Tag Archives: weekends

The Dream Tower is My Happy Place

Everyone who knows me here in Jeju knows that I love the Dream Tower. I’m such a regular there, that I’m frequently greeted by name whenever I visit. I love staying overnight, but I also enjoy just spending a few hours there, too. For those of you not in Jeju, the Dream Tower is the name of Grand Hyatt in Jeju City, which opened a little over a year ago. It’s a beautiful hotel in the heart of the city and the tallest building on the entire island by far at 38 floors (but I think it’s got to be actually taller than that since many of the lower levels have incredibly high ceilings). There are 14 food and beverage outlets, which gives me plenty of options, plus an incredible spa.

If you’ve read my slices this week, you’ll know I’ve been rather stressed with the Covid situation at my school, as more and more teachers and students are testing positive. After such a hectic week, I knew I needed to find a way to relax today and take some time to recharge my batteries. The Dream Tower to the rescue!

Bec and Michelle were already going to the city for a check up at the doctor, so we made plans to meet up for lunch. After a few back and forth texts, we finally settled on Yumeyama, the Japanese restaurant. It’s great at lunchtime, as they have several lunch sets to choose from, with lots of little side dishes, tea, and dessert included. Each of us chose a different set, but we all loved our choices. I, of course, had the tempura rice bowl, and it was delish! Being able to catch up on life, tell stories, and laugh was good for the soul. So often at school, we pass one another quickly and only really get to chat about work, so it was lovely to be able to have a leisurely lunch together.

After lunch, they left to go shopping at E-Mart for the week’s groceries, while I stayed at the Dream Tower in relaxation mode. Needing to kill an hour before my massage, I hung out in the lobby cafe, where I sipped on Jeju tangerine tea and read my book club book that I’m behind on (we are meeting this Wednesday, so I need to read a lot this weekend).

One of my favorite indulgences is a foot massage. Since they aren’t really a ‘thing’ in the US, I didn’t fall in love with them until living in Shanghai. Now, I love a body massage just as much as the next girl, but getting a foot massage is a totally different experience. When you get a body massage, you can’t really do anything else except lay there while the masseuse works out the kinks in your muscles, but during a foot massage, they are only working on your feet and legs, so as you relax in the recliner, you can read and sip tea. It’s heavenly! They begin by soaking your feet in really warm water, followed by a foot scrub. After that, they massage your feet and legs with oil, focusing on pressure points. After the massage, they wrap your legs in hot towels, cleaning off the excess oil. If you haven’t had one, I highly recommend it!

Following my foot massage, I headed up to the lounge on the 38th floor, where I had the most gorgeous view of the sea overlooking the city and the airport. I enjoyed a hot chocolate while taking in the view and watching a movie on Netflix on my iPad.

A few hours later I was feeling peckish, so I headed across the hall to the steakhouse, where literally everyone knows my name (I obviously go there the most) for dinner. As a vegetarian, you might think it’s strange that I love the steakhouse so much, but they have killer salads and sides, plus their fresh baked dinner rolls with salted butter can’t be beat. I ordered up my usual, the iceberg wedge salad and sweet potato gratin, and must have been so hungry that I forgot to take a picture.

On the way home, I had to pull over and snap this picture of the gorgeous sunset. What a relaxing, perfect day!

What a Difference a Change of Scenery Makes

Weekends are always a time of respite from the workweek just gone and a time to catch up on the one coming. While I always take some time to myself on the weekends, usually Saturdays being my “no-work” days, there’s always that little voice in the back of my head reminding me of all I have to do, all I didn’t get done, and all the people I need to reply to, prepare something for, or support. I can push it down, but it never really goes away.

This weekend Frances and I came to Jeju City, a mere 45-minute drive away from home, to stay in the poshest hotel around, the Grand Hyatt called the Jeju Dream Tower. The hotel, which opened in December of last year, will eventually have 1,600 rooms open, but for now, there are around 500 open to the public. With 14 dining options, a spa, pool, and the most incredible customer service, it lives up to its name of being a dream.

There’s something about sleeping in a different bed that makes all the difference. The act of taking a purposeful break away from everyday life, stopping to pause and relish the luxury afforded to you in a place such as this, is good for the soul. As I sit here in the lobby cafe, sipping my iced chocolate, writing this slice of life as I wait for my massage appointment, I am content. I know that I have work to do later this evening to prepare me for the week ahead, but I’m completely at ease, the staycation having done its job.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve eaten at the Italian restaurant on the 8th floor, with a beautiful view of the bustling city below, where I enjoyed a spicy aglio e olio pasta with delicious ribbons of fresh parmesan cheese straight from Italy; taken two relaxing baths in the largest bathtub ever; caught up on my shows and slice reading/commenting that I didn’t get to this week; dined at the Steakhouse on the 38th floor, literally in the clouds as the fog settled in around us, where I indulged with two Moscow Mules, crusty bread with salty butter, a burrata salad, and some roasted asparagus and smooth, creamy mashed potatoes; had a lazy morning, sleeping until I woke naturally at 9:00am, feeling well rested and refreshed; ordered and enjoyed my first-ever room service breakfast, something I will definitely do again, as eating a delicious meal in my pajamas overlooking the city is so much better than hurriedly elbowing my way through a buffet; had a late checkout and a leisurely break at the cafe, listening to the sounds of the music playing, coffee brewing, and the adorable toddler wandering, laughing, and exploring.

As I leave you to enjoy my final indulgence, an hour-long foot treatment massage, I am quietly at ease, ready to tackle the next two weeks before Spring Break. I hope you were able to rest and recharge this weekend, too.

Rainy Saturday Adventure

Had I known it was going to be such yucky weather today, I would have postponed. Jeju is much better to explore on sunny, clear days. Today’s plan was to try out a new-to-us restaurant on the northeastern part of the island, Tennessee Table, which has a substantial Instagram following. Of course, we had to also make a pit stop on the way to get donuts at our favorite place, Randy’s Donuts, a chain from California that has *miraculously* made its way to our tiny speck of an island.

As we left, we noticed a blue-gray painted across the sky, but not a rain cloud in sight. Just as we were about to pull up to the donut shop, the rain began. “At least this means the line won’t be too long today. The rain will have kept people away,” we naively said. After parking (down the street, since Randy’s lot was full), we were shocked to find that the line was the longest it’s ever been, snaking around the back side of the building. Undeterred, we took our place at the end of the line to wait our turn. Forty-five minutes later, we had the goods. And before you say it, yes, the wait is worth it. These are some damn good donuts.

See the line behind me?!?!

After devouring the chocolate-covered one first in the car, we set the GPS for our next destination, Tennessee Table, which was about an hour away. The rain had given us a reprieve, and we were able to enjoy the cherry blossoms that seemed to pop up outside our windows as we cruised down the highway, singing along to my girls’ night playlist.

About 20 minutes into the trip, we were enveloped in a blanket of fog so thick you could only see about 2-3 car lengths in front of you. Slowing down considerably, I switched on the hazard lights to alert others to my presence. Jess, sitting in the passenger seat and free from the stress of driving through the soupy, barely visible sky, marveled at the scene, taking photo after photo of the eerie backdrop. As we drove through pine tree-lined backroads, I felt like I was in the movie Twilight, which seemed to always be covered in fog. The predicted time of about an hour took us longer in the end, but we made it to Tennessee Table for lunch.

Jessica, the owner, welcomed us in her southern twang, and her accent, coupled with the decor on the walls, reminded me of home. Jess had the chicken burger with fries and a milkshake and I had the veggie burger with fries and a coke. The food was delicious and lived up to its Instagram hype. Just look at the photos and you’ll understand.

We talked to Jessica, learning a bit more about her story. She has been in Jeju for 13 years, and after being a teacher for 15 years, five of which in Jeju, she decided to follow her dream of opening a restaurant, thus Tennessee Table was born. She, along with her Korean husband, built the entire restaurant themselves, which was very impressive, but something she said she’d never do again. After our conversation (including an unprompted “Bless your heart”), we headed back out. Stopping off in a Korean bookstore for a quick browse, we got back on the road.

On the way home, we made a detour to see the ocean, but the wind and rain ensured our visit was short-lived. The waves were much bigger than normal, which meant the surfers were out, but Jess and I agreed that you couldn’t pay us enough to get into that freezing cold sea on a day like today.

The ride home was a little stressful, as again, we drove through patches of dense fog, but we made it safely back to the GEC (our part of Jeju). We made one more stop on the way home to get Chai tea lattes from Grumpy Baby, a perfect end to the day.

Sundays are Fleeting

I relish my weekends, more so lately as I seem to be working longer and longer hours on school days that bleed into my evenings. The opportunity to sleep in, taking comfort in the additional time wrapped up in my covers, knowing that there’s nowhere I have to be, nothing I have to do, paired with the unstructured day ahead, where I can choose to do anything I want to do (even if it’s nothing at all), is the very definition of luxury. My weekends are the time when I recharge my proverbial batteries, catch up on the things I want to do, rather than the things I have to do. During the month of March, my mornings are spent lazing on the couch, a cup of tea in one hand with my laptop on my lap, reading and commenting on my fellow slicers’ posts, while I enjoy the mid-morning sun streaming in through the windows and the light spring breeze coming through the open patio door.

Sundays start out just as promising as Saturdays, my morning routine the same, except for when I catch up with Shags on Facetime like today (I always welcome this break in the routine), but somewhere around lunchtime, time speeds up, the grains of sand falling faster than they should, and before I know it, Sunday’s almost gone. As time flies, I begin mourning the loss, knowing that the impending morning will be here quicker than I expect, the alarm interrupting my perfect slumber, stirring– no shaking– me awake, bringing me back to the realization that I can no longer sleep, that I can’t ease into the day, waking with the sun as I had done when it was Sunday.

I wonder, is it the knowing that it’s coming that eats up my Sundays? Does anyone else feel like their Sundays are fleeting? Or is it just me?