This weekend we headed to Yeongdong for the grape festival. This is not one of the most popular tourist destinations, nor is it one of the most exciting festivals, but we were up for adventure, so off we went.
To get to most of the central cities in Korea it is best to start in Daegu or Daejeon, which are super easy to get to by train or bus from most cities in the country. Dong Daejeon Bus terminal has many cheap motels nearby (40-50,000 won) and a few places to eat. We settled for some delicious Family Mart fare as we were tired and lazy.
In the morning, after an unsuccessful trip to Jin and Kino’s a breakfast and burger place that didn’t open before 10am on this Saturday, we headed to the train station to take a cheap 30 minute trip to Yeongdong.
The most impressive thing about the grape festival was the booth right outside the train station. Normally we have found it difficult to find the festival without preparation beforehand or a chance in a taxi (hoping it is not too far). This weekend we were met with friend Yeongdondites (?) who told us about the shuttle and the walking time. We chose the walk. Yeongdong is a nice small town. Nothing earth-shattering about its beauty, but not an industrial city either. After going up and over the hill we ran into some nice students who reassured us that we were going the right way. Everyone we met was very friendly.
The festival itself was in the parking lot of an event building. It was a hot day, and had the typical booths and amusement most festivals have. Just more grapes. Sadly there wasn’t too much in the way of grape paraphernalia. No grape flavored soju or dong-dong ju. Lots of grapes and wine. The highlight of the actual festival was watching people stomp around in the grapes and dance as other judged them and gave them prizes of boxes of grapes.
After the festival we headed to Gimcheon. Gimcheon is not a large town and there is not much about it online. One thing Korean Tourist Organization did tell us was that there was a fossil museum. (Indong Fossil Museum) Sadly it was closed.
Instead we headed to Jikjisa. Though temples are not a lot of people’s first choice, I highly recommend this one. Lots of unique colors and beautiful paintings adorn the walls of the temples. They offer temple stays as well, although at the moment I don’t know the English situation. Rather than spoil it with an over description, I will just say that its very nice, and I recommend it. In addition, on the way are some delicious restaurants (meat grilled outside with millions of delicious side dishes) and a culture park with a waterfall and fountain. A lovely day trip.
To get to Jijiksa:
Take the 11 or the 111 from inside the Gimcheon Bus Terminal. Inside the terminal you don’t need to buy a ticket at the counter, instead take an immediate right and go outside and down to 14. The city buses start here. Alternatively, if you are coming from the train station you can can get picked up at the stop on the left hand side of the station (Station side, left if you are facing the station itself.) Just ask the driver “jijiksa guy yo?” He will nod. It is the last stop.
Staying in Gimcheon:
We stayed at the Grand Motel. It was a nice non love motel and still only 35,000 won. Big TV, air conditioned, all the things you need. There are plenty of motels around. The cinema is down the street away from the pedestrian overpass. It is in the building with McDonalds about 6 blocks or so down. There is an italian restaurant next to the train station.
While most people told us not to bother with either city, I was very happy to get away from the major spots and enjoy some small town korean fun.