LOOKING FORWARD Contemporary, minimalist architecture, reminiscent of a futuristic society is present throughout Seoul.

On Nov. 6 my sister, mom and I flew to Seoul, South Korea, not knowing a word of the language. In a short three days, I enriched my knowledge and history of the country by visiting national monuments and immersing myself into the culture seen throughout numerous districts in the 234-square-mile metropolitan.

HIDDEN ALLEYWAY  The cramped alley brims with cooked food and family-owned eateries. The odiferous smells of beef, fish, and vegetables emanate from the passageway. I was taken aback when I entered and waiters from every booth passionately urged to me to eat at their shop.

STERN-FACED GUARDS Two guards pose at a changing of the guards ceremony at Deoksugung Palace wearing traditional Korean uniforms.

The area is reminiscent of a bustling New York City; teeming with busy people and boutiques, illuminated by radiant fluorescent lights. Skincare shops, clothing stores, and restaurants serving steaming pots of bibimbap (rice in a hot pot with toppings) and bulgogi (barbecued beef) line the streets. Citizens young and old donned trendy winter outfits and traditional Korean hanboks.

MOUTHWATERING MEALS Vegetarian bibimbap topped with mushrooms, dried seaweed, kimchi (fermented cabbage), and other vegetables was my go-to meal while in Seoul.

DELECTABLE DELICACIES At a Paris Baguette chain, picture-perfect slices of cakes dazzle behind a glass case.

FASHIONING HAIRPIECES Women work at masterfully constructing elaborate hairpieces studded with gemstones and colorful bows.

Seoul amazed me with its diversity, rich culture, and delectable food (with numerous vegetarian options). If you are wondering where to book your next trip, Seoul is the place to go.     v                                   

BOOMING BOOKSTORE The colossal, two-story Starfield Library located in the Starfield COEX Mall in Gangnam is surrounded by coffeeshops and seating areas to work and read.

FLYING COLORS Three of South Korea’s national flags wave at Seoul Incheon International Airport.