Sunday, February 19, 2017

2017 Grand World Voyage, Day 145, Incheon, South Korea (Part 2 of 3)

This morning was mighty cool at 25 degrees Fahrenheit for our sail-in to Incheon, South Korea….  I was freezing out on the forward deck!   Due to inclement weather in Jeju along with a bad berth, we will miss this port and the ship will remain in Incheon overnight. Our guide Miae picked us up at the pier in Incheon and Ann, Cathy, Ellie, Carole and Ian and I headed to Seoul for the day.  Our first stop of the day was Gyeongbokgung Palace, a 14th century King's home until 1910 to the King and Queen of Korea.  Luckily, we were able to catch the changing of the guard ceremony....a colorful and dramatic exhibition.  Next, we visited the Buckchon Hanok Village - the only remaining traditional Korean village in Seoul...This old village sits amongst the modern architecture of a residential area and embassy row.  Next, we made our way to Insadong Antique Street for a great Korean lunch and some shopping.  After lunch,  we visited the UNESCO Heritage site, Changdeokgung Palace.  This palace was the secondary home for the King and was primarily used as a summer retreat with elegant grounds and water features. A brief stop at Gwangjang Market gave us an opportunity to experience the type of shopping districts not often found in North America. On our walk to the Namdeamun market, we were able to see and hear the weekly protest event, the Saturday protesters marching through the downtown streets of Seoul.  There were thousands of peaceful protesters winding through the downtown streets and the largest contingent of police I have ever seen to block all road access to the Blue House (Korean President's Official Residence), and for street and crowd control.  Last Saturday they had a million protesters, down from two million a few weeks ago. The Namdeamun market is street upon street of vendors selling anything you would ever want...a few purchases were made here and there.  Next it was off to the Seoul Tower where we were able to cover the daylight and nighttime city views from Namsan Seoul Tower...great views from on high. After leaving the tower, we visited the  Old Norangjim Fish Market, one of the largest and well-kept fish markets I have been to with fresh seafood and fish like you have never seen. A new market has opened next door since my last visit to Seoul.  Many of the Old market vendors have refused to move to the new market until forced by the closure of the Old building.  Today, was a twelve hour day and worth every minute...Seoul is a vibrant city and I welcomed the opportunity to share my memories and with friends...the cool and crisp but beautiful sunny weather did not stop us from covering a lot of territory and seeing many great sites in Seoul.  I have used Miae on a previous trip to Korea and she is wonderful guide and a delightful young women.  I highly recommend her at Top Korea Tours,,  Looking forward to visiting something new for me tomorrow, the Korean DMZ.  The is a three part blog, this is part two..




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