This weekend, Shanghaiist Editor Elaine Chow went off to Qingdao for the world famous Qingdao International Beer Festival. This is her story. Sponsored by the lovely folks over at Ctrip, the easiest way to find the best fares in China.
And it’s over! I arrived home last night on a 6:50pm flight that, surprisingly, wasn’t delayed at all. Good show China Eastern, good show.
The weather, as previously stated, was back to being beautiful. After checking out of my hotel, I went to wander around May 4th Square (五四广场) on Donghai Xi Lu. The area, all 100,000 square meters of it, is a memorial to the famous May 4th movement, which protested foreign imperialism on China’s shores.
Shandong had a particularly large part in sparking the entire movement. Since it had been under German control before and during World War I, China agreed to fight with the Allies under the condition that all German spheres of influence would be returned to China. But when the Versailles Treaty was signed in 1919, International powers awarded the German rights to Japan instead.
The diplomatic failure led to almost all students in Beijing to go on strike until a list of their demands were met. Workers and businessmen in Shanghai also joined in solidarity and the Movement became a symbol of rigid class lines being discarded for a greater cause. Enough history? Yeah, I thought so.
All those white things you see are wedding couples
Afterward, I took a bus (the 317 line) to Badaguan (八大关 ), an area famous for its tree-lined roads, beautiful sea views and European-influenced architecture. Oh yes, and for its wedding photography. Everywhere with the wedding photography. One rocky outcrop next to the Number Two Bathing Beach was crawling with men in tuxedos and ladies in white gowns.
Perhaps because of the 6.50RMB entry fee, Huashi Tower (花石楼 ), a Russian built mini-castle, was actually a respite from the formal wear craziness. Only one couple made it in, occupying a window for a Romeo & Juliet-like shot.
Romeo, oh Romeo… are you ready to get married yet?
Couples sat, shoulders touching, and gazed at the sea. The elderly slowly and serenely picked their way through stone paths. Everything was shaded by gorgeously maintained trees.
By the time I got to the beach, I was pooped. I drank a bag of beer, popped some squid into my mouth and relaxed until it was my time to head to the airport (and to pick up my lost phone from a Shandong benefactor).
Speaking of which, I unfortunately thoroughly wasted my last real meal. I only had time for one lunch and decided to spend it at Diner on May 4th Square, a mistake. Perhaps I just ordered wrong, but it reminded me of what Shanghai thought of Western food ten years ago. A watery olive oil splattered mushroom soup, an overcooked steak sandwich and an iced cappuccino (they didn’t have just regular iced coffee) was around 85RMB.
Which means that, save for some delicious street finds – sweet potatoes, meatsticks, pickled cucumbers and the like, I definitely failed on the food front this time around. Granted, this trip had been planned more around beer than anything else (and in that area, I think I excelled), but it’s a shame that in a city with so many amazing options, I generally chose the middling places to eat.
To save my Shandongnese grandma from rolling in her grave, it looks like I’m going to have to plan a real all out food tour here in the near future – Ga La (clams), sea cucumbers, those gargantuan dumplings and some good Qingdao hotpot.
There’s apparently a music festival happening in the middle of September (according to people over at Qingdao Adventures. Say, Ctrip… ready for Round 2?