Our First Stop In China Was In Shanghai
We headed to Asia for the fall and saw both China and Japan. The China portion of the trip was largely as part of a Viking Cruise land and river trip. But we headed to China early and got to enjoy Shanghai for a week.
We flew with Air Canada direct to Shanghai. Flying Business Class, we enjoyed the start of our trip in the Signature Lounge. This was a much nicer lounge experience than the larger lounge that flying just on status will get you. We arrived early and enjoyed a great rosé bubbly while we relaxed. We ordered food at our seats and enjoyed the quiet luxury of this new lounge. It was definitely a great luxury start to our trip.
The trip to Shanghai was over 14 hours. Even with Business Class seats, I slept fitfully. But I did get to watch 3 movies. We booked a car to pick us up when we arrived in Shanghai. It was so great to walk out of the baggage claim area and find a sign with our name on it. While David missed the chance to ride the Mag Lift Train at 430km/hr, I enjoyed the one hour drive in comfort even more. We wanted to make sure we enjoyed every minute of being in Shanghai for a week.
Our First Luxury Stay in Shanghai
We started our visit to Shanghai for a week with the first of our many five star hotel experiences on this trip. It was after 5pm when we arrived at the Westin Shanghai Bund Centre. The Bund Centre had a large crown on the top of it. No matter where we travelled around Shanghai, this was our home landmark.
The hotel lobby drew us in. When we walked around the main floor level, we immediately saw the Chihuly art piece (the Burning Bush). After seeing the massive Chihuly display in Seattle, we were delighted to find several pieces of his art in the hotel.
An upgraded room waited for us. And with Premium Elite status with Marriott Rewards we even got Executive Lounge access. The large room gave us lots of space to spread while in Shanghai for a week.
The Westin Bund was located close to the Bund river area. It was a great spot to use as a base to explore Shanghai for a week.
But We Really Got Spoiled On Our Second Luxury Stay
When we joined the Viking tour after 6 days, we moved to the Four Seasons Shanghai. We were blown away by the personal customer service we got on this exceptional first class stay. This was the first but not the last time we found staff waiting for our arrival. As soon as we checked in, a trigger seemed to be sent out. But in a good way! We were welcomed by the GM Adrian with an upgraded suite, a sweet treat and a personal note.
The hotel was elegant in every way. We saw a step up in luxury in the design of the common areas. And we were treated to access to the Executive Lounge. This was truly a quiet and exclusive retreat. We were not loyalty reward members when we visited. But we will definitely be looking for more Four Seasons stays!
Getting Around Shanghai
We got a two day hop-on-hop-off bus pass. This gave us access to 4 different lines. We rode all of the lines to get our bearings for the major things to do in Shanghai for a week.
Most of the time we walked around Shanghai. But we were ever vigilant as we walked. For a city of over 24 million people, we were surprised that the car traffic was not at a standstill everywhere we went. We later learned that licence plates were available by lottery and the cost was very high to keep the car traffic down. But the electric scooters and bicycles drove with kamikaze disregard for traffic lights and people. And they were dead quiet when they came up from behind you.
Sidewalks were often narrow and many were used as scooter parking spots. Local people just walked in the road. It took only a few days before we joined them.
The Metro subway lines went across the city. We generally use the Metro as a way to get around a city. But don’t let the few road signs with English on them fool you. Street and Metro direction signs were generally only in Chinese. In Shanghai, I was not sure I could manage to get on a Metro line going in the right direction or get off at my stop. However, when we went to Beijing later in the trip, we found we had no trouble as we travelled by subway.
As in many foreign cities, taxis were sometimes a challenge. We carried a card with us that showed in Chinese where we wanted to go and the hotel we wanted to return to. We never did figure out the Chinese equivalent to Uber. The few people we saw get into what looked like ride-share cars seemed to have waited a long time to be picked up.
Once we started on the Viking part of our stay, we travelled by tour bus until we headed off on foot with the group. When in Shanghai for a week, we had no trouble getting around the city.
Take In The Bund River Views – The Pearl And The Shanghai Tower
One of the reasons that we picked the Westin was its proximity to the Bund area along the Huangpu River. It was an easy walk from the hotel to experience the Bund River area in Shanghai.
Older historic buildings stood along the river. We saw the Oriental Pearl tv tower across the busy river. Beside the Pearl we saw a number of other high buildings in this new financial district of Shanghai. The tallest tower in Shanghai was the Shanghai Tower with its distinctive twisted tapered cylindrical shape.
The view during the day was interesting. But it was quite magical at night. All of the towers along the Bund lit up with an ever-changing light show. Colourful neon river boats streamed past on a regular basis. It was a marvellous sight to see.
On our visit to Shanghai for a week, we were down at the Bund several times. We never tired of the view.
Walk Through Colourful And Traditional Old Shanghai
It was a short walk from our Westin hotel to visit the old part of Shanghai. We found a series of streets crowded with people soaking up the ancient pagoda building blocks. In contrast to the traditional designs we found colourful and artistic displays. We slowly strolled the streets and gawked like everyone else with our cameras out.
When in Shanghai for a week, we made sure we visited old Shanghai a few times. We passed through a few times on the bus. We walked over and explored from our hotel. And we went back a final time with the Viking tour group. Each time we found something more to interest us.
Find A Quiet Oasis in Yu Gardens
On the first tour day of our Viking Cruises tour in China, we spent some time and explored Yu Gardens. We wandered through old Shanghai and over the zigzag bridge into the gardens. In many places we saw both lions and dragons at the entrance to buildings.
This was a very traditional Chinese garden. Interesting rockeries were everywhere. Paths wandered over small ponds and under trees. One giant weeping willow tree dropped down to the water.
The quiet oasis of Yu Gardens was a great spot to find when in Shanghai for a week.
Shop For A Beautiful Handcrafted Piece of Embroidery Art
One of the stops that our Viking tour visited was the Silk Art Gallery. Our visit started with a short talk to understand the process of silk embroidery. We saw the various thicknesses of the silk threads used to create different dimensions to the pieces. Several layers were used to create a 3D effect. We saw similar embroidery art when we visited the Kohinoor Museum on our visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra. A woman sat and worked on a new piece of art.
We first got to see the magic of two sided embroidery pieces. The first piece with panda bears showed that the image was identical on both sides. The second piece showed different coloured but identical images of a cat on the two sides. On the final piece, two very different images were created on each side. One side showed a lion and the other a tiger.
As we toured the Silk Art Gallery we were amazed at the creativity of the embroidered art. There was a subject matter for everyone. We saw flowers, animals, birds, modern displays and traditional Chinese views. Prices were marked on the pieces and included shipping and insurance. Of course, the one day special for our tour group was 30% off. There were also a few rooms with silk rugs. After our half hour shopping experience, many people left with bags or orders placed.
If you are looking for beautiful hand-crafted art, visit the Silk Art Gallery when you are in Shanghai for a week.
Experience A More Modern Shopping Experience
There was no end to the shopping we found in Shanghai. Local stores sold a little of everything. The larger malls seemed to be filled with high end brands. One day we headed to the Nanjing walking street for a little excitement.
People streamed along the wide walking street. Every now and then we found long lines of people. If we traced the line, we usually found what looked like a popular Chinese food spot.
We found boutiques and all of the large brand stores along this walking street. Of course I had to stop at the Apple Store. Authentic art and tacky souvenirs were everywhere. Small alleys went off with smaller shops. And often in the little alleys we could see massage shops. I was waiting for my massage at the hotel. Several spots provided costumes for period photos.
Small trains travelled up and down the walking street if you needed a break from walking. Several times I was startled when a nearly quiet train came up behind me.
We did not buy anything but lunch. But we enjoyed a walk along the Nanjing walking street. If you like to people watch, this was a fascinating spot. We missed a chance to go back at night. But we were sure that it would shine with neon light like a visit to Times Square in New York City. Certainly a place to visit when in Shanghai for a week.
Explore The Shanghai Museum
On our tour day in Shanghai with Viking Cruises, we visited the Shanghai Museum. It is a massive spot and deserved much more time than we had to visit. We looked at the floor plans and quickly decided which rooms we wanted to see.
We started on the top floor and worked our way down. The first room we visited was the Jade Room. We watched a short movie and learned about the jade mining process and the different types and colours of jade. This was new information to me. I previously thought that all jade was green. We saw a wide variety of objects made from jade in many colours.
We next visited the rooms dedicated to Chinese calligraphy and paintings. The scrolls told stories in beautiful script. And the pictures illustrated the tales.
Our final stop was the Ceramics Room. There was a wide variety of ceramics on display. The very old pieces were monochromatic. More recent years brought colour and art to the pottery. Of course we saw some Ming vases!
It was great to see the Shanghai Museum on our visit to Shanghai for a week. The museum had so many interesting things. It really deserved more than the 90 minutes we got to visit.
See The Art At The Jing’An Sculpture Park
We always enjoy a chance to see art in the outdoors. We visited Spokane a few times to enjoy the outdoor statue garden. When we visited Oslo, the Vigelandsparken Statue Garden was high on our list to see. Close to the Four Seasons Shanghai we found an interesting modern art statue garden.
There was a good display of more traditional modern art statues. And then there were the colourful and playful statues. It was definitely an interesting mix.
If you are in this part of town, plan to stroll around Jing’An Sculpture Park. We only saw a very small part of this park. It covers over 60,000 square meters (110 acres) so plan enough time to see it all. Yet one more interesting thing to do when in Shanghai for a week.
Visit The Starbucks Roastery
Located right beside the Four Seasons Shanghai David discovered the massive Starbucks Reserve Roastery. He learned that there is indeed a good Chinese coffee (Yunnan). Various blends were roasted right on site. In addition to traditional Starbucks coffee formulations, coffee was served as cold brew or dripped.
But the Starbucks Reserve Roastery was so much more than just coffee. Large ovens were used to cook pastries, bread and pizza. The store was licensed and you could get beer and wine.
We normally like to visit local coffee shops when we travel. But the Starbucks Reserve Roastery was an exception to the rule. It was a great stop when in Shanghai for a week.
Marvel At The Chinese Acrobatic Show
We finished up our visit to Shanghai for a week with a traditional Chinese acrobatic show. The theatre was located beside the Portman Ritz Carlton. The Viking tour buses converged and we pretty much filled the theatre. No photography was allowed so we can’t share the images with you. So it just means you will have to visit for yourself.
We got a great and varied show. There were both female and male groups that performed different dances and acrobatic feats. One well-muscled man performed on high bars and amazed us with his core strength as he balanced on one hand. A young woman swung and moved up suspended silks. A duo did an entertaining show on two poles.
It was an amazing display of human strength and flexibility. Beautiful to see. So glad we got to see this when in Shanghai for a week.
A Great Many Things To Do In Shanghai For A Week
We had a great time and found lots of things to do in Shanghai for a week. It was great to arrive early in Shanghai before the formal Viking Cruises tour of China began. We got pampered at two first class hotels. They were great bases to head out to explore Shanghai.
Did enjoy our view of the things to do in Shanghai for a week? Did we miss something you loved?
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