And that was how roughly 3 weeks passed us by and we found each other in Seoul for our last weekend in the country. Of course, this also marked my friend’s departure date from Korea. We decided to send him off with a full stomach from The Loving Hut by Sinchon, an International chain of vegetarian restaurants. I had only tried it once before in San Francisco and I didn’t fall in love with it…
However, I’m happy to say that I LOVED the Loving Hut in Korea. That also meant I was sad – extremely sad – to discover it this late.
Then it was time to see him off. After which, we decided to explore a little. We (okay, I) decided to do it on foot and try to walk over to the Hongdae area, famous with the young crowd as the area was home to universities, as I’ve done it before and I love walking. We eventually decided to try to find the ever-elusive Coffee Prince Coffee Shop. I had been once before but it was purely by accident (the place is notoriously hard to find) so I didn’t have a mental map of where it was exactly – only a vague impression and we tried looking for it through my friend’s smart phone and the amazing fact that you can access Internet almost everywhere in Korea.
My friends were getting tired and they obviously didn’t share my love for exploring (and potentially getting lost which is the greatest part of it) on foot, so I had found an address with some potential but before I could confirm, my pregnant friend had already hailed a taxi and I had no choice but to show the driver the address I had found. He took us out of the area and I knew it – we were definitely not going to the Official Coffee Prince Cafe.
He dropped us off in what seemed like a well-off area of Seoul, close to Gyeongbokgung at the entrance of a small road up a mountainside – that was not a hill. Then he told me to just keep on following the road and I should be able to find the place. The funny thing was that I had no clue what this place was. Well, random adventures are always welcome in my book – and so I lead the way up the steep path…
We literally walked up for what seemed like forever. Two of the Party decided to stop and due to some miscommunication, I thought they were going to sit in one of the coffee shops by the main road to rest, but what they meant was to go get them when we found the place. (We never went back to get them. I still feel guilty about that.) It was a bit of a work out because it took us at least 20 minutes of walking to…
…a Very Familiar Sight. It was the cousin’s house in Coffee Prince! It turns out that after the drama, this place was converted into a gallery coffee shop geared for tourists and couples (it’s situated on top of a mountain – but I couldn’t get any amazing pictures).
The entire shop was full of parephenalia from the dramas and there were pictures from My Princess, starring Kim Tae Hee. There was inside seating, all of which were full when we arrived, and outdoor seating. The place was rather big, but there were a lot of visitors. It did remind me of the Coffee Shop cafe- geared for tourists and drama enthusiasts with pricey drinks.
It also continued into the bathroom – a picture of Han Kyul-in-a-towel (played by Gong Yoo) was attached to the toilet seat. And so after my friend and I finished sipping at our mochas and quickly explored the premises, we made our way back down the road to meet with our friends… who were not amused. Oops.
Afterwards, we took the taxi to the Gyeongbokgung Station from Buam-dong – no one wanted to walk anymore – where we split up. Our Lovely Host headed back to the apartment and the remaining three travelers (one of us was rather reluctant but was refused by our Host when she made her opinion clear) took the subway to Myeongdong, quite possibly my favorite shopping area in Seoul. Then, we figured out how to get to Namsan Tower (I had sadly never made the pilgrimage before) and off we went! We found a free bus shuttle that took us there and it’s 8,000 won for a round trip cable car ride.
Although it was getting late (around 10PM), the place was packed with locals, tourists, friends, and lovers alike. After a short hike up several flights of stairs, we reached the area. Aside from the eateries (most of which were pricey) and the gift shop, it’s obviously a place for couples.
There were also the infamous locks (a ton of them… too many of them). According to what I heard, if you have a pair of locks (with a well-wish written on it) with your significant other and you lock it up there, the next time you go up and you see it again, it’ll come true. Or something. Don’t quote me. Either way, the sheer amount of locks up there was ridiculous – but it’s cute how many romantics there are. Of course, there were locks from friends traveling together as well.
Because we were tourists, my friends and I also bought a second ticket to take us to the top of the observation deck of the tower itself. I was hoping to get a great view of the city (and great pictures along with it). However, that was not to be. Either way, it’s nice to do once and a fairly decent end to the day.