A Weekend in Seoul

Wow. A month since I’ve had the time to remember that I supposedly have a food and travel blog. I am the worst. Well, it’s been a pretty crazy month and I’ve got a lot to write about. First of all, I owe a update on my second visit to Seoul.

So Britta and I had a three-day weekend due to a Monday being Mid-Autumn Festival and we both needed to take our visa trip, so we took Friday off of work and went to Seoul.

I had to wake up at stupid o’clock in the morning (5:00!) and reluctantly get out of bed and meet Britta at Dongzhimen for the airport express. The flight there was rather uneventful. We flew into Gimpo, rather than Incheon, it was cheaper and much closer to the city. The first thing we saw at the airport was a Dunkin Donuts, so of course we stopped for some coffee.

Even the cups in Korea are adorable

We took the train to our hostel, Ann Guesthouse. It was clean and the people were nice. A large dormitory room with about 12 beds, a bathroom and a little kitchenette. After depositing all our stuff, we hit the streets. First stop, Namdaemun Market. This was the place that I thought was a night market, but when I went at 8, was closed. At noon, it was bustling. Food carts and stalls of clothing and cute things. We had some of the rice cakes in spicy red sauce, the fried rounds stuffed with glass noodles, cinnamon, sugar and peanut stuffed rounds as well as we perused the many little alleys.

Pig feet in Namdaemun Market

Really Amazing Street Tacos in Myeongdong

Next was Myeongdong area. High end shopping! Forever 21 and H&M were our first places to hit, although we paused at quite a few smaller Korean stores. We had some chicken kebab tacos from a street cart that were amazing. While we were walking around, I pointed out Namsam Tower.
“We could totally walk up that way. It looks pretty close” I said. Then we kept walking and turns out there was a mountain between us and the tower. Just kidding about that short walk. After hours of shopping we decided to get some Korean Barbecue for dinner. It was alright, but the street food was better. I used the restaurant’s hi speed wifi and was able to research the way to get to the tower. We walked for about twenty minutes through a very cute neighborhood, and arrived at the cable car station. The tower was cute. Everything is Seoul is really cute. Even more so, Namsan is very “romantic” and all about couples and love and wishes being made on locks.

Spicy fried chicken bits with a hot mustard sauce

That night we walked around Hongik area, buying some spicy chicken with a ketchup and mustard sauce and tater tots. Britta walked into what looked like a pub and but was yelled at for not taking off her shoes. We tried the place next door, only they tell us we have to order food in order to drink. We leave to get in touch with her friends and wander into a frozen yogurt place- Snow Spoon. Britta used their internet while I lingered over their display case and eventually bought an Oreo cookie frozen yogurt chocolate cookie sandwich to share. We sat in the window, watched the college kids streaming by and shared the cookie. Some young Korean guy suddenly tapped on the window rather violently.Britta and I recoiled, hoping it was not the one we were trying to meet. To our relief, he walked away, only to return moments later and come into the store to talk to us.

“What is this place? Are you drinking?”
“Uh…this is a frozen yogurt store. You know, dessert”
“What are you, like gay or lesbian or something?”
“Excuse me? What kind of question is that?”
He was doing a pretty poor job on hitting on us, and luckily, the friend of a friend we were looking for chose that moment to come inside. The random guy was all sorts of intimidated by the tall Korean American boy and ran off. We went with Andy and his friend to a pub where we were seated in a private, sliding door enclose booth. The boys ordered food, beer, and soju.

Soju bombs with Cass beer.

I was freezing, so I asked the waiter to turn the AC down. He wouldn’t, but he did bring me a zebra print blanket. awesome. I got all cozy and wrapped up, and because I’m apparently an old man, of course, I ended up dozing off at the table before the soju arrived. I rallied, and after a few bottles of soju, we moved on to meet up with some Korean girls in a park, and then went to another bar where they ordered platters of delicious fruit and some Korean plum wine that tasted exactly like Robitussin.

“Isn’t this good?” the girls exclaimed and I smiled weakly, they seemed to truly like it but it was sickly sweet and sticky with a weird fake grape flavor. We made it home to our hostel around 3, and woke up at the ungodly hour of 8. I stumbled down to Dunkin Donuts, although in no mood for Dunkin’s smiling, cheerful cups mocking my suffering, while Britta found our DMZ guide.

Flags on the Bridge at the DMZ

DMZ: a forty minute bus ride to the start, a bus switch, an exhibition and the friendship bridge, the tunnel that North Korea denies making. The unification train station that was discontinued. Views of North Korea and the giant flags. I admired the views, thought deeply about the historical significance of it all, laughed at the North Koreans, and tried not to look as miserable as I felt. I napped on the bus, and lastly they brought us to a store to try and foist ginseng products on us. Britta and I walked back, I took a shower and we both napped.

Lunch: bulgogi and rice at a little restaurant in Hongik. We walked around more, really appreciating the neighborhood, then met Britta’s friend’s coworker in Sincha. We had bibimbap and walked around streets filled with artsy boutiques just south of the river, then walked along the river and then to another cutesy boutique neighborhood and stopped for coffee.

Sunday: busy, busy day. We went the legit way up Bugaksan (apparently the directions I followed in march were for the back way in that doesn’t require check points). We took the train to Gyeongbok station, then a bus up to the mountain pass. Checked in with our passports, then climbed up a multitude of stairs. Beautiful views. Then bus back down to Gyeongbok. Briefly looked at the palace and the changing of the guards, and walked to Bukchon Village. We walked all around an even cuter, traditional-Korean-House neighborhood with boutiques and restaurants and cafes and stairs. We had lunch and caved and ordered bacon cheeseburgers which were amazing and my best decision ever. We were ecstatic.

Walked to Insadong, looked at the art and pottery and kitschy tourist stuff, and bought big clear plastic bubble umbrellas. Found beautiful pottery tea-cups to bring back as a gift. After a brief rest at the hostel we went to Hongik area again. We went to a hof for dinner and ordered a pitcher of Cass beer and a basket of fried chicken and fries. Amazing. We were starving and the beer was good and the chicken was fried to perfection and everything about the weekend was basically amazing. After dinner we wandered and got cream stuffed waffles. We went to Itaewon, but it felt seedy and kind of like Sanlitun, so we went back to Hongik and home.

Amazing fried chicken from a Hof is Hongik area

Basically I fell in love with Seoul again and had an amazing time and I definitely recommend it as a destination to visit.


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