Saturday, May 31, 2008
my french day
sunday morning. i wake up at the crack of dawn (8 am) since it's sooo hot and sticky and the sun is shining through my curtain-challenged windows. as i'm eating my bowl of oatmeal and watching sex and the city, i decide i should check out seoul's french neighbourhood. i miss speaking french, i haven't done it much since i got here (except a few times on the phone) and i don't know any other french teachers in seoul. and i'm dying for a real bakery and perhaps some perrier. i had visions of myself, sitting on a terrasse, sipping a cappuccino and making tons of new french friends to commisserate with and whatnot.
so i put on my best french outfit (navy dress, white sandals, red nails... you get the picture). i knew the subway stop, but not much else. as i get out of the subway station i find myself standing on the side of a highway with huge buildings around. no bakeries or cafés in sight. typical seoul: you think you'll get out of the subway and be right where you want to be, but you have no idea where you are and you don't recognize anything around. besides, most subway stations have ten different exits, so you take a wild guess every time. seoul is so huge, so, so huge. you have to see it to believe it. at that point i'm dying of hunger, i had planned to have a nice breakfast in the french village, but i see to be nowhere near it. so i settle on healthy french fries (the only french thing in sight) to hold me over.
i finally ask the concierge of a nearby hotel, who gives me clear directions. so i walk for about twenty minutes, and turn on a quiet little street indicating "seorae", aka the french village. it was a bit disappointing. it's only a small stretch, pretty much only one block. there is a french flag, a few nice french restaurants and wine bars, and a few cafés. but nothing too authentic. the most exciting thing was the french bus sign. i was hot and tired so i just left and went to apkujeong, an upscale neighbourhood filled with expensive boutiques and cozy cafés. which, in my opinion, is closer to the real french cafés i'm used to.
in other news, last night i had a fantastic time in apkujeong (once again). met a new friend and had some late afternoon drinks in a lovely garden. i also acquired a newfound love for seoul. it's fun to discover new neighbourhoods, and apkujeong is probably one of my favourites. i saw places i would never find back in montreal, amazingly designed cafés and restaurants. and galleria, the best department store in the world. so good that they have two of them across the street from the other. that's when you realize how huge seoul actually is.... you see things you never thought existed in asia, it takes you 2 hours to cross the city by subway, and no matter how many times you visit new places, you're never done discovering it. i am loving the big city life.