It was a four-day weekend here in Korea, in honour of Children's Day and Buddha's Birthday, and I spent it in Seoul with friends. After our trip to Tokyo (a vibrant, colourful blur) I was a bit tired and was sorely tempted to stay home, watch TV and decompress. Fortunately I didn't, and those three days away were exactly the kind of break I needed.
Since I'm living in Korea for a year, I knew I'd probably be going back to Seoul a few more times and that took the pressure off. There was no rushing around trying to get everything checked off the bucket list. There was no agonizing over where to go and how much time to spend there. There was no real stress of any kind, except for the last mad dash to the train station and boarding the train back to Busan with two minutes to spare.
Instead, there were long talks about life on the sundrenched four hour train ride there and back. There was meandering down the streets of bustling shopping districts eating street food and ice cream. There was delicious food – Korean and Mexican in the same day. There was an afternoon spent roaming the grounds of a gorgeous palace. There was a full day spent with a girl I met while travelling alone through Madrid so many months ago. She showed us around her favourite parts of Seoul, took us for some of the best Korean food I've ever had, and happily, we got along as well as we had in Spain during the few days we spent together then.
And there was more! I had my birth chart read by a local tarot card reader. We hid from the rain in a cafe bordering the stream that cuts through downtown Seoul and drank hot sweet tea. I had iced mochaccinos every morning and soju mixed with Sprite in plastic cups every night. We wandered around the university district enjoying its lively energy, watching people boxing and others playing music side-by-side in the little park in the middle of it all. There were so many times we laughed until we cried.
I came home feeling recharged, not drained. I felt (and still feel!) blissed out and happy, alive and connected. It reminded me of how incredibly lucky I am to have this opportunity to live and work in another country, and to explore and experience such amazing parts of the world. It also reminded me not to take any of it for granted. Life is good.
- Juno Guesthouse: While the facilities were nothing to write home about, it was in a quiet area and very close to a subway stop on one of the major train lines. But most of all, it had an absolutely incredible welcoming committee: a beautiful little Korean Jindo dog that brightened our day every time we left or came back to the hostel.
- Vatos Urban Tacos: This restaurant in Itaewon made us feel immediately like we weren't in Korea anymore. Not that there's anything wrong with Korea, but it just made us feel transported to somewhere completely different. Amazing margaritas, perfect tacos, delicious salsa, some queso dip – we were in heaven.
- Ssamziegil (in Insadong): We all agreed that walking through this shopping area (shown in the fifth picture from the top) felt like walking through Etsy brought to life. There were tons of stores selling adorable handmade or unique things like jewelry, stationery, and soaps.
- Gwanghwamun Square: A gorgeous, open plaza leading to the gates of the Gyeongbokgung palace (another of our favourites). It's right in the middle of Seoul, framed by mountains behind, and is positively gorgeous.