Republic of Korea: Seoul

cold buckwheat noodles
cold buckwheat noodles

Seoul is one of only two destinations that three of us could reach on nonstop flights. It was surprisingly easy to talk two of my sisters into meeting for a long weekend. Following a happy reunion at Incheon airport (ICN) we departed for Dragon Hill Lodge in the city.

We planned a few activities in advance and left some flexibility in our itinerary. I had the most fun  at Dragon Hill Spa and O’ngo Food Tour. We braved the traditional Korean spa experience. My Gold Package treatments included Admission + Placental Massage (Body Scrub, Full Body Massage, Shampoo (head Acupressure) Facial Pack) + Imperial Oriental Medicine Hip Bath. In addition to the treatments there were multiple hot tubs and coed saunas of varied temperatures. I didn’t spend any time in the arcade, which looked like a popular hangout for the teen crowd. Visiting the spa was a unique cultural experience that my sisters and I spent the rest of the weekend laughing about.

During the food tour our fantastic guide, Logan Kim, brought us to four restaurants. It was a fun way to cover several neighborhoods on foot and learn more about Seoul. We passed several protests regarding the president’s impeachment. It was good to have Logan there to explain what was going on and ensure us that despite the heavy military presence the protests were expected to be peaceful. Another highlight during the tour was learning the proper way to eat Korean BBQ by placing a single piece of grilled meat inside a lettuce or sesame leaf, adding a vegetable, and popping the whole thing into your mouth. The tour also provided an opportunity to sample several local drinks: Cass beer, plum wine, makgeolli and soju.

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace

On our last day together we wandered through Namdaemun Market. Who knew there were so many different socks??? Then we stopped in Craft Veer Valley near our hotel. I was impressed by the selection of local brews. Magpie Brewing Co was my favorite.

The days passed quickly and on Tuesday it was time to pack up the winter coats, hats & gloves. We said goodbye and went to the airport at different times. After 12 hours I landed in summertime.

Dates: 13-17 January 2017
Travel with: Beth and Rebecca met me in Seoul
Weather: clear and cold, 20-30s. Thank goodness the sun was shining!
Accommodation:

  • Dragon Hill Lodge at Yongsan Army Base
  • Grand Hyatt Seoul for the last night

Activities:

  • Dragon Hill Spa (!!)
  • O’ngo food tour (!!)
  • Unhyeongung Palace
  • selfguided walking tour including
    • Changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace
    • Bukchon Village
    • Catholic Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in Korean
    • City Hall
    • shopping at Lotte
  • Namdaemun Market
  • Craft Beer Valley

Food & Drink:

  • Bentley’s at Dragon Hill Lodge
  • Doughnut Plant New York City
  • Lotteria – delicious mozzarella sticks; burger had a surprise gravy on it that I didn’t love
  • Starbucks
  • Traditional Korean BBQ, O’ngo Food Tour
  • Chicken & Beer, O’ngo Food Tour
  • Kwangjang Market, O’ngo Food Tour
  • Craftworks Taphouse, Craft Beer Valley
  • Made in Pong Dang, Craft Beer Valley
  • Magpie Brewing Co, Craft Beer Valley
  • Uncle Sam’s Pancake
  • Paris Baquette
  • Everything but the Hero Cafe & Roastery
  • Taco Bell, ICN
  • Jamba Juice, ICN
  • several delicious local places whose names I did not capture

Transportation:

  • Seoul Metro was clean, convenient and easy to use
  • Dragon Hill Lodge shuttle from ICN
  • taxis
  • Korean Air Limousine
  • Korean Air nonstop flights between AKL & ICN
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