We woke up to a grey rainy day in Shanghai. We were all a little disappointed in the weather, but were committed to getting out and seeing the city. One of the big things we wanted to do in Shanghai was to go to Yu Gardens. Given that the forecast for today was all rain and tomorrow was all sun, we decided to put off the garden and hit some of the other things we wanted to see in the city.
We started the morning with a quick breakfast at Starbucks. We did not want to spend $30 each for the buffet at the Westin and the Chinese eat noodles and rice for breakfast (along with every other meal) so we took the easy way out and went with what we knew.
We then got our raincoats on and headed out to see the sights. We started by walking down the street to the pedestrian mall at Nanjing Road. This was the same road we emerged at yesterday and we wanted to see it without all of bags. On the way there it started raining even harder, so when we got there we headed inside a 7 story mall and waited out the rain.
Once the rain softened a bit we ket walking and exploring. Shanghai is a very big city and it is not all that remarkable from other cities. We walked and walked with our final destination being the French Concession, which is a little area in the center of town. This was literally a French governmental concession from 1849 to 1943 and was considered the prime area to live in Shanghai. Today it is known more for its quaint streets and small restaurants. We planned on having lunch in this area. The rain was persistent and by the time we made it to the french concession we were all tired, wet and a little grumpy.
We found a very cute little restaurant after a few minutes in the area and decided it looked good enough. We ducked inside and were warmly greeted by the owner and his wife - again no english - but this time we were expecting that - not many people we have encountered speak english here.
The lunch was good. We had Taiwanese noodles, which was kind of an upscale ramen and enjoyed our time out of the rain. Although looking at the beautiful bar, I could have been tempted to waste the afternoon away sipping a bourbon, but it was time to go.
We were all a little sick of walking around in the rain and we had seen most of what we wanted to for the day so we headed back to the hotel for a little break. We were heading to the circus that evening so we knew it was going to be a long night and we did not want to push too hard.
On the way home we decided to drop a sticker on Shanghai. We did this in the metro station on our way up the escalator. There was something worrisome to me about defacing public property in China. I envisioned the four of us in some remote prison cut off from the outside world being interrogated by the Chinese about the meaning of the sticker and who we were working for. So we moved quickly to drop the sticker and go.
Peter thought it was funny that I was barking out orders to hurry up and gave me a salute to mock me as the general. I gave him a salute back which is not pictured, but you can use your imagination.
After the break we headed to dinner. The recommendation from the concierge was to head back to the mall area and have dinner at a restaurant on the top levels of the mall. This was not a particularly appealing option, but we decided to go for the recommendation. Eating at the mall never feels quite right or authentic and I regretted our decision from the moment we made it. The meal we had was fine - not great and the service was ok - although they did have one english speaker on staff who would help when our pointing / hand gestures did not work.
After dinner we headed to the circus. This was not a elephant and clown circus, this was more like Cirque de Soleil type performance of acrobatics, gymnastics and other crazy assorted things. The show was supposed to be one of the best things to do in Shanghai and it did not disappoint. I really cannot begin to describe what we saw other than to say a trip to Shanghai might be worth it just to see this show - it was incredible. The amount of work these people must put in to perform the feats we saw has to be incredible. We were blown away.
After the show we took the long metro ride home and crashed - tired from a long day of being a tourist in a rainy foreign city.