Sell Your Seoul Trip 4 - Day 1 & 2 - Touchdown and The Great Legacy

After weeks of anticipation and a long, long flight from New York, I finally arrived in Seoul. After meeting my fellow hosts and the Sell Your Seoul campaign crew, we all boarded a huge private bus and headed to the hotel, Blue Pearl. Once at the hotel, we settled into our rooms and went to dinner at a traditional Korean barbeque restaurant. Our meal consisted of flank steak and mushrooms that we cooked ourselves on an open grill and a sweet wine called Sansachoon.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed down for breakfast at our hotel. It was very different from what a typical breakfast in America is like. We all chose to eat something called potato food. It was similar to mac and cheese only there were thinly sliced potatoes mixed in – so good! I was very happy to see that coffee in Seoul is just as popular as in the States – with a sigh of relief.After fueling up, we hailed a taxi and went to the Gyeongbok Palace, “The Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven”. The palace was constructed in 1394 by the Joseon Dynasty and remains a major tourist destination in Seoul. Walking around, I noticed, of course, how beautiful it is, but also how quiet and calming it is. Even with the amount of people there time seemed to slow down a bit wandering through the many alleyways and tunnels dividing the buildings, all ornately decorated by hand painted creatures, flowers and symbols of the king and queen.

After spending time in the hot sun, we headed over to the Samchungdong, an area full of art galleries, cafés and antique stores. After choosing a café, which is difficult, given the endless options, we sat down on plush couches and enjoyed pineapple and banana juice. It was creamy, refreshing and smooth and definitely cooled us down.

After walking around a bit in the district, we stopped for lunch. We were presented with a traditional Korean dish, pajeon, or seafood pancake, which I like to call Korean pizza. It is basically a pizza dough-like crust piled with all kinds of seafood – shrimp, squid, oysters, spring onions and hot peppers and is pan fried and served hot. This was my favorite dish in Seoul so far. We also had noodle soup with clams and snails. The broth was light and the noodles were cooked perfectly. I was a little hesitant to try escargot, but since they were tiny, and I’m pretty open to trying new things, I closed my eyes and tried one. It was very salty and kind of tasted like ocean water. I would compare its flavor to seaweed with the texture of a clam; not bad at all.

After lunch, we went to a very exclusive tea house, Osulloc. We had a private room with a skylight and were given a menu with endless tea options. There we had Chrysanthemum tea, which is basically Korean chamomile with delicious rice cakes, one savory and one sweet.

After finishing our tea, we visited Hanok village, a traditional Korean village where we got to see how Koreans lived in the past. The most interesting part was learning about the heating system. Basically, there are two floors built into the house. The bottom floor is full of air vents where coal or firewood can be burned so that it rises up to the second floor of the house, heating everything from the bottom up. In America, heated floors are considered a major luxury, but in Seoul they’ve been using this system for centuries, pretty cool!

While walking around, we spotted a bride wearing a traditional Korean dress, called a Hanbok and then got to try on the clothing ourselves. Being the host for the day, I was chosen to wear the queen’s dress. The dress had a lot of layers and the headdress weighed at least 5 pounds. It was difficult learning to bow in all of those garments and in the intense heat, so maybe I’m not ready to be royal just yet.

After a quick stop back the hotel, we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I was very interested to see how different countries interpret different cuisines. There definitely wasn’t pork fried rice or chicken and broccoli on this Chinese menu. We sampled several noodle dishes, some spicy, some not, and a dish made of fried pork in a sweet sauce, similar to sweet and sour chicken and a spicy noodle soup. Everything was delicious and it was a perfect way to end our first day.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and fell fast asleep. All in all, a terrific day and I can’t wait to see what awaits us in Day 2..
by Gina

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1 comment:

Janice said...

Yay! Gina, sounds like you're having a great time. TAKE LOTS OF PICS! I can't wait to read some more... Definitely pursuading me to add Seoul onto my list of places to visit!

Your little sister aka Twin Mint, Janice