It’s that fabulous thing of having one of your bestest friends in the whole wide world come visit you abroad. Any expat knows the extent of the appreciation, gratitude, and all the happiness in showing someone a place so foreign to them and familiar to you. It’s really one of the most special events as a traveler…to show someone the craziness, behind the scenes of your life abroad. So they “get you” even better.
In 2014, Laura and Lori visited me in Taiwan, then in May of 2015 Laura traveled to Bali after my contract finished in Makassar. Though Shanghai is the opposite of surfing, sun, and beaches, she made the trek to experience this bustling city, lights, and craziness!
And so our Shanghai Adventure began…
I arrived on the Maglev (you all should experience this 301-400 plus speed rail!) from the Longyang Road metro station to PVG (Pudong International Airport) right when she walked out of customs. Perfect timing…her flight was a rare 45 minutes early! Took a taxi to Jing’an District as it was about 7 p.m. We splurged and stayed a night at the Shangri-La. (Seriously the best hotel and service ever, I mean; 50 floors up and heated floors, and a bed like fluffy clouds…one day, we thought, we will have money to stay here all week!) I took her to Cheese and Co to start her “eating through Shanghai” tour. A Canadian owned, hole in the wall, best take on the grilled cheese and beer combo ever.
Day 1: We ate Cinnswirl Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, packed up and checked out. We went to Dragonfly Spa and got massages- hers to treat from the plane ride, and mine to unwind after China life, grad school, and all that jazz. After an hour of bliss, we ate at the Taiwan based restaurant famous for their dumplings called Din Tai Feng for brunch. The Shangri-La held our luggage for the day (9 hours..) while we toured the French Concession area. We discovered a walking tour courtesy of Timeout Shanghai, but ended up taking our own tour through the quietest streets of Shanghai… my new city-escape route. We picked out Panama coffee at 1984 Cafe, the quaintest place, and chatted for a while. On our tour we also explored the Propaganda Poster museum, an underground museum of Cultural Revolution posters and advertisements. Ended up at a bar in a red brick building for happy hour. We then went back to Jing’an so we could eat at the Hainanese Chicken and Rice restaurant on Jaizhou Lu. A great first day in the city!
Day 2: Day trip to Hangzhou (One of NYT top 52 Places to Visit in 2016, pretty cool, huh?!) Took the bullet train from Hangqiao Station to Hangzhou East Station. About 54 minutes. From the station we took a taxi to Westlake. There we walked around, enjoying the beautiful scenery and rare winter sunshine amidst the smog and clouds. A perfect day for lake enjoyment. We met a MAIS friend of mine and he took us around reconstructed palace ruins and artifacts. At Westlake, we also stopped at Costa Coffee patio for a latte and the free Westlake Gallery Museum. After touring the lakeside, we headed back to his campus and stopped for street food tastings along the way. For dinner, we met up with a couple more MAIS friends and ate at Grandma’s House, a famous restaurant in Hangzhou with traditional Chinese dishes. Great dinner and chatting! Took a taxi back to the train station and boarded the train with a minute to spare because we had to wait in line to pick up our reserved tickets and it was long…and was moving slow, plus a lady tried to cut the line, but the ticket counter receptionist wasn’t having it.
Day 3: Saturday. Laura was able to experience Jazmine and I’s typical Saturday coffee/baozi, yoga, market, and dinner routine. Had our morning coffee at Yuan Sheng cafe with typical street food steamed buns called “baozi”. Then Ann taught our yoga flow class. Lovely relaxation before touring Yuyuan Gardens and eating Shanghai’s famous XiaolongBao (soup dumplings). After lunch we headed to Science and Technology for underground market shopping. We bargained hard for great deals and she picked out some fun trinkets and souvenirs for home. I got a pretty orange (KNOCK OFF) Jimmy Choo bag. It’s so pretty! After shopping, we had Spanish Tapas and Sangria to end the night! What a fun friend day!
Day 4: We slept in late and met up with Kassi at Liquid Laundry for a delicious Western-style brunch of delicacies. Scones, blood-orange mimosas, a flight of multi-flavored bacon, green eggs and ham (avocado was involved), french toast, and other delightful goodness! After brunch, we went to church. Beautiful singing and service. So blessed to share this day with these two lovely ladies! We ordered in Sherpas (I already had wine) so Laura could experience a chill night in, in Shanghai and what I do if I’m “lazy” or “tired.” Basically I wanted her to experience the city conveniences too! (haha).
Day 5: Monday. We met up with my Chinese friend, Gao Pan. She took us on a tour of People’s Square and Nanjing Road. The three of us shared stories over a Hot Pot lunch. So wonderful to introduce Laura to all my dear friends in Shanghai! After lunch, we walked along Nanjing Road to The Bund. We also went across the River to Pudong and went up in the Shanghai World Financial Center building. By chance we got to see the National Geographic exhibit on the 94th floor. After touring the exhibit we had tea time by the window to admire the nighttime city lights below. We made our way through hectic rush hour traffic back home. We ate hot wonton soup in a traditional Chinese shop for dinner. Another successful sightseeing day in Shanghai! Not to mention we got “buy two, get one free” exquisite macaroons in the SWFC shops.
Day 6: Tuesday. A lazy morning before heading out to explore Korea town on Ziteng Lu on Line 10. A perfect chilly afternoon for 돌솥 비빔밥. Seriously one of my favorite dishes. We walked around. A lot. Then we found a Starbucks. Rode the metro. Walked home to change for the evening. Went back to the city center and got our nails done before going to Lost Heaven. Saw The Bund at night with the iconic flashing lights before heading to the Lost Heaven lounge. We had exotic drinks: for her a Thai Zeed and a “Yao”; for me, a Basil Brazil Smash and a Pisco Sour. Had to have my South American drinks. The lounge was decorated in candles, and red, very swanky, but chill. Good music and appetizers of lamb samosas and crab cakes. Impeccable service and quality.
|We thought we were funny…
Our version of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami
Laura and Megan Take Shanghai
Day 7: Took an Uber to Jingan because Laura had her luggage. Then ate breakfast at Wagas. Took the metro Line 7 to Longyang Road, then got Maglev tickets for a 7 minutes ride to PVG. She departed Shanghai around 1:15. And I headed back home to take a 3 hour nap, blog, and mentally prepare for the rest of my busy week. What a wonderful visit with a dear friend!!! I feel so very lucky to have the opportunity to play tour guide in this city and show her my life as is. Hope you enjoyed our itinerary and pictures~ Cheers family and friends!