Our last full day in Seoul was a “let’s get some more souvenirs and mail them so we don’t have to carry them around” kind of day. We returned to Itaewon to get a few more items, particularly tea sets and other types of decorative wares, then headed straight to a nearby post office.
Just up the hill from the post office is the Itaewon Foreign Bookstore. It’s an institution. When I lived in Itaewon, I bought and sold used books here all of the time. My students were pretty impressed with it, too.
As it turns out, the bookstore is practically next to a Korean BBQ restaurant I had the privilege of visiting several times when I lived nearby. It’s called Chadol House. (The post office, the bookstore and the restaurant are all located just outside the Noksapyeong subway station, Line 6.)
Yet again, we obliterated a large amount of food. At this point, our plan was to walk back through Itaewon and catch a tour bus, but I knew of a little gourmet cupcake place tucked away on a small side street near the other end of the neighborhood. So, we made a detour into Life is Just a Cup of Cake. (Here’s a review from CNN that’s a couple of years old.) It’s a cozy — and very well air conditioned — place to enjoy a sweet snack.
The last item on our agenda was to hop a Seoul City Tour bus. We had planned to do this earlier in the trip, but we kept finding ways to fill our time. I like this service because you can hop on and off all day long with your ticket, which costs about $10. However, we only used it to make one final stop as a group — Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (It’s a much more interesting and picturesque site than my pictures would lead you to believe.)
As we climbed aboard the tour bus one last time, a couple members of our group got out at Gwanghwamun for one last look around, and the rest of us got out at Seoul Station to meet up with some other members of our group and to make dinner plans. It was our last night in the city.
I’m always sad to leave Seoul, but that’s what we did the next morning. We made our way to Gimpo International Airport so we could board an All Nippon Airways flight that would take us to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Do we look exhausted yet?
Let me say something about every Asian airline I’ve flown: they rock. ANA’s service was outstanding, and we made it to Tokyo without a hassle.
Once we got past immigration and customs, we had to spend a little while getting our bearings: renting local phones, buying PASMO cards (very handy), and then plotting our course through Tokyo’s train and subway system. The folks inside the Haneda terminal were exceptionally patient and helpful. They answered all of our questions and even helped us determine the best ways to get to where we needed to go. We all made it to our respective apartments and scouted out some dinner options. Afterward, we began preparing for our exploration of Tokyo, which was to begin early the next morning.
Next post: a major change of plans.