Seoul was the vacation of my dreams.
You know the kind of vacation I’m talking about, right? That far away place we long to visit one day, seemingly so far out of reach. That place we might have spent a little too much time on the internet drooling over – looking at pictures of it on Instagram, reading article after article about it. Maybe we have cried once or twice while doing this. Possibly. Cannot tell you with certainty because of reasons.
To me, that place was Seoul.
Ever since I started learning Korean a few years ago (damn, has it really been years?), and I became more and more curious about Korean culture, this became my dream destination. But going there would require a lot of money that fresh-out-of-college-me did not have, as well as someone else crazy enough to come along with me.
Until this day, I am still impressed by how it all came to be. How I went from seeing Seoul as a dream to actually making plans to go, buying our tickets and being there. Between you and me, I think it was one little miracle.
Of course, I had to work hard to save enough money to go and spend over there, but I also managed find some crazy friends who were willing join me. Two friends that also were willing to work hard to save money so that we could all go.
And so it was that in July the three of us packed our bags and ventured to the opposite side of the world.
SEOUL AND US: A LOVE STORY
Now, listen, don’t get ahead of yourself there. It’s not that. None of us found a hot Korean prince and moved in with him into a palace. We just fell in love with the city, day after day, until the thought of coming back was one of disappointment. I’m not kidding, I’ve never been this sad about coming back home from a vacation before.
It wasn’t love at first sight, though. When we arrived, nothing looked particularly interesting to me. It was raining, the sky was overrun by dark clouds and all I saw were tall grey buildings everywhere. And the air… the air made me feel like I was inside a sauna. Bye bye straight fabulous hair!
Our second day did the trick. Finally, I was walking familiar but completely new territory. Seeing in person what I had previously only seen excerpts of on TV and completed with my imagination. You see, I watch a lot of Korean tv shows – I find them funnier and way more lighthearted than western ones – so the streets of Seoul weren’t strangers to me. The city was like a friend I had met online, and our friendship was finally transitioning to real life.
Quite just like meeting an online friend we have talked to for years, meeting Seoul was, at the very least, a thrilling experience. The realization that I was actually there, so far away from home, listening to the language I’ve been learning being spoken so casually everywhere — speaking it myself! There was so much I wanted to see, so much I wanted to do. Just riding the subway was already drawing the biggest smile on my face!
Since I have already been in New York once, Seoul’s skyscrapers and flashing lights weren’t exactly a novelty to me. Yet they felt different, with their saturated multitude of colors and designs. It’s like, whilst New York is a carefully curated art collection, Seoul is an assembly of independent artists showcasing their art freely. My eyes had a feast every time we were in the city, finding more different and unique things to look at every day.
All of this made up a perfectly imperfect and charming atmosphere for what would be my favorite 10 days of 2017 so far. We had many little adventures, many occasions where we lost our way, strange and exciting encounters with locals. We laughed a lot, fought a bit and tried new things. We bought a lot of stuff and polaroid-ed our way through the trip.
I made many memories over there that I will treasure in my heart for a very long time. And I will always remember fondly my everyday struggle to find non spicy food to eat.
And, just like that, I had fallen in love.
And you, have you ever been on the vacation of your dreams? Where did you go? How was it?
Feel free to share your experience with me down in the comments!
All of these pictures were taken by my dear amazing friend Mariana Pereira. You can click here to check out her Instagram!