LASTING TRANSITIONS

Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…

SERENITY in SEORAEMAEUL

Last Saturday’s weather was quite glorious and I felt that Seoul was seriously busting at the seams with people crowding every nook and cranny. Monday to Friday is normally fraught with traveling on crowded buses and subways, waiting through mundane traffic jams, enduring rigid individuals, dealing with distraught bus drivers, and tolerating the unrestrained noise of the city amid rushing from point A to point B. Despite my attempt to chill amid it all, I find it tough to experience what I’d call ‘clear-my-mind rest’ during the week. Thus, when the weekend arrives I generally attempt to avoid these inconveniences by simply leaving the city for a day, relaxing indoors, or attempting to locate an outdoor hidden enclave in the middle of Seoul where serenity can be found. One may ask, with the multiple millions of people in very close proximity with one another rushing about and filling in every available outdoor space around Seoul during springtime, is it even possible to find such a place? Yes, I have discovered such a spot.

Like most other delightful places I’ve randomly discovered and come to enjoy in Seoul, this spot was also found by sheer chance a few months ago after Michelle and I shared a delicious Vietnam Latte at Monmouth Coffee Company in Seoraemaeul/서래마을 (aka. “French Village”) – our favorite part of Seoul. We then randomly decided to walk up a steep hill adjacent to the cafe for the first time in order to attempt another way to enter the locally-known “Parc Montmartre,” which is a peaceful park on the edge of the French Village that we have visited several times before. However, when we had reached the end of the road and climbed up a small flight of stairs, a library and a small, park-like enclave with no one else in sight was in view. It was then we realized what we had found – a serene place just for us.

(2) Seorae Park(5) Michelle in Seorae Park

Glorious weather

Glorious weather

Last Saturday we returned to this peaceful spot to have our first picnic of the year, and it started out with a glorious bang. With the distant view of bustling downtown Seoul accompanied with a supremely peaceful ambiance once again, we sat down on one of the few large flat benches spaced out under the many pine trees that make it perfect to nap and/or have a cozy picnic in the shade, and popped open a bottle of delicious Syrah from one of my favorite wineries in California that was generously sent from my Dad (Thanks, Dad!). We paired it with some scrumptious fried chicken, coffeecake, cookies, and of course, good times! It was a great afternoon!

(6) Wine and Fried Chicken(8) Michelle and I(9) Michelle and I goofing around(9) Michelle resting(11) Michelle resting against my kneeA person or a couple walked by occasionally, but it was so infrequent that it really felt like we were alone in the middle of the grand metropolis. It’s a place where I honestly feel distant from the hustle and bustle of Seoul, and as these photos reveal, I believe Michelle does as well.

For those days when Seoul just gets under our skin and we need a not-so-distant outdoor escape, we now have a very tranquil and shady place amid the city that we can frequent any time we please to relax, share some wine, and have a splendid picnic. I hope to have many more picnics here with Michelle before summer’s end.

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

~Euripides
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