Around the World – Day 9 – Istanbul Self Guided Tour (Part I)

May 22nd, 2015

Massive Turkish Flag
Nearing Election Day in Istanbul

Group Picture at Valens Aqueduct
At Valens Aqueduct with Errin and Dave

Group Picture Above Istanbul
Near Pierre Lotif Cafe. What an amazing view of Istanbul!

Panorama of Istanbul

On Friday, we joined up with Errin and Dave for a whirlwind tour of Istanbul. We were fortunate in that they had done their homework and lined up a super itinerary of must-do-places to see. It was our 2nd time in Istanbul, so the bucket list was not as massive as the first visit. Istanbul is a wonderful city for exploration and we were blessed with a fantastic, clear day!

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Around the World – Day 8 – Seoul to Istanbul

May 21st, 2015

There aren’t any pictures from this day as it was spent almost entirely on a plane. We flew for almost 12 hours from Seoul, South Korea to Istanbul, Turkey. The flight was uneventful; we watched several movies and slept. Upon arrival, we hailed a taxi to the hotel. The ride took 20 minutes.

We got to the hotel super early and so we napped in the lounge while they prepared our room. Once our room was ready, we went for a walk for lunch. When we got back, we met up with Nalan and Jatin, and lots of Jatin’s relatives. It was a nice bonus to see them! As we wrapped up the hasty visit, Errin and Dave arrived from the airport and we agreed to meet up with them for dinner.

For dinner, we all went to a well known Turkish Seafood place over by a marina. The taxi drove us over there and brought us back…so that was super convenient. The food was nice and we had a fantastic time.

Around the World – Day 7 – Seoul Food Tour and Gyeongbokgung Palace

May 20th, 2015

Seoul Soft Serve Ice Cream
Korean Soft Serve Ice Cream. Delicious and fun to eat!

We had heard good things about the street food in Seoul. To be on the safe side, we decided to sign up for a tour with O’ngo Food. They had several options, depending upon the desired experience, but we thought the half day walking tour sounded like fun and it was affordable.

The food tour started with a demonstration for cooking a traditional style Korean Pancake. At the tour company, there is a demonstration kitchen. It’s really nice…each table has a cooktop and lots of room to prepare food. For the foodie, it’s a great way to start a tour! After the host answered all our questions, we left to begin the walking portion. Our group had about 8 people, so it was the perfect size.

Our tour guide took us to about 6 different vendors. Some were walk in shops and some were food carts. At some point, we also walked through a huge indoor market. The guide spent a lot of time explaining the ingredients and the variations in serving and preparations. The tour ended in a restaurant, where we had a traditional Bi-Bim-Bap. By the time the tour was over, everybody was completely full.

At Gyeongbokgung Palace

Later in the afternoon, we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace for a walking tour. There was a Changing of the Guards ceremony, so we lucked out with our timing!

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Around the World – Day 6 – Seoul

May 19th, 2015

Three Buddhas at Jogyesa Korean Buddhist Center
Jogyesa Korean Buddhist Center

Having Fun at a Shopping Center
Insadong Shopping District is Fun!

Gogung Insadong Branch - Traditional Bi Bim Bap
Bi-Bim-Bap Menu! This place is awesome…it’s been in business for 40 years and has a continual stream of customers. Arrive promptly at 11am to beat the lunch crowd and get a table.

Featured Artist Yun Suknam
Yun Suknam’s Heart exhibit at the SOMA. We really loved her work; full of passion, purpose, and creativity.

Selfie on the River Walk
The Cheonggyecheon River Walk

Our first full day in Seoul was jam packed with activity. We started the day with a visit to the Jogyesa Korean Buddhist Center. Then, we walked around the Insadong Shopping area and explored the streets of the old city. We had a traditional Bi-Bim-Bap lunch at a local hotspot, followed by a subway trip to the SOMA (Seoul Olympic Museum of Art). Wrapped up the adventure with a romantic stroll along the Cheonggyecheon River.

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Around the World – Day 4 and 5 – Seattle to Seoul

May 17th, 2015

Riding The Limo Bus in Seoul
On a Limo Bus, after an 11 hour flight.

The flight from Seattle to Seoul went very smoothly. Once we had landed in Seoul, it was easy to find the Limo Bus, which takes people from the Incheon Airport to the downtown area with minimal stops. The bus ride is 45-50 minutes.

Big Blue Bear
A very large blue bear, which reminded me of the large blue bear we have at the Denver Convention Center.

Centermark Hotel Room Slippers
Fresh, clean slippers to be used in the room!

Finally, we arrived at our bus stop and walked one block to the hotel, CenterMark. The location and price of this hotel was perfect for us. Our room was small, but we were just there for a few days, so something simple was fine. We were exhausted after the long flight, so we called it an early night.