Seoul

a quick Hongdae weekend

A friend and I went on a trip to Seoul a few weeks ago with one of my work friends. It was perfect. Friday night partying, Saturday morning coffee then a full day of quirky shopping and cafe hopping. Then Sunday we jetted home, just catching the sunrise and cute robots at Incheon Terminal 2. 

train from airport to the city

The flight over was so easy. We had a row of three for the two of us, so the middle seat became the shared snack chair. When we landed we quickly went through immigration and then headed on to the metro. The Seoul metro is super easy to use. Before you leave the airport, go to the QS25 and get t-money cards. They even have the amount you need for your final distance taped on the counter. True heroes. 

I love that Seoul has layers, never a boring view

We stayed at Kimchee Hostel in Sincheon, right by hongdae station, and it was perfect for a quick trip (HI click me for discounts!). If i was going to stay in Seoul for longer than two nights I probably would have gotten a different hostel/airbnb. This place was two seconds away Hongdae, the collegey/party area in case you don’t know. We went out in search of a CHEESE PLATTER because Beijing severely lacks cheese platters. we found this amazing burrata plate and got a bottle of wine to go with it. After than we went to a pizza place and waited for some friends to join us. 

I think my favorite thing about Seoul is the energy. It truly is a 24 hour city, I have found people out early in the morning at markets and then people just heading out for the night at one am. 

We stayed out until four, I think? Which was leaving early from this place called Jake’s bar? Mike’s bar? Whatever the name, it was foreigner crazy. I mean, I felt like i was in America. This is a bad thing, it was just so interesting to find myself some place like that. There are definitely areas in Beijing where I can find tons of foreigners.

The next morning we woke up around nine and headed out for coffee. If you find yourself in Seoul with no plans, please just go on a cafe walk. I can’t tell you how many cafe’s we saw all over the place. Twelve? Twenty? Two Hundred? It’s a lot. Prepare yourself. Also, just do a photo walk! Hongdae is soooo interesting, you need to do a photo walk to force yourself to look at all the stuff around.

PHOTO WALK TIME

This beautiful church has a bar inside it
Greens
MERRY DRINKER

Please please please go to a bbq place. Even if you are vegetarian, you can get mushrooms. It’s just so much fun. It’s also quite cheap, you can find these places everywhere all over hongdae, and of course all of Seoul. Go with friends and share a bunch of meats and garlic and lettuce. Honestly, its just a lot of lettuce and sauces when I go.

The morning we left.
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Our half-cooked Seoul itinerary

I made a super chatty post about Seoul and my feelings about traveling and moving for my photo dump this month. That made me want to give you a bit more of a “just facts” post about my seoul trip. Maybe you hate it, maybe you like the chatty versions! Either way this should help fill in the gaps if you felt like you missed all the information.

THURSDAY

Arrive at airbnb by 3:30

Daelim Museum

  • Address: South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, 통의동 35-1 대림미술관
  • Directions from Airbnb
  • Walk to Namsan Gymnasium and take Bus 402
  • Take it ten stops to Sejong Center
  • Walk around ten minutes north to the Museum.

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Bear Cafe

  • Address: 24 Jahamun-ro 24-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Directions from Museum
  • Walk toward Jahamun-ro, the main street.
  • Walk North, then turn right on Jahamun-ro 24-gil and then follow the road
  • Arrive at Bear Cafe.
  • Relax

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DINNER:

Nuenejip

  • Must order: soy sauce ddeokbokki, with two additional dishes.

We totally did not find this dinner place. Instead we went to a Thai restaurant in the same area. It was right next to a sushi place, but man we made the BEST choice. It was delicious, the owner was wonderful. I felt really treated.

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BAR

Volstead

  • Jazz bar/speakeasy

We DID find this one, it was amazing. You head down some stairs into a dimly lit room. the music alternated from Santana to Drake but the vibe still worked. A hand written menu, a sketchy portrait of Volstead on the wall, and some antique wall hangings made this bar feel less dive-y and more cozy.

Thursday was the only day I really planned. The other days I just picked out options for us to see what worked best. I didn’t know how easy it was to get around the city or how expensive it would be. It turned out to be very easy. When you arrive to Seoul, head to a 7eleven and ask for t-money cards. We put around 15000 on them, and they cost 4000. They lasted us the whole weekend, it was super convenient.

So next you will find a list of some places I found that I wanted to go, some I managed to get to but some I didn’t.

BREAKFAST

BIM BOM

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Very close to airbnb, great reviews on brunch.

We went here because it was RIGHT across the street from our airbnb and MAN it was DELISH. I miss yogurt a ton so I had a granola yogurt bowl, and Johnny had this intense egg, bacon, arugula crepe situation. Obsessed.

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LittleNeck

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Fresh food, breakfast, lunch, and dinner options highly rated! Small location.

Plant

  • Opens: 11:00 am
  • Vegan cafe, great reviews. Good for a meatless option.

Hell Cafe

  • Opens: 8:00 am
  • Great lattes and coffee, finishes latte at table!

LUNCH

OTTO Kimbap

  • Opens: 9:00 am
  • Kimbap location recommended by caricakes, good location to walk around.

We did eat at OTTO Kimbap and the area was amazing. We walked around, saw a few vintage stores, a record store. A lot of the stores opened later but it was still pretty cool. Caricakes, who is a youtuber, recommended this place once while walking around Itaewon.

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Root

  • Opens: ??
  • Main Ingredient is AVOCADO. Health focused meals.

Bad Farmers

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Health focused food, lacks taste or reviews often say small portion for the price.

The Veggie Eating Bear

  • Opens:???
  • Vegetarian bibimbap! Located in Hong-dae so you know it’s cool.

CAFES

Meerkat Cafe

  • Opens: 12:00 pm
  • Um, it has a meerkat and a fox??

Thanks Nature Cafe

  • Opens: 11:00 am
  • HAS SHEEP

We went to this cafe, it was in Hongdae where we were doing some window shopping (turned into real shopping, oops). It was really cute. The cafe was a little busy so the sheep seemed really tired and overwhelmed but CUTE CUTE CUTE.

WATCO

  • Opens: 10:00 am
  • Beautiful exterior, lots of good coffee reviews.

AFTERHOURS

Strange fruit

  • Opens: ???
  • Bar and concert venue

NEIGHBORHOODS

Naeja-dong

  • Area near art museum on list
  • Possible date: Thursday?

Sangsu-dong

  • Area near water by Hong-dae
  • Possible date: Saturday

Yennam-dong

  • Area in the top of Hongdae
  • Possible date: Saturday

Gugro-sil

  • Area over the river
  • Possible date: Friday

 

 

Vacation time: SEOUL PREVIEW

I’m currently taking a mini vacation in Seoul, as it is the tomb-sweeping holiday in China. So far, I love it. It’s beautiful, it’s lively, it’s fun, it feels youthful. I have a whole list the size of my arm of things to do, but I keep getting pulled in by the amazing things I see on the streets. I already know there will be at least a second vacation here.

Quick story: Johnny and I were walking around looking for a restaurant I saw online in Itaewon. We couldn’t find it so instead we went to a Thai noodle place. This place was pretty small and it wasn’t super busy on a Thursday night so the man working had a lot of time to chat with us. The food was amazing, and we had gotten something to drink before coming here so we didn’t order drinks. The barkeeper asked us if we did drink and when we said yes, he treated us to wines that would pair well with our dishes!

Now, Johnny and I love wine. He took a wine tasting class in France, we always keep flavors in mind when picking wines for dinners, so this was just wonderful. We also were treated with a small appetizer and dessert. We chatted about how it was our first night in Korea and the barkeeper seemed excited that he could treat us to great service for our first dinner.The attention that a small business owner can give to his customers makes a huge difference.

I could find this place on the map ANYWHERE. But it’s called Ma I Mien I think and in right next to a sushi bar on bongwang-ro in Itaewon, super close to the Itaewon subway stop. I actually took horrible photos inside but I’ll include two anyway. I think I was just too excited? I don’t know. I hope if you come to Seoul you try this place. It was really wonderful. I’m excited to tell you guys about the rest of my trip!