D. and I are both not the type of travellers, who wants to wake up super early and having a strict plan of what we want to see on the day. We usually take out the city map, checking where are the interesting spots located, where are the restaurants or cafes we’d like to visit and then based on that, putting up a route for the day… after having a good breakfast tea/coffee, of course.
On the second day we went to see the National Museum of Korea.The weather was beautiful, and although the sun was shining the wind was freezing. Thus, museum was a good alternative to hide from that cold. The Nat. Museum is a huge building showcasing Korean history from the gogyero time up to gyreo, josoen, Korean empire. We spent quite a bit of time inside the museum, as there were so many things to see… also the museum shop/cafe took some time as well…hehe. We left the museum around 6:00pm so we could see the sunset and the Namsan tower rising proudly between the reddish sky. Just like the Berliner Tv-tower, you can see the Namsan tower from almost everywhere… I have a thing for high buildings/towers.. so for sure Namsan Tower got me excited and happy just by looking. After the museum, we went to Line cafe although we wanted to go to the anthracite coffee, but were stuck in linestore instead. Then walked around Itaewon neighbourhood a bit , exploring nice little shops most of which were unfortunately closed. Those shops remind me of Weinmeister street in Berlin with their own workshops and designs. We found Ader Error showroom, where D. purchased her first Made-in-Korea item: a pair of knitted trousers! So so stylish!
Aside the busy bar-pub Itaewon area, the neighbourhood seemed very quiet and isolated. Stairways leading up and down into narrow alleys with some street art. We then went to the Hyundai Music library but were not allowed to enter due to membership permission only. However, just next door was a vinyl cafe which had a Dj playing between CDs and Vinyls to sell. Additionally, you could listen to any CD you want while drinking your coffee. Awesome place! After that we walked all the way back to the busy part of Itaewon wanting to go to Maple Tree restaurant but entered Twoplus BBQ instead; great food though slightly expensive.
Following the recommendation of an acquaintance we went to The Fountain. I thought it was a lounge bar, but it has a dance floor and rather a club feeling to it. Spontaneously, we decided to just dance and enjoyed a lot until the crowd was unbearable. The metros seems to stop running at night in Seoul, so we had to catch a taxi, which was not an easy task – unlike in those movies – eventually we got one and it cost only 11000₩ (~ 11 USD) to get back to Mapo. Taxi drive were very affordable in Seoul..woohoo.
We woke up pretty early next day, despite the long night at The Fountain. Again the mountains were greeting us and the sun shined brightly. On the third day in Seoul we decided to visit Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), which was designed by Zaha Hadid. Have I told you I am interested in architecture? Although my knowledge of the architects are limited, but I am again and again amazed by their creativity and the meaning behind each building. The DDP is breath-taking, in my honest opinion. The organic form, the spaciness … the out of the norm and the size of that building is daebak! We did not go into all parts of that building, but strolls around the campus and visited some little shops inside DDP. Around the DDP were field of LED roses, which should be prettily lighted at night. Afterwards we walked all the way to the gate at Dongdaemun Market and wandered along Seoul’s city wall.
As a tourist, of course we had to check out Myeongdong district for various shops where I end up buying an expensive but pretty coat proudly Made in Korea. Did I need it? No.. but I love coats… can’t ever have enough :-). The good part about SK is, that you find lots of Made-in-Korea products, not only the cosmetics but also electronics. AND they mainly use their musicians/actors for advertisement. I kinda like that concept.
Myeongdong is filled with shops, cosmetic stores and street food. It was very crowded and some cosmetic shops employers were slighty aggressively pulling me inside their store. That was a weird experience, luckily never happened again on my next visit to Myeongdong. We tried to find Coffee Libre and ended up in a beautiful cathedral with a spacious surrounding, where we enjoyed a bit the sun between the busy streets of Myeongdong. Coffee Libre was a bit small and – for our own taste – not comfy. Most of the cafes around were fully packed, thus we decided to go to cafe Hongmilmil for some snacks. After warming up out body and filled our belly, we strolled around Dongdaemun Market to experience a bit of street market vibe, enjoy some street foods, then heading back to Myeongdong to find Sanchon: temple styled food. Sanchon was very(!) well hidden, but it was totally worth it. When we entered the restaurant, we had to take off your shoes, then the manager showed us the basin to wash our hands before escorting us to a table. The restaurant was beautifully decorated with traditional paintings, huge bells, and traditional music instruments. There were some high tables, but we decided to sit on the ground. They had only one menu consisted of 18 (heavenly) dishes, and at 8:00pm they offered traditional performances. If Sanchon wasn’t so expensive, we would have gone back there. The food was so so delicious, not to mention the fermented pine needle drink !!! Anyone knows the recipe?