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Seoul 2023: Day 8

Since this was our final full day in Seoul we knew that we had to visit the Namsan Tower on the top of Namsan mountain. We originally planned to hike the entire mountain but unfortunately the air quality in Seoul became incredibly poor during the latter half of our trip and we had to minimize outdoor activities. On the north side of the mountain is a cable car that takes you directly to the tower so we decided the views it provided would be the next best thing. The remaining question was what were we going to do with all of this newly acquired free time?

I've had my eyes on I'Park Mall for a couple days now because I read that it is full of stores for geeks and nerds. It is directly above Yongsan station on Line 1, and a short walk from Sinyongsan station on Line 4 which would basically take us to the cable car. So with the stars seemingly aligning, Elsie and I grabbed some Blue Bottle coffee and made our way to I'Park Mall.

Gundam Base, Tamiya Plamodel Factory, Nintendo, Lego, Studio Ghibli. These were just some of the stores in I'Park Mall. Heck there was even some sort of massive Marvel pop-up absolutely packed to the brim with all sorts of crazy figurines and toys. It doesn't hold a candle to Akihabara in Japan but I'Park Mall was definitely the closest I got to it in Seoul. It also has a Shake Shack on the first floor so Elsie and I got to continue our tradition of having it in every country we've visited. Double score!

With our bellies full we took Line 4 to Myeong-dong station and walked to the cable car. While it did provide a very nice trip to the top of the mountain, the views from the cable car made me wish that I could have hiked the mountain even more. There were beautiful winding paths through all sorts of foliage. The ride on the cable car was so sterile in comparison. Knowing what I know now I would have prioritized the Namsan mountain more and climbed it as soon as the weather would have permitted.

Regardless of how we got there, the peak of the mountain did not disappoint. You basically have a 360 degree, unobstructed view of Seoul. The Namsan Tower however is another story. From the bottom of the mountain it looks like the tower is shooting off into sky, but from its base it actually feels kinda small. To get to the observation deck you have to purchase a ticket for about $25 which gives you a start time to go and line up for the elevator. It ended up taking us about 30 minutes from when we bought our ticket to getting into the elevator. The most frustrating part was that the elevator ride was like 10 seconds. I bet that I could have comfortably climbed the stairs to the observation deck in that time and when you finally get there you realize how incredibly tiny it is. Like you can walk around it in less than 20 seconds. Combine that with dirty glass and tons of tourists, there really is almost no reason to go to the observation deck. I'd say you can get even better views if you just walk around the base of the tower.

To be clear I am only shitting on the Namsan Tower. The views from the top of the mountain were phenomenal and the hike up (or down) the mountain looked amazing. If I ever come back to Seoul I will 100% climb Namsan mountain but never go back up that stupid tower.

Around 3pm we took the cable car down the mountain and walked back to our hotel. We cleaned ourselves up and prepared for some more Korean barbecue. This time we went to Wangbijib which is actually the only restaurant that we were 100% sure we were going to eat at before coming to Seoul. In terms of presentation I would say this was easily the best place we ate at. Actual charcoal was used to cook the meat at our table so at least this time around I was 99% sure they weren't just cooking the meat for dumb foreigners. In terms of taste it was definitely the best beef I had but the pork belly we got at that place in Insa-dong could not be beat. So I guess what I am saying is that if you come to Seoul make sure you go to both of these restaurants because you will not be disappointed.

With our final dinner behind us it was time to head back to our hotel and begin packing for the flight home to reality tomorrow.