Here I am. Finally visiting the most populated country in the world. I've been waiting patiently for this holiday to Shanghai. The gigantic metropolis, home to 25 million people, has not failed to impress. The first surprise came actually from the weather. I had heard a lot of bad things about pollution in Shanghai. I was even told that was almost impossible to see a blue sky. But what I found was not quite like what I was described. On the way from Pudong international airport to the stunning Waldorf Astoria hotel, I was welcomed to Shanghai by an unexpected rainbow. The traffic was surprisingly smooth. During the 3 days stay I did not spare curiosity and excitement. On day 1 I visited the skywalk on the second tallest skyscraper in town, the Shanghai World Finance Centre, at nearly 450 meters above ground. I then visited the gardens in the old city, the Yu Garden. By then the sun was high and shining, while the humidity reached a barely bearable level.
Last stop on day 1 was the impressive French Concession district, where old and modern managed to merge in a sensational way. It felt truly vintage. Perhaps one of the best shopping experiences I had. As for food, of course I went for as much traditional as I could, and it didn't disappoint at all. Each meal counted in excess of 10 dishes. On day 2 I visited the gym and the pool of the hotel in the morning, while in the afternoon I had a full immersion in the typical Shanghainese sightseeing. I walked on that curvy bridge that all of the depictions of this city never fail to display. Evening time I attended ERA, an incredible acrobatic show. The highlight was the stunning motorbike ride in the metal cage. I saw this stunt before in Oman, during Muscat festival, where 3 motorcyclists rode their bikes inside the congested space of a spherical cage defeating gravity. Back then I thought that it needed a lot of skills for the 3 riders to gauge distances while driving at full speed in such a small space. This time it was totally mind blowing to see 8 of them performing the same stunt simultaneously!
At night I was impressed by the hospitality. I visited a pub after dinner and asked if the would have shown the football game Italy vs Ireland at 3AM. They said yes, so I set my alarm at 2:30AM and went to sleep before midnight. When I reached the pub it was close, but one of the waiters waited for me to inform me that I was the only customer interested in watching the match. Hence he gave me a motorbike ride to another place where I found a bunch of fellow Italians and enjoyed the game with them (though we lost it). The last day at the airport I experienced perfect timing at checking and a much slower boarding process. See you again China. Xie Xie Ni.
With the goal of 150 country to be visited before 2025, Stefano Virgilli is an avid traveller and expert connoisseur of the cultures of the world.