The Traveling Steve's

Day tour of Shanghai – day one

After a wonderful night’s sleep (of catching up on jet-lag) we had breakfast at 9am in the Grand Hyatt Shanghai’s 83th floor Club lounge. We checked into the Grand Hyatt yesterday and had a leisurely day on our own, trying to catch up on the 12 hour time difference from Orlando to Shanghai. We have a beautiful suite on the 84th floor which has floor to ceiling windows and a spacious living and dining room, with wrap around views of the city and river below.

After going to bed early last night, we are now more or less on Shanghai’s time zone schedule, which we will be on for the next two weeks. As we are staying on the 84th floor of the hotel, had to take the elevator down one floor to the 83th floor to visit the Club Lounge. The elevators require card key access, and both DOS and I had trouble operating the key cards in the elevator. If you don’t do it fast enough, you zoom all the way down the 54th floor lobby – something that has happened to both of us a couple times already!

Anyway, the buffet breakfast in the lounge is quite nice, and the service very attentive. The lounge, like our room one floor above it, offers panoramic views of the city and river below.

Steve (DOS) had arranged a series of tours for our four night stay in Shanghai, and on our first day tour we met our guide Lili at 10am on the ground level of the multi-purpose building which houses our hotel. (The first 53 floors are for business, while the Grand Hyatt starts on the 54th floor via express elevator.)

After introducing ourselves to each other, Lily showed us to our car and driver at the entrance to the building. The car was actually a van, and was quite comfortable for the four of us.

We had a full day tour ahead, from 10am to 6pm, a bit longer than we normally do, but it was an amazing day of touring, culture, and diversity with the old vs new sections of Shanghai. This was my first visit to Shanghai, although DOS had been several times, both as a Pilot, and also as a tourist, dating back to the mid 1980’s when it wasn’t open to tourists like it is today. We had been to Beijing a couple years ago, which was fascinating with the history, Great Wall of China etc, but Shanghai was definitely different.

I must say prior to coming, I was a bit apprehensive of touring this largest city in the word, with a population of over 28 million, but I kept saying throughout the day, “Where are all of the people?” The city of Shanghai is spread out so much land-wise, that it doesn’t feel overly crowed at all, at least in the financial district where we are staying. Below are a couple of photos from last night when DOS and I walked around our ‘neighborhood’ after dinner, admiring the lights of the city.

Our guide Lily was a wealth of information about Shanghai and China in general; so much so I can’t recap it all, but would like to post some photos of our day. First off, old and new Shanghai is divided by the Huangpu river, (which we can view from our room); into the East (newer) and Western (older) districts.

The Eastern District is where our hotel is, and is also the new financial district of Shanghai. Every thing in the Eastern district has been built within the last 30 years or so, while the Western district dates back many centuries.

Our first day tour provided an informative glimpse into the history of Shanghai, showcasing everything from the old section of Shanghai, to the lively retired resident’s literally dancing in the streets, to the working section of the city, and of course the modern day Shanghai, where we are staying.

What amazed me about Shanghai, was the sheer number of parks and otherwise flowers and greenery everywhere you looked. Shanghai did not have the feeling of a cramped in city such as Manhattan; on the contrary it was huge and spacious, and while there were many skyscrapers, they too were spread out amongst the parks and gardens.

One of our fist stops was to a popular park for retirees (retirement age is 60 in Shanghai), where couples were dancing to the tune of music blaring on the speakers others provided, while other retirees where content watching from the many park benches the tree-covered area. I kept thinking – what a neat concept that is; not only having a happy and communal place for retirees to visit, but also keeping them in shape as they dance and meet others. We also saw small groups such as the one shown below singing together, following the words (in Chinese obviously) on the white board they are looking at.

We later visited other areas of the city where we saw people practicing the ancient art of Tai Chandoe, as well as temples and pagodas. If you look closely at two of the photos below (the second and fourth photos) you can see myself and DOS, and another with Lily and DOS, showing the old world architecture with the new world tower in the far distance. The tower is actually on the East side where we are staying, while these pictures are taken across the river on the Western side.

As we passed a McDonald’s around 11am, yes I’m embarrassed to say I asked if we could make a quick stop for a soda. And perhaps a small Big Mac combo. And oh yea – all the McDonald’s worldwide have free wifi! Ok, at least we got a short break out of that. I guess I was secretly worried I wouldn’t like the authentic Chinese lunch.

Not to worry about the lunch, we had an awesome authentic Chinese lunch a bit later which we all thoroughly enjoyed. I even had the pork dumplings, and loved the pork schnitzel.

This is cute: They put this sign on your table when getting the check. At first I thought it was so people wouldn’t steal your stuff, but it’s their way of saying don’t forget and leave any of your things when leaving the restaurant!

After lunch, we visited the Temple of Confucius, which was a quite retreat honoring the 5th century BC philosopher.

At the temple, we had a special private tea tasting ceremony which was not only informative, but a lot of fun!

We purchased a small set of mini tea servings and teas such as we had been served at the tasting to take home. Confucius says “It was wonderful!”

Later in the day we visited the BUND, and area along the waterfront that overlooks the western part; i.e. new Financial District of the city. We took some awesome photographs of the skyline there, as well as passers by and the walls of floral arrangements lining the sidewalks.

We then proceeded on to an unplanned but wonderful stop at the Peace Hotel. This historical and classy hotel, reminded me of the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore, due to it’s extensive use of woods, architecture, and history.

We took several photos before heading up to the observation deck lounge, including this blurry selfie I took in the elevator or the three of us.

Once atop at the Observation lounge terrace, we each had a Cosmopolitan, while admiring the scenery of both the eastern and western banks of the river. The weather was gorgeous, and it was so nice sitting outside on the outside terrace and relaxing with our cocktails; quite a nice way to end our tour for the day!

After our Cosmos, we then rode back to our hotel with Lili and our driver, getting dropped back off around 6pm.

At the hotel, we then took the first of two elevators up to our 84th floor room; the first to the 54th floor lobby, and the second ‘connecting’ elevator to the 84th floor.

After dropping off our tea purchases, we headed down to the 83rd floor Grand Club Lounge (Hotel Concierge Lounge) for the evening complimentary cocktails and hors d’ourves.

After a full day of touring, neither one of us wanted to go back out again, so we made a meal off of the food in the Grand Club (Concierge Hyatt Lounge), located on the 83rd floor of the hotel which was more than adequate with pork ribs, chicken tenders, salad, cheeses, noodles and soup (for DOS), etc. I had the Chinese beer, which among other alcoholic drinks was served from 5 to 8pm.

After dinner and drinks in the lounge, and a bit of blogging on TheTravelingSteves, we headed back up to our new home on the 84th floor. What a full and fun day we had! We will sleep good tonight!

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