Chris had the day off, even though it was a Tuesday. Some holiday here in Seoul. I joked that it was their way of trying to make me feel welcome. All about me, yes, I know. Whatever it was (I'll look it up and let you know what it really was), I was happy that we could be together as a family for the whole day. That right there made my day, especially after the month I've had here so far.
The weather was nice, so we decided to hit the town. I wanted to see a part of Seoul that I hadn't yet. The first week we were here, we went to Insadong, a shopping district in the city. But it was so ridiculously cold, that we barely made it past the first couple of shops there. We sat in a café the whole time, trying to keep warm and trying to keep the kids from having a meltdown. So, even though I had been there, I really hadn’t been there. Insadong, basically, has alleys and streets lined with stores and cultural centers. The stores house beautiful Korean traditional items like antiques, handicrafts, pottery and porcelain, art supplies and traditional paper goods. Also, restaurants and cafes abound.
We got on the subway around 11:30am (Chris let me sleep in since it WAS my birthday!). The kids had a great time waiting for the subway and riding it. Maya always enjoys going anywhere by subway. Here’s a pic of them waiting at the subway station.
Anyway, we got off at our station and quickly realized that it wasn’t the right station. Oh well, we had gotten off one stop too soon. It was almost 12:30pm, so we decided to get lunch. We saw a Pizza Hut and decided to do something easy and familiar. Got some pizza and some spaghetti, which we all devoured. We were hungry! Ok, now that we were full, we headed out in search of Insadong. We walked a little ways and Chris said, “Let’s just get a cab and get there.” Taxis here are the way to go and they are fairly cheap. He hailed a taxi and told the driver where we wanted to go. The driver looked at him, made the hand gesture for walking and pointed straight in front of him. Apparently, we were about a block away! LOL So, we started to walk. On the way, we came upon Tapgol Park, a place with historical statues and pavilions. Just outside of the entrance was a street vendor selling Korean flags and flag stickers and pins. Actually, she had quite a few from other countries as well. Maya wanted a Korean flag and I wanted some stickers (for my scrapbook pages). So we picked up a few of those. Then we went in. I think Tapgol Park was especially good for people watching. I took a few pictures of people there and this one I am particularly proud of:
Not sure why, but I think it captures something about the Korean people. He’s just sitting there, watching people and enjoying the weather. I don’t know, chalk it up to my artistic side. :-)
So, after spending a little bit of time at Tapgol park, we continued on to Insadong. We got there and it was busy. Remember, it was a national holiday, but still it was busier than we thought it would be. It was almost impossible to navigate with a stroller. But we did. Maya and I went in a few souvenir shops. Lots of cool stuff. At one of the places, I picked up some hand rolled incense sticks and ceramic incense stick holders. The colors on the sticks and the fragrances were really quite nice. I might have to go back to get more! We continued down the street and went into a Starbucks to let Nadia have a rest and nurse and Maya and Chris went to the bathroom. After a few minutes, we headed out again and continued down the street. Chris got Maya an ice cream cone and they (along with Nadia) sat down to eat that while I went to look at some postcards. They were out on the sidewalk. I checked them out, selected a set and then went inside the store to pay. The store I went into was a paper goods store, and WOW! I was just astounded by the amount and variety of handmade papers inside. I could have easily spent a lot of time in there. Being a scrapbooker, I was in heaven! I selected a few pieces to buy. I paid for the postcards and the papers. Then I asked if I could take pictures of the store. The shopkeeper was kind enough to say yes. Here are those pictures:
After leaving that store, I went to where Chris and the girls were. They had just finished their ice cream. Chris pointed down this side street and there was a Coffee Bean! Well, wasn’t I glad I didn’t get anything at Starbucks just a few minutes earlier! We went to Coffee Bean, I got an Ice Blended Vanilla and Chris picked up some coffee beans. The prices here are higher than back in the US, especially for beans. But we got them anyway.
We continued down the street, popping into stores and checking out the stalls. It was getting late in the afternoon and Nadia was starting to get cranky. She hadn’t had a nap. So, Chris put her in the stroller and walked up and down the street while I took Maya and checked out some more stores. Nadia fell asleep and slept for a good 45 minutes in the stroller, so that was a relief for us. That would last her for the rest of the day. I went into the Insadong tourist center and, for a small donation, picked up a cool map of the area for my scrapbook.
We hit the other end of the street and decided to start heading home. It was about 6pm, and we figured we’d find something to eat closer to home. So we got back on the subway and headed south (towards home). Chris then suggested that we get off at Apgujong, a fairly ritzy part of Seoul. As we headed into Apgujong, I noticed that people were better dressed and there were more foreign cars (like BMWs and Audis). It’s the Beverly Hills of Seoul. They even have a Rodeo Drive there!
We walked around and finally decided to eat at an Italian place called Sorrento’s. There is one close to our apartment, so we know it is good. And the kids love it. Yummy!
After dinner, we took a taxi home instead of the subway. It was getting late (for the kids). Got home, got them into bed, and relaxed with Chris. It was a good birthday for me.