Shanghai with a touch of Italy, America, France and China

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Fifty km away from Shanghai, you will find a village called Zhujiajiao. Zhujiajiao is like Venice in Italy. It is a village on the outskirts of Shanghai, located in the Qingpu District and was established about 1,700 years ago. The population of Zhujiajiao is about 60,000. We took a taxi to this town but there are bus services as well. It is said that to visit Zhujiajaio without seeing the bridges means that you have not really been to Zhujiajiao at all! The bridges are distinctive and old, built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The old town is connected by 36 delicate spans in different shapes and styles, from wooden to stone to marble. And don't miss the Fangsheng Bridge. It is the longest, largest and tallest stone bridge. We took a short boat tour through the small canals. It's a tourist trap but still nice to experience. The village contains a lot of small shops and tiny restaurants. If possible, avoid the weekends and Chinese holidays because than the village will be fully packed with tourists.

The day after our visit to Zhujiajiao we went to the flagship store of Dragon Fly Therapeutic Retreats in the French Concession district in Shanghai. You can relax with high quality, affordable but luxurious massages. First we tried to have a massage at the Peninsula but that was too expensive. A good alternative is the Dragon Fly. It is absolutely worth a visit but be aware that it is not cheap. Their treatments are excellent! Next to this great spa we had lunch at Al's Diner after our treatments. Al's is not really a Chinese hotspot but based on an American diner. The setting is great. There's a couple of tables outside where you can sit, relax and enjoy the French Concession street life. We wandered around in the French Concession and visited hip artistic small shops with fashion, bags, books and jewelry. It is a nice mix of eastern and western influences.

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Shanghai and her mini me meets Lost (in) Heaven

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Shanghai is China's largest metropolis. The city that never sleeps. They work on it twenty four hours a day, seven days a week during rain, snow or shine! We visited Shanghai a couple of days before China's New Year will take place. The year 2016 will be the year of the monkey. After we arrived late in the afternoon we decided not to sleep, due to the time difference. We went out to have a glimpse of the city instead. We took a taxi. Be aware that most of the older taxi drivers can't understand or read English. So, have the address you want to go to written in the Chinese language because otherwise you will not reach you destination.

The next day we discovered a great store in the Xiantidi Shopping Mall. It is called Pinla3d. The store, the first of its kind in the city, is offering a 1:1 life-size replica for people who want to have a life-like portrait of themselves (a mini-me) or of their loved ones. The store offers visitors 3D body scanning and printing. Scanning only takes three to five minutes and you can choose the right size for your clone and even an outfit! You have to wait two weeks before your replica is ready to take home from the store. These life sized, ‘Mini-me's’ aren’t cheap, costing $28,500 each. But if you’ve got the cash then why not indulge in the ultimate selfie and go get yourself a ceramic clone? Or buy a small mini-me. That will cost you around $200.

With the easiest and cheapest way to travel through Shanghai, the subway, we went to the French Concession district to Yongfu Lu and checked out the lovely spot of Lolo Love Vintage. In this shop there are gorgeous items from decades gone. Such as shoes, jewelry, hats, ties, dresses and crockery. The sprawling space of Yongfu Lu is full of nostalgic glamour and kitsch trinkets, such as typewriters and toy dolls, while standout pieces adorn mannequins or decorate the walls. Lolo Love Vintage focus on the ’20s-’40s period.

We changed from the period of the 20s-40s into modern times and had lunch at the chic boutique hotel The Waterhouse at South Bund. Set in a converted warehouse dating from the 1930s. Here, the tans of unfinished wood and grays of burnished brick emit a pleasing warm ambiance to have a nice but little bit overpriced lunch. After lunch we walked along the Bund. One of the most recognisable landmarks in Shanghai today. There is a distinct contrast between the old and classical Bund at Puxi. On the other side of the river are the sky scrapers and modern towers at Lujiazui, Pudong, the financial center of Shanghai and China. It is hard to imagine that a small fishing village would one day grow into this magnificent city!

During our walk along the Bund it snowed so we were freakin cold and wet. We were happy we could settle at Lost Heaven to have dinner afterwards. With its low lighting and minority-inspired designs, Lost Heaven sets the mould for Shanghai-based Yunnanese restaurants. But use your flashlight of your mobile phone to see what's on the menu ;-)! They do relatively authentic Yunaan food, and if you wanna do pre- or post-dinner drinks they have a really nice terrace on the roof. Prices are reasonable for the location and views. 

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