Sunday, May 30, 2010


After the crazy flight experience leaving the U.S., I wound up losing a day of my time in Seoul, Korea. Instead, Continental put all of us up at the Nikko Narita Hotel at the airport in Japan for one night, and put me on the first flight out to Seoul the next morning. It was so nice to finally get to my destination and check-in to the hotel which would be the place where I could rest my head for the next few days...ahhhhhhh! :) The hotel was the Grand Intercontinental Seoul- an elegant, very nice and extremely clean hotel. (Don't judge it by the outside, the inside is much nicer than you would expect looking at the bland exterior). The Grand Intercontinental Seoul is located in the Gangnam District- Gangnam means "south of the river". This area is modern and affluent and has wider streets than you'll find elsewhere in Seoul, and it also has a lot of high-end restaurants. Underneath the Grand Intercontinental Seoul is the COEX Mall...The COEX is an enormous underground shopping mall (a.k.a.- a megamall) that has more than 250 stores, places to eat, movie theaters and even a club! I stayed at the Grand Intercontinental Seoul for two reasons: 1) It is right across the street from where Danny & Lilac's wedding was going to be, and 2) It was going to be one of the few western-style rooms I would get to experience on my two week trip to Asia. The rooms are remodeled in a contemporary style using dark wood. The beds are firm and SO comfortable! The bathrooms are very spacious- a rarity in Korea. Believe you me, after sitting around at Newark for 12 and 1/2 hours before finally taking off, sitting on a flight to Japan for 14 hours, sitting on a flight from Japan to Korea for 2 and 1/2 hours, and sitting on a bus from the airport in Incheon to the hotel in Seoul for 80 minutes...all I wanted to do was dive into the bed and not get out for an entire day, but I knew there was so much I wanted to see and do in Seoul, that I headed right out the door, jumped into a cab, and went to Nam Dae Mun Market. Nam Dae Mun Market is the oldest and largest traditional market in all of Korea. Here there are vendors that sell clothing, local products, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.It's a good idea to bring cash if you want to buy stuff because you can definitely bargain here! I didn't shop much, but instead found a great little spot to have a quick bite to eat. This place was filled with locals all pretty much eating the same thing; ramen noodles in broth...kimchi and vegetables wrapped in rice and seaweed...and sweet sugar balls for dessert..they taste like zeppoles, but are much more dense...quite good!The eating didn't stop after this...that night we all met up to go out to one of the best Korean Barbecue restaurants in all of Seoul (I'm not making that up, it's a fact according to Danny & Lilac). I wish I knew the name because it was amazing! We took off our shoes, sat on the floor, and ate steak cooked in the pit in front of us, liver, soup, salad and drank plenty of Hite- a Korean beer. After dinner, the coffee/cafe culture is huge here! We headed to a really cute street called Shinsa street in the Sinsa-dong neighborhood where we had the best vanilla lattes and a chocolate waffle with ice cream for dessert. Lilac and I checked out the stores on Shinsa street- it's lined with great boutiques for clothing, jewelery and accessories (very reminiscent of areas in Soho in NYC). Stay tuned for Seoul, Korea- Day 2 and my first sashimi experience at the Noryangjin Fish Market!

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