The Itaewon area is a shopping/dining district but is fairly commercial with lots of American and international chains. However there are also plenty of boutiques and local restaurants and international cuisine. Since I arrived in the evening and realized I forgot my make-up (#wishIwasjoking #firstworldproblems) I was glad to be walking distance to Itaewon and thank God for Olive Young (Korean ULTA). After a little shopping and exploring I had a Korean dinner of bulgogi for one and then headed back to the Grand Hyatt to get some sleep and get my body in this time zone.
The next day I headed to Namdaemun Market with all kinds of stalls where you can find anything from pantyhose to purses. The market is located right at the Namdaemun gate which is the only remaining gate of the original 7 gates to the old imperial city. The gate was harmed by an arsonist in recent years but has been well restored. From there you can walk north up the main boulevard and you’ll find the Deoksugung Palace on your left, and finally the Gyongbokgung Palace at the head of the boulevard. It’s very cool to see these traditional imperial palaces right in the middle of modern Seoul. And while the guards are as straight-faced as those at Buckingham Palace, you can have your picture taken with them … I think throwing up the peace sign is a requirement for posing for photos here.
Not to mention the amazing food. My neighborhood in DC boasts one of the best and most authentic Korean restaurants in DC so I was really looking forward to the real deal. Korean food is spicy, but not too spicy, extremely flavorful, and lots of veggies. Bibimbap and bulgogi are favorite dishes, and many restaurants bring your meat right to the table with a built in grill and you cook it right there to your liking.
Finally I have to say a word about how I got here… on the Korean Air IAD-ICN nonstop. It’s awesome to get halfway across the world in just under 15 hours. The plane is spacious and the service of the Korean crew was wonderful. This was my first time flying business class on a long haul flight (and probably my last for a while!)…but the flat bed is the best thing ever.
So thankful for this opportunity for a quick Seoul Stopover… I hope to be back! Now off to Kuala Lumpur!