Our hotel was about a ten minute walk from the famous Yuyuan Gardens, so we decided to start there. After making our way through the maze of stores we found the small ticket counter, where it was all-cash. Unfortunately, purchasing our tickets to the Shanghai Circus through the hotel before we left that morning had depleted our cash reserves. Oops. So we set out to find an ATM, which was not as easy as it had been in Malaysia (especially considering all the stores), but after backtracking several blocks we found one that worked.
Cash in hand, we bought our tickets for the garden, a beautifully designed space with meandering pathways through rock gardens, nice pagodas, and old trees. Foot traffic was fairly low, so we had several opportunities to enjoy the view without other people around.
On our wander through the market area we discovered a few interesting snacks among the numerous food stalls and shops. I tried a warm fermented yogurt drink (surprisingly good), walnut cake (tasty fresh but not so great a day later), and a bag of 5 spice beans (we think; still trying to figure out what to do with these!)
We headed back to the hotel to drop off our shopping bags, charge our phones and do a bit of planning, then took the subway to Xianping. This area is a blend of French and Chinese influences with scenic leafy lanes, and lots of cafes and high end shops.
Fuxing Park was our next stop where we discovered old ladies doing tai chi, old men playing card games while drinking green tea, and kids flying kites. The whole park felt very French, even down to the benches.
We had read that Tianxifang was an interesting place to pick up gifts so we explored the warren of alleys with boutique shops, cafes, and takeaway stands. Picked up a hanging ceramic vase and gushed over some cute dumplings (looked better than they tasted). One of the best food items on this trip was from a Korean hot dog stand – a cheddar cheese wrapped hot dog, battered and fried then drizzled with sweet chili sauce and cheese mustard. SO. Good.
Full for the moment, and a little tired from all the exploring, we walked over to Boxing Cat Brewery for their happy hour half-price beer. While we were deciding, the bartender poured us each a small sample of the Sweet Science Summer Ale, nice but too hoppy for us. Eric had the Smashed Pumpkin Ale and I got the King Louie Imperial Stout. Both were solid. The accompanying spiced nuts were hot – whew!
One stop up on the metro was Jackie’s Beer Nest – so small! Lots of taps, including two sours. Eric got the Jackie’s Beer Nest big sour, a raspberry lambic. I tried the Viking Imperial Wheat Stout (a collaboration between Epic Brewing and Jackie himself). A nice cozy place with many more beers to try…