My first, and definitely not last, trip to Seoul was during April of 2017. When I booked my flights and planned my trip the previous November, I did not even consider that I was going to be visiting Korea’s capital during one of the most beautiful weeks that the city experiences. The cold winter temperatures had barely broken before I got there, and all at once the city was in full bloom. The city was decorated with azaleas of every color, forsythias, and cherry blossoms. The blooms made the city just seem magical even if the temperatures weren’t as warm as I am used to in the southern United States. I just so happened to arrive in Seoul days before the peak season for the cherry blossoms, and I was lucky enough to experience the city during the few days when the blooms were their prettiest before the petals fell. If I had been more educated and informed, I would have gone to one of the many famous cherry blossom festivals that were being held the weekend that I arrived. Alas, I will have to save that for another year, right?
Three days after I landed in Korea I met my cousin in Itaewon in Seoul, and we got coffee and decided what I wanted to do that week of him being my tour guide. He informed me that the cherry blossoms’ blooms were supposed to be at their peak that day, and one of the best places to go look at them and walk around was in Yeouido along the Han River. I am always up for seizing opportunities, so we took the metro to Yeouido, just like half of the city of Seoul did that day. Yeouido is an area in the south western area of the city, just south of the Han River which cuts the city laterally in half. There is a park along the Han River in this area that is a very popular destination for locals and tourists alike, especially during this time of year. Yeouiseo-ro, the street behind the National Assembly and parallel to the park, is home to the most popular and famous area to view the cherry blossoms in Seoul. This street is lined with cherry blossom trees on both sides, and they go on for what seems like forever. The sidewalks are extremely crowded, with people enjoying their picturesque city. It was very crowded, which made it difficult to stop and take pictures. Everyone was also looking up, including myself, so there were a few times that I almost ran right into couples or groups of friends who had stopped for a photo op. I am so glad that my cousin suggested that we go and walk along Yeouiseo-ro because it was definitely something that I will never forget, even if I did forget my camera at my Airbnb and only could take mediocre pictures with my phone that day.
Cherry blossoms were a true theme throughout the whole country during the two and a half weeks that I was there. The blooms were everywhere, and the whole country was celebrating their arrival. My favorite part about this celebration other than going to view the blooms in Yeouido was the cherry blossom themed desserts and coffee. As my close friends know from my Snapchat, I developed a bit of an obsession with cherry blossom lattes from Starbucks while I was in Seoul. All of the major coffee chains were also advertising some sort of cherry blossom themed drink and dessert. I being a creature of habit ventured into the realm of cherry blossom flavored foods at Starbucks. I was hooked after the first cherry blossom latte, and I had them as often as I could until the end of my trip. I never tried a cherry blossom dessert, which I am now regretting. I guess that means I will just have to make another trip to Seoul in the spring. Cherry blossoms are the sign that the bitter winter temperatures have broken and spring has finally arrived. I am glad I got to experience the city during such a beautiful time, but I definitely want to go back another spring to go to cherry blossom festivals and eat even more cherry blossom themed foods in the future.