Kamsa Hamneda

I love a slow morning on holiday. A long coffee, a long read, a long conversation. And Korea has no shortage of coffee shops, which I’ll get to in a minute.

My day started at 8am, when I quietly collected my book and ventured up to the 31st floor for a coffee and some free breakfast.

“I can eat the breakfast AND come back for the brunch, right?” I asked. The receptionist nodded.

“It’s all included.”

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Not a bad place to do some writing.

I surveyed the buffet: eggs, omelets, pastries, fruit. But Alexa and I agreed on brunch, so I kept it to a minimum and paged through my novel. Back down in the room, we chatted, read, and headed back up to the 11:30 brunch.

“Breakfast is usually $33, and Sunday brunch is $46,” Alexa told me.

“They had a good variety for breakfast,” I pointed out excitedly. “Brunch must have even more! Maybe they have champagne!”

They did not.

In fact, they did not have half of what they had at breakfast, no gluten-free options, and, the real travesty: no eggs.

It was shocking. Luckily, a kind waitress got us some omelets and some gluten-free bread from somewhere. Still, it was disappointing.

We switched hotels at 2pm and met Mary in the lobby of Lotte City Hotel, our original stop and a 4-star business hotel that was as swanky as the 5-star, minus the bath tub. Lesson learned: very little difference.

The three of us ventured to a chic coffee place Alexa discovered, called Coffee Libre, located beneath a cathedral.

At one point, Mary had her map open as we stood in an empty space beneath towering spires, and said, “It says we are literally on top of the coffee shop.”

A quick word on maps in Korea: Google Maps does not work well. Download Naver, a more reliable app. Also, download Kakao for booking cabs.

We ventured downstairs to the small coffee shop and spent an hour and change catching up before heading to find the street food vendors.

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In Korea at an exciting time.

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Mmmm coffee. Thanks, Caffe Libre.

I am a reluctant eater of street food, but I figured there’s no sense in holding back when it’s supposedly as good as it is in Korea. And it is good. We sampled a tasty variety: rice patties, egg bread, gimbap, steak, and cheese and rice, the last one being surprisingly tasty. After, we walked with Mary to a tea house where we sipped too-sweet tea and nibbled on Korean pastry desserts, one of which was blissfully gluten-free!

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Street food tour begins.

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Egg buns!

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Tteok-bokki

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Gimbap.

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Gimbap x2

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Fried cheese and rice.

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Oooo steak.

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Alexa eats her steak.

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Korean desserts.

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Foodies.

Back at our hotel, Alexa and I planned to meet up with Rachel and Issa at Southside Parlor in Itaewon, a place known for its cocktails. They were tasty and refreshing, and I sampled a Magpie beer, which is apparently locally brewed.

Itaewon was a cool little area, though a bit more expat-y than Myeongdong. Alexa and I were eager to explore it the following morning, which turned into an adventure of its own…

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