You guys! I am on a roll with these post titles lately (smile). Sometimes I just can’t resist a little corny to brighten up the day. When I can do so on a Travel Tuesday it’s just the proverbial cherry on top! Okay, I’ll try to stop now…
This week’s themed prompt is all about layovers. I’ve only really experienced one layover that allowed adequate time and sunlight to justify leaving the airport for true exploration. When we took our Asian adventure a few years ago, my travel buddy and I decided to purposefully schedule a 12-hour layover in South Korea so we could explore Seoul. After a short nap (we had arrived at around 4am), we found a place to store our backpacks and headed towards the bus area. One of the key things we didn’t know – and later failed to properly respect – is that the Incheon airport is a good hour outside of Seoul!
We found the express bus to our desired stop and decided to take one of those hop on/hop off tours in order to see as much as we could in a short amount of time. We did get to see a lot of the city and, I imagine, we would’ve been fine had we not decided to venture forth on our own vs waiting for the next bus. I broke one of my cardinal travel rules – never travel without a good street map handy. We didn’t wander into any trouble – Seoul seems to be a very pleasant city on the whole – but when time is finite, it’s best to stick with the plan.
We wandered through gardens, toured the National Museum of Korea, and even fit in some shopping. By the time we
found caught up with the hop on/off bus, we were cutting it awfully close to finish the loop back to the airport bus. My friend is one of those incredibly lucky people born under a special star. She’s incredibly, ridiculously type B and perpetually late. Even so, she’s somehow never missed a plane, train, bus, etc. because of it. I just try to stay in her orbit and hope for the best when these things come up (smile). Needless to say, she insisted we finish the tourist loop instead of trying to find a taxi back to the airport. So we did.
Knowing how it all turned out, I’m really glad we made the decision to see those final few places. Seoul has a personality all its own- trendy and classic all at once. I’m happy we saw what we did, but I would love to return some day and really explore without such a time crunch. As it was, once we got back to our starting point, we couldn’t find the bus stop for the airport bus. And we couldn’t find anyone else who knew either – we saw the bus drive by, but never where it stopped. After many frantic pantomimed conversations, we finally found an incredibly nice older businessman who helped us into a cab. He told us what we should pay (so we wouldn’t be completely taken advantage of) and wished us well. We only had half an hour in rush hour traffic to make an hour long trip. That taxi driver was one of the kindest and most efficient drivers I’ve ever known. He offered us oranges, music, and as much reassurance as he could manage – and miraculously got us to the airport with zero time to spare. The fact that there were no lines – anywhere – and that we reached the gate just as our zone was called is nothing short of a miracle. My companion’s special star at work (smile).