Jet Lag, Shet Shmag

My first day in Copenhagen was a treat. I went to the gym and they were running a special where you get your first two weeks free. So, I have free full access gym membership for my stay here.

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This is the parking lot outside of the gym. Everyone here rides bikes – no one wears a helmet. I keep wanting to rent a bike, but it is so rainy and I am so klutzy (see blog name) that I keep not renting one. The trip is young, we shall see. I think today instead I will tackle public transportation, which I assume is a thing here. Usually Andrew does all the organizing around this. He’s not here and Vin Diesel is useless around buses, which is ironic; you’d think with a name like Vin Diesel he’d know all things automotive. I might have to rethink this new-boyfriend arrangement.

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This is a random building during my walk. I thought it was pretty. Now you look at it and think it’s pretty too.

I’ve managed to start understanding some Danish. Mostly in writing. I don’t know how to pronounce anything though because even though the letters are familiar they don’t make the same noises as in English. I recognize æg means egg, and I know ol is beer, brod is bread, etc. Andrew says I have a knack for languages – it’s really just a very heavy interest in food.

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Shwarma proof. Across the street from this Shwarma House is another Shwarma House. There’s a lot of shwarma around here. I like to think that every once in a while they have a kabob rumble in the streets.

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After the gym I went to a restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I wanted some authentic Danish food. So I asked the waiter to suggest what I should have. He brought me this Spanish omelet. I have cultural food confusion – but it was delicious!

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It was so rainy I actually used an umbrella ella ella all day.

 

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So this is actually very Danish. It is an open faced herring sandwich on a hearty rye and nut bread. It is called Smørrebrød. The toppings don’t have to be herring, they may be cold cuts or meat or cheese. It was really tasty, and quite filling.

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This is a truck full of drunk teenagers. They are celebrating their high school graduation. There are loads of these trucks throughout the city blaring Rhianna and screaming and blowing whistles and drinking it up. It’s annoying and cute – like me!

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Random pretty buildings.

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After wandering around the city all day I was tired. But, I had made plans to meet up with some improv people at 20:00. So, I slammed some coffee, and a Manhattan (to get awake, but not too awake) and went to play with new friends. It was super fun. The ICC is a cafe during the day time and a cozy and fun theater at night. I jumped in and played with a group and then joined in on the jam after all the sets were completed. Part of the improv culture is being able to go practically anywhere and already have instant friends. It was super fun. I will be joining them again next Friday and teaching some short form.

 

I also made it to the grocery store in the morning after the gym and stayed up until 02:00. I consider that a success in terms of jet lag. However, my body considers it a failure in terms of being over 40.

Today, there will be napping.

The Longest Day of the Year

I knew my travel day was going to be long, because I have seen a map and understand the distance/time relationship between Portland and Copenhagen; but, 20 hours is a lot longer than it sounds.

I have known-traveler status and pre-check on my trips so I got to the airport about an hour before my flight from Portland to LAX. What I hadn’t counted on was Alaska requiring me to see a desk agent instead of using a kiosk to get my boarding pass, nor the long-ass line waiting for the desk agents. I put on my best puppy dog eyes and apologized to the desk agent about skipping into the first class line but could she do me a favor? And, in fact, she could.

I whizzed through security and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. On the flight to LA I ordered coffee. I figured my best bet for fighting jet lag in Copenhagen was to try and sleep very little on the flight and then when I got to Denmark at 22:00 I’d be ready for bed. I am really thankful that airlines serve coffee at drinkable temperature, that way it burned less when three seconds after my coffee was served I spilled it all over myself, my carry-on and my neighbor. My second cup managed to get mostly in my mouth.

LAX is now in my top 3 of worst airports ever. When I got off my plane there was no gate agent and the departures board did not list my flight to Heathrow. My boarding pass had no information about what gate I was at because I had gotten it way before there was a gate assignment. I wandered around looking completely lost for about 15 minutes before finding a gate agent. As I approached the counter the window behind him glared sun right into my eyes and I was blinded. I blinked for a second, opened my eyes and the gate agent, like an oasis in a Bugs Bunny desert, disappeared. I turned around to see where he’d gone. I looked behind the counter to see if he’d ducked out of sight. I turned 360 degrees again and there he was. It was like Alaskan Airlines had hired David Blaine to help me find my connecting flight.

He sent me to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which was approximately in San Diego. I got my steps for an entire month at LAX, and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. When life gives you lemons, do yoga. I went through a yoga routine from my new favorite yoga app, Daily Yoga – turns out yesterday was International Yoga day, so it was appropriate. Also, I was in LA – so, really….

I snuggled into my plane seat, turned on some podcasts and played stupid games on my phone until about midnight. Then I watched the new Triple X movie – Vin Diesel is my new boyfriend, sorry Andrew. Then I watched Jack Reacher. This may be controversial, but I love Tom Cruise. The movie was totally mediocre, but Tom Cruise – he’s a good actor. In fact, other than Eyes Wide Shut, I cannot think of a movie he is in that I have seen that I did not enjoy. I totally want to hate him because he’s a Scientologist and a nut-job (redundant, I know), but, I can’t. He’s really good at his job.

I got three hours of sleep on my flight and it was early evening in London. Normally, Heathrow is the worst – it, in fact, is also in the top three of my “the worst” airports. Maybe because my expectations were so low, maybe because I was tired and not feeling super feisty, or probably because my departing flight was in the same terminal as my arrival flight, I had a breezy time getting through customs and getting a salad and coffee just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. For those of you math wizards at home, you would think that 3 one-hour delays would mean my 20 hour flying day was 23. However, you are not taking into account that airlines lie about how long flights take so that they can make up time in these cases, and all told my arrival was only 30 minutes later than I had expected.

For those of you comedy nerds at home, yes, that is the third beat – which meant it was funny instead of frustrating.

I got to my gate to board my final flight to Copenhagen and felt like I was in the Redwood Forest. Every single person getting ready to board was at least two heads taller than me, and blonde. It got me a little excited in a way because I just assumed that the seats in the plane would have more room, I assumed wrong. Those poor Danes, if I’m uncomfortable on a plane, they have to be in agony.

I got through customs rapidly, got in a cab and headed to my AirBnB. I asked my taxi driver, “What is one food I have to have while in Copenhagen?”

“Shwarma.”

“I’m sorry, I must be having trouble understanding your accent, it sounded like you said shwarma, like the Middle Eastern dish.”

“Yes, shwarma.”

Then he proceeded to tell me all of his favorite shwarma places near my AirBnB – common theme: they are all called “[someone’s name] Shwarma House”. To be fair, when I walked around this morning, I could not actually walk a block without seeing a shwarma or kabob place.

My AirBnB is on the 6th floor of a 5 story walk up – they don’t count the first floor landing. I settled in after chatting with the landlord. I asked him how to pronounce Copenhagen (is it cope-in-HAY-ggin or cope-en-HAH-ggen?). He laughed at me immediately and said that either one is fine, but that it is coop-en-HAWen. He walked me around the very spacious apartment, then showed me the bathroom which is a closet sized shower with a toilet inside – very efficient.

I slept in until 4:30 AM, when I realized I hadn’t eaten since my LAX salad. It’s also when I realized that while I am excited about this adventure, I am a little overwhelmed. I want to do a lot of things; but, I am in a strange place alone and have not yet learned to navigate it all. I think today if I make it to the gym and the grocery store and don’t go to sleep until night time, I am going to count it as a win.

Certifiable

Every time Andrew and I go to a tropical destination we go snorkeling. Except for that time in Hawaii where we went to snorkel but the rain dumped on us so we didn’t get in the water and instead went to brunch and that is not technically a snorkel, it’s more of just a snorkel-brunch or a snunch.

Every time we go snorkeling I think, “I want to SCUBA (which is actually okay to just be scuba these days as we have adopted the acronym as a word, so I will no longer scream at you as I write the word – also, bonus Words With Friends trivia) dive”. But then the follow-up thoughts are along the lines of, “Andrew doesn’t dive and if we go to a dive place he wouldn’t dive with me and I like my boyfriend and want to keep him so no sense looking for a new one just based off of one water sport … probably … so I’ll just keep snorkeling”

The weirdest part of all of that is that Andrew loves the water. When planning trips they are usually water adjacent destinations. He loves hearing the water. He loves showering in it (there are sometimes 5 showers in his day). He even likes to drink it – in fact it’s the most common drinking fluid for him as a contrast to red wine for me. But, if you ask him to swim in it or put his face in it, or god forbid be completely immersed, his polite response would be, “FUCK NO BITCHES I AM OUTTA HERE”- with the exception of snorkeling, but even that takes a bit of warming up to the head-in-water bit, to include several measured tests of the life jacket’s actual flotation capabilities.

Then it dawned on me. Andrew is an introvert. I don’t need to plan on doing things that he can do too. I just do my thing and he’ll do his and we’ll meet up at the end of the day and talk about how fun it was to see an octopus in its natural habitat or how many life vests were gone through before the perfect floating dynamic was acheived.

So I signed up for open water scuba certification with Adventure Sports**** in Portland.

Leading up to last weekend, I spent the week doing an e-Learning module that went over the basics of scuba. Then last weekend was spent mixing class time reviewing the material, getting fitted with gear for the water and 8 hours of time in a high school gym pool. Mostly the practice was what to do in case of emergency so that you don’t die. In fact instead of calling it scuba certification they should call it “How not to die in the water when panic alarms go off in your head because you are not a fish and why are you swimming so deep anyway, can’t you leave aquatic life to itself? I mean you chose to evolve out of the water* a gajillion years ago, maybe just leave it”. I think that has a nice ring to it.

At the end of last week I called all my already certified scuba friends and told them we were going to start making diving dates. Then I called all my non-scuba friends that should do scuba and told them how much they would love scuba and that they should take it. Then I called Andrew and told him how much he would hate being under water and being scared to death by all the “don’t die” activities that we learned.

Then I spent the week looking at scuba gear porn**.

Mind you, I did not purchase any gear, which is terribly unlike me. Just ask all of my tennis gear and bouldering gear and roller derby gear stashed away in the downstairs “Hadas once tried this sport and liked it for a minute” room in our house. I did buy goggles though. But this was so that I could have corrective lenses and actually see the octopus I would be hunting.

This weekend I drove up to Hoodsport, Washington, home of highway 101. I checked into Sunrise Motel around 8 pm on Friday night and got myself settled in. I had some work to catch up on so I linked into the wifi and immediately found out that the wifi was sketchy. As was the T-Mobile reception. I hadn’t thought to bring a book with me – because, 2016 and wifi. After about an hour of being squirrely and getting some non-Internet work done, I settled onto the bed and tried to turn on the TV. The remote didn’t work. I got up and turned the TV on, at the TV, like an animal. I tested out the remote control – volume worked, nothing else did. Well, whatever, I don’t care what’s on, it’s just noise. And that’s when I watched The Big Bang Theory for the first time in my life.

My thoughts on this show are as follows:

  • It’s fairly funny – which was somewhat surprising actually
  • It’s super-misogynistic, to an uncomfortable level at times. I actually, out loud, said, “gross” multiple times, I guess I Grossed Out Loud – GOL.
  • I am not sure if it is autism empowering or cruel…
  • Five episodes in a row is about 3 episodes too many – I wish I didn’t have to turn the TV off like an animal.

I awoke the next morning and got to our pre-designated meeting-hotel-room location at 8AM on the dot. I was the last one there. We went over rules and an overview of what we were going to do to not die in the water that day. Then we did a tour of the hotel and started prepping and donning our gear.

I want to tell about every dive, but mostly I think it’s a thing you have to experience to really get. The water visibility was shitty (at best 7ft at worst 3ft) and that made things pretty scary at times. I did two dives the first day and two dives the second day. I saw sea anemone and baby wolf eels and tires and a sea whip and crab and shrimp and starfish and some pipe looking equipment and sunfish – which look like too-many-armed starfish only lazier. Mostly, though, I learned that I could be under water for an extended amount of time, feeling somewhat panicky at times, and not die. I can remain calm enough in stressful situations to not die. And I can have very limited visibility, lose my instructor for a minute, do hand signals, share breathing apparatuses, take my mask off and put it back on and clear it all underwater, hunt for octopus with no luck, ascend and descend, and not die.

In the end, I passed all the certification stuff. I also learned that if you can dive in the Pacific Northwest, you can pretty much dive anywhere.

Now I am going to go eat all of the food and sleep all of the sleeps because diving is exhausting.

Then, on our next vacation near water, I will take a trip into it and Andrew will swim above me, and we will likely both not die***.

*probably not true

**what I mean by this is just looking at and ogling scuba gear. I don’t know if there is actual scuba gear porn. But, I would not Google it if I were you. Unless you were into that sort of thing… then Google away.

***past performance is no guarantee of future results.

****I highly recommend this company. They were really nice and patient and thorough. Go to them for all of your scuba diving needs. They will keep you alive (and entertained while they do so).

Subway – Eat Continuously!

 

The good news, is I think I am fully acclimated to the time change now. The bad news is, we head back to Portland on Sunday. Woke up at 6:30. We both have a mild cold but nothing we can’t vacation through.

Normally, and for the past 4 years, I have been gluten free.No,  I am not celiac. Yes, I have read the research about how people aren’t really sensitive to gluten unless they have celiac. But, I can tell you that my stomach doesn’t like it, and neither does my psoriasis and arthritis, nor my depression. But, being gluten free in a foreign country is pretty limiting – especially one that uses soy sauce in cooking. So, while in Korea I have just hung up my gluten free hat and crossed my fingers. And, for the past week I have had no noticeable issues. It turns out I have no sensitivity to Korean gluten!

After a slight argument about whether I should chance it, we rode the subway for about 35 minutes to an American breakfast house and I ordered a stack of poison pancakes. For the whole subway ride home I felt like I was going to die: with bad nausea, a sudden crashing headache and the spins. As it turns out, I am sensitive to Korean gluten when it’s in English.

We came home and napped it off.

I really like the apartment we are in, save for two things. The bed is slightly more firm than the floor (it seems like this is a running theme in Korea). I am not really sure why they go through the motions of having mattresses at all – it feels like false advertising.

The other issue with this apartment is the toilet, it’s not firmly mounted. I feel like I am in training to ride a bull in a bar that thinks peanut shells is floor decor. On the up side, I am getting a core workout even without going to CrossFit.

While Andrew has been sick, whenever I ask how he’s feeling he says “blugh.” Today however he upgraded that to “mlech.” So we went back to Myeong-dong for more foods on sticks and to buy cute socks.

Then this happened:

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Andrew really wanted this Shiba Inu’s attention, but the dog was a little snappy at him.

It’s a dog cafe. Like a cat cafe. Only with a lot more peeing on the floor.

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This little long haired dachshund came up to me and just curled onto my lap and took a nap – until my legs fell asleep and I had to kick him off.

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This is actual-Andrew petting an actual-dog. Like real petting too, not just the usual tentative finger prod Andrew usually calls dog-petting.

We hung out for a while then went to shop and eat some more.

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It probably seems like mostly what we are doing on this vacation is eating. That’s correct. But, I am pretty sure that I have not put on an ounce of weight and that is mostly because of the subway system. It’s the largest system (and most used) in the world. But it’s not just go downstairs and catch a train, it’s more go down several flights of stairs and walk for a quarter mile or three and then hop on a train and then walk back up those same amount of flights of stairs and also walk a quarter mile here and there to catch connections. Navigating the elaborate makeup of Seoul transit has helped me keep my girlish figure even as I stuff myself full of  “actual expenditure type of steak.”

So, we ate some more. And then this happened:

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “You guys went back to the cat cafe?” and you’d be wrong. Because this is a totally different cat cafe from the other one we went to. And now you’re probably thinking, “How many cat cafes can you go to?” And the answer is, “All of them.”

Korea’s Cold

Andrew’s sniffle got worse. Now I have one too. But we had a train to catch at noon and, of course, I was up with the birds (6:15 – it’s a small victory over 5:30).

I made some eggs for us because it was too early for the hostel community breakfast and we went for a walk along the water. As built up as this city is, there is some amazing architecture. Then there is also Trump World towers. They were pretty pedantic despite their illustrious name, undoubtedly emblematic.

We walked about 4 miles and returned during American breakfast time. I am really glad I’d made us our own version of breakfast and really regret failing to take a picture of the hot dogs, french fries and sliced up muffins the hostel was serving up.

As we checked out the attendant asked us where we were headed. I said “Seoul” and he looked at me as though he’d never heard of the place. Now I have been attempting to learn Hangul and the letters basically spell out S-schwa-uh-l/r (or SUH-ool). So I tried again with this pronunciation instead of the Americanized “soul” and got the facial equivalent of the blue screen of death. At this point I think he was just fucking with me so I just shrugged and smiled and handed him back the key.

The return trip to the KTX train station took us twice as long because we were both exhausted from our colds. Once at the train station we had about 40 minutes to kill and grabbed some soup and sushi to share. Andrew loved the sushi, so I am going to refrain from telling him that there was a bit of crab meat in it – if he doesn’t know in advance that it’s “ookie”, he really enjoys seafood. We napped a lot on the train and I worked a little more on my Hangul. My name in Korean (by my spelling- 하다수) means “enjoy a long life.” Thanks, Korean, I will – if I get over this cold.

Our new apartment is in a quieter part of town than the first one was. It is also right off the airport line of the subway. The airport line is deep underground. We had to take 4 escalators and 2 flights of stairs and check in with Beelzebub to get on the train. Climbing back out was also exhausting. I feel like we did as much walking down and up as we would have done just walking directly from Seoul (SUH-ool) Station.

Most of the rest of the day we spent juggling some games of Words With Friends, napping, checking in with each other about our colds, and Facebooking. Being sick in a foreign country is pretty much the same as being sick at home in that way. But it feels different. I think part of it is the pressure I am putting on myself to do things touristy and partially it’s that I don’t have my own sofa. Or kitchen. Or cats.

It’s possible I’m Korea sick and homesick.

 

Booosan

7:30! I slept in. I mean, I woke up at 4:45 first, but then I forced myself back to sleep – so it counts.

The only plan we had for the day was to get to Busan. Our train didn’t leave until noon so we had some time to kill. I avoided another incident by not helping Andrew pack his clothes, and even got to tell him, “I told you so!” later when he got a text from the AirBnB host about the single sock he left behind.

Seoul is about 200 miles away from Busan and with five stops it was only going to take two hours on the KTX. Andrew was jazzed about riding the high speed rail to Busan. Because, boy. I had never been on a high speed train and wasn’t really sure what to expect. After the trip, I felt a little let down by all the hype. Because, girl.

I don’t know what I was really expecting, maybe some g-force or the scenery to feel like it was whipping by so fast the window was a Gerhard Richter. But, no, it was just a train ride. Though it is amazing it only took two hours. It would be neat if the west coast had this. Then I could be in Seattle in an hour and LA in 6. Putting it in that context, I see why it’s exciting.

We got to Busan and both of us felt pretty run down. The directions to our AirBnB were vague and felt more like a scavenger hunt than directions. Walk towards the ocean, when it’s in view find the restaurant that’s been closed for two years and turn left, go to the area that is known as (but not marked) “playland” make a pentagram with the point facing the mistiest location of the boardwalk…

I eventually put the address in Google Maps and found the place. The reason for all the cloak and dagger is because better directions would have been – follow the grossest fish smell in town and find the blue hostel located in the center of the smell. If you can’t find the smell, listen for a jackhammer in concrete sound (that’ll be right below the room you are in – but don’t worry you won’t see it because your view of the ocean right beyond the jackhammer is completely blocked by an awning.). If the jackhammering has stopped by the time you get here look for the rickety fair rides right next door where there’s a swing boat and intermittent sounds of shrieking that will only get louder as the night gets drunker.

Andrew and I have decided that this trip, although fun, is not really our cup of vacation. We like beach towns and feeling lazy and relaxed. I like big cities for about a day or two for the experience, but then I like remote, outdoorsy, naturey lounginess with intermittent alcoholic beverages that I ply on my tee-totaling boyfriend. This is one of the reasons we decided to go to Busan, to get a relaxed beach experience.

Unfortunately, we should have done more research. Busan is the second most populous city in Korea and there is not a square inch of it that they didn’t find “the perfect spot” to develop with skyscrapers with flashing lights. It felt busy, and crowded, and dirty.

Andrew and I checked into our room. It was dinky. No drawers. The sheets felt like what brillo pads are recycled into. I now understand the homophone of hostel. We looked at each other and sighed, “this blows.” And it really did. We decided food was in order before making any decisions about what to do.

Busan seems to cater a bit more to Americans than Seoul. We found a hamburger and a chicken salad and decided to make the best of it for the rest of our day.

And by making the best of it, I mean going to Karaoke.

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Andrew Rickrolled me with Never Gonna Give You Up. And now I have Rickrolled you because you have the song in your head from reading the caption.

We paid 5000₩ for a half an hour that kept having more time added to it for some reason so it ended up being about 45 minutes.

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Of course we duetted.

This was super fun, and we will do it again before we leave Korea.

After Karaoke we wandered around a bit and walked along the waterside. Busan is so overbuilt. It’s like Atlantic City, but without the charm.

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We got back to the room and Andrew was feeling run down. We did some internet searching and found a lovely AirBnB to change to.

Back in Seoul.

No, Seoul wasn’t going to be our tropical paradise locale either, but we were familiar with it, and it felt cleaner, and quieter than Busan. We would take the KTX back the next day. But first, another buffing for me on the sheets of sandpaper while listening to the lovely white noise of drunk people shrieking on a swing.

 

When it Rains it Pours

5:15AM is a bullshit time to wake up on a vacation day. And to top it off it’s raining. No. Not raining. Pouring.

Being from Portland, I am pretty sanctimonious when it comes to handling some precipitation. So, when eventually it was daylight and I looked outside and saw people carrying umbrellas I at first guffawed and smirked, at the same time – such is my self-satisfaction. But then I went down to the convenience store in our building to grab my morning cold brew, looked outside and saw that there was real rain. Not the Portland constant drizzle I am used to, but real – like taking a shower without a water conservation regulator – rain.

I scurried back upstairs and started whining. I had definitely woken up on the wrong side of the bed and the rain was only trumping my mood.

Andrew, in his delightfully supportive way, put on his best game face and prepared us for an outing despite the rain. We would take the Metro to Namsan and  then ride the aerial car to Seoul Tower on Namsan mountain followed by sitting in a cafe and blogging. I was excited. Even though I live in a city with an aerial car, I have yet to ever ride in one. We packed our computers, we grabbed jackets, we toted umbrellas provided by our AirBnB hosts and went to brave the great outdoors.

We made it one block.

Then we turned tail and headed to the chocolate cafe across the street from our apartment and buried ourselves in our pouting and computers (I did most of the pouting).

After some success with blogging and hot chocolate we braved the weather to return to our room. Because we were leaving the next day to Busan we took advantage of the extra time we had due to the weather ruining everything (this is just a taste of my attitude) and did some laundry in the super high-tech combo washer-dryer in the apartment.

The cycle after spin is dry! When the wash was done the dryer, well, didn’t. Our clothes were still wet. So we ran a cycle with just the dryer. An hour and a half later our clothes were mostly damp.

We gave up and hung our clothes on the drying rack we’d found – because room temperature air was going to do a faster job at drying our clothes. In fact, every once in a while we’d pass by the drying rack and just blow on our clothes and that was more efficient than the actual “dryer.”

I lay down for a half an hour because whining is exhausting and woke up almost two hours later to no rain and slight wind.

At this point my mood was taking up most of the space in our apartment and both of us were a bit antsy, we again prepared ourselves for some outdoor time. This time no umbrellas and no computers but also no rain. We got to Namsan and started the uphill climb to the aerial car.

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At the metro exit at Namsan there was a tribute to Zaemiro Seoul Comics – which Andrew, obviously, takes very seriously!

The walk to the aerial car itself was about 600 meters uphill. Once there the sign on the door informed us that because of high winds the car was not running. Neither of us was surprised by this turn of events and it only took us about one minute of hemming (we didn’t even get to hawing) before tackling this defeat with good-natured gusto. We were going to climb this mountain – metaphorically and literally.

Not unlike Hawaii, we started up a 1200m stair climb in the not-best-weather-or-mood.

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1200m looks farther than it really is.

We walked up the first 300m or so and came upon this:

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That man is not dead, he is just resting between sets. I waited to make sure before moving on. I’m not a monster – even when in a shitty mood.

If it hadn’t been sopping wet we’d probably have had a go at it.

We turned the corner to go the rest of the way and came upon this:

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Now, I am not one to want to cause a stir, much less an international incident. But on this day, I wasn’t going to let a little bit of caution tape stop me. I looked up in Google Translator how to say, “I thought the tape was for decoration” in Korean, and we headed up.

When I was in my teens I used to sprain my ankle all the time. I remember once in New York City, on my 13th birthday, I stepped off a sidewalk and just came crashing down on the side of my foot. I was in crutches for about 2 weeks. Shortly thereafter, I met a distant-ish cousin who was finishing college for Physical Therapy and who off-handedly diagnosed me (it’s a family characteristic) with misproprioception, which loosely translates to the inability for my brain to quickly and easily judge variances in height without special attention – aka bad coordination, ergo sum “klutz in my pants.”

I was very cautious going up these steps. Not a single one was a uniform height with another step and there were varying steepnesses (it’s a word now). I was so cautious, looking at every step as I took it that I almost ran into a tree growing out of the middle of the stairs.

Twice.

Who plants trees in the middle of stairs?

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One of the two trees I almost impaled myself on.

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Part of the 1200m climb. These steps are all a different steepitude.

We made it to the top unscathed. The view was lovely. The top was a tourist trap. Apparently people go to the top of this tower and place love-locks all around the platforms. The love-locks are like bike locks, only they symbolize a love that is unbreakable (except with bolt cutters, or a hairpin, or just plain old-fashioned time and growing apart. Or they get rusty and everyone is like, “ew, that’s gross, you should probably get rid of that,” but the people who put it there are just stubborn a-holes and say things like “forever means something.”). We wandered for about 3 minutes and headed back down.

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Seoul Tower

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Andrew dropping my phone while trying to take a picture of us.

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Picture success! See how big Seoul is. This doesn’t even really capture it. It’s quite overwhelming.

We stopped for a quick bite, then headed to the cafe. Basically, across the street from the metro exit we came from was Myeong-dong – a busy shopping area. And I knew exactly which cafe I wanted to visit. I followed my Google maps to where Lily cafe used to be before it closed and was sorely disappointed again.

It’s like Tuesday was just out to get me.

Yet, Andrew and I are resilient. After a quick search of all the interwebs I found a similar cafe only three blocks away, and not (hopefully) closed. We walked swiftly towards it – like in Amazing Race when a couple is in the lead but don’t want to be too brassy about it so they do a little butt clenched walk-jog dodging around busy crowds; that was us.

We climbed the two flights of stairs, changed from our shoes to slippers, entered and were immediately instructed to wash our hands – which we did. Then we ordered our drinks and were let loose amongst the felines. We were at Cat Cafe about to cheat on our kitties – what happens in Myeong-dong stays in Myeong-dong.

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Look at all the kitties!!!

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Neither of us could stop smiling the entire time we were here.

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I may have forced this cat onto my lap, but then he slept there – so, he wanted it.

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Andrew playing WWF while petting a kitty who doesn’t like people but came up to sleep near him.

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Okay, I’m going to be honest here. These cats have always freaked me out a bit. But now that I have had the opportunity to pet one (it’s kind of like petting a leather jacket), I am all in. This guy was a bit of a chunky monkey – but so adorable.

We probably spent about 2 to 2 and a half hours sitting and playing Words With Friends and getting up and petting cats and sitting some more.

The world wide web says these cafes were set up for Koreans because not many of them have the means or space to take care of pets, but it seemed mostly tourists were coming and going. Our time here was only spoiled for about 20 minutes when a family with 5 children and one on the way came in to apparently show themselves what level of asshole they are willing to allow their kids to get to before providing any discipline.

Otherwise, in the words of my friend Aubry, to whom I have already sent these pictures, “Are you texting me from Heaven?”

Yes.

Also, fuck you Tuesday. I win!