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Shanghai – 3 great days

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To see Visiting Shanghai – really a surprise

Nowhere else we saw a so perfect combination of the historic Chinese references, with the heritage of the several people present in Chinese history. English, French, Russian, left their styles, carefully respected and maintained. And in the mix of China and the others, modernity glows with the most harmonious examples of modern architecture.

Remarkable!

​Huxinting Tea House

Visiting Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Huxinting

It’s hard to decide which one of the marvelous old houses in the historic center is… the best. 

Proud of their old style, glowing in their well maintained colours, all the buildings in the quarter are superb, but, in the middle of a lake, the tea house and its bridges deserve a special look and reference.

​The Bund

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Bund

The best sights

At your right the past. At your left the future. Take your time and walk slowly!

Time to go back. 

At your left the past. At your right the future.
Feels good, the present!

Strolling in the Bund makes us feel the mixture of cultures, and the fast changes in Chinese cities. A mandatory experience!

Russian look

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai -Bund

You look at the Bund, with futuristic buildings in one bank of the river, and classical ones in the other, and something looks… odd. 

I was not very familiar with Chinese architecture but… those buildings… it seems that I saw them somewhere else, but not in China!

Russia! Of course!

The old Bund is a mixture of styles and epochs, displayed before you as a history book.

Fresh stroll

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Bund

It’s a show that no one can miss, the reflection of Pudong’s lights in the river, while enjoying the cool of the night in the Bund’s walkways. 

Night and day are, really, different programs in the Bund.

Socialist art

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Bund

Ideologies and cultural movements come and go along the history, but their influence in art does remain as a testimony of the gone days and ideas. 

China is a curious example of that – the strength (and violence) of the revolutionary times led to artistic creations, with nothing in common with traditional Chinese art. 

Instead of sensibility and fine details, we see powerful gathering of determined people, the collective movement always imposing itself to the individual roles and expressions.

In the Bund, a socialist composition, backed by Russian architecture, is a fine example.

People’s Square

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – People square

This wide and modern square marks the centre of Shanghai. 

Surrounded by skyscrapers (and a few historical buildings), it is dominated by the museum, and the crowds circulating from mall to mall, in a style of life that no one could guess in China a couple of years ago.

Address: Renmin Da Dao

Directions: People’s Square Station (Metro Line 1); public buses 17, 18, 20, 23, 37, 46, 48, 49, 123, 145, 916

City Museum

Modern and rich

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – City Museum

A modern building in the noble area of Shanghai holds the city museum. 

Its modern conception, separating the collections by themes, allows a clever distribution of the displays, easing the choice of the visitors, that may decide between a general observation or a detailed visit to any special area or subjet.

Address: Renmin Da Dao

Directions: People’s Square Station (Metro Line 1); public buses 17, 18, 20, 23, 37, 46, 48, 49, 123, 145, 916

Ceramics

Shanghai

Being one of the two top sections of City’s Museum, for us, coming from Xi’an, it didn’t add much. 

However, for a first approach to China, its wide collection, covering a large frame of time from the stone age, is very interesting, and easy to see, in a very well organized space.

Shanghai
Shanghai - 3 great days 35

Bronzes

Shanghai
Shanghai - 3 great days 36


The most visited section of the City’s Museum seems to be this area, with a very rich display. 

I was particularly attracted by a demonstration of the successive operations used to build a bronze cup in the old days. 

Since most Chinese museums seem to share the problems of Portuguese ones (a cold exhibition of “dead” artifacts) this display was a fresh and useful variation

Furniture

Shanghai
Shanghai - 3 great days 37

I felt the emptiness in many monuments in China, mostly in the Forbidden City. 

I think that the political convulsions in Chine in the recent years may have damaged a lot. 

This small display in the museum reinforced my sensation: China has wonderful furniture that would easily enrich many historic buildings, but… where is it?

Sculpture 

Shanghai
Shanghai - 3 great days 38


Not one of the most visited areas, it deserves a quick visit to see several Buddha statues in a respectful display. 
Not much stuff, but good quality.

Minorities

Shanghai
Shanghai - 3 great days 39

A special section in Shanghai’s museum is dedicated to ethnic minorities in China. 
It is a curious and wide display, somewhat mixed (I think), but very rich and interesting.

Yuyuan gardens

Wonderful Garden

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Yu gardens

Very small to Chinese standards and squeezed in the old town, this beautiful garden is a pleasant walk. 

Built with sensibility and good taste, water, plants and stones surround the buildings in a very harmonious way. 

Of course, you will not be able to miss it!

Address: 218 Anren Street, Old City

Directions: Walk south along The Bund then swing a right at Jinling Dong Lu. Busline: No. 64, No. 24, No. 11, No. 926

Jade Rock

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Yu gardens

One of the highlights in Yuyuan Garden is a rock, that, without being alerted, you risk not to notice. 

It is… just a big rock, in a beautiful garden, but someone will tell you the stories: the rock diverted from their official destination to embellish the garden, the many holes and the effects of the poured water downwards, and so on. 

Listen to it, take your picture and go see the garden.

Lucky me

Shanghai
Shanghai - 3 great days 40

One of my deceptions in China was the poor interior of many monuments, some of them empty, the other only with isolated pieces of furniture. 

This garden was no exception, but I felt lucky when I saw an exotic collection of chairs made from big tree roots. 

They are fancy to look, but I felt sorry for the poor guys who had to sit there. Not us. Fortunately!

Portuguese ornament

Shanghai
Shanghai - 3 great days 41

We are marveled with the beautiful details of the garden!

We look around, carefully, trying to enjoy each artistic combination, each detail, and, suddenly, something pops up out of context. An even more attentive look and… it is a Portuguese flag.

No! It was not part of the decoration!

Just a nice lady decided to support the tested concept that we are a small country with a big people, and no matter where you are, there will always be a Portuguese close to you. 

Generally without flags!Travelling is meeting places… and people, and it’s funny to see how two people that would pass by each other in their home town without even a smile, easily find motifs and pleasure for a quick presentation, where they are far away, and discover anything in common.

Space

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai

One of the common details in old quarters is the small distance between houses, lining narrow streets and tiny squares. 

I was impressed by the sensation of space in Yuyuan old quarter creating me a doubt: Was it originally so large, or is it a consequence of a planned reconstruction? 

I couldn’t read anything about that.

Xin Tian Di – ​Heavy austerity​

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Visiting Shanghai – Xin Tian Di
Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Xin Tian Di

The former french quarter was renovated respecting its old characteristics, and became a trendy (and expensive… it seems) touristy area. 

It’s different, but the contrast with the shiny forms and colours of the old town (if it happens to you moving from one to the other, as we did), becomes somewhat depressive. 

It is a good preservation of the cultural diversity in Shanghai’s history and maybe an attraction to locals for its high standards, but nothing very special for who is just passing by.

Address: Huangpi Nan Lu

Nanjing Road: “A Long shopping mall”

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Nanjing Road

Door after door, modern shopping malls and shops line this always crowded avenue, allowing you to find everything. 

At night, fairylike advertising gives to the street an American look, where the Chinese references may only be noticed in details. 

Shopaholics will feel in paradise.

​Bazaar

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Bazaar

The special note about the bazaar is the quality of its preservation. 

Clean streets and facades, bright paintings and a general impression of order. 

I had no time to conclude if it has the heavy business typical of bazaars or not (it seems to), but is was a nice visit.

Address: 218 Anren Street, Old City

Directions: Walk south along The Bund then swing a right at Jinling Dong Lu. Busline: No. 64, No. 24, No. 11, No. 926

​​Shanghai Centre Theatre: Acrobatic show

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai – Acrobatics

After Opera in Beijing and ethnic arts in Xi’an, our third nigh out was in Shanghai, with a good acrobatic show. 

It didn’t add much to what we had seen before, but the movements wer perfect, absolutely secure, and the visual and musical treatment were very well conceived.

Address: 1376 Nanjing Road (W)

Website: Show

​Dancing

Shanghai
Visiting Shanghai -People

As everywhere in China, it was easy to see in Shanghai people dancing in the streets. 

It’s amazing to notice that it is mainly middle aged people (women in majority), and most of the dances show a collective formation. 

Fading signs of their political education?

Eating in Shanghai

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651 xangai n 216

Rest7 Displayed cooking

In many restaurants in China, the invitational sight is… the kitchen. 

Usually hidden in western restaurants, the Chinese like to show cookers at work. 

The famous dumplings (not so special for my taste) are a good opportunity to show the cooker’s skills.

I recommend Wang Bao He: “Nice ambiance”

Eating in Shanghai
Eating in Shanghai – Wang Bao He

After being two weeks in China, we become nostalgic of our own food, and somewhat indisposed to appreciate what seems to be… more of the same. Being the last of our meals in China, it was supposed to be special, and… maybe… it was. But to distinguish their several different foods needs more time, and the chance to repeat meals often, enough to feel what is common to each area. 

Arriving at home I must confess that I have no idea about the differences between Sichuan, Cantonese, or whatever we tasted in Shanghai (I think that, here and there, we were protected by the guides from spices and… odd food).

I enjoyed the food in China, spicy or not, but I believe that it’s about time to accept worldwide the advantages of fork and knife while dining.

Hotel0 Sofitel Shanghai

Xangai 1
Xangai 1

Best location

It’s impossible to find a better location to the hotel, right in Nanjing Road, halfway from the Bund and People’s square, both at walking distance.

Sofitel Shanghai
Sofitel Shanghai

It’s also impossible to have a complaint about the room or breakfast, all deserving the five stars.

We had no time to test other facilities of the hotel, the only slight disappointment being dinner.

We had a light dinner, and paid… too much. I remember that we were not in the best mood at the time, but the menu was… frustrating, and didn’t help.

Address: 505 Nanjing Road East, 200001 Shanghai

Touristy train

After walking a while in Nanjing Road, I reached People’s Place too tired to go any further. We saw some small trains, announcing ” A tourist circuit of Shanghai“. It seemed to be, exactly, what we needed.

Boarding the train is a tricky competition, with a learning period: When the train approaches the stopping point, several men start walking with it, holding a door, until it stops. When the occupants leave, they take possession of those benches, calling the colleagues that wait nearby.

Two RMB was a surprisingly low cost. That was the good news.
At the 3rd or 4th train I won my bench, called Fernanda, and… let’s go.

​Some minutes slowly descending Nanjing Road, and… end of the trip, at exactly the same distance to the hotel.

Frustrating!

Tea as gold

Shanghai Remarks
Shanghai Remarks – Tea

We had a good demonstration, by the Bund, of several qualities of tea, with the final offer of “special conditions”, as usual. We bought just one box of white tea, for… big money.

I’m not an expert in tea and paid. But, in the airport, we checked the price. I know that airports are always expensive, but… half the price, for the same box…

There are no free lunches nor… demonstrations!

​Crowds versus details

Remarks
Shanghai Remarks – Crowds

The Yuyuan garden is magnificent, with precious details deserving attention and… time.

No chance!

You will feel always “pushed” by the moving crowds, in the narrow passages really pushed forward.

Enjoying the details is only possible here and there, and suddenly you will find out that you are leaving the garden.

Excessive Quality

Universal Studios
Shanghai Remarks – Quality

The quality of the painting and the preservation of the materials in Yuyuan quarter is so perfect that it seems… phony.

Here and there we feel like in a rebuilt replica, and not in the real place, but… beautiful… yes, it is!

Very much. And naturally, one of the best images of China!

Chinatown

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644 xangai n 210

Almost all western cities list in their noticeable points a… Chinatown, most of them with nothing special to see or to do than buying the cheap crafts that China exports worldwide.

In Shanghai, I saw a REAL Chinatown, with precious architecture, and crowds moving from shop to shop, here and there with so beautiful sites that… we forget to look at the crafts!

Well, not much, but enough to see that they are not so cheap as we could expect, knowing the prices in our own countries.

Address: 218 Anren Street, Old City

Directions: Walk south along The Bund then swing a right at Jinling Dong Lu. Busline: No. 64, No. 24, No. 11, No. 926

​Cultural Resistance

Shanghai
Memories of Shanghai

In most Chinese cities that we visited, the signs of modernity and fast growth are recent. Not in Shanghai; there, it is easy to notice that development and growth are a sustainable and continuous process, with successive cultures and people leaving their marks.

That’s why it becomes very important to preserve the good ancient signs from being swallowed by the concrete fever. This is visible in Shanghai, and I hope they keep on taking it seriously

​Modernity

Shanghai
Memories of Shanghai

Nowhere else in China the idea of modernity is so strong! Maybe because the modern buildings are everywhere, with remarkable diversity and architecture, maybe because nowhere else is so noticeable the contrast with traditional construction.

Day or night, Shanghai is proud of its look.

​“Backstage”

Shanghai
Memories of Shanghai

I was impressed by the development and organization of Shanghai.

What they show to us today has nothing to do with the generalised idea of China.

We had to look at the small narrow roads, to see the old China living, according to the expected standards, but in good harmony with the construction boom all over.

Traffic – ​Better than expected

Salvador
Memories of Shanghai

I didn’t use public transportation in Shanghai, and only used the bus in a couple of short trips, but found the traffic much more organized and fluent than expected.

Lots of people, of course, but not the mess seen in the films; some narrow streets, yes, but also many large avenues, where the traffic seems to flow in an intense but efficient sequence.

Incorrect idea, born from a quick observation? Maybe! But my general idea about Shanghai’s traffic was very positive.

I recommned Sens & Bund: Nice Views

Sens & Bund
Shanghai by Solopes

We spent only some minutes in this bar, time enough to notice the good cocktails at a reasonable price, and the fabulous views from the terrace.

Western music, international clients (carefully selected as we saw at the door), it could be a bar anywhere if it wasn’t the Bund “rising” across the windows.

The views from the terrace are fabulous.

Address: 6th Floor, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road

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741 xangai n 243

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