Monday, June 20, 2011

Hi Seoul! Soul of Asia in a Fantastic Visit

This saying can be seen on signs everywhere around Seoul. We went to Seoul for the weekend. We wanted to revisit some places from our last trip, especially Samcheongdong. We arrived late Friday night and went back to Rainbow and Woodstock.

We were slightly disappointed at the familiarity and the lack of amazement of these places that we felt last time. I guess you can never recreate the feelings that you felt the first time you saw or did something. It is sad to think about this; to think that things can never be as amazing the first time, in travel. Regardless, it is was still fun and we called it an early night.
Saturday proved to be one of the best days. We headed to Samcheong-dong first thing. We began to walk around and retrace our footsteps of the last journey. This time around, Samcheong proved to be more exciting and wonderful. Last time we had been there we were preparing to leave Seoul, had barely any money, and things were closed as it was a holiday. We went to the three museums we had made notes of last time we were there.
Seoul Museum of Chicken Art.
The curator walked us through the museum and explained all of the art work with such pride. He was an older Korean man and his English was great. He had been collecting this art for over 25 years, he explained. He allowed us to take photos of his art and even offered to take our photos. He was extremely kind and informative and the art was very beautiful.

Owl Museum
We arrived at this museum next. Similar to the last museum the curator was an older Korean woman who had been collecting everything owl since the 2nd grade. Her English was not very extensive, so she was unable to give us a thorough tour as in Chicken Museum. We sipped iced coffee and meandered around looking at all of the owl things. It was a very unique museum. There were no photos allowed in the museum, so we took one photo by the entranceway. I bought a very unique shirt as a souvenir and we left.

The delicious macaroon shop that we had found last time was next on our walking tour to Toy Museum. We stopped in to sample more of the melt-in-your-mouth delights. We bought two old favorites (pistachio and raspberry) and a few new samples of lemon, earl grey tea, and mocha. We ate them on the rooftop terrace. We sat under a large umbrella and relaxed in the hot summer air.

Toy Museum
We relived our childhoods at this awesome museum. They had every action figure you could imagine packed into glass display cases. We browsed the many rows and scenes of toys and smiled and took a dozen pictures each. We sat in the spiderman room in awe and just smiled happily at the scene.

Cook n' Heim
We were starving after our morning of museum touring and walking around Samcheong-dong. We headed to Chez Simon, a tiny French restaurant with one table. Unfortunately, they were closed. We walked down the alley and stumbled upon an amazing looking restaurant with burgers. We sat on the terrace overlooking the street. I couldn't imagine why this table was empty, but I suppose everyone else was too hot to sit outside. We ordered some wine that arrived in gigantic wine glasses. We ordered the fromage burger and the barbeque burger. The burgers arrived and looked like amazing works of art. They were piled high on the plates, held together by wooden skewers. We stared at them in amazement, not knowing how to eat something of this proportion and also not wanting to ruin the artwork. We felt really happy and lucky and so appreciative of our lives here. We are very fortunate for the things we get to do and experience and I really try not to take it for granted and by really thankful.

Yeon Travelers Cafe
We stopped in to rest and cool off. It was a cozy little shop with floor seating and dozens of colorful pillows. There were bookshelves filled with travel books and many beverage selections. We had a glass of delicious sangria and flipped through some travel books and talked about our current travel adventures, as well as those to come.

We continued to walk around Samcheong-dong enjoying our wonderful Saturday. We walked through Insa-dong also and were overwhelmed by the crowds of people and extreme noise level in comparison to Samcheong-dong. We ducked into an alley to escape from the madness.
We finally went to Itaewon, the huge foreigner neighborhood. I guess we both had a bad attitude about it due to all the negativity that we have heard about it. It was fine and not as crazy as what we had heard or expected. The shopping was really disappointing, however. We ventured to Myeong-dong on Sunday before we boarded the KTX home and found some great shopping. We found H& M and Forever 21! We both were able to buy some summer clothes and felt extremely happy about that and the familiarity of the stores.
All in all it was an amazing weekend in Seoul and one that I am so thankful for. I guess these were the things that we hoped to do before we moved here, but sometimes I still don't know how it's real.

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