The Search for a Starbucks

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December 11th 2013
Published: December 23rd 2013
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Saint Micheal's Cathedral QingdaoSaint Micheal's Cathedral QingdaoSaint Micheal's Cathedral Qingdao

a German Cathedral in Qingdao China
The day was all planned out, Leave RiZhao than get to Qingdao and get to a Starbucks to have a drink and lunch then spend the rest of the day looking at some of the tourist spots the city has to offer. I had only planned on seeing two major tourist sites in this city on the day trip to Qingdao. The May Fourth Square and Saint Micheal's Cathedral. Then depending on the time remaining walk around aimlessly seeing the city before heading back to RiZhao in the evening. A simple plan as it was, it didn't go entirely to plan.

That morning, early Tuesday, I had gotten up and dressed making sure that I had all the things I needed for the trip. Me and my travel companions had agreed to meet at the lonely McDonald's for breakfast then off to the bus station and away we would go to Qingdao. I had gotten there a bit early and decided to wait, snapping some photos of the area, bringing out Brownie and Baby Blue to have their photos taken with Ronald McDonald that sat outside on a bench. A few minutes later, my travel companions rolled up and we
the debutthe debutthe debut

the debut of my mascots. Brownie (formerly known as Little Brown.) and Baby Blue. Enjoying a morning drink before heading off on a trip to Qingdao
went and had our breakfast, going over the itinerary once more so everyone knew exactly what was to take place. They brought their own camera for which they realized at McDonald's that the battery was dead and needed to be charged. So we decided to spend a little more time at the Starbucks to charge to the battery before moving on to the sites. After breakfast we went to the bus station to get our tickets and get on the bus for Qingdao. A few moments later after we had gotten on the bus off we were. I had dosed off for some time only to be woken by a travel companion wishing to use the camera to snap some shots as we went over the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (or Qingdao Haiwan Bridge) which as of December 2012, Guinness World Records lists the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge as the world's "longest bridge over water (aggregate length)" at 41.58 km (25.84 mi). So in a way this was the first tourist spot I had witnessed in Qingdao. The other companion was rather engaged in a book, something to pass the time away. We had finally arrived at the bus station in Qingdao as we
Brownie and Baby Blue hangingoutBrownie and Baby Blue hangingoutBrownie and Baby Blue hangingout

Brownie and Baby Blue hanging with the man Ronald.
gotten off and emerged from the station, one of many I hazard a guess, we were pretty much swarmed by people wanting us to choose them for the taxi service or to buy things from them. We had chosen a kindly elderly woman to buy a map of the city from. We were informed by one persistent driver that if we continued down the street we would not be able to find a taxi, let alone find our way, that our only choice in the matter was to choose him. We took our chances’ none the less. Down at the lights we decided to cross the street, we figured if we would have a chance to find a taxi it would be at the bus stop (city transit). We stood there for a few moments and the first taxi driver did not know where we wanted to go, which was ok we figured that some of them either wouldn't know or wouldn't want to take foreigners to the spot. The second man knew where Saint Michael’s Cathedral was but didn't know where the closest Starbucks was.

We were off, still with the clear goal of getting to the Starbucks. We arrived at Saint Michael’s Cathedral and started walking around seeing the sites. I found Saint Micheal's Cathedral rather nice to look at, I surmised that one could enter said building but at he time I didn't really look for a proper entrance to the building. Maybe on my next visit I will look for a way into the building and take some photos. But after a while and being asked to move out of some shots taken by some professional wedding photographers. I relented and tried to stay out of their way as much as possible. I will be adding some history of Qingdao and this cathedral at a later date. I was impressed with the design and the European architecture in the middle of Qingdao.

'St. Michael's Cathedral is the product of a strong German presence in Shandong Province in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the mid-19th century the European powers forcibly opened China to foreign trade. The Divine Word Missionaries built a church in the Jiaozhou Bay concession in Shandong in 1902, and in 1934 erected the cathedral, which remained nominally under their administration until 1964. In 1942 it came under the
A pair of DeersA pair of DeersA pair of Deers

A pair of Deers' at the RiZhao bus station.
control of the Japanese Army, returning to Chinese control when the Japanese left Qingdao in 1945. In the early 1950s, all foreign missionaries, including the Bishop of Qingdao, were either imprisoned or expelled from China, and during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) the cathedral was defaced and abandoned. In 1981, it was repaired by the government and reopened for services, and in 1992 it was listed as a Provincial Historic Building by the government of Shandong Province.' this excerpt was taken from Wikipedia. here is the link for the full history of it.,_Qingdao

Off we went in search of of the elusive Starbucks. We walked down the street in search of it but instead slightly getting lost. We had found some English speakers that were kind enough to help me in finding a way. Although they too were unsure of where one was. They were helpful none the less, eager to practice their English. After a brief conversation with them we were off once more. We decided since it was getting on in the afternoon to go and see the second site we had planned to see. The May Fourth Square. We jumped in a taxi and showed the

a pair of Cranes at the RiZhao bus station.
driver where we wanted to go and we went forth to the destination at the speeds that were allowed the taxi brought us closer to the destination. As we got closer to this destination we passed several pillars. As I like to call them 'Pillars of Creation' we also passed several buildings on our left hand side, and of course our right hand side briefly. We rounded the final bend, sort of, the driver gestured that it was not much further. We passed the Veinna Hotel, and a few seconds later we were there at the May Forth Square. Once we had arrived we of course paid the taxi driver and departed thank him for his service. Looking around the scenery, the beauty and the majesty of the surrounding area. I can applaud the city for taking care of such a place and being proud of the location. Being that its now internationally recognized for several years. Hosting the sailing for the 2008 Olympics. At this point Baby Blue and Brownie wanted to come out and have their photos taken in Qingdao and I did take their photo and what a beautiful photo it was. My real life companions on
Brownie and Baby BlueBrownie and Baby BlueBrownie and Baby Blue

Brownie and Baby Blue in the bag.
this journey thought I was a little bonkers to do this but oh well. As we proceeded through this area seeing the shop stalls seeing what trinkets that were being sold. We also spotted a place where we could have gone scuba diving if the weather was warmer and it wasn't December. Of course took some photos while I was there. I didn't want to miss a thing, the beauty the tranquility of the area. Yes, I did find it rather tranquil even with it with people. Some people have actually said have I experienced life without seeing it through the lens of a camera. I normally reply that yes I do take an abnormal amount of photographs, but I do have my own experiences that don't get photographed. Although, i do carry a compact camera with me to most places just in case I happen to see something photo worthy. But again I am getting off topic.

After spending time at the square looking around we decided it was time to find what we had planned to do at the beginning. Find the Starbucks. We approached a taxi and its driver who was busy playing cards alone. We inquired if the driver could take us to the nearest Starbucks. For the driver replied that he could but that fare would not be enough to warrant it because the place was on the other side of the park a mere 10 minute walk if we so desired it. We pulled back slightly confused and decided to confirm this information with one of the sellers of photographs of the sights. Which they did saying that the Starbucks was on the other side of the park. That it was easily accessible on foot. So it was decided we would walk to it. Making it more of a personal victory if we did. So we slowly started walking through the park when the call of nature hit two of our group. Myself and one other. we went to the nearest public restroom to use its services. After which we continued. Locating several relatively unknown coffee places, I suspect only known to those in Qingdao. Of course, the shutter bug that I am I wanted photographic evidence to back myself up if I ever needed to. We had gotten confused at this point. We had followed in the general direction of both the
Safety FirstSafety FirstSafety First

Had to make sure they were properly fastened.
taxi driver and the other woman that confirmed it and all we found was another street. A few of the people had said we were in the wrong area or they didn't know. So we walked around the square for a bit before we decided to enter a convenience store for directions. Fortune favor the bold as they say. There was a patron that knew where it was and was willing to show us. Good news. He had mentioned that his hotel was on the way to the Starbucks so he could show us the way up to his hotel and from there it was easy enough to get to from there. So I had left the store with the man and explained to my other companions what was happening. So we followed the gentleman which in my own thoughts had nicknamed him 'The Guru'. I was filled with joy and excitement, to me it was like Christmas, but it wasn't. As we walked ever closer to the final destination on our list, I felt a slight bounce in my step. I guess the powers that be wanted it to mean something. As we approached the mans hotel he stopped showing the building that it was in and saying it was on the ground floor. The building had the symbol of one of China's many government run banks. We shook hands with the man and he parted our little quest and headed towards his hotel.

As for us, we continued. walking towards the building. Along the way we discussed what to do after this. Either find a place to eat or return to RiZhao. We decided on the later because none of us present knew when the last bus to RiZhao was. Although, we figured that there would be a place to eat near the bus station. At least something small to tide us over until we had reached RiZhao. We strolled into the warm inviting environment that was Starbucks. I grabbed a packet of the Christmas coffee that I had been eyeing from the catalog and ordered myself a large Hot Chocolate. Found myself a table and from time to time I would peer back at the stand that held the specialty mugs. Something there had caught my eye. I was debating on whether to make the purchase and add another member to the travel family. After careful consideration i decided to purchase a new travel companion to the ever growing collection of stuffed travel companions. So that day my travel family increased by 1 Starbucks Bearista, which I renamed 'Princess'. As well i purchased a ground coffee Christmas pack. For when I get home and feel like some actual coffee instead of the instant stuff. I also came to the realization that I spoiled myself when i was in Dongguan. From where I used to work the Starbucks was within walking distance from work. Once all of us had gotten our orders and relaxed a bit we discussed our thoughts on the days adventures. It was agreed that it was a good day and that we should do it again some day in the future. After a while, we decided it was best that we step outside for a smoke and another chance to take some more photos as the sun had already set on the city of Qingdao. We had decided to head towards the bus station and knowing most places like that would have a small shop or some sort where we could get something small to eat to tide us over until he had reached RiZhao. So we had to find a taxi to take us to the bus station. Now anyone who knows in any city in any country of the world finding an empty taxi during rush hour is next to impossible. At last we found one but communicating with him seemed more fruitless than finding one. So I got on the phone and had a Chinese friend explain what we wanted. The first have of the trip to the bus station was slowly. Why you ask? As I mentioned, it was rush hour in downtown Qingdao. Well we finally got to the bus station and walked across the street. We noticed as we walked across the street there was a McDonald's there so we decided to have something to eat there and then take the bus home. We boarded the bus and soon after it started moving i dozed off only to wake a few times during the trip back. We got back and bid each other a good night and a safe trip home as we parted company. After which i got myself a taxi and went home and quickly to bed.

To me this was a good day. Great sights and good people. I look forward to going back to see a few more sights within the city of Qingdao.

I had my photo taken with the May Fourth Statue. Which should be on here soon enough.

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