Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lazy Sunday.. NOT!

Sunday is usually rest day or an easy day for us, whether we are at home or in a trip. Today, we intend to relax a bit while still squeezing in some activities in the city. Early in the morning, we made a trip to a cathedral nearby.

Xujiahui Cathedral, or more formally the St. Ignatius Cathedral, is a Catholic church located in Puxi Road, near our hotel in Xujiahui. The external structure of the church that is built in 1910 appears to be gothic and was once referred to as the "Grandest Cathedral in the Far East".

The cathedral was damaged and vandalized during Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1966 and was closed for a decade years to public, serving only as a warehouse until 1978 when it was re-opened. Today it is undergoing renovation for the replacement of its stained glass in time for the Shanghai World Expo 2010 next year.

We tried to ask the hotel if they information on the service here before we came but they do not have it. We just came in past 8:00am in the morning and didn't know the mass already started at 7:30am so it was about to be finished soon after but it was okay, since the service was in Chinese. The next mass is at 10:00am but still in Chinese so we decided to meditate and pray after the current mass and leave afterwards.

Next, we found ourselves riding a Shanghai Metro train, this time bound for Luban Road (RMB3 each). Our destination is the Lupu Bridge. I guess the hype of Shanghai World Expo 2010 have caught us for we are always reminded everywhere we look like this one.

From the Luban Road station, we walked further to Lupu Bridge for around 10-15 minutes, until we found ourselves directly below the bridge.

We paid our tickets at the counter (RMB38 per person) for the Shanghai Climb, and then we were led to an entrance leading to the elevator that will take you to bridge level (where cars passes by). The Lupu Bridge is said to be the longest arch bridge in the world with its 550 meters long arch span.

Seems to me that Shanghai Climb is not very popular in the city as it is not very crowded. We stopped for some photos before tiring ourselves on the way up.

367 steps, that's all you need to take, going up halfway the 550 meter arch to the top. It was a 5-minute climb for me, quite slow, but Julie and my mom was slower as they are easing their way to the top despite the cold weather, wind and high altitude.

Once you get to the top, you will see the beautiful surrounding of this Shanghai district. Furthermore, it gives you a glimpse of how big the site of Shanghai World Expo 2010 will be as it opens next year. It is divided into two areas, separated by a river and countries will build its own building structures. Currently the facilities and structures are being built in time for its opening on May 1, 2010.

This is a view of the river separating the sites of the expo.

view of the road below

view of the skyline and buildings in the district

A few minutes later we started to climb down the steps as we prepare to leave and have our lunch, and do some shopping. But before that, we stopped at this huge Haibao, Expo 2010 mascot, for some photos.

Walking back towards the train station, we passed by the other side and witness a number of demolitions going on in swift preparation for the event.

We took our time and relaxed a bit before heading to the train station. There is a small park under the bridge and we rested for a while as we took some photos.

We took a train from Luban Road to People's Square station (RMB3 per person). As we went out the station, I saw a number of people lining up on what seems to be hotdogs or sausages saw we bought a couple (RMB2 per piece) and it was hot and yummy!

On the basement of Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, which is near People's Square station, we found some shops, restaurants and establishments and the whole place appear to be a walk on the street in old Shanghai days. We explored the area a bit and left a few minutes afterwards.

We entered inside a mall, looking for some goods and we passed by a giant aquarium with gold fishes.

Walking further outside, looking for lunch, across Shanghai Museum, we found this place where we saw a lot of people and decided to have our lunch there.

They serve food roasted on sticks and noodles and happily pinpointed what looks good as we cannot converse mandarin and there is no english menu.

inside the eatery

We ordered the following items - steamed dumplings, appearing to be like xiaolongbao and noodle soup. We're not what they are called and what's in there but they were good!

Here are some roasted stuff on stick we have ordered for lunch. We wanted to order steamed rice but not sure if they have it or how to say that.

We explored further and found ourselves right in front of Shanghai Museum later on, though we didn't go in as there was a long line of students entering and it seemed to be crowded inside already looking at the hoards of people going in.

We just explored the malls nearby looking for something to buy, but there was not a lot, especially on clothes as it is winter right now and the clothings are too thick to bring back to the Philippines.

Then we came across a Hershey's Chocolate World Store.

We got a few items off the store (ironic for us to go to Shanghai and buy Hershey's I know!) and then we decided to leave the place and head off another shopping district instead.

We left People's Square and took a train to Nanjing Road East (RMB3 each). There we find hundreds of establishments, department stores, and specialty shops, both local and international brands and took our time browsing for some stuffs to bring for ourselves and our families back home.

The street is closed and is exclusive for pedestrian's use (well, other than these shuttle trains that comes back and forth to take tired customers to the other side). Motorists are not allowed to drive on this road and there is blockage.

inside one of the malls in Nanjing East Road

After (heavy) shopping in Nanjing East Road that afternoon, we went back to the hotel to drop off our things (shopping bags) and rest a while. Again it was time for hors d'oeuvre so we relaxed and chilled at the executive lounge of the hotel before heading for dinner. Tonight was our last night in the city as we are flying back to Manila tomorrow.

Later on we took a cab (RMB25) from the hotel to Xintiandi where we plan to have our dinner tonight. The cool weather, the season of Christmas and the old charm of the place adds up to its beauty and sweet feeling as we pass by the different restaurants in the area scouting for a dinner place.

Looking for a place to have something more "local or authentic Chinese food", we ended up eating at Crystal Jade Restaurant located at the 2nd floor of the nearby Xintiandi Plaza (mall).

The place was packed despite us coming late than usual for dinner (8:30PM).

The place has nice ambience too. Further research as I post this blog revealed that it is a popular restaurant that can seat more than 300 and if you don't have reservations, it's possible that you will have to wait a long time.

Ironically we didn't order the right food as we cannot converse well on what their specialties are. We ordered a Peking (Beijing) Duck, pork dumplings, chili fish head and some rice! They were good and very tasty!

server preparing the half portion of duck for us

crispy duck skin! deliciously evil!

the crispy duck skin, wrapped and served with vegetables and sweet sauce

fried rice

fish head with chilli peppers

pork dumplings

If we only knew, we should have ordered their famous hand-pulled noodle dishes or their xiaolongbao (steamed meat buns)!!! Too bad we didn't order anything this restaurant is famous for. Good thing what we ordered were all very good (at least for our expectations)!

After dinner we dropped by Cold Stone Creamery for some dessert. Yes, I know it's cold outside right now but who can resist thick ice cream mixed with bits of cone and mashed together? Add to that a tasteful coffee to push things down?

ice cream and coffee

That was the end of our night and we hailed a cab back to the hotel, took our well-deserved rest and slept through the night happy, thinking about the things we've done in the city. Tomorrow, we will be flying out of the city but the memories of all the nice things and experience that happened to us here will always be kept in our minds.

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