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  • AROUND THE WEB

  • For a 3rd time, vandals trash Forest Hill's 'Little Free Library'
    By Fiona Lee, Hoodline - Wednesday Nov 1, 2017

    On Sunday morning, a Little Free Library on Castanada Avenue in Forest Hill was defaced with box cutters and knocked off its perch. Vandals left the library in a planter on the property. It was the third time in two years that the library has been vandalized, said owner Kristina K., who declined to share its exact location.

    Source: SFGATE.com: Bay Area News
  • Listing of the Day: Toronto Forest Hill
    Friday Jun 23, 2017

    The sprawling steel-frame and concrete mansion sits in Toronto's most prestigious and affluent neighborhoods.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal: Most Popular
  • Suite Spot: Las Alcobas, St. Helena
    By Jeanne Cooper - Tuesday Aug 15, 2017

    It’s the feeling that you have when you’re sharing the table with dear friends and family, and you start having this conversation that goes and goes, and before you know it, you’re in the following meal.On a hill at the northern end of St. Helena’s Main Street (Highway 29), Las Alcobas overlooks Beringer Vineyards’ grapevines and leafy estate, with numerous wineries within a mile’s walk or drive.Chef Chris Cosentino’s Acacia House restaurant and bar, in the restored 1907 farmhouse, has quickly become a destination for local vintners as well as guests.Most have wide decks with sofas and fire pits, and some even have outdoor soaking tubs, in addition to the indoor roomy rain forest showers with separate tubs.Atrio spa provides a soothing enclave for treatments with custom-blended essential oils.At Acacia House, don’t miss two tasty homages to Las Alcobas’ Mexico City roots: a delicious margarita topped with salty foam or — at the complimentary, made-to-order breakfast — savory chilaquiles.

    Source: SFGATE.com: Travel
  • Exploring peaceful peaks and rugged beauty of Gangwon
    By Spud Hilton - Friday Jul 7, 2017

    When the tethered log finally strikes the massive bronze bell, it’s as if all other noises on Odaesan Mountain take a breath. Slowly, as the achingly pure tone fades, other sounds return, including the gentle clamor of branches and leaves slapping together in the wind. The sprawling, throbbing metropolis of Seoul — and its symphony of industry, traffic, construction, markets and K-Pop music — dominate perception. The Taebaek Mountains are the thorny, forest-covered spine that runs up the east side of the Korean Peninsula, including well into North Korea. Despite averaging about 3,000 feet (topping out in Gangwon at 5,600 feet) the Taebaek Mountains are home to many of the country’s ski resorts and winter sports parks — which will play a starring role in February when the 2018 Winter Olympics are in Pyeongchang, just down the road from Odaesan National Park. The rest of the year, however, Gangwon is a mix of laid-back mountain and coastal towns — a refuge for urban dwellers seeking a slower pace, and a sightseeing spot for tourists (mostly Korean) planning to wander among the natural wonders. The province, which is about the same land area as New Jersey, has its share of man-made oddities — including a strangely comprehensive museum in Gangneung dedicated to Thomas Edison and the Gramophone — but I’m here to see the original scenery and explore what used to be considered skyscrapers before there was steel and glass. The first night at Woljeongsa Temple, I watched the rain for an hour, surprised at how quickly I didn’t miss TV, Instagram or email when facing a mountain forest outside the wood-frame paper doors. Woljeongsa offers a temple-stay program; visitors seeking insight, serenity or just affordable, zero-frills accommodations are allowed to bed down for the night in guest housing. Except there isn’t really a bed so much as a comfy pad, a thick blanket and a heated cement floor. The program offers varying levels of participation in prayers, rituals and duties, but I chose the option that offered time and freedom to explore Odaesan park and the other temples that seem as much a part of nature as the rocks and trees. Meals are included, which gave me a chance to get familiar with a more natural vegetarian fare, mostly vegetables, soup, rice, various forms of tofu and, of course, kimchi. There are subtle reminders that this is a working temple, not just a static shrine — among them the dining hall, a brightly lit cafeteria with kitchen and a cleaning station where diners, including temple-stay guests, do their own dishes. The trail to Jeongmyeolbogung is a dauntingly steep switchback path that climbs through the forest — and is lined the entire way with the volleyball-size, brightly colored Buddha lanterns that fill temple courtyards and line many of the park’s hiking trails. While I passed Sajaam Temple, a multistory structure with tiered roofs that followed the profile of the hillside, it began to sink in how much the Buddhism and the land are intertwined in this national park. Closer to the top, the forest thinned and the horizon — rows of rolling peaks and hills — popped into view, carpeted in 20 shades of green. The woman at the information hut offered the requisite paper cup with hot tea that smelled of fig, and some sweet bean-curd pieces that they give to all visitors who reach the mountaintop Jeongmyeolbogung, a shrine of Woljeongsa Temple that shelters a relic of the the Buddha himself, one of the few in Korea. [...] she checked to see if anyone was watching and quickly dug out the junk food — two packages of chocolate-coated “creme cookies.” On first approach to Seoraksan National Park, the sheer volume of tourists arriving on buses was worrisome. During a detour to Pyeongchang, the county hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, I had found the “natural beauty” heavily developed at the two sprawling ski resorts of Alpensia and Yongpyong, where most of the events will be. While I was glad that TV viewers would see a side to South Korea other than urban Seoul, I also was glad I hadn’t planned to spend time there. [...] after I entered the park and as the broad valley opened up, some of the greatest hits of the Taebaek Mountains came into view, and the crowds dissipated. After what seemed like more stairs than in a Seoul skyscraper, I walked out on a ledge to see the rest of Ulsan Bawi, an oversized jagged wall, seemingly built to defend against invading armies or monsters. Crews are working to complete the high-speed rail line from Seoul to Pyeongchang in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will make Gangwon more accessible. If driving, most car rentals (especially to Western tourists, apparently) come with a GPS unit. United Airlines and Korean Air fly regular nonstops from San Francisco to Seoul, starting around $800 round-trip.

    Source: SFGATE.com: Travel
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