Saturday was a Seoul marathon, which is only 1/10th of the reason I had to give this the longest blog title ever. But, the way my new co-worker George and I tore this city up…. there is really no better way to describe it. We met (for the first time) at Sindorim Station, hopped on the subway and headed towards Insadong. Upon exiting the train we searched for a spot to grab lunch. This adventure was definitely going to require some fuel.
Outside of the major thoroughfares, Seoul is really a city of alleys. We took a couple of turns and wound up at this hidden treasure where we were able to EAT ON THE FLOOR. (How fabulously Korean…) The food was average, but the experience was authentic. Danimal, I am NOT suggesting that we move here. You can exhale.
From there we headed over to Changdeokgung Palace. I immediately began comparing palaces to decide which one I preferred, Gyeongbuk or Changdeokgung. (First world problems…) After a limited amount of time it was clear that CP was the winner. The fact that this palace had forbidden gardens is what put it over the top for me. (It just doesn’t get too much more royal than secret gardens.) It began as the secondary palace, but when Gyeongbuk burned, this place took center stage. It was the home for up to 2,000 people, including 500 members of the royal family.
We leave the garden and head for the chief Buddhist temple in Seoul, Jogyesa. It is GORGEOUS. After the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas in Hong Kong, I was prepared to not be impressed. But this temple had intricate and brightly colored lanterns covering the ceiling that set the stage for the three large statues in the background. Absolutely breathtaking.
We were parched, but thankfully George knew of a craft brewery, Craftworks, over in Itaewon. Y’all know I’m not a beer girl, but this place had great beer. I had two hefeweizens, which is also basically two whole beers more than I have ever had in one sitting. George deserves a medal for that accomplishment alone, not to mention the fact that he showed me around all day. [Enter other new, awesome co-worker, Randy]
We were now in need of sustenance and KOREAN BBQ. Finally. I had been waiting for this cultural experience, and the mere mention of BBQ is more than enough to intrigue this Texas girl. While there wasn’t brisket or BBQ sauce, this stuff was good. And, they grill it for you right at the table. (More on this during the next post on ‘Seoul Food’.)
The night was not over yet, let the entertainment portion of the evening begin. We headed to Woodstock, a Korean bar with a reputation for good music and company, in Shinchon to hear Blue Biscuit Blues. Now this was a rock band… there was no way we were leaving before they were finished. It was no Jazz Story in terms of atmosphere, but these musicians were the real deal.
All of a sudden it was 2:00am, I was hungry and needing to go ‘home’. Thankfully there were cupcakes and Egyptian sandwiches right in front of the cabs. In Scrabble, that is what I call a triple word score. Oh Seoul… thank you for a fab–u-lous day.