Katie’s Big Adventure!

My parents, Momma and Poppa Coyne, and my sister Katie set out a few weeks ago on their two country tour. The trip began with a visit to my brother Timmy in France, where he just finished a year of coaching and playing basketball. Next, they hopped on a plane bound for Seoul.

I anxiously awaited their arrival at Incheon Airport and was jumping up and down at the gate as they walked through. After a brief stop at the hotel, we headed for our fancy dinner at the N Grill at the top of Seoul Tower. The restaurant has French cuisine (fitting right?) and rotates for a full view of the city. The moving floor took a bit of getting used to and caught us off guard when we would look up and realize how much we had moved. The food was delicious and it was a spectacular first night of their visit.

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Sunday, we checked out one of the English speaking masses in Seoul then got a delicious brunch at “Between” in Itaewon. We spent our afternoon at the Korean War Museum which is one of the largest war museums in the world. It is spectacular and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Seoul. Lucky for us, a tour in English was just beginning and they only had one guest so we were invited to join. It really is incredible to think about how far Korea has come in such a short amount of time. The pictures, of the country from the devastation in the 1950s to the well-developed modern society of today, are striking.

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After the museum, we headed up to Chuncheon to the King Sejong Hotel. We had a late dinner and wandered the streets of Chuncheon’s Myeongdong shopping district. One goal I had for their visit was to find an awesome couple outfit for myself and my sister Katie. Mission accomplished! We found some leopard leggings and shirts with “Merci” on them. Done deal. I stayed with them at the hotel where we relaxed on the patio and had a photo shoot in our new outfits. (Beth, we’re serious about changing out bridesmaid outfits.)

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Monday morning, I had a regular day of school so they took it easy and spent some time in Chuncheon. They picked me up at school and we headed into Hwacheon to meet the girls for dinner. We decided on a bulgogi restaurant for their first introduction to Korean food. It was a great choice and they really enjoyed it! We decided they should try some patbingsu as well for a delicious summer treat so we checked out a cute cafe in town. After dinner, they brought me back to my home stay where my dad and sister had their first chance to meet my host family. They easily saw why I love this family so much.

Tuesday (Momma Coyne’s birthday!) is my long day at school so I made some arrangements for them to have an adventure without me. In September, the priest from my church took myself, Momma Coyne, and Beth to the Chilsung Observatory at the DMZ which was under construction. It is now completed and open so he made a few calls and set up a tour for them. They really enjoyed it and wrapped up the afternoon with a walk by the water in Hwacheon. After school, they picked me up and we headed to my home stay for dinner and relaxing with my host family. My host mother made an amazing spread of food and they were really impressed by her cooking skills. I really loved seeing my two families come together like that.

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Wednesday, I finished teaching at lunch time so they picked me up early to go to Hwacheon and meet Fr. Peter for lunch. He treated us to a great little restaurant owned by one of his parishioners. We spent the rest of the afternoon peddle boating, walking around the sculpture park, and wrapped up the night with a trip to the movies.

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Thursday (6/6) was Korean Memorial Day so I had off from school. I stayed with my family in Chuncheon and we decided to check out the Bimok Cultural Festival for my day off. The location was at the Peace Dam and Peace Bell Park up near the DMZ which was the site of some of the biggest battles of the Korean War. The Peace Bell was incredible to see. It is made from the bullets of wars from all over the world. The Peace Dam serves as a second line of defense in case the dam in North Korea ever broke, whether accidentally or intentionally. There were special ceremonies for memorial day which was really interesting to see and reminded us a lot of our own memorial day.

After the (very winding) trip back to Chuncheon, we met with a co-teacher and her family for dinner. They treated us to a delicious Korean restaurant with a large assortment and several courses of different foods. They are a really wonderful family who took me out a few weeks ago. My family and their family were excited to meet and discuss life in our respective countries as well as family life.

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On Friday, my family accompanied me to school to meet my students and coworkers. They were quickly attacked with hugs and hand holding from my kindergarteners on their school tour. They sat in on my classes during the first three periods and were able to have a question and answer session with my students. My sixth graders entertained them quite a bit with their creativity and somewhat blunt questions.

After leaving school early, we returned the car to Chuncheon and boarded the ITX bound for Seoul. We enjoyed a nice relaxing dinner at our hotel then Katie and I set out to explore some of my favorite parts of the city. First stop, Bau House Dog Cafe in Hongdae. Katie decided that must be what heaven is like. It is a cafe where people can either bring their dogs or they play with the dogs that live there. It was really hilarious that the dog most attached to my sister was the prissiest little one with a pink bow in her hair. Dog cafe…success!

Next stop, Hongdae’s main streets. We wandered around a bit and I pointed out some of the hotspots in this university area as well as my apartment from February. We found an outside restaurant to chat, enjoy some drinks, and take in the atmosphere. We ended the evening at Acoustic Holic, but unfortunately no one was performing that night so it was a short visit.

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Saturday was their last day in Seoul and it was a pretty jam-packed. The first place we checked out was Gyeongbukgung Palace followed by Insadong, the traditional shopping part of the city. We wrapped up their last day with a baseball game at Mokdong stadium where the home team (Nexen Heroes) lost to the Gwangju Kia Tigers. The stadium experience here was quite different from anything we’ve seen in the states. Most people brought their food into the stadium with people even setting up blankets in the walking areas for picnics. One of the most popular snacks was the dried octopus which is a tad bit different from the normal fare at American games. Checking out a baseball game was on my Korean bucket list so that’s another item to cross off as time is winding down.

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Thanks to my parents and Katie for coming to visit me all the way in Korea! I’m so glad I had the chance to show them around and experience some of the different places with them that I had not yet been. See you all soon!

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