Unfortunately, we woke to driving rain our first full day in Busan. Hmm. When you travel, bad weather happens, so good to have a Plan B. In Busan, Plan B was the hop-on/hop-off bus. We were pretty sure that we weren’t going to do much hopping off unless we saw shelter nearby, but what the heck? At least we’d see some of the city and we were kind of ready for a slow day anyway. Busan offers several hop-on/hop-off buses and, happily, they all pick up by Busan Station very near our hotel.
After viewing a couple of brochures and comparing routes, we chose the BUTI Bus. Although it claimed to offer free onboard wi-fi, our bus had none. Strike one. The app I’d downloaded didn’t work either. Strike two. The tour was mostly in Korean. Probably should be Strike Three, but we were in for the long haul, so we stayed on. Given our experience, I’d try the other hop-on/hop-off called the Busan City Bus Tour. [This is really confusing as both the BUTI Bus and this other bus use the phrase “Busan City Bus Tour. There may be a third bus also using the same name. The price is the same for all of these buses, 15,000 Korean won (approximately $15).) We got off at the last stop which was the underground shopping area near Gwangbok (Exit 6).] We were only idly curious about the shopping, but we hoped to be able to use the sheltered areas to reach the Jagalchi Fish Market.
The underground shopping areas turned out to run for what seemed to be miles in both directions.
Sure enough, we could get to Jagalchi. Exiting the underground at a sign to the fish market, we walked straight ahead to the first intersection, then turned left to see the covered market just beyond. Hurrying through the rain, we found shelter in the huge two-story fish market. Tank after tank displayed fish, shellfish and other unidentifiable sea life.
Upstairs, many small restaurant stalls blend together, all hawking fresh to order seafood. We picked one with windows overlooking the water and settled onto cushions in front of a low table. Perplexed by some of the menu options, we finally settled on crab soup and grilled fish. We were surprised with several dishes arrived pre-main course, making it plain we’d ordered way too much. Oh well, it was still raining and we had time to kill so why not indulge in a lunchtime feast?
The crab soup was delicious, but frustratingly difficult to eat. The crab was hacked in to rough quarters and we had no tools but chopsticks and a spoon. The fish was tasty, but equally tricky given all the bones. The side dishes, especially the “seafood pancake,” were the sleeper hits.
Lunch lasted long enough that the rain had finally lightened a little and we had fun watching several chefs in a seafood competition set up under tents outside.
Back in the underground shopping area, we spent a little more time browsing the Lotte Department store before heading back to catch the BUTI bus back to Busan Station. Not an ideal first day in Busan, but not bad either.