Blog, Europe, Germany, Helpful Tips, Photography, Tour and Travel

Destination Oktoberfest | Munich, Germany

2017:  16 September – 3 October

Oktoberfest.  The one word that easily conjures up visions of dirndl and lederhosen-wearing visitors raising up massive steins of frothy beverages and singing to the top of their lungs. This is Oktoberfest, More than six million visitors attend THE world’s largest festival every year loaded with thrilling rides, fantastic fest food and, of course, beer.   If you want to experience the festive party feeling along with the German culture then this is indeed the place to visit.  Even if you’re not much of a crowd person, you should put this on your bucket list and experience the awesome fest at least once.

Oktoberfest, Munich, dirndl
Germany, Oktoberfest

The very first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese.  (October 12th also happens to be my birthday, so Oktoberfest was the perfect place for me to celebrate my birthday!)  Every year, the citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over a period of five days on the fields in front of the city gates. Over 40,000 people were in attendance. Today, an average of 6 million of people attend the annual celebration.

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Bavaria lederhosen

Did you know horse races were held at the first Oktoberfest?  But by 1819 the horse races had been called off and were replaced by beer carts and the carnival-like atmosphere. Munich leaders decided that Oktoberfest would be held each year, no exceptions! Although Oktoberfest originated as a one-day celebration, it was extended to 16 days (starting in September) of revelry and heavy drinking.

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Beautifully adorned horses in Oktoberfest parade

Believe it or not, in the beginning, beer was not available at Oktoberfest and alcohol could only be purchased and enjoyed outside of the actual venue. Traditional beer halls (called wooden halls) only became popular when the authorities realized it would make sense to open the Oktoberfest venue to vendors.

Today, only six breweries – Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Lowenbrau, Paulaner and Spaten — are allowed to serve beer on the festival grounds.  The beers are made specifically for Oktoberfest and certain parameters must strictly be followed according to Reinheitsgebot such as it should be brewed within the boundaries of Munich and not contain more than 6% alcohol.

Once you are finished toasting with thousands of your newest friends, head on over to Marienplatz in the Munich Altstadt for traditional Bavarian-style craft beer and try one of the beer-infused dishes for dinner.

Average Festival Statistics:
Area: 103.79 acres
Festival halls: seats 100,000 (14 tents)
Visitors: 6.3 million
Beer: approx. 6.4 mln liters (that’s right, million)
Coffee, tea: 222,000 liters
Water, lemonade: 909,765 ½ liters
Chicken: 521,872 units
Pork sausages: 142,253 pairs
Oxen: 112
Calves:  48
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beer and chicken tickets

The most popular (legal) souvenirs are the collectors’ stone mug, hair bands with flowers, mini beer steins, and pins.  The glass mugs themselves are a hot item.  Security guards recovered approximately 112,000 from would-be souvenir hunters.  Many are not recovered; the Hofbräu tent alone averages 35,000 missing mugs each year and there is a fine for stealing them!

For all the information and full schedule of Oktoberfest events, go online at  It’s recommended to learn at least one German song so you can sing along with your new best friends.  As is every year, there’s a hard competition about which song was the most popular in the beer tents. Apart from the usual hits, it was “Atemlos” by Helene Fischer, “Auf uns” by Andreas Bourani and “Brenna tuats guat” by Hubert von Goisern that made the tents go especially crazy.

Every year, more than 4,000 objects are found.  The Lost and Found office houses jackets, sweaters, passports, wallets, keys, ID cards, mobile phones, bags and rucksacks, cameras, eyeglasses, jewelry, and watches; there have also been some unusual items found, such as wedding-rings, petticoats, a dental prosthesis, a set of cymbals and a transport box for cats.  Missing kids and teenagers are taken care of by the Red Cross or municipal authorities until they are reunited.  During Oktoberfest, the Lost and Found (Wiesn-Fundbüro) service center is set up on the Theresienwiese (entrance line, underground). You can find the service center behind the Schottenhamel-Festzelt.

On Saturday, September 16th, the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be if you want to catch the official opening ceremonies. At noon, the Mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Once the barrel has been tapped, all visitors will then be allowed to quench their thirst. It pays to arrive early in order to experience the festivities up close and personal and it’s quite common for visitors to arrive as early as 09.00 am to secure good seats in their favorite tent.  The festival lasts until October 3rd.


Opening hours?
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day 12:00 noon – 11:30 pm.  Last beer serving at 10:30
Weekdays 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09:00 am – 10:30 pm
Daily closing hour 11.30 pm ‘Käfers Wiesnschänke’ and ‘Weinzelt’ open until 1.00 am

The fairgrounds are open on the opening day from 12:00 to 24:00.
On Sundays and Mondays to Thursdays, the carousels run from 10:00 to 23:30.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the fairgrounds are open from 10:00 to 24:00.

Please note that it is not advisable to bring children on weekends; for example, during the weekend, especially in the huts or even at the entrance to the Festwiese, you may be denied access by a baby carriage.

The official family days are on Tuesdays until 7 pm and offer reduced prices at almost all suppliers.

Current Weather (Wetter)


Plan ahead:

Oktoberfest 2018
22 September to 7 October

Asia, Blog, Helpful Tips, Photography, South Korea, Tour and Travel, Wordpress

Seoul Must-Dos – Palaces, Secret Gardens and River Cruises

See the transformation of Seoul from medieval city to modern metropolis.   Here are the Seoul Must-Do’s:

Seoul Must-Dos — Ultimate City Guides.

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Dapsimni Antiques Market

Dapsimni Antiques Market is located just one block away from Dapsimni Station, Seoul.

The antique shops are located in many buildings in the area but nearly all of them are concentrated into three main buildings called 2-Dong Town, 5-Dong Town and 6-Dong Town. Here you can pick up a variety of unique and interesting antique and vintage items with prices ranging on average from 10,000 Won for smaller items to the most expensive in the millions of Won. Like other markets, Dapsimni has a lot to offer.   Inside the buildings are dozens of stores and you can easily wander from one shop to another. The hallways are packed with overflowing merchandise.  Some of the shops sold true antiques, while others had reproductions or refurbished furniture. Some shops specialized in ceramics, while others mainly had trunks and baskets. We saw old locks, drums, statues, rice stamps, and bound manuscripts, just to name a few.  If you’re looking for something specific, it’s probably there.  The antiques are mainly from South Korea, North Korea, China or Japan but items from all around the world can be found. There are more than 150 antique and thrift stores in the area located near Dapsimni station with more than 300,000 items for sale.

The shopkeepers were all older and friendly.  They were open to talking and explaining what things were for and shared information of when and where  everything came from. Most spoke a little English and the language barrier was not much of an issue.  It’s helpful if you know your Korean numbers in denominations of 10’s and most shopkeepers were open to some friendly minimal bartering on their prices.  Even if you aren’t looking to buy any Korean antiques, the shopkeepers will add to your cultural experience here.   Some shopkeepers accept only local currency while others take credit cards.  So it’s best to bring both.

If you’re hungry or thirsty, next to the Dapsimni Station are two coffee shops, Ediya and Starbucks, several local Korean restaurants, and my favorite, Pho102, a Vietnamese and Thai restaurant on the 2nd floor just a couple of doors down from Starbucks.   Pho102 Vietnamese Thai Cuisine


Opening Hours

10:00 am – 19:00 pm. Closed on Sundays and Holidays.

How to get to Dapsimni Antique Shopping Market:


Take line 5 to Dapsimni Station and leave exit 1 or 2.  Main stores are located in 3 buildings just one block off the main street.

Bus: 121, 130, 145, 262, 303, 370, 420, 463, 720, 721, 1218, 1227, 2015, 2112, 2221, 2233, 3216, 3220

Address:  동대문구 답십리동 530
530 Dapsimni-dong Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea

Dapsimni – Google Maps

Dapsimni Station – Naver



Animals, Blog, Couples, Expat, Helpful Tips, Photography, Portrait, The Korea Observer, Weddings, Wordpress

New Year. New Resolutions.


It’s the start of a New Year and a great time to reflect on the progress you’ve made over the past year as you make your new resolutions.  It’s easy to fall into a creative rut-but there’s no time like the present to challenge yourself to try new techniques in the coming year.  Perhaps you got a new camera over the holidays or some new gear you can’t wait to try.  Get started here with these 5 resolutions I can recommend all photographers make for 2017:

  1. Travel– You don’t have to spend a ton of money or time in order to explore somewhere completely new to you.  What about that interesting local landmark or a nearby nature reserve you’ve been meaning to see.  Go ahead and set aside yourself a day in which you’ll actually pack up your gear, hit the road and capture some photos of somewhere you’ve never been before. There’s nothing like a change of scenery to stir the creativity that might’ve been otherwise lying dormant over the past few months.
  2. Go Manual– If you’ve gotten into the habit of allowing your camera to do most of the work for you, challenge yourself to switch into manual mode. Not only does this keep you more in touch with the scenes you’re working on, it allows you more compositional and creative freedom.
  3. Leave Your Comfort Zone– Do you consider yourself strictly a wedding photographer? Or maybe heading outside and shooting landscapes is more of your thing?  This year, challenge yourself to shoot in a genre that is not your style. Whether it is a portrait of your family or action shots at a local sporting event, make it a point to include a new niche into your routine.
  4. Take Better Care of Your Gear– Make some time to browse the internet and learn to clean and prepare your gear properly for the weather and work you will be doing. If you live in an environment that’s severely effected by winter weather, it’s even more important to treat and protect your equipment with the appropriate seasonal care it deserves.
  5. Put Yourself Out There– If you haven’t already done so, take the time to create some new social media pages.  If you have, then now is a great time to look them over and see if they need updating. Are the links working correctly?  Do you need to update your profile photos? Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and 500px are extremely user-friendly and easy to get used to.  When it comes to promoting your work professionally, you’ll have already have developed an easily accessible archive of your images to share with anyone who’s looking to check out your style.

I hope you all have enjoyed these tips.  Hope you have a great year and I would love to know what your favorite genre of photography is.  Hope to hear from you soon!

~ Lisa

Animals, Asia, Blog, Europe, Helpful Tips, Mongolia, North America | U.S., Photography, Tour and Travel

Where to go in 2016: Top 16 up-and-coming destinations 

Source: Where to go in 2016: Top 16 up-and-coming destinations –

Asia, Blog, Helpful Tips, Photography, South Korea, Tour and Travel, Wordpress

5 Reasons Why You Must Visit South Korea in February

In terms of weather, the most favorable times to visit South Korea are March ~May and September~November. However, February can be a fabulous time for travelers to visit South Korea. Here are 5 great reasons why:

1. Save Your Travel Expenses

incheon-international-airport-680402_1920.jpgWant to save travel expenses? We strongly recommend you visit South Korea in February if you’re considering a budget travel because during the winter season, hotels prices and airfare drop as temperature drops! 😉

2. Awe-inspiring Winter Landscapes

allowto_freedownload_snap_1531.jpgThough the cold winter season has kicked off a little bit late than last year, you can still enjoy the amazing landscapes of snow-capped mountains and frozen rivers as well as a winter hike at beautiful national parks around South Korea. allowto_freedownload_landscape_1521For instance, Seoraksan Mountain (Seoraksan National Park), located in Sokcho, which is the eastern part of South Korea, boasts magnificent natural scenery in winter. It is where you can enjoy both winter hiking and the beautiful East Sea situated nearby.속초 (1).jpgFor free…

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Asia, Blog, Helpful Tips, Philippines, Photoraphy, Wordpress

Best Kept Secret Boracay | Philippines

Boracay is a beautiful island paradise.  Honestly, until recently I had never heard of Boracay.  Now it’s an island I can’t stop talking about.  Boracay is a small island in the Philippines, South East Asia, located approximately 315 km (196 mi) south of Manila. White Beach, voted by TripAdvisor in 2015 as the #1 destination in Boracay and the #1 beach in Asia, is a popular little paradise with some of the softest white sandy beaches, the most amazing crystal clear warm waters, and enough activities to make everyone happy.

boracay, philippines, willy's rock

Upon arrival at the Boracay airport my luggage was promptly loaded into a pre-arranged air-conditioned shuttle service.  The driver whisked through the local roads where I was taken to a nearby boating area.  Surprisingly, two gentleman literally made their arms into a chariot and carried me over the water to the ladder.  Now that’s service!

Within minutes of arrival on shore I checked into the Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel. From the moment of arrival until the day of departure the service by the staff was excellent. Every morning was greeted with a smile, the breakfast was plentiful and the Manager made sure everything was in order for a wonderful stay.

mandarin island hotel boracay

Stations 1, 2, and 3 make up just over 4 kilometers along the Main Road with Station 2 being the center of vibrant island activities.  Vendors can be found up and down the main road, as well as ladies ready to treat you with a traditional Filipino massage.  By twilight, happy hour, live music and firedancers are the crowd favorites.  There’s an abundance of dining options at local restaurants as well as a few chain names for when you’re hungry. Remember Shakey’s?  Yes, there’s a Shakey’s…and the pizza was very good! Starbucks? Yes, they have one at Station 1 for you mug collectors and they had some of the best and friendliest servers of any Starbucks anywhere in the world!

boracay, white beach, philippines, vendors

Some of the popular activities include the Banana Boat, Fly Fishing, Snorkeling, Parasailing, Scuba Diving, Stand Up Paddleboard, Island-hopping, Cliff Diving, Ziplining, or a breathtaking sunset sail.  My personal favorite was the island-hopping tour where we stopped to do a little snorkeling and then cliff diving (from 3, 5, 8 or 15 meters) at Ariel’s Point, a top Boracay attraction. You can do a little or a lot here on Boracay.  You choose.

boracay, philippines, white beach, paddleboard

On your last day in Boracay, it’s best to relax and enjoy the sun and sand.  Your trip home may be bittersweet but paradise will be waiting for your return.

Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel

It’s More Fun in the Philippines

Philippines Department of Tourism

*This was a non-sponsored trip and all opinions are based on my true and honest experience.

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Asia, Blog, Helpful Tips, Photography, South Korea

To Travel or To Shop: Express Bus Terminal Station (고속터미널역) | Gangnam Bus Terminal | Seoul

Express Bus Terminal Station (고속터미널역) | Gangnam Bus Terminal | Seoul

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                         Gangnam Express Bus Terminal

Seoul Sub→urban

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

It always takes me a while to get my bearings when I arrive at Express Bus Terminal Station, whether I’m there to catch a ride out of town or on my way to somewhere in the neighborhood.  Three lines merge here, one bus terminal is two terminals, there’s a department store, two shopping malls, maybe more, and jammed in between all that are shoe shops, makeup boutiques, salons, and even a sauna.  I could live here.  A couple times I’ve been so turned around that I thought I might have to.

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Probably just about everyone in Seoul has been to this station before, check that, probably a solid majority of Koreans, full stop, have been here, as the Express Bus Terminal (고속터미널) is the biggest bus terminal in the country, linking the capital to pretty much everywhere on the mainland.  The terminal is divided into two separate buildings…

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