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Over the week-end when my daughter wasn’t working, we wandered into the city to do a little shopping and spend some of this.  I just love the look of foreign currency!IMG_2058She also wanted to take me to the City Hall Building.   Sounds a little strange to want to visit City Hall, but the new building has a unique architectural design….it resembles a “wave” and has an observation deck good for city viewing.

To get there, we took the subway.  What is unique about the subway stations here is that there are glass barriers between the platform and the subway tracks.IMG_1124It’s meant to cut down on suicides & people jumping onto the tracks.  I like the glass barriers because you know exactly where the subway cars are going to stop and where the doors will open, unlike if you are riding the metro in Washington DC where everyone wanders back and forth on the platform as the train approaches the platform trying to guess where and when it will stop so you can be near the door.  There is a City Hall subway stop, but we came up several blocks before that stop so we could walk through the shops in Insadong.   There is a sculpture of a calligraphy brush at the beginning of the street that leads to this area which is known for it’s art galleries, souvenir shops and restaurants. IMG_1126

So we did a little shopping (details in a future post) and then walked down to the City Hall building.  We passed this building on the way….I don’t know what it is, but it definitely has a unique look.IMG_1144On the way we crossed over the Cheonggyecheon Stream.  In 2005, the stream underwent a transformation from being a hidden waterway to a place where you can walk the banks on a leisurely stroll. IMG_1149

IMG_1148 IMG_1150 We also walked past this…The Bosingak Bell Pavilion.  The original pavilion was built in 1392, but was destroyed and rebuilt several times.   The present pavilion was built in 1979.IMG_1146The bell is not the original either…the original bell was melted during a fire.  The bell was remade in 1468 and is now in a museum,The bell here was rebuilt in 1985. (you can see it behind us in the picture below). IMG_1141During the Joseon Dynasty, the bell was used to keep time.  There are four gates in Seoul that allowed people in and out of the city.  At 4:00am the bell would ring 33 times and the gates would be opened.  at 10:00pm, the bell would ring 28 times and the gates would close.  Now there is a bell ringing ceremony every day, but it’s best known for the special ceremony on New Years Eve, when the bell is rung 33 times to welcome the new year.  We finally made it to the new City Hall building that just happens to be built right behind the old City Hall Building (which is now the Seoul Metropolitan Library – you can tour that too.).  It really is a great contrast between new and old.  The new building is 18 stories high….13 above ground and 5 below ground.IMG_1154Remember I told you it resembled a wave?  You can see that better from a side view.IMG_1151The site of the new building was once a military weapons depot (Gungisi) during the Josean dynasty (1392-1910).  During the construction of the building they found lots of armaments and relics which are now part of the Gungisi Relics Exhibition Hall…a museum exhibit in the lower floors of the new building.IMG_1159Here you can view the excavations from the glass walkways…IMG_1161….See a stone retaining wall that was found….IMG_1165and learn about all the artifactsl bone fragments, combs, and pottery remnants. IMG_1162 IMG_1163 …and even see a HUGE ball of arrowheads.IMG_1166In the lower lobby or Citizen’s Hall, there was a “photo opportunity” where you can take pictures of yourself and email them out to your friends.  Of course, I had to try that out….after all, where else can I be a superhero, dance gangnam style and be a princess all in one day?IMG_1222 IMG_1221 IMG_1220

The world’s largest vertical garden is inside Seoul City Hall. (it’s actually listed in the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records).  It starts on the first floor and goes all the way up to the 7th floor.IMG_1174Also this unique sculpture called the “Whirlwind of Life”.  IMG_1178There is a coffee shop on the 9th Floor (Sky Plaza), where there are great views of the city, but it was closed the day we were there.  But you can go up to the deck below that – to the 8th Floor (Sky Plaza gallery) and get some views of the city and take in the current art exhibit.

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The display for 2016 is by the artist, In-Sung Jong, called Wind+Want in Seoul.  It was really interesting…it juxtaposed black and white views of the city in the past with outlines of Seoul in the present and future in yellow outlines.IMG_1187 IMG_1190 I fell in love with the drawings, they were wall-size, but I think my pictures would make a great photo display at my house.IMG_1188 IMG_1186IMG_1195 IMG_1194 IMG_1183When we were finished viewing, we wandered back outside in search of lunch. and saw this when I turned around to take one last picture of the building.IMG_1207IMG_1201 IMG_1204We did eventually eat lunch.  Earlier in the week, we went out for dinner and I experienced Korean BBQ which you cook right at your table.  Very tasty!  IMG_1122but I opted for something a little more “American this time. Yes, it’s a Caesar salad…my favourite meal.  Really good!IMG_1216We had a good view from our seats facing the window….See those two towers way in the background?  That’s the apartment buildings where my daughter lives.IMG_1213Here are a few random things I saw in the city.IMG_1208IMG_1180But this is the strangest thing I saw.  It was in a stall in the ladies room in the City Hall building.  I don’t normally take pictures in a bathroom, but I had trouble wrapping my brain around this….IMG_1179