Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Week in Shanghai - Big City - Big Days

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Shanghai is a MONSTER city and takes FOREVER to get anywhere, even with the extensive subway system, our days began with a long transfer from our hotel to the city center.  We could easily have booked a closer hotel but would have paid dearly, so we opted to be able to see more of the city by using public transportation.  It made our days pretty long, but then that is what we normally do anyway...so no matter.

For our six days in Shanghai we planned several day of simply kicking back and resting.  Our hotel is quite lovely and comfortable, has a beautiful restaurant, and there are plenty of options for nice walks in the area...plenty of shops and markets...and ways to keep busy.  We got a five star hotel with a full suite for what a standard twin room would have cost in the central district.  The staff were lovely, all spoke enough English for us all to get by, and the food was delicious...the breakfast buffet the best so far in all of China.

We planned two big touring days starting off with a few laps around the city on the Hop On Hop Off bus system.  There are three different companies providing this service and we chose the Shanghai Sighting Bus primarily because three of its five lines intersect at a common location.  On top of that the cost was nearly half of the competition.  The downside was that they were crowded.  No worries.  The others offered similar routes but none crossed over each other.

Planning our first full day was easy.  We woke up to RAIN and more RAIN...so we spent the day relaxing, catching up on news and writing to friends, doing a bit of banking and future planning.  It was a lovely day and well-earned after such a BIG WEEK in Zhangjiajie.  And then we got the typhoon warning on the TV.  We checked online and it looked pretty ugly.  It blew pretty hard during the night with lots of rain.  

When we woke in the morning it had blown over and we saw blue skies.  We weren't sure we were simply in the eye of the storm.  After checking the weather service, sure enough, it has blown through.  Wow, what a fast storm.

We are in the far south of the city.  It took us 30 minutes to walk to the subway station.  The time went by fast as we stopped and looked into shops along the way.  The street was tree-lined so the heat was tolerable and because of the storm everything was wet and cooler.  We got to the metro line and bought our tickets.  At this point we are pros...up to the machine...all in Chinese...no problem.  The Shanghai Metro is bigger than Tokyo and has 16 lines and many other sub-links.

 It took 90 minutes on the train, two transfers, thus a two hour commute to get into the city center.  There we wandered the underground exits, passing through a section designed to look like a 1930's street.
When we got up top the architecture was awesome.  This is the Urban Planning building.
We purchased a 48 hour ticket on the Hop On Hop Off bus that was waiting at the curb.  The one we had researched and it was fine although the audio tour was not working.  For less than $10 each. we have transportation around the city for the next two days.  The tour part is speculative.  There are so many tall buildings and most of the really interesting stuff is down quiet alleys or outside of the main city center.  At the same it served it's purpose and dropped us in front of many things on our list.  The first stop was across the river at the Oriental Pearl Tower  While not the tallest by any means, it certainly was interesting and the lines were amazing to go to the top.  There was a posted two hour wait.  No thanks.

Instead, there was an historical musuem in the lower level and since it was already getting really hot outside we opted to visit it...a simple and sorta Disney kinda setup, the displays were interesting  The best part was the Chinese made automobiles.

 A buick made in China in the 40's/

Some of the displays had wax figures an with the lighting were very well done.

There was a section with colored photos.  the lighting made it look a bit more real and in the photo it is hard to tell.  This part was very popular with the local tourists and we had to wait quite a while for Bobbie's turn.

Opium den.
Shanghai was famous for its prostitutes.  Still is.
My grandmother used to have this done.  An electric permanent.  Yikes.
The museum featured a nice area of really well done miniatures.

Once outside we headed over to the triple skycrapers.  Our goal was to visit the top of the "bottle opener."
This is the Shanghai Tower...second tallest in the world and a marvel of design with its second skin of glass all the way to the top.

The Citi-Bank building with a gridwork of bronze top to bottom.  Very "deco" in style.
We didn't have a long line this time and within 20 minutes we were up top.

The transparent floor was fun.

From the 100th floor.
And far below...this is getting to be common in most towers and a bit passe at this point...LOL.

Getting up into the next tower turned out to be more than we had time for...so it got put on tomorrow's list.  The transfer back to our hotel only took 90 minutes in total and that included stopping at a couple of markets to get some supplies for dinner.  Tonight we enjoyed some homemade submarine sandwiches.  A nice change from the Chinese cuisine we have been getting for the past month.  French bread, real cold cuts, mayo and veggies.  Interesting and the same six years ago...no CHEESE to be found anywhere.  Maybe we will see some in Xian.

Day Two started out like the first.  A long walk to the station and another 90 minute ride into the city.  We left a bit earlier so it was more crowded with folks heading into work.  We began our day touring the Urban Planning Exhibition.  It is a magnificent building, five floors, each devoted to an aspect of the urban renovation and future of the city.  The view of People Park from the top floor was grand.

 A local artist had an exhibit of cutout art.  He uses a full black sheet of paper.  Cuts out his design, and then mounts colored paper behind specific parts.  Really nice stuff.

This was the floor of the future devoted to energy and development of environmental friendly methods.
 The big map room.

And yes, proud to say I have released my Indonesia weight gain and am back to normal.  Yippee.

Famous Chinese actor who portrayed only women...in 1920-!!
 A great miniature of the royal gardens in 1940/
Exterior of the building.

 Next we wandered the park with a collection of grand buildings all around the perimeter.  And it was HOT!  Over 100, high humidity, and midday.

Opera House
 City Hall

The city musuem offered a great collection but the line to get in was easily three blocks long.
Not interested in melting in line, we opted to get on the touring bus and wandered the city for an hour in air conditioned comfort.  Another view of the glass covered opera house.
 We got off at the Bund, the waterfront with wonderfully preserved and restored buildings from the 1920s to 1950s.  This was the colonial section with European and American architecture.

Views of the Oriental Pearl and skyscrapers across the river.

Finally we got off at Nanking Pedestrial Road, a completly closed off shopping district open to only foot traffic.  The amount of malls and giant department stores was amazing.  And FULL of Chinese shoppers.  Where is all of this money coming from?

This is the Daimon Department Store.  One of the oldest.  This is their new renovation.  Eight floors and all one store.

 We ended up at the end of the road at the very first Food Hall in Shanghai.  A full city block and five stories high, selling nothing but food,

And across the street...another one....and one more next door.  ONLY FOOD.  Processed, prepared, packaged.  No restaurants.  Only shops...hundreds of them and all full of customers.
By now is was almost 4 o'clock and time to head back home.  Another 90 minutes and a stop at KFDC (Bobbie was "jonesing" for chicken) and we settled in for the night.

The next two days are planned for rest and recovery.  Our hotel is in a great suburb with plenty of tree lines streets and small neighborhoods to explore.  We depart on Friday for Xian.

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