Beijing was our first trip to mainland China two years ago, and it left us with a bad taste in our mouths. Literally – the air quality was so bad when we visited that it hurt our throats. But China is a big place, so we knew we had to give it another chance when some very cheap deals popped up for Thanksgiving week, and this time we stayed closer to the coast and visited the megacity Shanghai.
Thanks to some amazing friends with system-wide AA upgrades, we were both upgraded to business class on the flight from Chicago to Shanghai. That definitely made the 15 hour flight more pleasant!
It took about an hour to get through customs and then a few extra minutes to figure out where to purchase the Maglev tickets and 3-day Metro passes. The weather conditions were good for the high-speed train so we got to hit the max speed – 431 km/hour!
Where We Stayed
The SSAW (Narada Boutique Hotel Shanghai) was a short walk from the metro and our room on the third floor was huge with a fancy bed, large seating area at the back and a good-sized bathroom. The shower was separated from the bedroom by a glass window with internal blinds. Thankfully the bed was nearer to the hallway because the windows were thin and the street noise was loud most of the day.
For our second three-day stay, we asked for a room away from the road and we were given a much higher floor facing the same direction. The room was smaller and the road noise was still enough that we had to sleep with earplugs again.
Breakfast at the hotel was a large buffet spread with noodles, dumplings, pastries, juices, teas, etc. We only had trouble finding seating the first morning, after that we got there earlier found a table with no problem. It took me a while to figure out the best way to make a latte with the coffee machine but by the third morning I had it down. I also liked the pick-your-own ingredient miso soup station. The outdoor seating area would be quite nice in the summer.
First night in Shanghai
Once we got settled in, we took a walk to the Bund area – wow, what a skyline! Lots of colors and despite the chilly evening, many people enjoying the views.
Afterward, we walked to Nanjing Road to admire the neon signs along the pedestrian way.
Feeling a bit hungry, we stopped in to Yang’s Dumplings for a quick dinner. We ordered the traditional pork and a cabbage variety, the pork was better. The ordering process was a bit confusing as we paid at the register on the right, then turned around to a glassed window on the left with the receipt to collect our order. Seating was first come first served but the turnover was quick. The dumplings were a bit hard to eat with chopsticks given the soup inside and crispy bottoms but we managed. :)
I was pretty exhausted at this point, so I went back to the room and Eric went out a second time, visiting the rest of the Bund, the Waibaidu Bridge, Nanjing, etc. He received lots of propositions for massages, watches and various other suspicious activities.