Waking up at 5:30am is never fun, but knowing you’re flying to Shanghai makes it a little more bearable. We caught a taxi at 6:10am back to the Beijing Nanyuan Airport and flew at 8:15 to Shanghai Pudong Airport.
Lauren and I decided to wing it once we got to Shanghai – I had found hostel directions but we waited to book it. We also didn’t plan out everything we wanted to do. Shanghai is less like traditional China and has a more Western vibe (as you can probably imagine) so there was less pressure to check off a lot of historical sites.
We took metro line 2 to line 4 and showed up at the Blue Mountain Youth Hostel at Luwan and I loved it immediately (because they had availability in the girl dorm and also because they had a cat in their lobby). Also we may or may not have taken a nap.
Lauren heard about an American Chinese restaurant called the Fortune Cookie in Shanghai and we were super excited to eat American Chinese food again. Some people have asked me if I won’t be able to eat American style after eating real Chinese food and the answer is no. Absolutely not. I will always love egg rolls and Beef and Broccoli and Kung Pao chicken, but I also love real Chinese food. You can do both.
Sadly when we arrived we saw a sign on the door that said they closed ONE MONTH AGO. I checked their website before we left and it was still running so we had no idea 😦 Heart broken but still hopeful for Western food, we found a good Italian place next door and enjoyed great pizza and lasagna.
On our way to the metro something magical happened: we found an Old Navy. In America of course this is nothing special, but in China it’s like finding a unicorn. Lauren, Brittany and I have been wanting to see an Old Navy for forever. I didn’t actually buy anything, but it’s the possibility that counts.
We took the metro down to Nanjing Street afterwards – it is one of the busiest shopping streets in the world and full of malls and bright street signs. We also checked out the beautiful Shanghai skyline – one of the best city skylines I’ve ever seen.
I went to grab some Sbux in the morning and actually ran into one of our hostel roommates there. Her name is Louie and she is so sweet. I didn’t realize that she is 30 and married, and she’s planning on moving to Austria in June. “You can come visit me there!” she told me.
We took a metro back to Nanjing in the late morning and decided to go up the Oriental Pearl Tower (the funky space looking tower). For 160 yuan you can see the bottom and middle spheres. It was really cool to be at the top of Shanghai. Inside the middle sphere they have all of China’s provinces and capitals and the directions they are from Shanghai. It was neat to see Changsha, Hunan on there and know our little Chinese home of Hengyang was out there.
They had an awesome glass floor on one level where you could see straight down. It freaked a lot of Chinese kids out and was funny to watch them simultaneously shriek and take pictures. The only downside to the tower was how crowded and hot was inside. After squishing through people we decided to go back to Nanjing and hang out in one of the many huge malls.
Dinner rocked. We haven’t had Mexican type food in almost 6 months, and we found a Chipotle style place that had the best burrito of my life and tortilla chips and guacamole oh my gosh.
There are a lot of temples and other historic sites in Shanghai to visit, but we wanted to have a more relaxing time and I honestly just wanted to walk around and get a feel for the city. Both Lauren and I decided that living in Shanghai would be super cool, but if you’re just visiting China on vacation it has similar elements that other cities do. We’ve seen a trend in most cities like Xi’an and Beijing and Shanghai – they all have street foods, night markets, places to barter and buy souviners, and lots of malls.
Still I was sad to leave so soon.
We checked out around 11am and, I’m not even ashamed about this, ate burritos again. Going 6 months without a burrito makes you crazy. We went to the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway station, the best high speed train station we’ve ever been to. It was like an airport – it was huge and had tons of shops and restaurants. After being in China I just want to ride high speed trains everywhere. You don’t have to get there super early like a flight because security takes like 2 minutes. And the trains are so convenient, give you more room than an airplane, and you can be on your phone. Yes yes yes.
Thanks for following the Rachel travel China adventure and bearing with me as I blog sporadically on my phone. Hangzhou and Suzhou are up next!