This is why I love the fast train in China...Steph and I took the train from Shanghai to Jinan on Sunday night, I taught my classes in Jinan on Monday morning then we headed right back to the fast train to get to Beijing.
It's hard to find a taxi here and because the traffic is so bad many people drive motorbikes or...any other vehicle that moves. We took this little cart to the train station.
Just a bit squished!
When we arrived in Beijing we got lost for about an hour until we finally found our courtyard hotel
It was down this hutong (alleyway):
The fam and I stayed in the same hotel when they came...so it's a little embarrassing I couldn't find it.
But we made it! It's a courtyard hotel/hostel and adorably decorated.
For Steph's last night, we made a dinner reservation at the Black Sesame, which has a 9 course meal of Chinese specialities and unlimited wine.
They have group meals so small groups can experience a big meal without having so much leftover food. Steph and I had dinner with a French family and a couple
They cook right in next to you so you can see how you make it --there was a mirror on top of the ceiling.
This was Chairman Mao's favorite meal--pork belly (which has layers of fat with bits of pork between)--many people LOVE this dish. I had a hard time eating the fatty meat
Dessert was AMAZING. They made a carmel and caramelized sweet potatoes so they were warm and then served it with homemade black sesame ice cream--which wasn't overly sweet but paired perfectly with the warm sweet potatoes.
Steph and I with the two French guys...hello gorgeous! And the hostess and cook
The next day we checked out the Forbidden City, also known as the palace museum. This is where the Emperor lived in both the Ming and Qing Dynasty (1420-1911) and the reason why the capital moved to Beijing.
The main gate is called the Heavenly Gate and has a huge picture of Chairman Mao on it. Theres also a security check and a ton of guards standing around which you can't see in the picture.
It's good luck to touch the gold knobs on the door
Inside the Forbidden City!
Each building has mythical creatures on the rooftop--I love this embellishment. The more animals there are, the more important the building is.
After the Forbidden City Steph and I grabbed a quick street-food lunch then it was time to go :(
I dropped her off at the airport express metro line and waited patiently for her to text me that she made it to the airport safely.
It was so nice to have an entire action-packed week with her! I was depressed (and extremely ill) for two weeks after she left!