Have an ice day!Ice skating outdoors in Seoul's winter season comes in a variety of styles -- from high- to low-end entertainment.
The ultimate is lacing up for a fashionable glide on the smooth, silver ice at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, high up Mount Namsan.
The rink is especially romantic at nighttime. Surrounded by a perfectly manicured lawn and age-old evergreens lit with tiny, white lights, the rink overlooks a spectacular cityscape. If you happen to be a good figure skater, the place makes you feel like Katarina Witt.
If you're wobbly on your feet, you can sip a steaming cup of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and dream about being Katarina Witt.
Skaters here tend to fall into two categories: curious hotel guests killing time and couples in the mood for a romantic evening.
For the romantically inclined, the ambiance doesn't come cheap. A ticket for two hours costs 16,000 won ($13.50) a person, and skate rental 11,000 won, both excluding a 10 percent tax. The rink is open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Weekly promotions include "Lover's Monday" (two for the price of one), "Tuesday Free Skates" (free rental), "Romantic Wednesday" (a free Polaroid snapshot and a rose) and "Free Thursday" (not really free, but there's no time limit).
If you're not into the luxurious lifestyle, skating at Hangang Riverside Park is the next best thing. There are two places to skate in the park that lines the south side of the Han River. Two large outdoor swimming pools, Jamsil and Yeouido, are turned into standard short-track-size (60-by-30 meters) rinks each winter.
The scenery in the surrounding Hangang Riverside Park is still quite good. At the Yeouido rink, you're surrounded by modern skyscrapers and high-rise apartment buildings. At the Jamsil rink, overhead black windbreaker shields limit the view. Both rinks are packed with children taking lessons and young couples dates.
The Jamsil and Yeouido rinks are scheduled to operate until Feb. 16; they're open from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. daily. Admission for adults is 2,500 won, teenagers 2,000 won and children 1,500 won. Skate rentals cost 3,000 won. Skate sharpening costs 2,000 won.
At Jamsil, five 50-minute lessons go for 43,000 won. The price includes admission. A similar package at Yeouido costs 33,000 won.
To get to Yeouido (02-785-1093), take subway line No. 5 and get off at Yeouinaru Station, exit 2. To get to Jamsil (02-421-2574), take the No. 2 subway and get off at Sincheon Station, exit 7.
by Ines Cho