Pre-baby travels usually saw Awesome Husband and I avoiding the bustling capital cities of anywhere, preferring the quieter suburbs with lush landscapes and far friendly folks.
If we had to stay in the big cities, it was only to use them as a base for day trips to nearby old towns or mountain villages, like we did with Osaka to go in search of the abandoned JR Fukuchiyama train line in quiet Takedao.
But with Titus in tow, the big cities are a more convenient option. When the weather is poorly outside, there are big, shiny malls with indoor playgrounds to escape into – I’ll get to that in another post.
This post, however, will show that even in big, busy cities there are lush, sprawling, serene parks to enjoy. HURRAH FOR US!
Prior to this trip, Awesome Husband and I checked out park options in Seoul. While we picked Seoul for Titus, we needed some time out in the parks to remain sane.
And we found plenty – more than we had time for.
Seoul Forest is one. Served by two train stations – Ttukseom Station (on the more convenient Line 2 but 15 minutes walk away) and Seoul Forest Station (on Bundang Line and five minutes after on foot), Seoul Forest is easy to get to for a good dose of fresh air and quiet.
It is made up of five parks, so expect to really work your legs if you intend to see them all.
I love how there are many wooden platforms, used by locals to rest on and dine, scattered across Seoul Forest. If it wasn’t that cold when we were there, we would have had a little picnic.
There are also playgrounds for active children, deserted in late autumn but I’m sure are a hit in warmer days.
That morning we were there, we came across a pastor of a nearby church. He had a large bag with him, inside packed with flasks of hot coffee, tea and citron honey tea. He told us he walks the park every Wednesday to offer anyone a hot drink to stay warm. He didn’t try to preach to us, and was only interested in getting us a drink. We thought that was just lovely.
Then there is Namsan Park, which leads up to the iconic N Seoul Tower. The peak of Namsan mountain is usually crowded with people eager to go up the tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Most visitors take a bus or the tram up and down, so if you would like some peace, trek down.
The royal palaces too are also a gem. How so, you might think, as these places are star tourist attractions. Hah! We’ve found that tourists tended to flock to the palace buildings for photo opportunities and shun the empty, open gardens that we love.
The back gardens of Gyeongbokgung are gorgeous, with plenty of space for Titus to run about and chase after pretty birds.
We spent more time at the gardens than checking out the palace architecture.
We didn’t get to visit Changdeokgung which is also loved by visitors for its scenic Huwon rear gardens.
Another park we wished we got to visit was Dream Forest. Oh well, there’s always next time.