Postcard from Seoul

It’s so hard to wait for an upcoming trip, especially the kind of trip on your bucket list. You’re tempted to count every hour of every day until the day of departure. You scroll through Instagram hashtags of the cities that you’ll visit, imagining what it will be like to be there. You check the weather, you make a list of the things you want to eat, and the things you want to photograph. The excitement builds up. Yet, while we can certainly say that was our case, we also enjoyed the last few months in preparation for this trip.

We made it a point to really learn about these countries and prepare ourselves for experiences completely outside of our comfort zone. After years of saying we were going to do this, we finally had the courage to jump at the opportunity.

Yesterday, we departed to Korea — A 13 hour non-stop flight to Seoul from Chicago. In a couple of days, we’re on to Japan. As travelers who had not left the Western Hemisphere, we’re sure this trip is going to redefine how we see the world.

We said goodbye to our city with a good ol’ stack of buttery pancakes from the Golden House in Uptown, our favorite diner between Lawrence and Broadway. It’s the obvious breakfast choice prior to spending a ridiculous amount of time trapped in any plane. Not that our Korean Air flight was bad.

Our flight was, in fact, the best international flight we’ve had so far. The attention to detail from the staff was very nice for Economy— from the hot towels before meals to having the staff making sure we were comfortable and hydrated at all times. There were also plenty of entertainment options and meals that tasted nothing like airplane food. We had Korean bibimbap and chicken with noodles for lunch and warm beef buns as a snack. For dinner, we had beef with pasta and a chicken and rice plate. Everything was very tasty.

After several movies and edited videos, we finally landed in Terminal 2 at Incheon International airport. At first, it was slightly confusing to navigate despite being perfectly labeled in English. Among other things, we learned that several Portable Wifi companies use the same booths to do business so it was quite tricky to find yours. Finding which method of transportation to take to the city can also be daunting without prior research or a Portable WiFi device. Things to discuss in a later post.

We had thought about taking an Airport Bus, which would’ve conveniently dropped us up in front of Hotel Aventree in Insadong. But as expected, we arrived with the same rush of energy we get every time we visit a new country. Nabol got our transportation cards (also known as T-money cards) for the train, and we took the more adventurous, but fastest route to Seoul Station. We connected to a bus and arrived quickly to the Insadong area.

If there’s something we can say about Seoul so far is that this city is massive and complex, yet extremely efficient and advanced. We’ve traveled to Paris and New York and other big cities, but so far Korea takes the cake in terms of being light years ahead. What makes it less intimidating is the people, who have been extremely polite and always willing to help. 

We were pretty beat when we got to the hotel, so our idea of wandering around and finding a place for dinner was out the window. We grabbed awesome things to eat at the 7-11 downstairs and headed back to our room with ramen bowls, different flavors of Joomukbap (similar to onigiri) and Sakura (cherry blossom) flavored dessert.

Tomorrow we hope to explore Insadong, the area where we’re staying at. This “dong” or neighborhood of the Jongno-gu district of Seoul, is one of the more traditional areas of the city. There are so many tea shops, galleries, and interesting stores to keep us busy for hours, many of which are tucked in hidden alleyways leading deeper into the district. But for now, we’re ready to hit the bed. 

Throughout the day we’ve had so many of you in our minds, wishing you were all here. But make no mistake. As we enjoy every delicious bite, every breathtaking view, every life-changing lesson, we’ll make our best to “bring you” along with us. We might even go out of our way to try new things just because some of you might enjoy it. Lots of footage and pictures coming up.

Good night from Korea.

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