The trip from Tokyo to Seoul is just 2 hours by plane. A perfect weekend. And an amazing country to experience in my quest to visit fifty by 30.
The Japanese speak well of South Korea’s capital. They go there for the shopping, for the fantastic grilled meat (kalibi) and for the history. Palaces and temples and old city parts mixed ultra modern districts and a vibrant nightlife. Street food in every corner. Districts with over 30 000 shops in one place. Everywhere around the city mountains and hills arise. Trees, flowers, silence and wonderful views, in contrast to all the concrete. A place to take a rest from the city of over 10 million.
“Every weekend we dress up as if we were going to climb Mt. Everest,” one man tells us. And maybe that’s true. When we make our way up Namsan Mountain we are met by Koreans dressed in training gear, water bottles and hiking shoes. There, in the burning sun, hidden between fog and smog, and in 20 degrees, they make their way up the mountain while the last cherry blossom petals fall like snowflakes to the ground.
This was our first visit to Seoul, and we chose to stay at a hotel in Jung-gu, right next to City hall. That way, we were close to the shopping district Myeongdong, the magnificent palace Gyeongbokgung, the old Korean tree-houses with narrow streets filled with cafés and craft stores in Bukchon Hanok Village, the more genuine Korean quarters in Insa-dong where we were invited to a local lunch consisting of living squid. Just a few minutes walk from the hotel arose Namsan Mountain with it’s iconic communications tower N Seoul Tower.