Times, they had been tough on Mr. Y and I. I had just started teaching my adult classes, which doubled my workload, and he had just dealt with a major project at work. We had also just accomplished not killing each other for our first month of living together (trust me, there were times when that wasn't easy), so we really needed to blow off some steam. And we thought "what better way to do that than a weekend away in the lap a luxury?"
|Dayum! Just look at that luxury!|
We got a room in the COEX Intercontinental Hotel and made our way down south of the Han for a day of Gangnam Style.
|Yep, still awesome.|
We started in Sinsa (one of the many neighborhoods within the two-district area Koreans refer to as Gangnam). In Sinsa there's an awesome street called GarosuGil (가로수길). It's a beautiful street lined with trees and a bunch of different middle to high end shops and coffee boutiques. There's even a Fossil store (I kinda lost it when I saw thing, I'm addicted to Fossil leather goods, mmm, fine leather goods). We also saw a lot of posters for celebrity fashion events and signings, so this is probably a good spot to people watch and potentially see one of you favorite K-Stars.
|Luxury, thy name is Gangnam|
We were feeling peckish so we randomly chose a cafe and, let me tell you, did we EVER choose a cafe! This place was AWESOME! It's called Ginkgo Avenue Cafe. It's a second floor cafe with about 6 private outdoor balconies. The balconies only sit two people and are really comfortable. It was the perfect place to waste time while sipping a very nice Americano (no, I did not one-shot it, sorry PSY) and enjoy a particularly well made waffle.
|I want to go to there.|
It looked like there were also some really cool shops in the side streets, but we were ready to drop off our bags at the hotel. To get to GarosuGil go to Sinsa Station and take exit 8, walk straight and then turn left after the Missha store. Ginkgo Avenue Cafe is on the left side of the street only a little bit after the small intersection with the 7-11. Look for the purple awnings.
Next we hopped in a cab (treat yo' self) and made our way to the COEX Intercontinental. I gotta say, if you have some money to blow, an executive room at the COEX Intercontinental is a pretty awesome way to go. This room was TIGHT! Cozy bathrobes and slippers, massive shower, awesome view of the city, huge tv, comfy bed, and a pillow menu. YOU COULD ORDER DIFFERENT KINDS OF PILLOWS!
This hotel also had what I think is the best idea ever for international travelers. There was a smartphone in the room that you could rent to use as your phone during your stay. The rates were insanely reasonable. So, if your parents can afford to stay here, HAVE THEM STAY HERE, life in Seoul without a cell phone is kinda like life without your legs or arms.
After exploring our room for a while we decided to explore Gangnam. Across the street from our hotel was the Buddhist temple Bogeunsa. it was an absolutely gorgeous day and seemed like an immense shame to spend it all inside, so we chose this tranquil spot for our afternoon stroll. The temple was gorgeous and appeared to have a really nice temple-stay program (where you live like a Buddhist monk for a weekend). All in all it was a good place to get your Buddha on.
|And who doesn't like getting their Buddha on?|
After the temple we went underground to the COEX Mall. I've been here a few times and it's... huge. Just massive. It has a crazy number of stores and also a crazy number of people. It's a fun place to explore, really, but I don't consider it much of a destination. We slid into the aquarium to wet our appetites for our sushi dinner. The COEX aquarium is pretty nice, but a bit cramped. I feel a little sorry for the fishies.
|This is a Korean Maggie, it's about the length of three skateboards. I'm so happy I go by Margaret and not Maggie.|
|SeungHyun and this harbor seal shared a moment.|
While we were in the aquarium I decided to play my absolute favorite game: lie to the hoteliers. You see, when I pay a good chunk of money for a nice hotel room I expect perks. I also expect these perks to go beyond complimentary bottled water and extra towels. The trick to doing this is to lie. SeungHyun and I's go-to lie is that it's out one year wedding anniversary or that we're on our honeymoon. Don't go with birthday, because that's easily checked. We called the hotel and told them it was our anniversary and when we got back we found this:
|We both would have been happier with booze but it's best not to be picky when it's free.|
My personal trainer Rambo (posts about that to come) had suggested a sushi place to us near COEX, so we decided to check it out. When a professional body builder who routinely kicks your ass for a living tells you that you can take a night off from your diet to eat sushi, you eat sushi. We went to Sushiroba (the best directions I can give you are: from COEX Intercontinental turn left once you hit the street, turn right up the hill at the intersection with the gas station, it's towards the crest of the hill on the right side, passing the super cool looking "I don't know what's in there but it looks Japanese-y" place). It was your typical conveyor belt sushi but their beef was outstanding, as were the rolls with avocado and shrimp. I freaking love sushi.
After dinner we spent some time in the fitness facilities. The COEX Intercontinental has a pretty nice lap pool and a hot tub on an outside terrace. The outside terrace also had a nice gazebo, very romantic, very relaxing. Bonus: I finally found a sport I'm better than SeungHyun at, I kicked his ASS at swimming laps!
To finish up our Treat Yo' Self Gangnam Style weekend we ordered breakfast in bed for the next morning. We called the front desk and asked them to deliver our breakfast at 9am the next morning, it was there at 8:58. We ordered one continental breakfast and an order of pancakes. Let me tell you, this was good, but eating it in bed, wearing a comfy robe, listening to 8Tracks and gazing out the window at the bustling city below made this one of the greatest breakfasts I have ever had.
So, all in all, if you need to get away but don't have enough time to actually leave Seoul but definitely have enough money to really go all-out, a Gangnam Style weekend is JUST what the doctor ordered. I cannot recommend this enough. I'm probably going to do this again sometime relatively soon but instead of an emphasis on romance have the emphasis be on partying (Gangnam has some incredibly awesome and incredibly expensive nightclubs).
Until next time...