Thursday, October 9, 2014

Seoul: Day 2 - The great hike to the N Seoul Tower

N Seoul Tower
Our second day in Seoul had a slow start, we all slept later than usual since we were up so late. We tried to leave our hotel a couple of times, but we had to go back to get forgotten items. At about 11:30 we were finally heading to the metro station. The closest station to our hotel was approximately half a mile away.

We started our walk in the wrong direction so we took a little short cut through an alley, this alley happened to be part of the open air meat market. (I meant to get a picture but I forgot because I was too busy holding my breath every time we walked by.) J said it didn't smell that bad, but I think there is something wrong with his nose. Each day to and from the metro we walked past people sawing frozen meat on the sidewalk, pig faces, cow heads, pig/cow trotters, innards, etc. It was interesting to see but at the same time I wish I hadn't seen it.

The Seoul metro was pretty easy to use. The ticketing stations had an English option, the signs were in Korean and English, and the announcements were made in both Korean and English. Each ride was just over $1.00 (USD). For the one way tickets you pay a deposit on the card, when you return it you get $0.50 back.  We were on the south west side of the city and most of the tourist attractions were on the north side, this mean for long metro rides, about 45 minutes each way. On this particular day we had to make a transfer which wasn't hard, there were many signs pointing us in the right direction. We were headed for the N Seoul Tower.

The Seoul Tower is located at the highest point in the center of the city on Namsan Mountain. Building of the 777 foot tower was completed in 1971. We didn't have exact directions to the tower, I figured that there would be signs, and that it would be hard to miss since it is a giant tower on top of a hill. We started walking toward it after getting off the metro. We went in the wrong direction for a little bit, but we eventually found the correct stairs and started climbing and then we continued climbing FOREVER! There were SO.MANY.STAIRS!
We decided that the view of the city was good enough from the top of Namsan Mountain and did not pay to take the elevator up the observatory level of the tower. Tickets for an adult were 9,000 Won and children 3-12 were 5,000 Won (about $9 and $5 USD). It wasn't a completely clear day, but the view was still nice. We also got to see the "locks of love". There are many other cities that have similar places were couples leave their locks, most cities consider it vandalism and have the locks removed. This does not happen in Seoul, I believe they even had some metal trees and hearts built so more there would be more space for locks.

As we were heading to the gondola (we did things backwards, we should have ridden the gondola UP the hill and walked down!) we noticed a crowd forming around some people in traditional Korean outfits. We stopped to watch as they were getting ready for a performance. There were men with large swords cutting bamboo and bundles of straw and drummers. I wish we could have stayed longer, but Baby O was only interested for a short time. It was also time for us to get a late lunch (it was about 3pm at this point).

We got some spicy fried chicken for lunch. It was very good, kind of a sweet and sour and spicy tasting. The waitress gave us some gloves to keep our hands from getting messy.
After lunch we headed to Namdaemun Market. We got off the metro at Hoehyeon Station. This is a large and busy market. It seemed like you could buy just about anything here, from clothes to shoes, jackets, purses, underwear, slippers, fruit, toys, fish, belts, scarves, fabric, Seoul souvenirs and I'm sure more. We walked around for a little bit, but didn't buy anything. I'm sure if you were in the mood for some bargain shopping this would be the place to go. After the market we headed back to the hotel. Baby O was ready to out of his carrier and our feet were ready for a rest.


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