Maria’s Beer Balcony in Germany

We had just come back from London, and my friend Il Jung and her husband stopped by to see us in Oberursel before heading to London themselves.

Within the past 17 years since she left Oberursel, we had seen each other once, which was on a stopover in Seoul while on my way to Japan in 2012.

We had met back in 1998 through the international school life in Oberursel, when she was only a 9th grader… These days, she is a famous jewelry designer and she’s also wearing one of her creations.

We had a good dinner at the Kronenhof in Bad Homburg, including the obligatory Haxen for Jun Hyuk. The rest of the evening we finished off on the Beer Balcony with many new and old stories to tell, much laughter, and promises to see each other again soon.

Well, I do plan on going to a friend’s wedding in Seoul in a few years’ time.

Il Jung Lee and Jun Hyuk from Seoul

If you are interested in Il Jung’s creations, see:

Feverish Jewellry

Brand to Know: Feverish Jewellry

Facebook Feverish Jewellry

Excellent Customer Service in Korea

Five weeks ago, in a rush to get to Seoul’s Incheon Airport, we left our daughter’s travel companion Winnie the Pooh behind. He remained at K-haus Gwanghwamun in Seoul until the hotel manager, Ms. Lee, and I cleared by e-mail his transport to Germany.

There were at least a dozen e-mails as I had hoped to have Winnie shipped to my friends’ address in Japan, but time was not on our side. Then we had to resettle the destination (Germany), kind of transport (small parcel by ship), and method of reimbursement (PayPal).

Winnie started his return journey from Seoul on 12 April.

During all these times of communicating, I forgot to mention to ask Ms. Lee to write “used product” on the customs declaration form. So two days ago, a big envelope containing three papers, arrived in the mail. The German customs office here in Oberursel asked me to come in and declare my parcel as it contained no bill, wasn’t marked as a gift, etc.

The customs officer asked me what I expected to get and I told her my little story. Then I was given a parcel knife to open it in front of her. After recognizing that this was indeed a very used plush animal, I was sent on my way, with Winnie in my arms.

Winnie the Pooh, the traveller

Doesn’t Winnie look tired? I thought overseas flights are long enough for us, but he really looks ragged out from this long ocean transfer and truck ride. On top of that, our daughter will employ him as a head rest again tonight.

 

Review for K-haus Gwanghwamun in Seoul, Korea

On our way to Japan, we visited Seoul for two days and booked K-haus Gwanghwamun in northern Seoul for our accommodation.

Prior to our departure, we got a few personal mails from the manager with directions and other useful information.

The little privately-run hotel lies on the outskirts and it was not easy to find. The usual 10-minute walk from the bus stop took us close to 45 minutes all the while asking for directions. We had the Korean address and not even the taxi driver nor shop assistants were able to direct us. While looking lost standing at a corner, we were approached by helpful Koreans several times. One of them was able to direct us to the place. The best landmark to point out for future reference would be the Czech Republic Embassy which is on the same road. The Czech Republic Embassy is listed on most maps.

The location itself is perfect though. Surrounded by consulates and embassies, it is in a very quiet corner of Seoul. Walking up the street  towards the guest house, you can see the mountains in the back.

The guest house is very clean and the manager was most accommodating in our needs. When we walked in, she already had a caller’s message waiting for me as well.

Our room with three beds was average size. Our shower equipment was very simple – a handheld shower head in front of the bathroom sink. But it worked nicely.

The breakfast on offer is basic (beverage, coffee and toast), so we ventured out to one of the many cafés lining the streets of Seoul for a more culinary experience.

The Airport Limousine bus service to northern Seoul is KRW 10.000 per person. On the way back to the airport, we took a taxi (orange colored, stating Interpretation Taxi on its side) which cost us KRW 50.500 (about US$ 44,–). Very affordable.

Last, but not least. My daughter left her plush animal behind, and Mrs. Lee, the manager, has been most helpful in trying to get it to Germany. She went way beyond her calling on that one.

You can visit K – haus Gwanghwamun on Booking.com for more information.

K-haus Gwanghwamun in Seoul, Korea

When I go back to Seoul, I will definitely book K-haus again. It is clean, quiet, shows good management, and is reasonably priced.

Culture and Commerce in Seoul

The main gate (Kwanghwa-mun) separates Gyeongbok Palace from one of the busiest areas of Seoul. Here we are on the palace grounds and taking a look back at the entrance. Gyeongbok Palace was the primary residence of  King Taejo in 1395 (founder of the Chosun Kingdom). 

The main gate (Kwanghwa-mun) of Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul

Caffé Bene (tel: (02) 3438 – 6850) recycles its coffee grounds by stuffing its ash trays with it.

recycled coffee grounds

Another view onto the mountains in northern Seoul.

Gyeongbak Palace

The city lights looked inviting on this cold and rainy evening in Seoul. Little did we know that it would snow the following day.

Seoul at dusk

In Cheongaecheon, a popular district mainly catering to food, drink, and entertainment.

Seoul at night

Locals and Tourists in Seoul

Of course, we have taken many photos of cultural sights such as the Gyeongbok Palace and a few others. But that is not what I want to show here – I find everything else more interesting.

Delivery service in Seoul

Another lady gathering old paper on the streets of Seoul. Our accommodations was located in a fairly quiet neighborhood in Seoul, in the northern central part where all the embassies and consulates are. The roads are very clean, so I imagine there is not that much business for her there.

Gathering old paper on the streets in Seoul

Leaving the Gyeongbok Palace, we saw this interesting ad across the street.

"Naked Museum" ad in Seoul

Passing the Palace entrance once more, this time with guards in authentic costume.

Gyeongbok Palace guards

The streets of Seoul are very interesting – pleasant to your eyes and nose. Last, but not least, the locals were extremely helpful when we asked for directions. Some even approached us offering to help. This was very unexpected as I had been told by Korean themselves not to expect too much help.

A truck load of beans parked on the road side

Seoul is definitely worth another visit someday.