Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Came Here to Eat ~ and Maybe Drink a Little Too

Two weekends ago my friend Caitlin was looking for volunteers to join her on a trip to Seoul as she had a wedding to attend.  Considering I hadn't been there since winter and was in need of new clothes and good food I was more than happy to volunteer.  Caitlin has to work late on Fridays (so lame) so we waited until Saturday morning to head up, bright and early I might add.  Arriving in Seoul around 11:30 our first mission was lunch, i'm telling you this weekend had two goals - clothes and food, both of which were successfully executed. 

The beautiful Han River 
Caitlin and I are friends for a reason, we both love food - maybe it's a Wisconsin thing?  Anyway, living in Korea you may find yourself scouring the internet for foodie blogs and websites which give praise to the hidden gems around the country.  Caitlin and I are both getting pretty good at just that so lunch was had at Deli Heinzburg located on Garosugil which could be coined the Rodeo Drive of Seoul.  There's tons of shops, cute cafes, restaurants and bars, I just can't believe this was only my first visit - rest assured i'll be back.  I had trouble deciding on a sandwich, which if you know me is no surprise, hello indecision but wound up with food envy as my ham sandwich arrived looking really boring next to Caitlin's Thanksgiving dinner esque sandwich.  After lunch Caitlin had to catch a taxi to the wedding so I had some time to kill, not wanting to burn myself out of shopping just quite yet I made my way to the Han river to relax and brush up on my Korean.  

slowly but surely I'm becoming more Korean every day ㅋㅋ 
The wedding went by in a flash, as most Korean weddings do, so I met Caitlin back on Garosu-gil about an hour and a half later, ready for some shopping.  Our main destination was forever 21 which I easily could've spent a few hours in. You think shopping in that store in the states in overwhelming,? Even in Chicago where it's two stories high? Well why don't you come to Seoul and test out the 5 story craziness that exists...yeah you read that right 5 floors of madness.  Thankfully the store wasn't in complete disarray and was easy enough to navigate, after an hour or so of searching, a bit of pushing and multiple fitting room visits I was the happy new owner of a few dresses and tops.  Success.  

We made our way to Itaewon for more good food and drinks, and soon found ourselves at a rooftop bar catching the tail end of the summer social party.  The cocktails were a bit overprices but the fish and chips Caitlin and I shared did more than enough to make up for it.  Unfortunately the vibe and clientele of Itaewon doesn't match the food and beer so we had no desire to stick around for much longer, plus we wanted to ditch the backpacks and shopping bags we'd been carrying around all day.  We caught the subway to Hongdae, checked into our hostel and freshened up for a night on the town. Caitlin has a friend living in Seoul that was considering meeting us out for drinks while I was trying to coax my friend from Incheon to come over and meet us as well.  We had a mission in finding an all you can drink beer bar, another blog find, and were happy when we successfully located it.  Our happiness however was soon gone when we discovered it had closed...damn.   Anyway we wound up meeting my friend Jaewon and his friends for a few drinks at some random bar.  Bored with the atmosphere we made our way back to the streets of Hongdae and soon found ourselves and 맥주???? a self service bar similar to one of our favorite Indong bars 맥주광. We made our way to the fridges and I think I just about jumped for joy when I spotted a Blue Moon, seriously it's amazing the things that create immense excitement after living in Korea for a year. 
This is how you make Wisconsin girls happy ~~ 
The night ended somewhere around 4am when my friends walked us back to our hostel and we immediately passed out.  To my surprise I slept in until 11 the next day (seriously sleeping in has become foreign to me) and quickly showered so could go out to explore Hongdae, by day.  Our first thought was, you guessed it, once again food and before walking for too long found ourselves in a famous mandu shop. Not your typical breakfast but we couldn't resist the steam, smell and sights pouring out of the little hole-in-the-wall restaurant.   The food was quick, cheap and delicious, what more could you ask for?! We had first passed a super cute Hobbit themed cafe but it unfortunately wasn't open yet, c'mon Korea you really need to pick up the early morning coffee culture.  After our mandu we wandered the streets lined with various shops, stopped by the free market at the park and eventually made our way back to the adorable cafe.

After getting our coffee fix, or maybe a bit too much, note: caffeine headache, we made our way back to the hostel to collect our bags and head for the bus station. It was close to 4 pm as we approached the ticket counter and to our disappointment we were told that the next bus to Gumi wasn't until 6pm, guess we should've booked in advance.  As I started to imagine two long hours hanging at the bus terminal Caitlin came up with a brilliant idea.  Why not head to Gangnam (a short taxi ride away) for an early pizza dinner before coming back to catch our bus.  Nothing like turning a grim outlook into a happy ending, Brick Oven pizza in Gangnam is a place I've been wanting to visit for months and this late bus allowed for just that.

The grand finale 
Quite the successful weekend in Seoul: shopping, good food, coffee, beer and great company. Seoul you did good this time, I'll have to return again soon. 

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