From the desk of Matt Vanni: runs slower than a bullet, can leap over …some small people, super-cool husband, and all-around awesome guy. I hear he even writes blogs for his wife when she gets too busy! Oh, and of course, amazingly handsome. At least that’s what all his students yell (appropriate word) at him daily.
A few years ago I took an amazing trip to Europe with my best friend Joe. We hopped from city to city, trying to get in as much of what Europe could offer in the short time we were there. It is my favorite vacation (so far). We went to many of the same cities Andrea has already written about here, but I’d like to share some photos and comments about one she missed out on: Prague!
Outside of Rome and Paris (maybe), Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve been. Joe and I went in the spring of 2009 when the Czech Republic was part of Euro zone, but was still trying to meet criteria to become a full member (using the Euro, etc..). Regardless of what the outlook is for the Euro now, back then it meant (at least for tourist) that the Czech Republic was making huge investments in public infrastructure and doing everything they could to boost their economy (I guess that’s what EVERY country is trying to do…but they seemed to be really putting in the effort at the time). For us this meant great transportation and hotels, while still being really cheap!!!
The city was astoundingly beautiful. I had never imagined that we would find castles and churches that dated back to the 9th Century; I thought everything would have been lost in the many wars that have torn apart that part of the world. It seemed like no matter where we went, there was something amazing to see! And after traveling through most of Western Europe, the architecture so strikingly different. More than once we found ourselves just standing and staring.
When not walking around, we were eating. Of course. The food was so good at one restaurant we found that in the 4 days we were there, we ate there 3 times. And the beer was delicious too!!!
Seoul has everything, even an underground (partially) amusement park!
For as much as I might like to think of myself as a seasoned drinker (or at least been around some seasoned drinkers), Koreans put everything I’ve seen to shame. It’s like drinking is a national past time! And I’m not talking about a glass of soju at dinner. I do have a limited travel experience, but I have never been or heard of a place where it’s a weekly occurrence to see belligerently drunk men stumbling down the street or yelling in the subway (actually it’s more like three times a week). More times than not, when out at a restaurant we’ll see at least 1 table with at least 10 bottles of soju emptied and two or three very happy Koreans. This is not about bashing Koreans, on the contrary, it’s quite impressive at times. These people know how to drink, and how to drink a lot!
And now my point to all this build-up: all you can drink bars! Before coming to Korea, I had never heard of such a thing. Apparently, these do occur in other countries, but the two we have been to here are pretty amazing. It’s not happy hour, it’s happy ALL NIGHT!
Club C-bar: Sillim Stop, Line 2 – exit 6. The club is in the buildings directly behind the stop, but you have to walk down the street about a block, take your first left, and again your first left. On the third floor. After you leave the subway, it’s almost like your walking in a big circle. C-Bar’s facebook page
This is an all you can drink beer, tequila, and vodka bar. Ladies get in for 10,000 won and the gents have to pay 30,000 (so much for equal rights!). The place is meant to be a club, and the dancing is pretty fun. Other than drinking until 4 am then going to a Noribong (singing room) until 5 or 6…the most amazing thing about our evening at C-bar was when all of a sudden ever Korean on the dance floor broke out into synchronized dancing! This wasn’t your weak Electric Slide either, but full on hip-hop moves. It was crazy! Well worth the painful morning after.
Intercontinental Hotel at Coex: Samseong Stop, Line 2 – exit 6. The hotel is down the street, past Coex. Intercontinental Hotel at Coex
Looking for a bit more class, the International Hotel at Coex was our next venture in the all-you-can-drink department. This was a wine bar, plus sampler buffet that is hosted by the hotel Saturdays from 6-9pm. A little more expensive at 35,000 won a person, but the good wine and decent food is worth it. We recommend calling ahead to make reservations, as they do get busy. We have been here twice, and walking into the elegant lobby, it amazes me that a place as nice as this would host a regular winos night. In fact, having gone to the Intercontinental the Saturday before the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, we had the odd chance to rub elbows with lots of press and some security details for the incoming diplomatic bigwigs. No drinks with President Obama, though he would have been welcome!
A park with living biological attractions, so astounding they will capture the imagination of the entire planet…
…excitement courses through my veins as the golf cart pulls up. It’s yellow, a little strange looking because it can fit six people, and it has a pineapple for a roof. What gets my blood pumping is that there isn’t anyone driving!! No tracks either! What is happening!?!? I try to stay calm as we get inside, and the automated future cart pulls away. Not going to lie, I held my breath, listening for the steps of a giant screaming pineapple-dinosaur.
Once I pull myself together, I realize there’s a narrator to our magic pineapple ride. One of the best moment of the 15 minute tour (yeah, there was more than one) was when our guide tape explained where the word “pineapple” came from – apparently from the words “pine” and “apple.” Whodathought!?! Pine for the pine cone-like outside. Apple for the sweet, fruity inside. Knowledge abounds! Yes. This is what we’re learning in Asia.
After the way-too short (but awesome) pineapple cart ride, we were led to a ridiculous 45 minute walk through a maze of gift shops. Not quite sure if this is the right order, but here we go: pineapple ride, shell museum/shop (really only 3 rooms), pineapple wine tasting, pineapple vinegar tasting, pineapple juice tasting, pineapple jelly/cake/chocolate/face scrub, and straight pineapples. THEN there were another 5-10 rooms.
Even though we basically bought tickets to walk through gift shops, we all were just so excited to make it out of the (again, awesome) cart ride without being crushed by the aforementioned pineapple-dinosaur (come on, Jurassic Park folks!). It was worth it. Oh, and I guess we also picked up a couple of delicious pineapples…and wine…and jam. So the gift shop maze worked on these suckers.