Tag: sightseeing

New Year’s in Paris

New Year’s in Paris

I’ve been back in Shanghai for a week now and it’s time to write about our last trip of 2019 before the next one starts!

We finished 2019 and started 2020 in Paris. Our friend Rich moved there in the summer and so we stayed with him for a few days. We had 3 great days of food, wine, catching up, hanging out watching Netflix, more food and some walks through Paris.

On our first day, we went to Caves du Louvre, a cool little museum/wine cellar. It was an interactive exhibit about wine and wine making and in the end you could taste 3 French wines from different regions. Afterwards, we headed to a market to buy some spreads, cheese and baguette and then hung out at home and watched too many episodes of RuPauls Drag race. So many references I finally understand now 🙂 We also had a great dinner at Jaja.

On the 31., we did a market tour with food tastings, another fun AirBnB experience. Our guide was really nice and gave us a lot of information about wine and cheese and local specialties.

For our NYE dinner, Rich had hired a great chef, who made us a lot of fantastic food. Truly a great last meal of 2019 (and there were so many!). Our spot for celebrating the new year was a little cabaret theater/bar, where Thorben was identified and mocked relentlessly as the only straight guy in sight. In summary: 2020 started with laughs, champagne, singing and dancing 🙂

After a very lazy first of January, we finally got off the couch as it was getting dark and went for a walk around Paris. We checked out Notre Dame, or the damage to Notre Dame and because I’m a silly tourist, I requested to stop at the Louvre and to take a very touristy photo in front of it.

Even though I’ve already been to Paris 3 times, I had this urge to go to the Eiffel tower. Like the trip to Paris would not really be a trip to Paris without having seen it 🙂 Thankfully, Thorben indulged me with this plan on our last morning, even though it meant another long walk – damn you, metro strike! We also got to see the Arc de Triomphe on the way. Trip to Paris: complete!

Wuzhen Water Town

Wuzhen Water Town

In the beginning of last week, I went on a 2-day business trip to Wuzhen. Wuzhen is a beautiful, ancient water town about 2 hours away from Shanghai. It was built over 1,300 years ago but I think most of it has been restored and renovated rather recently.

While we had meetings during the day, I got a few pictures at twilight on the way to dinner. Afterwards, I wandered around for another hour. Everything was lit up and it looked really beautiful.

In order to see more of the town, I got up early the next morning so I could go for a walk before the next round of meetings. It was so worth it because at 7am everything was so peaceful and quiet. There were hardly any people around so I could take lots of pretty pictures. I really couldn’t get enough, so here is way too many of them:

Most of the town is really touristy with lots of restaurants, cafes and shops selling junk. When we left, there were loads of tour buses and cars parked outside, so I can only imagine how crazy it must be on weekends.

In the late evening and early in the morning it was easy to forget that this is a tourist hot spot. I was really lucky I got enjoy the beauty of the place without many people around and had nice weather as well 🙂

Golden Week Travels Part 2: Taipei

Golden Week Travels Part 2: Taipei

After a few days in Hong Kong we flew to Taipei on Wednesday. Even though it was only a 2 hour flight they had a huge plane (we sat in row 71) with a full entertainment system, drinks and a meal. You could even check 2 pieces of luggage for free. I finally managed to watch “A dog’s purpose”, so sad yet so adorable 🙂

I also didn’t have to plan anything for Taipei because we were spent our entire time there with Jana, one of my high school BFFs 🙂 She picked us up from the airport and we had hot pot together the first night. The spicy compartment of the soup came with free tofu and duck blood – we skipped the second one.

Day 1 in Taipei – Sights, the “Modern Toilet”and Maokong

The first point on our agenda in Thursday was the Liberty Square and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The square is really pretty and we got super lucky with the weather even though the forecast kept saying rain. Next, we went to the city center and walked around in the Ximen Red House. They had a lot of art stores and cool things to look at and we ended up in a little store selling tea. The vendor was really nice and we tried a bunch of different teas he prepared for us. Jana had seen something on TV about crazy restaurants around the world and one of them, the “Modern Toilet”, was right around the corner so of course we checked it out. Though the food wasn’t something I’d go back for it was definitely an experience dining on a toilet with lots of toilet themed plates and drinks ;).

In the afternoon we took a cable car from the Taipei Zoo station to Maokong, a small village outside of the city. It’s a nice, maybe 20 minute ride overlooking Taipei and lots of green hills. In Maokong we walked around a bit and then hung out in a tea house and watched the sky turn dark. There are lots of night markets in Taipei, so we got some food at a small one close to our hotel.

Day 2 in Taipei – More Sights, Tea Time, Elephant Mountain and lots of Socks

We started the next day with some sightseeing as well and visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. The next stop was the Songshan Culture & Creative Park where we spent most of the time drinking tea in a cozy bookstore/cafe. After walking around some we headed over to Taipei 101 and had a late lunch at Din Tai Fung. It’s a super popluar place to get Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and is from Taiwan, so we thought we should try it at the source – tastes the same as in Shanghai 🙂 Jana and I also got chocolate xiaolongbao for the first time, whoever came up with those is a genius.

To get the famous view of Taipei 101 we hiked up Elephant mountain, or at least a part of it. It’s only around 20 minutes but all stairs plus heat, humidity and mosquitos so it was a short but brutal hike. We left a little late and I’m not the fastest hiker so I didn’t quite catch the sunset but the view was still great and the storm clowds rolling in looked pretty cool. As a reward Jana and I went to another night market for some greasy snacks and I bought lots of awesome socks. I’m not ashamed to admit it: 16 pairs to be exact 🙂

Day 3 in Taipei: Expo Park, Art, Dogs and Cats and Tamsui

On Saturday we headed to the Expo park and walked around the farmers market they had. We saw lots of people with dogs, most of them in little strollers. According to Jana that’s totally normal in Taiwan. I was too busy staring to take a picture though. Right next to the expo park is the Museum of Fine Arts and it’s free to go so we went to see the exhibit and had some fun with it.

After so much culture we decided to visit a cat and dog cafe. One dog wasn’t really interested in snuggles and the other one had a collar that said “Don’t too close to me I will attack your face.” Well then … He however seemed to like belly rubs. Our last stop was Tamsui, the end of one of the metro lines, where you can walk along the water and there are tons of little stands and shops. Here, I had to finally try the famous pineapple cake.

During our travel back home we could tell a bit that it was Golden Week. It seemed like everyone at the airport was trying to get back to China so we spend almost 2 hours in various lines. Back in Shanghai on Saturday afternoon it was fine to get home on the metro. So overall I’m definitely booking more travel during holidays.

Beijing sights and the Great Wall of China

Beijing sights and the Great Wall of China

On Sunday night we came back to Shanghai after spending 5 days in Beijing. Besides the day trip to the water town Zhujiajiao, this was the first time I saw something of China other than Shanghai. We took the high speed train, so the 1300km journey was only 4 1/2 hours each way with a top speed of 350 km/h. It’s a really nice, smooth way to travel and the train was super punctual as well. The Deutsche Bahn could learn something here 🙂

The Summer Palace

We arrived in Beijing on Wednesday around noon and took the afternoon to visit the Summer Palace. We were really lucky with the weather. While it rained in Shanghai almost the entire time we were gone, we saw a lot of the blue sky in Beijing 🙂

For Thursday and Friday I had booked a tour. Our nice tour guide Jessie from Tours by Jessie picked us up from the hotel with a driver, showed us around, gave us a lot of information about the places we visited and told us interesting stories on the way. It was a super easy and nice way of seeing the city: very organized, efficient and with a built in photographer, which is why there are lots of pictures of the 2 of us. Usually, I’m lucky if I get a couple of those during a trip 🙂

Temple of Heaven, Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City

On our first day with Jessie we went to the Temple of Heaven, Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is huge, apparently each Emperor could have up to 3000 concubines, so there had to be space to house them all. It was really cool to see it all in person and again, we had nice weather. You can see the smog a bit in some of the pictures but overall we picked a good time of the year so it could have been much worse.

After lunch we walked around in an area that had some traditional Beijing Houses, the Hutongs. We finished our busy day of touring with an Acrobatic Show at the Chaoyang Theater. It was an hour filled with crazy stunts and I thought it was fantastic and a bit scary at times (there may have been some “No way! No! Noooo!” screams).

Great Wall

Our second tour day was spent outside of the city. We drove to the Mutianyu section of THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA! I feel like I have to use Caps to fully highlight my excitement 🙂 We got up early (6:30 while on vacation!) so we could beat the crowds. We took a ski lift up and then had a choice to hike the section to our right or the steeper section on the left – guess which one Thorben made me do? Arriving at 9am on a Friday was a fantastic choice, at times we had the wall to ourselves. Some parts were really steep and I was tired pretty quickly but the fantastic weather and views made it so worth it. Did I mention that I saw the Great Wall of China? 🙂

The Ming Tombs

After the Wall we drove to the Ming Tombs, which were very peaceful and quiet because it’s 50km from the city and you can’t get there on the metro. At the Ming Tombs the emperors from the Ming dynasty are buried together with their favorite concubines, who, fun fact, had to commit suicide after the Emperor died. According to Jessie it was an honor, so they were happy to do it. Different times …

Unfortunately, I got sick after that and the only activity I still managed before we left was to eat Beijing duck (more on that in another post). Thorben also visited the Lama temple and Olympic park on Saturday and Sunday while I stayed in bed.