Seoul Adventure 1: Hello Kitty Cafe, Mt. Namsan, Lotte World

19 02 2013

I spent my last Sunday shopping, sightseeing and riding subways–it was a great day in Seoul!

Our trip–some friends from work and I–started off riding the KTX to Seoul at 10:30 am. The KTX is Korea’s bullet train. Opened in 2004, it provides quick transportation from cities as north as Seoul, to cities as south as Busan and Mokpo. A one-way ticket from Cheonan to Seoul cost ₩14,000 ($13).

The KTX can travel up to 217 mph but normally travels around 186 mph. A passenger train, on the other hand, travels around only 30 to 60 mph.


Rosa and I sitting in the KTX on our way to Seoul.


Waiting for the KTX to arrive!

Brunch in Itaewon

Of course when we arrived–about 40 minutes later–we headed straight for food! Joseph knew an American-style breakfast restaurant called Tartine. Meals are named after presidents, such as “The Andrew Jackson.” Plates run more than ₩10,000 ($9.25), but it’s a small price to pay for a rare American breakfast in Korea.

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The watered-down-flavored cornbread was a disappointment. The bacon was thicker than usual, too, so it was soft and not crunchy at all. Despite this, it was a delicious breakfast! I recommend it to anyone in the area. The house coffee was great, too!

Tartine also has a wonderful assortment of organic, sweet-looking dessert delicacies–strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate cream pie, cherry pie, to name just a few. We ordered some pecan pie!

Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae


hello kitty cafe

Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae, Seoul.

This will get its own post, but for now I’ll share some of the Hello Kitty goodness! I’ve been wanting to visit the Hello Kitty Cafe for a few years now. I was ecstatic when we finally arrived. Pink, kitties, pink, bows, pink, more kitties. This is the cafe.

I was impressed by the delicious-looking desserts and snacks available. They staff creates Hello Kitty latte art in drinks, and everything is plated nicely. I didn’t order a coffee, so I can’t vouch for the taste, but I was able to take a photo of someone’s latte art.

Shopping in Hongdae, then Ice Skating in Songpa-gu

After the Hello Kitty Cafe, we walked around the markets and shopping areas in Hongdae. I found some good deals on clothes. There’s so much to see that it’s overwhelming!

After a few hours of milling around, we went ice skating at Lotte World, located in Songpa-gu. This ice skating rink has a 1,000-person capacity. It’s huge! Many cute couples—most wearing matching couples clothes, a popular trend in Korea—were skating at this popular date spot.


Rosa and I in Lotte World–waiting to go ice skating!

After the ice rink, we headed for sushi at this great sushi restaurant that Rosa knew. We needed to wait about 45 minutes to get a table, but it was worth it! I don’t remember this bustling restaurant’s name, but it was a small, shoulder-to-shoulder place. There wasn’t much room to move around with many restaurant-goers filling the inside.

Naman tower

Left: N Seoul Tower at night. Top Right: Interesting illuminated map on the ground at N Seoul Tower. Bottom Right: At the tower, there’s this strange bear mascot or figure everywhere. Maybe it’s because the tower has a teddy bear museum right now …

To end the night, we headed to the N Seoul Tower–AKA Namsan Tower. It is located on Mt. Namsan. Mt. Namsan reaches more than 3,083 feet in elevation, but the 777-foot tower is located along its flanks. Even from the bottom of the tower, you have a beautiful panoramic view of Seoul. Especially at night, it’s breathtaking–with all of Seoul’s city lights illuminating the ground below.

Visitors can pay to ride up an elevator to the top of the tower. The top of the tower has windows facing out over the city. The top level is filled with an abundance of souvenirs. Many are very expensive, such as a ₩94,000 stuffed t-rex—but I managed to find a few reasonably-priced items, including a few postcards and a magnet set.

Also at N Seoul Tower is a famous area where people—often couples—attach locks onto a fence. This fence borders a boardwalk around the tower. A co-worker on the trip had her boyfriend visiting from Canada. They bought two locks and added them to the collection. There’s easily more than 50 feet of fence length with locks on it as thick as shown in this picture.

Namsan tower locks


View from the top of N Seoul Tower at night.

Winding Down

After we headed back down Mt. Namsan on our bus, we went back to the main station to catch the KTX back to Cheonan at 11:30 pm. I was falling asleep whenever we rode a bus or subway. I was so tired. I slept good that night.