Tag: Seoul

Seoul Food 

Seoul Food 

Right after we arrived we went to a Korean restaurant. They gave us some appetizers, including kimchi, the Korean spicy Sauerkraut. I had cold buckwheat noodles: cold as in there was actual ice cubes swimming in the broth. Thorben got pretty much the opposite: a boiling beef dish. It was alright, the flavor was good, the noodles a bit slimey, so nothing I’d come back for.

The next day we ate at another Korean restaurant in Insadong for lunch. We had a stew with veggies, beef and giant dumplings in it. The dumplings were probably my favorite Korean food. Of course it came with a side of kimchi 🙂 After lunch we went to a cafe and had a mango dessert which was mostly shaved ice and syrup under the ice cream. And yes, those are pine nuts in my pomegranate tea.

We also wanted to try some Korean street food so we went to the shopping district Myeongdong where they had tons of carts lined up. I had a tornado potato Thorben said tasted like old oil but I thought it was good 🙂 Also, I got some fried cheese on a stick that came with a sort of condensed milk sauce which was a bit of a strange combination but still pretty tasty, and an bread thing that was sweet on the outside but had a hard boiled egg on the inside. On the last day I also tried the Korean honey ice cream in a fish shaped waffle which sadly looked much better than it tasted.

Thorben had some octopus, which they torched before serving it. Not sure if that adds flavor or is just cool to watch. After that he got lemon honey shrimp, also flamed, then sweet potatoe chips and Korean sushi.  It was really fun to see and try the different foods. There were so many to choose from so I’m sure there is something for everyone.

Overall, I have to admit that I wasn’t crazy about the food in Seoul which was a bit disappointing because I kept reading how amazing it is. Maybe my expectations were too high. There were some things that were pretty good but overall I don’t think Korean will make it into our diet on a regular basis. 

On our last night we didn’t really feel like eating Korean again so went to Outback and had some delicious steak 🙂

Seoul: A cat cafe visit and other adventures

Seoul: A cat cafe visit and other adventures

Besides doing 5 walking tours, here is some of the other things we did, discovered and experienced in Seoul.

The cat cafe

After having some street food on Sunday, we saw someone dressed as a giant cat advertising for a cat cafe. We’re both dog persons and usually I don’t really like cats but going to a cat cafe still sounded like something you should try 🙂 So we headed over there, changed in the stylish slippers they provided, got our hands disinfected, ordered some tea and continued to hang out with 30 cats. Most of them were pretty lazy and didn’t really want to be pet (see happy cat face below), at least not by me. I finally found the fattest and cutest one to snuggle with. I guess it was just too lazy to move 🙂 Thorben found a few more active ones. So it was pretty fun and I think we might go back to one when we visit Jana in Taipei in October.

Cheonggyecheon Stream

There is an 11 kilometer long stream which runs through the city. From what I read it got covered with concrete at one point and a highway was built there. In 2003 the city started to restore it and it was opened again in 2005. It is below street level and there are lots of trees and greens, so it’s nice for a stroll and to cool off your feet in 🙂 We even saw a heron and lots of little fish.

Shopping

Korea and Seoul seem to be very popular for shopping so I kind of felt like we had to experience it a bit. We walked around the streets in Myeongdong and it was pretty cool so see all the stores and adverts. Apparently people in Korea don’t think I’m very cute, at least all the cosmetic stores kept trying to get me to go in with promises of free masks and make-up ;). The only thing I was interested in buying was socks. They had so many fun ones! Sadly Thorben said I could only buy 5 (I admit, after I had already bought 4 pairs, so I got a total of 9).

We also headed across the river to the Times Square mall and walked around a bit. I especially liked the food market (surprise), where they had crazy prices for some of the fruit. 38,000 KRW, that’s 28 Euro, for a watermelon, anyone?

Metro

The metro system is extensive and the stations are massive, even bigger than in Shanghai. One time we accidentally walked to the next station instead of to the tracks, so I guess at least some are also connected underground. Just getting from an entrance to the tracks takes forever, especially when you switch lines. Also, Korea doesn’t seem to believe in escalators so on top of all the walking we did I also climbed about 3864 steps (rough estimate) in the stations.

It looks like the metro stations also serve as bunkers. They were signs outside pointing to the closest entrance and gas masks and supplies everywhere. I guess it’s good to be prepared but I also found it kind of scary. There are also lots of shops and food places down there, so you could probably survive underground for a while.

Other discoveries

When walking around on our first day we somehow stumbled upon a sort of pro war/pro America demonstration. Again, kind of scary.


Dyeing and curling your hair seems very popular, much more than in Shanghai. Most of the old ladies were rocking a perm. There are make-up advertisements everywhere and we saw more than one person recovering from plastic surgery (trying to hide it under face masks).

1 Euro is around 1300 Korean Won, so taking money out at the ATM made me feel super rich 🙂

Of course we also ate in Seoul, but that’s enough material for another post 🙂

 

Seoul: Walking Tours

Seoul: Walking Tours

On Tuesday we got back from 4 days in Seoul, my first trip out of China, or really out of Shanghai, since we moved here.

Usually, when visiting a new city I like to do a free walking tour on the first day. I feel like it gives you a good overview, often good recommendations and most of the times they are really fun because the guide is hoping for lots of tips. When I researched Seoul I found “Seoul City Walking Tours“: The city of Seoul’s culture and tourism board offers over 20 free walking tours, so free, they don’t even accept tips. So naturally I signed us up for 5 of them.

Night tour of Seoullo 7017

On our first day we did the night tour of Seoullo 7017, a pedestrian elevated walkway in the center of town. It used to be a traffic overpass built in 1970 and was just opened for pedestrians in 2017, hence the name Seoullo 7017. It was cool to see the city from a different angle and lit up at night, there was some live music on the walkway so I think it is worth a visit. Our guide told us some interesting facts but overall I don’t think you need a guide to check it out.

Insadong

On Sunday morning went on a walk around Insadong, a quarter with lots of shops, galleries and food. The tour started at Tapgol park and then went through the streets of Insadong. We saw a church, lots of shops (many touristy, some with authentic local goods), visited a few galleries which had a teddy bear exhibit, caligraphy and embroidery, saw lotus flowers and a buddhist temple and finished the tour at the Bosingak Bell Ceremony. Bosingak is a big pavillion with a huge bell in it which is rung 12 times at noon every day. As a Korean you have to sign up online but if you are a tourist you can just go and help to ring the bell which was definitely something to remeber 🙂 It was a fun tour with just the two of us and our nice guide. They send a tour guide for just one reservation and we were only between 2 and 6 people for each tour.

Gyeongbokgung

On Monday we visited Gyeongbok Palace, the main royal palace for the last dynasty before the Japanse occupation. When we got there we saw the Changing of the Guards Ceremony and then we explored the Palace’s many buildings and learned about the different symbols, colors and uses of them.

Seoul Fortress (Naksan Section)

Doing two tours in a day is pretty tiring, especially since the second tour that day involved us hiking up the East Mountain along the city wall. After walking around Shanghai, which is completely flat, Seoul seemed like it was covered in huge mountains. I was pretty exhausted when we reached the top, Thorben would probably just call it a leisurely stroll. Unfortunately it was a misty day but at least it didn’t rain like the forecast said. We still got some nice views of the city, though I’m sure it is gorgeous on a clear day.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Our last tour started out at Unhyeongung, another palace or living quarter of the royal family. We learned a lot about how traditional Korean houses are built and what meaning the different elements and shapes have. After that we walked (or again, hiked) around Bukchon Hanok Village, an area where there are still many old houses. In some streets there was a mix of new and traditional houses but the famous photo spots are of course where you only see the beautiful traditional ones.

The volunteers who do the tours seemed like they were mostly retired and just enjoy to represent their city. The guides were focused more on history and facts so there weren’t as many fun stories and anecdotes as in the other free walking tours I’ve done. Overall, I liked the tours a lot and would definitely recommend doing some 🙂