The Ceilings And Statues Of The United States Capitol Building

Heading up to the U.S. Capitol Building

***Just today, it’s been announced that the dome of the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C. will undergo very intensive repairs to fix over 1000 cracks, leaks and corrosions that have occurred over the decades. The current dome is almost 150 years old and is a gorgeous piece of architecture. Touring the Capitol Building should be on your must-do list when you visit D.C. Here is a repost of the tour I took last year, from my old blog, dcexpat.com.***

I love love love the architecture of the Capitol Building, inside and out. If you love it as much as I do, you’ll be happy to know that you can tour the Capitol Building for free, provided they aren’t closed for special events. During off-peak season, it’s easy to just walk in and join a tour slot. I suggest advance online booking if you’re visiting in the summer.

Headsets, which are handed out after the obligatory welcome film, is how your tour guide will talk to you about the Capitol Building’s standout features, (as well as call to group members who straggle a little too long at one spot for the tour guide’s comfort.)

During the tour, don’t be surprised to find your gaze focused upwards more than half the time. Continue reading

Three Hours In Seoul With Mr. Kim

At the entrance of Changdeokgung, one of the five, 15th century royal palaces of the Joseon Dynasty

The hotel room was quiet, except for the unobtrusive, low-volume Korean voices drifting from the flat-screen television. I peeked out the window and down towards the lit empty streets with resignation — it was 4:00 a.m. on Friday here in Korea after all.

Earlier in the evening on Thursday, I arrived in Incheon Airport, excited that I could take advantage of a 24-hour layover to explore Seoul. I’d made big plans and plotted out what I wanted to see. After unloading my bags at the hotel, I would ask the front desk for directions to the famous Dongdaemun, set out on an evening walk to the city’s vibrant shopping district and stay there till the wee hours of the night to leisurely browse all the goods. The next morning could be spent taking in the city’s popular sights before heading back to the airport.

But I must have been a lot more tired than I felt. The room, with its calming, natural wood theme, ultra-fast wifi and soft inviting bed, was too irresistible after my 17-hour flight from San Francisco. IPhone in hand and tv still on, I passed out shortly after checking in. Now I’d have to rearrange my plans to fit shopping and sightseeing all in one morning.

I hit roadblocks right away. I didn’t have a map. No phone service either, or cellular data to use Google Maps. Above all — and how silly of me not to think of this before — not knowing how to speak or read Korean in Seoul rendered my relatively decent navigation skills pretty useless. Continue reading

Five Offbeat Ways To See San Francisco

Cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Lombard Street — iconic, San Francisco landmarks that are a given on the must-see lists of first-time visitors. A few days of exploring those gorgeous sights are bound to have you hankering for more that the city has to offer, especially to places that fewer tourists know about. Here are my suggestions on how to discover the charming and offbeat side of San Francisco. Continue reading