Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekend happenings: Cat Attic Cafe, Gwanakson, Hwayang-dong

Holy cow, tomorrow is Monday. The much needed weekend came and went (too fast) and was quite action packed. I'm trying my hardest to not solely live for the weekends because I should enjoy all days to the fullest, but I've reached that point that comes every winter. The one where, whether a student or employee, I badly need a break to clear my mind and then re-focus. Fortunately, mine is just around the corner.

Friday, Maria and Liu, two friends I met hiking, and myself visited a cat cafe called Cat Attic Cafe, located in Myeongdong, Seoul. Before even stepping foot in South Korea, I had read about these cafes where cats roam while guests sip a hot cup of joe. I wouldn't say they are the reason I traveled to Korea, but they played a pretty big part in my decision. OK, not really, but seriously, what's better than cats + coffee?

I was amazed to see they had a Bengal, a hybrid from the cross of your regular house cat and an Asian Leopard. These cats are beautiful and I've wanted to adopt one for quite some time. How great it was to finally meet one for the first time.  It was the most playful of the bunch!

This could be an alien, a human, or a cat. Hmm?

Maria and Liu

Getting to the Cat Attic is quite simple. Hop off the subway at Myeongdong on line 4 and take exit 6. Walk down the main strip for about 4 blocks and you will (or probably already have) spot the infamous person in a Garfield suit. Turn left, and the Cat Attic is to the left on the 6th floor. Maria and I got a little lost at first, but someone wanting to help us quickly knew what we were looking for after a simple "Meow?"

Saturday was to be my hike up Namhansanseong with Climbing Korea, but unfortunately, the 3-subway transfer adventure getting to the meeting spot proved too difficult after forgetting my directions at home. I somehow wound up at Konkuk University Station and realized: "Wow, I'm 10 minutes late and probably over an hour away." I gave up and, since it was a snowy morning, decided to explore Hwayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu outside of the station. It was still early, so the walk was quiet and peaceful. I'm not sure many foreigners exist in this area, because those that were out were all Korean and appeared nothing short of surprised to see me.

I needed a hiking fix and had finally invested in some crampons that I wanted to test, so I decided to venture away from Climbing Korea and try the Incheon to Seoul bike Hike Explore and More! MeetUp group. They were hosting a Sunday hike up Gwanakson (관악산), located in Seoul. A lot of Climbing Korea friends joined too, so it was a good mix of old and new friends.

The hike couldn't have been better. The sky was a bright shade of blue and snow blanketed the mountain, both contributing to distinctive human shadows that followed us throughout. We made it to the temple at the top before 1PM, which meant we received a free bibimbop lunch. When the sun started setting, it reflected off the buildings of Seoul, lighting up the city for us to enjoy from the mountain. Pa-jeon (파전), Jokbal/pigs feet (족발), and Makguli (막걸리) made for the perfect dinner and end to the hike. Makguli is a rice wine and since it is made of rice with more pro-bacteria than yogurt, is considered a main dish at dinner time and ever referred to as a food. Can't complain there!

Finally, a new camera :)

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