Category: Travel with pets

Dog Cafe in Seoul named Bau Haus

Had an interesting experience today in Hongdae which is known as a party area in Seoul. We ate at a place called “On the Grill” and on our way out I noticed a sign for a dog cafe.

We went up to the third floor and walked in. We were greeted by about 25 dogs (We didn’t try to count), most of them barking at us. It was a very interesting experience. You can order drinks (beer, coffee, milkshakes, etc.) and buy dog treats if you want to be extra popular.

Apparently the owner has about 15 large dogs including a huge, beautiful Siberian Husky. The place also serves as a dog hotel and that’s where the little dogs come from: Yorkshire Terriers, Schnauzers, and so on.

As you eat, you have dogs by your feet, dogs on the couch with you, sometimes dogs on the table sniffing your drink. Or if you just came from a restaurant like we had, dogs licking your hands and trying to lick your lips. I had even washed my hands but apprently not well enough.

You can bring your own dog and we may bring one of our own next time but we do have reservations. The dog that’s sociable enough to come, the one we found on the street in June 2007, would want to run around with the other dogs. She’d be miserable at our table (unless we had dog treats I guess) and we’d have a hard time keeping her with us.

The problem with that is that when people start handing out dog treats all the dogs rush over there. Libby certainly would. I’m just a bit worried that our 5 pound Maltese would end up getting hurt hanging out with the big dogs as she scrambled for food.

Anyhow, if you’re looking for a different experience in Seoul, and you like dogs, Bau Haus gets a strong recommendation. It’s not the kind of place I’d stay long – we were there maybe half an hour – but it is fun and different.

In Sokcho and Connected again

I should have a proper blog entry for you soon. I missed a couple of days because the “pension” (a kind of fancy motel in Korea) we’re staying at, Dog Hill or Dog in Hill depending on which sign you read, didn’t have WiFi in our first room.

Now we’re moving in to another room and here the WiFi works.

It’s been an interesting two days so far. Part of that is because of Dog Hill Pension but most of that comes from visiting our friend Nasra who lives in the area.

Our first night in the area we went out for Sashimi. You pick out the fish, they smack it with a baseball bat, and then they slice it up and serve it to you. My wife picked a Sea Bream. It was caught in the ocean (not farm-raised) so it was expensive for a small fish. My wife talked them down from 80,000 KRW to 70,000. I’m guessing that’s around $60.

You eat in a small restaurant that looks very cheap: dispoasable wood chopsticks, disposable plastic table cloth covers, toilet paper instead of napkins (the norm in Korea actually in less expensive restaurants), etc. But they give you the fish you picked out, some blue fish sashimi, some seafood soup, and some lettuce.

The Sea Bream, or Porgie (my wife only knew the Korean word so the dictionary gave us these two translations) was a bit chewy but didn’t taste fishy at all. Actually a lot of fish tastes much less fishy raw.

That night we tried to watch dexter season 2 on DVD but the DVD in our pension room wasn’t working. We called the owners but they said they had no idea how to work it so we were stuck. That would be unacceptable in America but not so much in Korea. Kind of like the military helicopters flying overhead throughout the day. In America I don’t see anyone putting up with that but in Korea it’s just the way it is.

Anyway, we went to bed before 9:00 PM and slept almost 11 hours. Must be the country air. The next day we met up with Nasra (after taking one of our dogs to the vet). She showed us a great resort where we would love to stay one day called Sol Beach. We checked out their cafe and walked around a bit. We even got our feet wet on the beach and after rinsing them off we dried them with air pressure guns like they have at ski resorts.

We went to a tofu / seafood soup restaurant for lunch where we met up with one of Nasra’s friends. Then we went to Seoraksan, one of the more famous mountains in Korea for a cable car ride, some hiking, and a little picnic.

On the mountain we met a Japanese woman backpacking around Korea alone so we invited her to spend some time with us and had dinner plus went to a singing room (we do our karaoke in private little rooms in Korea).

Now it’s day 3. We plan on driving to the DMZ after we finish moving into our new room (the old one was really weird so remind me to tell you about it sometime) and then meeting up with Nasra in the evening.

Dog friendly beaches

I mentioned taking Eagle, the former Korean stray we brought over to my parents in New York, on vacation a while back. This press release seemed pretty interesting as it named the most dog-friendly beaches in America:

PETSIDE.COM NAMES THE TOP 10 DOG-FRIENDLY BEACHES

Cape San Blas in Port St. Joe, FL Tops the List!

New York, NY (July 20, 2009) – Petside.com, the popular online destination for pet owners and pet enthusiasts, has released its list of the Top 10 Dog-Friendly Beaches, each selected for its outstanding features and promise of fun for dogs and their owners alike: http://www.petside.com/wellness/top_10_dog-friendly_beaches.php

“At Petside, we know that a day at the beach is even better when you can bring your four-legged companion, so we looked far and wide to identify America’s friendliest dog beaches,” said Joshua Fried, Director, Petside.com. “This year’s list includes some spectacular spots from Florida to Oregon and many locations in between.”

Cape San Blas (Port St. Joe, Florida) aces with its year-round, leash-free policies and plethora of dog-friendly activities. A sailing program welcomes dogs aboard and the many pet-friendly restaurants nearby are sure to please patrons of both the two and four-legged variety.

In addition to the playful waterfront at Cape San Blas, the following spots rank as the best places for pups to feel the sand beneath their paws:

2. Quiet Waters Park (Annapolis, Maryland) reserves a fenced-off area as a special beach just for your pooch. Moreover, the beach sponsors the annual “Howl-O-Ween Barkin Bash” costume parade for dogs and their owners.

3. Block Island (Rhode Island) is a small dog-friendly island open year-round. The beach has a relaxed leash policy, and bans all motor vehicles, making it a safe haven for your furry friend to roam around.

4. Cannon Beach (Cannon Beach, Oregon) is a four mile stretch of beach along the Pacific conveniently located near a town filled with dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and shops. Dogs must stay on-leash, but the view is worth it.

5. Fort De Soto Park (St. Petersburg, Florida) has the unique “Paw Playground,” consisting of fenced-in areas for both big dogs and small dogs. The park provides dog showers, a dog beach and fresh drinking water.

Airline just for pets and a bit more

I have only a couple of things for you today. Today, I spent 12 hours listening to 350 speeches, evaluating them, and writing feedback for the speakers. I’m pretty beat.

Maybe it is a good warm up for my flight next week – 14 hours from Seoul to New York in economy class. I’ll actually be writing about that ordeal for another blog. That blog belongs to this cheap airline tickets site. They are going to review my blog and I am going to review their site (one day when I’m not so exhausted) and I am going to write a guest entry on their blog. It should be fun.

Also, speaking of flying, how many of you have heard about PetAir? (link is to a Yahoo news video). I think it would be better if owners and pets got to fly together but the people they interviewed seem happy with the service.

A few news things I thought were interesting

Here’s some advice for shopping around for vacation deals. I felt a little better after reading that some of the cheap cruises you see advertised actually end up costing you more thanks to port fees and things. My cruise is in August, peak season of course, and I think our inside cabin is around $850/person for a 7 night cruise. So I see the ads for $60/night and wonder what I’m missing…

Red Lion Hotels seem pretty dog friendly. No fee. No deposit. Can join the Red Lion R&R Club and earn 500 points per stay. A drawing for a year’s worth of pet food.

Here’s an article on rail travel in America. Personally I would love to incorporate some train travel into a vacation plan. I have a friend who was invited to a wedding in California. He doesn’t fly but he loves the train. However from New York to California the train was going to cost him something crazy. I don’t remember exactly but it was several thousand dollars. Wouldn’t it be nice if train travel were more practical in America?

Bookit.com is having another short sale with some of the same properties as last time including a Hilton in Costa Rica that looks nice. Last time it was $99, regular $289 or about 65% off. This time it’s $49, regular $149 or about 65% off. This confuses me. Maybe we’re talking about different classes of rooms or maybe the regular price has changed.

I would do some investigating but I’m pretty busy correcting midterms and working out my own summer vacation details. I am going to Costa Rica, but I’m visiting the Arenal Volcano area and then staying at the Beacon Escazu near SJO. This will be my first K Hotel experience and I am really looking forward to it. The Beacon Escazu happens to be offering 15% off through bookit.com’s sale if you want to come check it out with me… The hotel’s own website (linked above) promises 20% off and has some packages.

I was reading the eco package since I am going to Beacon Escazu and the Arenal Volcano – the eco package says stay at the Beacon Escazu and explore the Arenal area. I thought the Beacon Escazu was near San Jose airport – about 3 or 4 hours from Arenal. Also, they talk about JSO ariport while I thought it was SJO. Airport codes.This one I might have to investigate. I want to book the right flights this time!

Where can I vacation with Eagle?

As some of you already know, I’m a dog lover. I rescue strays in my free time and one of them is a schnauzer named Eagle that my wife found on the street in Korea. We couldn’t find a home for him in Korea but my parents were looking for a dog so we brought him to America.

One time we took him to Vermont where we all had a great time – Eagle really loved roaming the woods there. Although (like my wife) he wasn’t really happy with how warm the cabin got after I got a really excellent fire going in the wood burning stove. Luckily he forgot about the heat quickly – my wife was yelling at me for weeks. At least I know I can get a hot fire going.

Anyway, yesterday’s discussion of renting big home in North Carolina’s Outer Banks got me thinking about possibly going there or somewhere else with Eagle. I started sorting through some vacation rentals to see what might pop up and this rentals site actually had a link to its pet friendly rentals.

I was browsing through those, looking for US ones, when I got a bit distracted. Most of the listings are for European rentals and when I got to this one I had to stop. I have a thing for Rome and $566/week seems pretty reasonable. Of course with the owners filling out their information you have to be careful. One place was advertised at $150/week but that was what the owner wanted per day…

Anyway, I went back to the Pet Friendly listings, looking for something not too long a drive from New York. I figured the 4×4 beaches mentioned yesterday would be tough to beat. I saw one on Long Island (wine country beach house for $1600/week) and one in the Poconos ($1400/week but how they could charge almost as much as they do on Long Island is a real mystery to me), and while those are much closer than North Carolina, they’re places I’ve been many times before. Eagle wouldn’t care but I want something new. I think North Carolina might be going on my list.

How friendly is pet friendly?

This article on pet friendly hotels and resorts reminded me to update you on some upcoming reviews.

First, the dog friendly, B&B in Vermont. Their dog policy is similar to Wyndham Andover Hotel where my parents stayed during the Boston area antique car show vacation mentioned a few weeks ago.

Dog policy: we are dog owners ourselves and we enjoy having dogs stay in our cabins. There are many forest trails for you to walk – your dog will love it! The rate for dogs is $5/night per dog, with a $10 minimum (however, as mentioned above, we have waived that fee). Our policy on dogs is that any damage or major cleaning (at our discretion, and we may hire professional help to do it) and loss of business will be billed in addition to that. The dogs must be calm, quiet, obedient, and friendly to people and other animals (there are free ranging chickens on the property). They should be on a leash outside the cabin. Dogs are not allowed on the furniture. You should take them with you during the day when you leave unless you can crate the dog and it won’t bark while you are gone. We ask that you scoop any droppings on footpaths (we provide scooper). Thank you.

So it seems that many pet friendly hotels or B&Bs require dogs to be crate trained. If your dog sleeps with you in the bed you’ll be breaking the rules in many hotels.

And on Wednesday I go to Punta Cana and the all-inclusive Sirenis resorts. My biggest concern at this point is how much protein powder mix to bring and how to bring it… Of course I’ll be reviewing Spirit Airlines (with a very critical eye) as well.

Pet hotels & spas

When masters go on vacation without their pets, many make sure their pets get a treat as well: “Happy Tails works like an all-inclusive resort for the canine Caribbean, Bowens added, where services like petting, playtime, feeding and giving medication is included in the overall cost.”

My little Yorkshire Terrier is quite insane (he attacks strangers on site by biting their toes and is often nervous or scared to the point where he’s shaking) and I wonder if leaving him in a pet hotel is best for him. I hope that he’ll become more sociable being surrounded by other dogs, but I’m told that he just hides while he’s there, avoiding the other dogs as much as possible. I guess I have to hope the pet hotels are good for him, because family members are becoming more and more reluctant to watch him while I’m on vacation.

Reactions to “yappy” dogs on airplanes

In Peter King’s Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week he complains about a dog that barked 6 or 7 times during takeoff. I may be more of a dog lover than most people, but I don’t see the problem with a few barks during takeoff.

Then he says dogs should be kept in the carrying cases. This makes sense to me. As nice as it might be to have your dog in your lap during the flight, you’ve got to consider people who are afraid, allergic, etc.

Dogs on airplanes. They are really starting to tick me off.

Keep in mind that I love dogs. Love ’em. Well, I don’t love all of ’em; I’m not a big fan of the pocket-sized ones, but I recognize their right to inhabit the planet. But the yappy ones on planes, especially, are becoming a source of irritation. I flew from Newark to Detroit on Sunday, and some nine-pound bundle of joy yelped six or eight times as the plane took off. Its owner, a twentysomething woman, took the fluffy white being out of its case (which, by the way, should be against every rule of flying canines) and held the dog on her lap for much of the trip.

Next thing you know, dogs will be bounding down the aisles. I am certainly not one of those who fear any dog, but those people do exist. And it’s pretty rude to have dogs among the general population on airplanes, if you ask me. Not to mention how annoying they are when they yap.

JAL – good and bad

Eagle, the dog I brought from Incheon to JFK via Japan Airlines is fine. He’s in America, happy, healthy, and bonding with his new family. I have no idea what he went through on the flight but he survived and was acting completely normal when we got him out of the crate.

There were a few problems with Japan Airlines though. When we talked to JAL people on the phone they tols us that visiting our dog during our one night stopover in Japan would be no problem. They gave us the number for Narita Airport customs/animal quarantine and we talked to someone for ten minutes about the rules which seemed fairly clear. We could visit our dog and take him for walks but we could not leave the airport.

When we arrived in Japan, the JAL people told us customs laws did not permit us to see our dog. We argued for a while explaining what we were told on the phone and that he used to be a stray and was afraid of being abandoned. My wife cried and threatened lawsuits if he didn’t make it.

Half an hour to 45 minutes later they let us see him but we couldn’t take him out of the cage to walk him (The quarantine people walked him or so we were told). All in all it was very stressful so I do not think I’ll be using JAL again if I can help it. This is not the first time we’ve gotten bad information calling the JAL information people and sometimes misinformation can add a lot of stress to your travel.