Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Exploring Seoul Day 2

April is a perfect time to visit Seoul, with moderate temperatures enticing flowers to bloom beautifully around the city.  Friday, April 15, 2016 proved to be a gorgeous spring day for Jim, Shauna, Greg, Kristie and I, to walk along Cheonggyecheon stream and Gwangwamun Plaza on our way to Gyeongbok Palace.

We didn't explore the whole palace or go through the museum.  It's a lot to take in on the first visit.  After visiting the throne room, we veered off to the left and saw parts of the palace grounds which I had not previously seen. And I am so glad we did, because it was very lovely and way less crowded.


Along the right side of the palace grounds are sample displays of Korean traditional villages and elements of their culture including various graveside statues and totem poles.  

Leaving the palace, we walked into Samcheong-dong (neighborhood) to get some lunch.  We ordered a sampling of readily available Korean foods to try. The spicy red soup with "rice cakes" is called tteokbokki.  Fried dumplings and tempura shrimp and veggies could be wrapped in lettuce leaves and eaten by hand.  Gimbap is steamed white rice (bap) and other ingredients such as vegetables, eggs, and meat which are rolled in gim (sheets of dried laver seaweed) and served in bite-size slices.  A couple of spicy pork stir-fry dishes served over rice and a light green onion broth finished off the meal.

We were delighted to discover a Korean culture tourist festival was being held that day at Gwangwamun Plaza.  We took the opportunity to watch some traditional music and dance, a traditional "Mask" performance, and a tight-rope walking demonstration.  Shauna and Kristie made lotus lanterns and I was presented with a large one as a gift.  We made a few other traditional crafts and then walked over to the popular tourist shopping area called Insadong.

Not being very interested in shopping, we walked in to a bakery for a treat and then relaxed at the "Fish Spa" where Greg and Kristie treated the fish to a feast of dead skin cells from their feet.  By then, we, too, were hungry and met up with Bob on our way back home to have some chicken bulgogi for dinner. (Imagine why we passed on the "Cat Cafe" and dried fish on a rope . . .)


 And now we will end the day the way it began - with a little serenade from the "Eagles"

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