2016 in life and travel

2016 will go down in history as an overall disappointing year for most people. To be honest, it was a difficult year for me too. I was injured for a lot of it and having to undergo some expensive physical therapy. I had a difficult year as a teacher as well. Plus a year of stress regarding family matters as well.

But 2016 was also really great in a couple of ways. I went to Germany and France both for the first time, along the way visiting many friends in both those countries. I came back to Korea and here I got engaged to my boyfriend. This past fall we tied the knot as well. Planning a non-Korean style wedding in Korea was incredibly stressful, but the day itself went off well and was a fun and intimate affair.

So I want to share a couple of my favorite pictures that I took this year but haven’t shared on this blog yet. All are unfiltered and largely unedited. Just candid shots taken with my phone. I already did a post featuring many photos of Hamburg, so I’ll focus this post on some other places I enjoyed this year.

  1. Seoul Forest~ one of my favorite spots in the the city. A sanctuary of green in Korea’s concrete capital city. My husband and I ended up having our engagement photos taken here a few months after this picture was taken.


2. Falkenlust, Brühl~ I visited a friend living in Cologne, Germany and we took a day trip out to Augustburg Castle and its companion, Falkenlust. The architecture was beautiful and the sprawling grounds were a pleasure to ramble through.


3. The confluence of the Saône and the Rhône rivers in Lyon, France~ Lyon is a gorgeous city that is sliced by two rivers. If you visit the confluence (and the very eclectic Musée des Confluences) you can stand in both at once.


4. A Chacun Sa Tasse, Lyon~ a really lovely salon de thé (or tea shop) in Croix-Rousse. I went there with a dear friend who has worked in tea shops for several years. The place was highly recommended by her and I was not disappointed. It was cozy and had a great selection of teas as well as other drinks.


5. Musée d’Orsay, Paris~ I didn’t make it to the Louvre. I was trying to avoid too much cliche during my week in Paris. Musée d’Orsay has an impressive collection of sculpture and Impressionist paintings which I particularly enjoyed. A perfect way to spend half a day or so.


6. The Pantheon, Paris~ On a gloomy day I visited some historical sites around Paris including The Pantheon. I also may have been snuck into the Sorbonne during distinctly non-visiting hours by a friend of a friend who is a student there on that same day.


7. Versaille~ I really need to do a whole post where I just dump all the photos I took on my day out to Versaille. The scale of the place is just incredible and even in winter time, the grounds were splendid.


7. Nami Island, Gapyeong-gun, South Korea~ Rounding off my pictures with one more taken in Korea this year. This one on an excursion out of the city to the famous (and often filmed on) Nami Island. Like most attractions in Korea, it’s a bit theme park-like and crowded. But, it is truly beautiful and feels like a nice retreat from the city. It’s definitely worth a visit.


Hopefully you enjoyed my enthusiastic, but by no means professional cellphone photography. Looking back on the past year makes me hungry for more adventures this year.I know it will be a year of big changes, but I’m feeling positive that most of them will be for the better.

I hope we can all have a 2017 full of travel and love.


  1. Congratulations on your engagement and wedding! Not a bad year, after all. Good luck and best wishes for 2017. We are all hopeful for this great year to unfold so cheers and keep on taking photos!

  2. Congrats on the wedding this year Rachel! Wish we could have seen you again before we left Korea! You took some great photos this year! I am also a phone photographer 😉

  3. Congrats on your nuptials! I definitely don’t know what goes into planning a non-Korean wedding in Korea. I would imagine it’d be stressful for sure but glad to hear it went off without a hitch. Ups and downs.. that is what life is made of. I hope your physical surgeries and everything are over now and you’re on the mend.

  4. Congratulations! I am glad to hear that all is well. We have subscribed to the blog for future updates. I will have a flick through more posts when I get some more free time.

  5. Interesting pictures! I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and just like you, I only use my phone for taking pictures. However, I use Adobe Lightroom to enhance my pictures before uploading it.
    I’ve been to Seoul Forest last Spring, and I must say it’s amazing. It’s not very touristy and you can really take good pictures there. Nami Island is also good, I went there three times this year. You had a great year. Congratulations on your wedding. Have a great year ahead. ^^

  6. I find it really refreshing to take a step back and look at all the good that has happened over the past year – especially when a lot of bad/difficult stuff has happened too. I like that you included some of the more ‘candid’ images to this post, as it adds another level for readers ^^ I visited Paris several years ago and did both the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in ONE weekend!! Crazy, I know… Although the Louvre was pretty freggin cool, I absolutely loved the architecture of the Musée d’Orsay! Great post and best wishes for a wonderful, healthy year!

  7. Don’t be embarrassed or discouraged by cell phone photography. Some shots taken with cell phones win or place in top or in professional competitions. That is not to say there is not post processing involved, but taking photographs is the first step to learning how to improve. Your places in France look amazing, especially Versaille.

  8. Congrats on married life and Happy New Year. I agree 2016 was a difficult year for most but it’s refreshing to look back on the year and find the positivity. I have yet to visit Gapyeong or Seoul Forest, so I will add those to my list — for Gapyeong was it a day trip or did you spend the night out there? I’m also quite envious of your European adventures, I want to re-visit Paris this year. If you get a chance check out the period drama Versaille on Netflix. It’s pretty good.

    1. We just did a day trip out to Nami, it’s definitely doable. But I kind of wish we had stayed overnight. There are so many cute pension cottages there. They are a bit expensive though.

      I’m really missing Europe. My husband’s never been so I have tons of places I want to show him and plenty of new places I want to visit as well. And Versaille is in my Netflix queue already 🙂

  9. I’ve always thought that Nami Island is cliche, but I guess that’s how I feel after visiting that place for more than I could remember (from 2005 until last year!) but I’m glad you liked it.
    On #3 a confluence is called “dumulmori” in Korean ~ or two heads of water. There is one in Gapyeong that is accessible by subway ~

  10. 2016 was a weird year huh? Lots of ups and downs, but overall I’d say most people are glad it’s over. Congrats on your marriage though. That’s definitely a huge bright light! 😀 We also visited Lyon for the first time last year, and wanted to make it to the Musée des Confluences, but somehow never made it. Too busy eating things probably. Haha. Best wishes and all the best for 2017!

  11. Sorry to hear that your year was on the overall, a difficult one, but to get married and engaged in the same year is pretty phenomenal. Congratulations to you and your loved one! I cant’ wait to read your post on Versailles! May 2017 only brings you joy and happiness and hopefully your physical pains become less tiresome ❤ Sending you some strength and love from Vietnam!

  12. Congratulations on getting married! It sounds you had a rough year in some ways, but i’m glad you were able to share some great photos and your experiences that went along with them. I also agree that a lot attractions in Korea are theme-park like and overcrowded, but I suppose that’s just part of it. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Congrats on your wedding!! I would love to hear more about you managed to execute a non-Korean wedding in the land where such joyous occasions are treated like mere business transactions haha.

    And, I love that you went to Versailles. I was recently looking through my old pics and found an album of my trip to France in 2011 and oh man, that place is so freaking regal! Can you imagine actually living in it? Let the eat cake!

    1. Yeah we were determined not to have an assembly line wedding. And we kept to a tight budget throughout the process as well.
      It was mainly two things that made it work: stubbornness and amazing friends. We were willing to compromise on some things, but stubborn about the things we set as absolutes. And we had a couple really amazing friends who were willing to sacrifice some of their time and talents to the cause.
      Someday when the trauma of wedding stress has worn off, I might do a post about it. It’s still too fresh right now!

  14. Congratulations on your engagement and wedding. It looks like you had a wonderful 2016 and I’m particularly jealous of your trip to France. I have only visited Paris as a child and would love to return as an adult. I also love Nami Island- it’s one of my favourite places in Korea! Thanks for sharing your memories of the past year!

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