This trip to South Korea came about last November when one of Sean's childhood best friends announced he would be getting married to his dream girl... and the wedding would take place in three months time. The planning for this trip began immediately. We had never planned an international trip in such short notice but we were so excited to take this on and even so excited to be able to share such a special moment in a dear friend's life. After looking for the perfect (AKA: shortest) flight from Chicago O'hare to Incheon International for a couple of weeks we finally found a great deal through Air Canada with just an hour layover in Vancouver. We decided to book a small apartment in the city, as opposed to a hotel, through Airbnb since we wanted to share the place with close friends.
We landed in Seoul on Thursday afternoon but the time we made it past immigration, took the bus from the airport to Gangnam, and checked into our apartment it was already 9pm. We originally had plans of heading out to explore a bit before calling it a day but after the long flight and the lack of sleep the night before, our bodies surrendered to sleep soon after.
The next morning we headed out in search of a breakfast place. We were looking for an authentic Korean breakfast place but to our surprise, and learning experience, it turns out that a traditional breakfast here is like any other meal during the day so there are no breakfast/brunch places. We learned that the majority of Koreans' have adopted an idea of breakfast very similar to what you might find in New York City, San Francisco, or any other western city. After roaming the streets of Gangnam for a while we found a cute and buzzing place called Butterfinger Pancakes where we fueled up on delicious pancakes, scrambled eggs, and french toast.
After breakfast we went back to the apartment to regroup and plan the rest of our day. I was so antsy to head out and explore Seoul... however, we wanted to make sure we understood the city's public transportation the best we could before embarking on our adventure. After getting on the wrong subway once and walking the wrong way for a couple miles we finally made it to Bukchon Hanok Village, our first destination. This historically whimsical village served as residential quarter of high-ranking government officials and nobility during the Joseon Dynasty. The vibe and architecture of Bukchon is definitely incomparable. The secret alleys, the centuries old tea houses, the rustic wooden doorways... it all completely mesmerized me.
We had a lot of other places in our list we wanted to see that day but due to the time spent on our subway adventure and jet lag catching up to us we decided to head back to the apartment to rest a little, eat dinner, and call it a night... at 7:30pm. Like I said, jet lag was kicking our butts.
Since our Airbnb was conveniently located right by Gangnam Station, it made it easy for us to start our adventure first thing in the morning the next day. There were two places we were dying to see in the downtown Seoul area... Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Gwangjang Market.
Getting to the palace was easy since we ended up taking the same subway lines as the day before and just walked a couple miles the opposite direction from the the village. Once we got there we were welcomed by the sound of war drums announcing the beginning of the royal guard changing ceremony... the culture and colors behind it were truly mesmerizing.
After the palace we walked all the way to Gwangjang Market for lunch... hands down my favorite experience in downtown Seoul. So much so that I decided to dedicate a whole post just for this (coming soon!).
(The view from our apartment at night)