Friday, February 14, 2014

"Touring is never boring": Gwangju in January 2014 #1

First, some music to play while you read:

"Touring" (1981 version) from The Ramones. I took this post's title from the chorus of the song.

Please don't confuse this with Gwangju Station. Gwangju Songjeong Station is Gwangju Station's smaller counterpart. It sits on the west side of the city. KTX and Mugunghwa trains pass through it.

"...especially with your favorite girl..."

R and I spent part of our winter vacation in the southwestern city of Gwangju. It had been on our list of destinations for some time now, particularly because it was in a region of Korea we had not seen yet and because of its place in Korean history. The city played host to huge protests, as you'll see below.

Where we went

In the May 18 Memorial Park near our hotel in the Sangmu area. We had an enjoyable walk through it on the way to lunch.

This plaque is inset onto the sidewalk on Chungjang Street. The street was the site of the May 18 Uprising, whereupon citizens protested against then-dictator Chun Doo-hwan. Visit Korea has this to say: 
Named after the posthumous title of General Kim Deok-ryeong, Chungjangno Street was the site of the 1980 Gwangju Democratization Movement. Today, it is Gwangju’s major fashion district, comparable with Myeongdong Street of Seoul. The streets of Chungjangno are lined with shopping malls, clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, movie theaters and various other attractions, providing the ultimate experience of modern culture in Gwangju. It is the city's hub of fashion, both trendy and traditional, as well as venue for diverse performances.

The Gwangju National Museum and a beautiful blue sky. Not a cloud to be seen. Note the snaking waterway. We saw plenty of old pottery inside. Serene stuff.

This picture's here for two reasons:
  1. I can't help taking pictures of cafes with unusual names.
  2. A college buddy and I used to make "Seven Howling Monkeys" from Seagrams 7 and the short-lived but delicious Howling Monkey cola.

Here's Caffe Soo, the cafe run by the parents of Miss A's Suzy. R and I love to visit the local cafes, and this was one she just had to see. Okay, okay: I did too...I've always liked Miss A's music and I can always do some cafe action. Suzy is also the most popular of the Kpop girls among my boys. When we dropped by, we noted with amazement that she also starred in Architecture 101, one of our favorite Korean movies. We stayed for a while and gazed upon all of the memorabilia inside: It's a fan's dream, to say the least. See below for links to a couple blogs with photos from inside the cafe. (It's not possible to post them here for some reason)

And yes, the drinks were good. My banana juice was as cool and fresh; R's green tea latte tasted good too! As an added bonus, we received cookies when we left as "service." If only we'd eaten them inside! They were excellent. As R said, "You can taste the butter." 

[Her group's also popular, but she's only member anyone here talks about. I'm at a loss as to why, for all four members can sing and dance quite well. Kirsten once noted their sexiness and moxie, and I can't help but concur. I've written about them here:]

A note about traveling there: It's located across the street from a library in a not-so-central neighborhood. We took a cab there. The links below do have directions. Also: If you plan to eat dinner afterwards, we can recommend a good barbecue place nearby, but that's it.


As always, we sampled the local libations. This makgeolli's the best I've tasted anywhere in Korea. It's also all-natural.

That's all for part #1. More's on the way!

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