Tuesday, December 22, 2015

to Seoul and back, days 1-2

Remember last year's trip to Seoul? Well, this year I had the opportunity of going back in late November! And, like that time, I loved it! It was a work trip, too, and that aspect went great, thank you very much. But of course, what I'm dying to write about is the rest of my stay. And I can tell you, when it gets to making use of whatever free time there may be to explore a place, I'm your man.

Unlike last time, when I split my posts along themes, this time I think I'll follow a chronological order. It's simpler, and I really don't have that much time life this year to write! 

So here it goes, the first day of my trip and part of the second day!

Day 1

Getting to Seoul from Mexico City is no easy task. At least not a short one. But it involved a very nice landing at JFK in New York, early in the morning. It was really nice watching early morning over Queens. Yes. Queens. Yes, the shortest route would be to fly northwest first, not northeast from Mexico City. But that was the cheaper flight. And it also added some 4 hours to my total travel time. But I got nice views over Queens, at least.

By the time I got to my hotel and checked in, I was horrendously tired. Plus, I was staying in Seocho-gu, a southern district of Seoul, so getting to some of the more important or popular spots wasn't that easy either. So I simply had a walk around to acquaint myself with the area, to locate the local subway station...

...and to sink my teeth into some authentic Korean fare! It took a bit of walking around, but I finally found a place, with an English-Korean menu and with lots of delicious things! It was also a very embarrassing reminder of how less than basic my Korean skills are, as the staff spoke no English at all, and we all resorted to simply repeating the same things over and over, without much chance of the other side understanding! Thankfully, with a bilingual menu with photos, I got my hands on a huge serving of spicy tteokbokki (thick, rice noodles) with mussels!

Not too bad for a first day. I mean, most people would have probably just got into bed and fallen asleep right away. Especially since the ride from the airport to the hotel took almost two hours! But I totally made up for that the next day, which I had all for myself. It just so happened that the cheapest airfare had taken me not just through New York, but enough in advance to enjoy a full Sunday! Which I should have used to rest. But how could I!?

Day 2

I woke up early. And to these fantastic views of a modern city in fall colours! I got my camera, checked my city map, planned a rough itinerary, and set off!

My first stop? The Cultural Art Park (문화예술공원), right behind the hotel! One of the advantages of being on a district adjacent to nature, eh? And I was so happy there! There were maple trees everywhere in orange, purple and red colours. The ground was carpeted in red, yellow, ochre. And I even got to see some birds and some funny squirrels with bushy ears and tails!

Frankly, that could have been more than enough. But instead, it sent me on a quest for more nature and more colour, so I kept walking until I reached a second park not too far from this one, the Citizens' Forest (시민의숲). More wonderful fall colours (I could never have too much of that!), forest, birds and bushy squirrels!

I considered myself really lucky for being in a city with so much nature, and with such an amazing fall foliage so late in the year! Plus, this was the perfect, sunny, crispy morning – my favourite kind! 

By the end of my walk, I was pretty hungry. So I moved to my next destination for breakfast: Gangnam! But since I overdid it with the pics here, I'll save that and what followed for my next post. 

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