We stayed in Gangneung, a two and a half hour, high speed train ride from Seoul. The hotel was across the road from a forest of pine trees leading down to the beach and the Sea of Japan. Hills/mountains surrounded the city and a dry rice field backed onto hotel property. There wasn't a speck of snow on the ground although the air turned frigid once the sun went down and it certainly felt cold enough for snow. A cold wind blew periodically during the day but most days were above zero -- we learned to dress in layers.
Gangneung is named Pine City
Sea of Japan
Sunset over a lake in Gangneung
In contrast to the beauty of the landscape, the city architecture was boxy and not all that attractive. Coffee shops were plentiful - South Koreans take their java very seriously. They also have a sweet tooth. We were warned about sugar in foods that one would not expect, but I still got fooled. I ordered an onion bagel with garlic and herb cream cheese that tasted as sweet as marshmallow. We had more success with a few Korean meals, including a barbecue at our table, and a few plates of dumplings. I'd never eaten Korean food before and think we'll have to visit a Korean restaurant in Ottawa. Some most interesting flavours and I'm kind of partial to those dumplings. I was also taken by the friendliness of the Korean people. They were always gracious and eager to help and so genuine.
To give you an example, one afternoon, Ted and I took the city bus about half an hour north to the fishing town of Jumunjin. We walked around the seaport and through the market and ended up eating lunch at a restaurant near the waterfront. We ordered the crab, which I watched a man pull out of the tank in front of the restaurant. As we waited for it to be cooked, a tableful of food arrived that we were not expecting. None of the three servers spoke English but they guided us through the meal with a translation ap and a lot of hand gesturing. Whenever one of them saw us looking confused, they rushed over and sorted us out, making sure we dipped in the appropriate sauce. Before we left, they had us pose for photos with them and treated us if we were visiting celebrities.
Above is a photo of Canada House at Olympic Park - we spent a lot of time here with the other parents, friends and athletes. Lisa and the team met us in the family and friends lounge on three or four afternoons after their game. The figure skating and speed skating parents and families also stayed at our hotel. I met Scott Moir's parents and Tessa Virtue's mom and sister and Patrick Chan's mom!
So now we're back in Ottawa after twenty-four hours of travel and my sleep clock is topsy-turvy. I slept twelve straight hours Thursday night but about an hour last night. I'm hoping to last the day before I pass out from exhaustion. I think the writing will have to wait another day ...