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Dragon Hill Lodge

So, we’ve been stuck in HPCON C over here since before Christmas. It means we can’t travel, we can’t browse shopping malls, or go to cafes, or eat in restaurants. A lot like you guys back home. We’ve been spending a lot of days at home where I let the girls put the armchair cushions on the floor and jump. They have this new stunt where they act like hyenas. Tim taught them how to screech like hyenas one night while reading Goodnight Gorilla. It now sounds like Scar’s last stand from Lion King in my living room. Some might consider the likeness of their cackling screams remarkable.


But before the lockdown and hyenas took over, we travelled up to Seoul for a short weekend, and I never took the time to share about it. So, instead of sharing our latest adventure in potty training, I’ll tell you about Seoul. We stayed at the American Armed Forces hotel in the heart of the city. The one and only Dragon Hill Lodge. If you are an American living overseas, it’s a little slice of home right in the middle of the largest city in South Korea. You can order a cheesesteak and get fries with a side of mayo here. You don’t have to wear your t-shirt and mask in the swimming pool here. No one expects you to have indoor shoes for the hotel room here. Everything is in English, so there’s no stressful communication barrier at check-in and you don't wonder if there’s something on the hotel menu the kids will eat. It was the easiest weekend getaway we have taken with the girls yet. They upgraded our room to a family suite and also provided both the girls sleeping cribs. We didn’t have to haul out the pack and plays and even though we still piled in with three pieces of rolling luggage, a double stroller, and an entourage of stuffed animals, we really felt like we were traveling light.


Dragon Hill Lodge completes my tour of American Armed Forces Hotels. These four hotels are located in Germany, Hawaii, Florida, and here in Korea. (Feels like I should get a free breakfast buffet or a complimentary water at check in for this accomplishment.) If you know me at all you know I love a luxury hotel experience. Who doesn’t? But, if you know me well, you know what I love even more is good value in a hotel. And that is exactly what this chain of hotels provides, an amazing value. There’s always a PX or shopette on the premises for small needs like bottled water and cereal. So you don’t have to pay an arm and leg for Dasani water or toothpaste regardless of if you're staying at downtown Disney or in this case, downtown Seoul.


We spent two nights in Seoul. Tim had to work a bit on that Friday, so the girls and I saddled up to breakfast at one of their restaurants, just the three of us. I felt like the most in control and calm mother of toddlers out there. Here I was dining with my two young children alone and everyone was on their best behavior. Thinking to myself “we should eat out more often.” This is lovely. I poured myself a large cup of coffee from the carafe and colored on the kids menus with the girls. This was so much nicer than having to serve breakfast. That feeling lasted just until I leaned down to get Olive’s scrambled eggs off the floor and looked back up to catch the end of Rosie pouring my entire pot of coffee onto the carpet. So, once we finished picking up cheesy eggs and sopping coffee off the floor, we swiftly made our way to the door. We spent a lot of the rest of the day walking around the grounds of the hotel and collecting leaves. I kept my cup of coffee where I could see it.


We went out on Saturday night into Itaewon for the annual Seoul Lantern Festival. It felt good to be back in a city. Tim and I both found ourselves thinking about how much we enjoyed living in Boston and missing that source of energy that comes with lots of people, lots of diversity, and endless dining options. We ate dinner at a teensy tiny Thai restaurant that our pre-parent selves would have easily found ourselves at. Thankfully they had highchairs and a lot of patience for food dropped on the floor. After Tim and I tipped generously and cleaned the better part of two peanut butter sandwiches off the floor we headed back out. We strolled the streets and admired the lanterns hanging criss-cross between the buildings. We stopped and got gelatos. It felt like date night for our family. Tim humored the girls smelling all the soaps while I picked out bath bombs at Lush cosmetics, and we got hot chocolates before heading back to our hotel. It was an awesome first night out in Seoul.


Hope everyone is staying safe back home and looking forward to this vaccine roll out!


Love,


Val



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