My goals for Busan were similar to Seoul. Explore one corner of the city. Find a great restaurant and bar for a solo traveler, and create a landing pad for future trips. Instead, the small victories of Seoul weren't to be had. Restaurants were hard to pinpoint. Some online information was out of date, and once I chose a place for dinner I fell victim to self-sabotage.
Sam Ryan's Sports Bar is right on Haeundae beach. It gets full points for a great burger and atmosphere. I lose for confusing a Manhattan with a Cosmopolitan, which meant my evening began with a fruit laced nightmare instead of rye. A craft IPA and bourbon mostly made up for it, but it reflected the tone for the entire trip - a minor pervasive struggle. The restaurant was hard to find, the food okay, and the next options weren't obvious. The verdict on the city? Still out. The beach was nice but I'll need more if it's to be a regular destination. Soul and character win out over looks and superficial charm. I'm from Vancouver. Surface beauty lost it's appeal years ago.
A few more bars were opening by the time I hit the street again, but I wasn't feeling it. It was a short overnighter and I needed a success, one that came through an expensive bottle of wine back at a great hotel room. The social side came the next afternoon, ironically in the world's largest department store. In addition to floors of clothing, Shinsegae boasts a superb food court that includes a craft beer and wine stand. The customers and staff were enough to convince me to keep an open mind about the city, until next time.
The vastness of Busan's cityscape and beach offered little. Success came from small corners, which is often the best kind.