Jonathan Kramer teaches English as a foreign language in Seoul, South Korea and also does freelance writing and photography. A youth of traveling the Caribbean would be the seed that led to living in London, at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan and at a ski resort in the backwoods of Yosemite. In addition to blogging for Gadling, he also runs his personal blog krmr.com.
South Korea's second city, Busan, has become the county's gate to the ocean, known for beaches, an extremely busy port and rich seafood culture. Located on the exact opposite end of the country from Seoul, it's unique from the capital in more than just location. It offers more open space, a distinct dialect and a much more laid back atmosphere.
Just outside of Sydney, Australia's city limits are the Blue Mountains. The region has gorgeous plateaus and cliffs that are covered in lush greenery that seem as though they have never been touched. Flickr user VernsPics slept in a cave and rose with the sun to get this unbelievable sunrise peeking through the clouds.
Down in Busan, South Korea's seaside second city, one of the greatest temples on the peninsula quietly sits. Samgwang Temple is large, imposing and beautiful on any typical day, but becomes a new spectacle altogether for Buddha's Birthday; for the holiday, it suddenly blossoms with the soft glow of 10,000 lanterns.
One of the most beautiful subway systems in the world is the Moscow Metro. The system was originally built under direct orders from Stalin to create gorgeous stations that the people of Moscow would admire for its depictions of a "radiant future." Mariusz Kluzniak took this fantastic panorama of the absolutely beautiful Novoslobodskaya Station. The station's architect, Alexey Dushkin, spent well over a decade on the design, eventually commissioning designs for 32 stained glass panels from famed Russian artist Pavel Korin. The result is fantastic and unlike any other public transportation station in the world.
Just past the eastern terminus of the Tioga Pass, the entryway to Yosemite National Park, is the quietly beautiful Mono Lake. The area is unique due to its salinity and eerie tufa rock formations that jut out from the water, which give it a completely unreal appearance. Flickr user Pacheco took this amazing photo of the moonrise after a two-day mission to get the perfect Mono lake photo. He absolutely succeeded.
The surrounding area is fantastic as well because it has these little roads that stretch on into the mountains that are perfect to drive on and are often empty of anyone else. California is not often associated with its mountainous landscapes, but in large part thanks to it huge size, it has some of the best natural beauty in the United States.
Every year, Buddha's Birthday is marked in Korea by a sea of draped lanterns. The holiday itself is not until May 17 this year, but that has not stopped the festivities from starting early. Most streets surrounding Buddhist temples have a colorful array of lanterns strung from their lampposts. The temples themselves often feature an entire canopy created by a rainbow of lanterns. And as part of the festivities, a parade featured tens of thousands of lanterns in the shape of a lotus flower, an important symbol in Buddhism.
Seoul's weather is now finally reaching that perfect equilibrium of sunshine and cool breezes, and the best place to see some of the city's lanterns is at an outdoor exhibition on Cheonggye Stream.
In northern Italy, the Alps meet Lake Como at the comune of Bellagio to form some of the most beautiful vistas in Europe. Not only has the region provided inspiration for the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, but it is unequivocally gorgeous. Instagram user Jason Rodman absolutely captured the best thing to do at locations such as this, just sitting alone with your thoughts.
In early 2008, Sungnye-mun (commonly referred to as Namdae-mun), one of Korea's most important cultural landmarks, was destroyed in a devastating arson attack. The shocking event was a national tragedy and has been engraved into the collective Korean consciousness. Today, people are able to immediately remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that the gate, which is very much linked to Korea's identity, had been destroyed. The attack ultimately destroyed much of the gate's wooden roof, which at the time was the oldest wooden structure in Korea.
In the Scottish Highlands, on Loch Shiel, sits Glenfinnan, a small village with an amazing view. Darby Sawchuck took this incredibly lit photo of the loch, really evoking the lush green of the landscape and the beautifully wide valley. Despite it being clear that this region sees plenty of rain, it would be worth weathering through just to see this sight when you wake up in the morning.
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.