After a week filled with emotional breakdowns, obnoxious children, and settling more into the routine of teaching, I was most definitely looking forward to the weekend. Kris and I laid in bed for far longer than we would have been able to in the week, before leaving with a couple of friends from work for a day in Seoul.
We started by returning to Myeong-dong (a shopping haven) to replace the sentimental mug that I broke earlier in the week. We happened to get our hands on the last one, which was a relief – we were willing to run around Seoul looking for a replacement, but were equally happy to not have to do so.
Following this, we took several subway trains to an underground gaming market in a nearby neighbourhood. The market is underground in both the physical and metaphorical senses – it is literally under ground level, but also not on the mainstream shopping side of Seoul, so it was not nearly as packed as Myeong-dong. The roughly two-hundred metre tunnel was filled with stalls displaying everything from the latest Nintendo 3DS games to old-school GameCubes, N64s, and even Famicoms. The video game nerd in me was filled with joy, but sadly my wallet was far less filled with cash, so nothing was purchased. We vowed to return later on in our stay in Korea.
It was the last leg of our day in Seoul that was the most filled with surprise. The main purpose of our day was to experience the rumoured French quarter of Seoul in Seorae Village. We had heard tales of a small area that echoed Montmatre in Paris, filled with French bistros and small tastes of French life. Sadly, the aspect of the area that was most evocative of France was a slightly increased number of red brick buildings.
However, it was here that we would find our true highlight of the day – a small American-style diner named the Brooklyn Burger Joint. It was said to have the best burgers in Seoul and, by extension, Korea. Our American compatriot was cautiously excited when we found it – it certainly looked the part. There were stickers and posters referencing all aspects of American life, from Dr. Pepper to Star Wars to the Chicago Bulls. We sat down at our table, awaiting our cheese fries, burgers, and drinks.
Those who had said that the Brooklyn Burger Joint serves the best burgers in Korea are not wrong. What we received looked like your simple, classic burger – a seed bun, melted cheese, onion, a patty, and bacon (because everything is better with bacon). When we each took our first bite, we realized that this was no ordinary burger. Each piece perfectly complemented the rest of the ensemble with individual quality and perfect balance. The bun was fresh and soft. The cheese was melted to perfection. The bacon was, well, bacon, and thereby perfect. But the real surprise to me was the patty. I was expecting a slightly chewy, bland patty. This was nothing like the soft, flavourful, juicy patty that finished off arguably the best burger I have had in my life. For all of us, it was well worth the trip and the rather inflated cost of the meal.
This week may have been filled with some less-than-enjoyable experiences, but spending today running around Seoul with some friends, enjoying good food and new experiences, was a welcome escape from the routine of the week. We walked a lot, we ate a lot, and we talked even more. All of the excitement was refreshing and exhausting. Kristen and I will contrast the activity today with extra doses of sloth tomorrow. And we could think of nothing better.