On the subway the day after their arrival. Sam and I didn't realize how much Claire had grown until we saw that she required two laps during her snooze on the subway.
After exchanging money and shopping in Itaewon their first morning, we took them to see Gyeongbokgung Palace that afternoon. We took the English guided tour and as you can see by the next picture, Maeve didn't let the guide get too far away (even during a quick break mid-way through the tour). She just didn't want to miss anything, I suppose. This was a problem at a museum we visited the following week, but I'll get to that later.
The next day we took the Seoul City Bus Tour, which we hadn't done before and really enjoyed. We hopped off the bus a few times to see traditional houses, the top of Namsan and to see the view from Seoul Tower (visibility and air quality were so poor we couldn't even see the Han River), and to find a place to have lunch in Insadong. The tour also gave us ideas of places we want to return to and explore in greater detail.
The girls put on a fashion show for our guests. Princesses kept disappearing into the playroom only to reemerge as another princess. They also modeled their han-boks for us. The only problem was they kept changing clothes and didn't want to stop.
Sam and Maeve took Grammy Ruth and Aunt Mary on a KTX train to Daejeon. Mainly, it gave them a chance to ride the KTX (the fast train) and to get a glimpse of where Sam lived last year. But since Maeve joined the expedition at the last minute, it turned out to be mostly for her since they went to Expo Park and enjoyed the attractions there before returning to Seoul.
Sam, Ruth, Claire and Maeve in the Dragonhill Lodge courtyard. This was Sam's last day with us before he left for Hawaii for work. So we took it pretty easy that day.
After Sam left, we still kept our visitors busy and on the go. A friend kept the girls for me one day so that we could go shopping at Namdaemun Market. Our 4-hour excursion (including subway rides, shopping and a detour through Itaewon on the return trip) was pretty successful to judge by the bags we were carrying back.
The next day, Ruth and Mary took a tour of the DMZ. While not necessarily a "fun" thing, it is an informative way to spend a day. I would certainly recommend it as a "must do" for anyone visiting Korea. Between my visit there last year and visits to a few other places, including the War Memorial (next few pictures), I've certainly learned more about the Korean War than I ever knew before coming here.
These next pictures were taken at the War Memorial (a museum that covers the military history of Korea, with a big focus on the Korean War). We visited there the day before Grammy and Aunt Mary were scheduled to return home.
Now, remember how Maeve shadowed our tour guide at the palace? At this museum, we had hand-held audio guides that told us about exhibits throughout the museum. Left to her own devices, Maeve would have listened to each and every one! She wanted to hear everything, see everything. Finally, I told her that she and Daddy could come back and spend an entire day looking at everything and he would do a much better job than Mommy at explaining everything, especially the equipment! They'll both be in heaven then! Is it normal for 5 year old to enjoy museums so much?
Maeve exploring the planes in the outdoor exhibit.
Claire fell asleep while we were still outside and didn't wake up until we were half-way through the interior of the museum. Later, she and Grammy rested in the shade before walking back to the car. Did I mention it was hot and muggy?
This is probably what Maeve enjoyed most about the visit, though: reading to Grammy and Aunt Mary every night. She usually read them 3 or 4 books. Unfortunately for them, they tended to be the same books each night! Claire would listen for a little while, but then would jump up to play or grab her own book to look at before listening a little more. Then, she'd jump up... you get the idea. Between all the outings and the showing off, the girls were pretty tired and easy to put to bed most nights.
It really was a whirlwind visit. It seemed that they had just arrived, but before we knew it, Grammy Ruth and Aunt Mary had returned home. The girls certainly missed all the extra attention they received! It was pretty quiet here until Sam returned from his trip a few days later.