The Magnificent 7 in Qingdao


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Asia » China » Shandong » Qingdao
June 28th 2011
Published: June 28th 2011
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gānbēi!gānbēi!gānbēi!

Dianne enjoying herself in QIngdao last year while I was back in Canada building the shed.
Qingdao is a city in Shandong province, just across the Bohai Sea from us in Dalian. I have wanted to go there almost from Day One in China partly because it is the home of Tsingtao beer and partly because of its history. Not to be outdone by the British and French, Germany carved out a niche in China in the 1890s and in 1903 the brewery that become the Tsingtao Beer company was founded.

Five intrepid staff members and two spouses decided it would be a great weekend adventure before the pressures of final exams. The Magnificent 7! Picturing Yul Brynner leading us, five of us left right after school and took the short flight across the bay. The other two would join us later. We had selected the Castle Hotel which was supposed to be on the site of the old German Governor's Mansion.

Of course, it was dark by the time we got there. And, with five people, we had to take two cabs. It is always an adventure taking a cab in China as addresses are not necessarily as well defined as they are in North America. But with a certain amount of head scratching
The Castle HotelThe Castle HotelThe Castle Hotel

Built in the same style as the German Governor's residence. Chairman Mao slept here!
and discussion, we found two drivers who seemed to know where we wanted to go. Several times the cabs pulled up beside each other and had a brief negotiation. They do know where the hotel is, right?

The other cab led the way. At one point he swerved right and our driver swerved left and got ahead of him. The first driver hadn't noticed and slowed thinking we had to catch up. Dueling taxis! We eventually arrived at a hotel. One of our members speaks quite a bit of Mandarin so she went in. Oops. Wrong hotel.

After several false starts and stops we arrived at the hotel. The next day we understood why it was hard to find. It is indeed set on the Mansion grounds at the top of a hill with various winding roads up to it. Not easy to figure out, even in the daylight.

The hotel was fabulous. Nice rooms, nice breakfast/dining rooms, a cappuccino bar(!) and a library. One of the owners was a delightful young woman who had several conversations with us. Made us feel really at home. The library was quite large and had a very interesting selection of
The hotel cafeThe hotel cafeThe hotel cafe

Nice place to have a cappuccino except it was nicer out on the huge deck overlooking the gardens.
books, many in English. One of them was "A Dummies Guide to Catholicism". Sure didn't expect to see that in China.

Saturday

Qingdao is another great walking city. The Seven walked to the beach, saw the famous lighthouse from the Tsingtao beer bottle label and walked down some beautiful, tree lined streets with magnificent homes from the 1930s. We even found a cappuccino bar at just the appropriate time. While relaxing, we decided on the schedule for the rest of the day.

Four of us wanted to take the Tsingtao Beer Factory tour. This is where things started to unravel. We told a cab driver we wanted to go to the Tsingtao Beer Factory and he immediately nodded his head. After an interesting tour of the town, he indicated we should get out and the factory was “across the street”. When we got there, we were at the “Beer Garden”, a massive field used when they have the annual beer festival. Today it was deserted. There were just enough buildings to make you think “Hmmmmm, maybe it’s just around that corner”. But no, it wasn’t.

Sigh. So we stopped at a nearby hotel and talked to
Hotel art workHotel art workHotel art work

There was lots of interesting art work in the hotel. Some old, traditional stuff and some newer items like this one.
the concierge. After a suitable amount of consultation and map reading, we discovered where we should have gone. Back in a cab and back the way we came. This guy dropped us near the Reception Centre and the tour began. The tour was interesting enough but we could have done without the English speaking guide who had obviously done the tour too many times and wanted to rush us though. There were enough English signs that we could have enjoyed it on our own.

Back outside, out came the maps again. With some careful study, we realized we could have walked to the factory from the hotel! So we walked home. The trip led us through a market that was worth the trip in itself. Not that we bought anything. It was just so neat to see all the activity, all the people going about their business, be it buying or selling.

Our map was a bit sketchy as we approached the hotel area. We made a few false starts climbing the hill to the hotel and had to ask directions. One older Chinese man was so excited to help us. He couldn’t speak a word of English
CappuccinosCappuccinosCappuccinos

A trip wouldn't be a trip without one.
but he knew a guy who could. The older fellow was so happy when we went on our way suitably educated. We still made a couple of mistakes but eventually arrived home to meet the others for a glass of wine before heading out for dinner. We thought our cab adventures were over.

In consultation with the hotel owner, we decided on what was supposed to be a great Italian restaurant. We had their address, their phone number, the hotel phone number, a group member who spoke Chinese. How could we miss? The hotel arranged two cabs (cabs don’t cruise up to the top of this hill) and away we went.

It’s pretty well impossible for two cabs to stay together in China. (“Follow that cab” only works in the movies). Our driver seemed pretty good and we recognized many of the landmarks from our afternoon adventure which, of course, is not necessarily a good thing. He came to the street we wanted but wasn’t sure if he was supposed to turn left or right. Like we should know? We decided to turn left which was right (ha ha). However, after a block or two, we came to
The Governor's MansionThe Governor's MansionThe Governor's Mansion

A neat building to tour. The grounds were pretty nice too.
a curve around a pedestrian area. The road became narrower to the point where you could barely get the doors open. It was a dead end and the cars in front of us were trying to turn around or backup. Yikes.

Les jumped out of the cab and disappeared. By the time the cab had reversed directions, Les was back. He had cut across the pedestrian area and made contact with the other group. We paid off our cab and joined the others at the address we were looking for. It was an Italian place, but the one we wanted had moved!

Despite the help of the new Italian restaurant owners, several phone calls, a couple of policemen and a few passersby on the street, we still couldn’t find the restaurant. We were far enough away that another cab ride was in order. We were beginning to think we should swap our Yul Brynner in the Magnificent 7 theme to Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver!

But we got there and had a wonderful dinner. Amazing at it seemed, we actually had no adventures getting cabs back to the hotel!

Sunday

We toured the Governor’s
LandmarkLandmarkLandmark

This Radio/TV tower was very helpful in our attempts to navigate the city without looking at the map.
Mansion. It cost so much to build in the early 20th century that the Governor was fired! Even though we got there pretty early, it was still full of Chinese tour groups.

There was going to be an organ recital in the Catholic Church to raise funds for renovations so we decided to support them. Dianne and I wanted to walk and plotted our route going by way of a park we had read about. Of course, we got lost. As we were standing at a corner trying to decide on a plan, a young man came up to us and asked if he could help. He said he lived right near the park and his father would drive us. They had been driving by and saw our indecision. He got out to offer his help. We asked if we could walk and, after introducing us to his father, he accompanied us on the walk. Great views from the park on top of a hill. He then showed us the way to the Church and bid us good bye. Really nice young man in Chinese middle school.

The recital was great and well attended. We decided to walk
Picture of a picturePicture of a picturePicture of a picture

This huge poster outside the Governor's mansion shows what it looked like not long after it was built. Today all the open space is filed with buildings.
back a different route. We haven’t had much luck with maps in town so we thought we would just go cross country. There is a huge Radio/TV Tower on a hill across the valley from the hotel so as long as we could see that we had an idea where we were. We managed to stumble across an old Observatory, the old Lutheran Church and many interesting sights off the beaten track. I am sure we were “lost” a few times but all of a sudden we realized we were back at the corner where the young man had offered his help. WooHoo! We’re almost home!

The others were relaxing in the library with a bottle of wine so we joined them for an interesting discussion based on the Dummies book we had found earlier. We would have had to take yet another cab to go out for dinner so we ate in the restaurant in the lower area of the Governor’s mansion. A combination of Japanese and German food. And, of course, Tsingtao beer.

We had purposefully planned a return flight late in the day so we could just relax and enjoy good food and good company.
The Lutheran ChurchThe Lutheran ChurchThe Lutheran Church

The German influence continues in the Church too.


The hotel arranged our cabs and we had one last adventure, although it was just a small one. Three of us got into the first cab that came and waited for the driver. And waited. And waited. Turned out he was waiting for the second cab. When it arrived the driver asked us (in Chinese, of course) to switch cabs. We were never sure why. But we have been in China long enough to know better than to ask “Why?”

Home again

We have a whole week to rest up before our next trip: a weekend in Beijing. The end of our China adventure is in sight, we have to make the most of our time!

Just for the record, therebare more pictures at the very bottom of the blog entry and also on page . We hope you enjoy them....




Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 28


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