close to that search ability and relied on newspaper accounts and TV news reports, mostly when something bad happened, for information on where to go and what to do there by reading between the lines. “Students Arrested For Disorderly Contact,” a story might read then go on to say, “25 students were arrested in Florida when things got out of hand.”

Looking for a party place for spring break, the old school researcher needn’t read further in that story than “200,000 students converged on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale to celebrate spring break…” to know this was the place to go. Twenty-five arrested out of 200,000? Pretty good odds for a stage set for epic spring break adventures.

Last week, when Gadling was in town for Seatrade Miami, the SXSW of cruise travel, Victoria’s Secret models Sara Sampaio and Elsa Hosk were hosts for the Ultimate Spring Break Dance Party 2013 with DJ Irie and DJ Cassidy at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach. Here is video of that event:


[Photo credit – Flickr users sean dreilinger and prakash_ut, respectively]

New Spring Road Trip Options Save Money And Time

spring road trip

March 20 is the first day of spring and for those in the northern plains of the United States, the day just can’t get here fast enough. Battered by late winter storms, spring road trip thoughts were put on hold as attention was drawn to record snowfalls. Spring will eventually get here. When it does, plans for a road trip might be just to get out of town with the destination unknown or a direct route to a popular spring break destination. Since spring of last year, the world of road trip gear has seen some new, helpful additions. Let’s take a look.

Drive A New Car
If the family auto is not quite in its best shape and buying a new car is more of a dream than a reality, why not rent one?

Becoming increasingly popular for road trips is renting a car from any one of a number of car rental companies that offer discounted weekend rates. Starting at $9.99 per day, Enterprise offers a weekend special that includes an Economy or Compact car rented on Friday and ending the following Monday that includes 100 miles per day.

Hertz has a similar deal for $14.99 when the vehicle is picked up on Thursday and returned on Sunday with unlimited miles.

Google Field Trip
Location-based apps can be helpful in a number of ways. HipGeo, LiveTrekker and other GPS-fired renditions can almost automatically produce a travel journal, tagging our photos, video and more without a lot of work. At the end of a trip, just a little editing can produce an accurate depiction of where we go plus what we see and do.

Google Field Trip’s value is simple. Using that same location-based technology, it runs in the background on your android (initially) and iPhone (new) smartphone then directly taps Google’s rich content, automatically popping up a card with details about the location.

Nice for road trips, settings allow audible notification, speaking the name of places only or the title and description. Better yet, a choice of allowing audio all the time or selecting when “headset is connected,” “bluetooth headset or audio is connected” or “device is docked” are available as well as “disable when driving.”

Users can also select areas of interest like architecture, lifestyle, historic places and events, food and others.

All the GPS In One Place
Back to Hertz we go for something entirely different and not on the market last year. Their new NeverLost GPS option promises the best of mobile technologies and traditional GPS devices to help plan and navigate road trips.

Hertz told Gadling that their NeverLost system “eliminates the need (and risk) of juggling a cellphone to get directions and find destinations while driving, allowing users to manage their entire trip at the push of a button,” in an email. That claim looks to be true and NeverLost does include some unique features we look to see in other auto-based GPS in-dash systems.

A unique feature is being able to access the program on a phone or computer to remotely enter destination addresses, rather than sitting in the car to add them before hitting the road.

Synced with their My Explore App for iPhone and android, NeverLost has an itinerary planner, suggested sights and events in the area and even (you guessed it) a social element (“hey you in the pickup, got your ears on?”).

Check this video for more on how nicely this one might fit into your spring road trip plans:



[Image credits – Flickr user Black Photo Studio / Hertz]