The thing is, we didn’t really have any “plans” today. We just had a few ideas about what we could do. “Winging it” was definitely the phrase of the day.
When all else fails, seek Plan F
We woke up pretty hungry since we went to bed with our tummies full of beer and a few onion rings. (Don’t judge.) The plan, head to The Nest for brunch. When we got there, the building was under construction. Dammit. So we researched where we could find the nearest dim sum place. Dim Tai Fung has a few locations in Shanghai and they specialize in dim sum. It was pressing 1pm and the “hangriness” was starting to surface, so luckily there was one just a couple subway stops away. I’d like to say our dumpling and bun consumption was dignified. I also tried a cold sesame/chili cucumber dish and sautéed spinach with garlic, both of which were amazing.
Our next idea: Check out the Shanghai Museum. Of course everyone else seemed to have the same idea. So instead of standing in what was the world’s slowest moving queue, we sat in the large, lovely courtyard outside the museum and basked in the sunny, 70-degree weather while we watched people (and dogs) go by.
Since the museum visit was a bust, we thought we’d retry Old Town, hoping it’d be less crowded. When we got to the subway stop, we realized Old Town was not happening, so we headed to Hongmei Lu, where there’s a cool alley of restaurants and bars. It’s like the “Diagon Alley” for Westerners. Of course almost everything there was closed due to the holiday … almost everything. Shanghai Brewery’s tap room was open. Two nights in a row of beer flights and onion rings (wings for Eric) had me feeling like I was in college again.
The French Concession
Shanghai is a beautiful mix of Chinese, French, and English cultures. One of the prettiest areas is the French Concession, which came to be in the 1800s. There’s a lot of French influence on the architecture and all of the boulevards are lined with gorgeous plane trees. It’s almost always been THE residential area for the city’s elite: Former leaders Sun Yat-Sen and Mao Zedong’s homes were in the FC. Today, high-ranking officials and western families live in the area. There’s also a lot of history in the FC; it houses the site where the Chinese Communist Party held its first meeting. I completely history geeked out when I was there on my bike tour a couple days ago.
Insanely adorable babies
It’s off-putting how cute Chinese babies are. Girls typically have two types of hairstyles: bowl cuts or pig tails. Boys might have a bowl cut, but are otherwise normal. The kiddos are endless flirts, especially on subways. I can’t help take an occasional picture, especially the ones we interact with. What’s interesting is the parents have zero qualms about it. Whenever I asked, they looked at me with a confused expression that I was even asking. This would NOT fly in America.
Next up: Bullet train to Beijing
We head to Beijing in the afternoon. We were originally going to fly but realized we’d get to Beijing faster via bullet train. It’ll be a low-key day, so in my next update I’ll share some things I’ve observed these past couple days. Shanghai has been a blast. I’ve heard Beijing is very different, so I’m looking forward to comparing the two.