South Korea, considering that it is the country of my husband’s birth and home to my in-laws, even though I had not yet gotten the chance to visit, I had the feeling that it should be a bit nearer and dearer to my heart than any other country we booked tickets to on this trip. When we finally landed in Korea, I was excited to get to know this country and meet up with my new family. Needless to say though, both Mo and I were exhausted from our whirlwind trip to Japan, and still trying to recover from what was an even busier summer (selling the condo and car, wrapping up work, packing and planning for a year abroad, moving all of our stuff into storage and living between multiple temporary homes, etc.etc. etc.), not to mention still trying to get acclimated to long term travel and settle into the idea that this is our life now, if only for the year.
Given all of this, instead of making plans to visit all of Korea’s best museums and landmarks, we gave a sigh of relief and rested into the idea that plans here consisted mostly of meals with Mo’s parents and cousins, a bit of shopping and a meet up with our friend Colleen, who is teaching at an international school in the area.
We spent our trip in and around Seoul, beginning it at the Center Mark hotel in a neighborhood called Insadong. As a cute little shopping area, Insadong had what seemed like one main street that sold mostly traditional Korean goods (pottery, tea, paint brushes, artwork, etc.) and souvenirs. It hosted a small outdoor mall type area which was fun to pursue. Personally, I enjoyed this area the most because it was small, the shops local, and many of the souvenirs/wares, although I am sure not all of the handcrafted variety, boasted they were locally made and seemed to be nice quality.
Also, we immediately found this adorable cafe! Although I didn’t fully understand the premise (goofy bobble heads greeted you at the door, little paper notes written by customers were strung up in every possible place throughout the restaurant, the waitress was wearing a construction worker’s outfit with a bunch of “flair” on her hard hat……), the food, served in little gold bento box type pans (according to Mo, similar to what Korean kids used to eat their lunch out of at school) was great, and consisted of a little rice, fried egg and sausage, and sautéed Kimchee and onions. Yum!
The coffee was good too, although expensive. We found that coffee in Korea runs more along the lines of $5-$6 for a small expresso drink (and generally seems to contain less expresso!).
We tried the Korean sweets as well, which came in a giant bowl all together that you kinda had to finish all in one sitting because they don’t really do the “can I take this to go?” thing here in Korea. Personally I liked the little biscuits and peanut/sesame brittle ones; the pink, green and white rice puffs, although pretty, were a bit to airy and tasteless for me.
After eating we wandered around a bit…….