Shanghai

Skyline at night

Last weekend we took the train to Shanghai, at 300 km/h it took a bit more than one hour to get there.

The plan was to stay the weekend, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday. Since the meetings on Friday would take some time, the train we took left at 20.00, so we had dinner in the train station. The trip was comfortable and without incidents, and in Shanghai’s station we took a taxi. The taxi driver didn't seem to really know his way, or at least after a minute driving didn't looked convinced. It seems we took the taxi from the north exit and the hotel was in the south, so it took longer than usual to get to the hotel.

Nevertheless, we arrived safely and could do the check in without incidents. Well, it took some time to distribute the deposit among our credit cards because it was quite a fee, but after that we got to our rooms which were big, clean and filled with amenities, so all was well! We went to the hotel’s bar for a couple of beers and chat and back to the room for sleeping.

Saturday we got reasonably early, had a very nice breakfast (buffet) and checked with the hotel staff on our plans and any recommendations they may have. A very polite and nice girl gave us many pointers and suggestions, and off we went to the subway station. It was a 15 minutes walk and then 2 line changes to our destination, an area of old buildings in the center.

Nice bricks

It was a nice walk, but I don’t think quite what we expected. The buildings were all brick and mortar, from the 1920s or so. I guess to Chinese tourists it might be exciting and interesting, but for us it wasn’t that special, to be honest.

Anyway, it was still early so we decided to walk a bit to the People’s Square. On the way we found a nice park (one of the signs was translated into English with something like the civilized park… makes you wonder).

(If I manage to recover my photos from the old mobile phone, I will update this post, since I had some nice ones there).

The sky wasn’t blue

The People’s Square was ok, but nothing too special. We were told it was a landmark everybody had to see in Shanghai, so… another thing off the list.

Since there was still time, we decided to go to the Shanghai Railway Station subway stop to look for a mall my friends Dani and Leire recommended back in October. It’s a shopping mall with one floor entirely dedicated to glasses of all kinds. It took us some time to find it (after going in the wrong direction for a few minutes), but we did it and it was as described: a shopping’s mall floor full of glasses’ displays and vendors. In the same place they could check your prescription for glasses or copy it from the pair you were wearing. At first we felt like money bags since there were no other customers, but everybody was quite nice. After checking a lot of glasses, trying them on and off, checking which ones were best priced, etc, I got a pair of glasses I’m currently wearing and another pair of graduated sunglasses. They made the lenses in 20 mins each and the total was less than 100 euros! Quite a happy buyer, I’m sure I will return during this year.

After all this shopping, it was lunch time but in the area there weren’t many interesting options, so we ended up in a McDonalds (quite cold inside, they seem to have some temperature issues in this country). Nothing special about them in China, at least not this one.

Then we got back to the People’s Square since that’s where Nanjing Road starts: a peatonal promenade full of shops and people.

Nanjing Road

It was quite crowded, but manageable. The shops were flashy and full of references to the Chinese New Year (this one is the monkey, so full of little red monkeys everywhere). We checked a couple of them to make time until it was night, to see the skyline with some lights.

As soon as the sun went down it started getting quite cold.

Sadly, here my camera’s battery died. Remember kids, check the battery before leaving home.

Next we went to an old part with a temple and beautiful traditional Chinese buildings, full of little shops, lights on the edges of the buildings and old ladys asking if you wanted to buy fake watches (Rolex! Rolex!). This area was quite pretty and nice, and we decided to have dinner here. Sadly, we chose the wrong place: a self-service with lots of dishes! Sounds great until you seat down and the place is cold, the food is cold and the plates, chopsticks and trays are sticky.

After this we got back to the first area of the day because there’s a bar here with big aquariums populated with sharks. However, we couldn’t find the place after walking quite a bit (maybe it closed? A shark ate a grumpy customer? Who knows!) and settled for a hip bar with nice draft beers, not a bad alternative after all. Given that the subway closes early to our standards (some stations as early as 21.40), after one beer we got back to the hotel and called it a day.

On Sunday we had some time before getting the train, which was scheduled for 12.15 so we could get to Nanjing in time to greet our colleague after landing, and decided to check an area close to the hotel which according to the map looked nice.

And after spending the hour or so we had walking, we didn’t find it! We saw many everyday scenes and small neighbourhoods, but no trace of the promised canal with traditional Chinese buildings. A pity.

With the bitter-sweet after-taste we went to the train and had a pleasant journey back to Nanjing to greet our colleague and spend the afternoon around here relaxing and preparing for the week full of meetings and work.

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