Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Downtown Shanghai Lights and Sights

The weekend before Danielle and Alex left, we stayed downtown for 2 nights. We'd talked about going various other places by train, but decided to maximize our time and money by just taxing downtown for 45 minutes instead of all the time it takes to travel outside of the city. Plus, with as huge a city as Shanghai is, it has a lot to offer! It was also fitting that they saw the Bund on their first and last weekends in Shanghai. We were also blessed with beautiful weather!

Friday evening didn't quite go as planned... We got to our hotel (a "serviced apartment" with three bedrooms, so it was very comfortable for us all together!) in good time. But then we made the mistake of taking a taxi to the place we wanted to eat for supper. There went at least 30 minutes in traffic... Then the mall we were going to eat at was overrun with people going to a gaming conference next door. Each of the good restaurants were full with a long wait time. Not good when your children are already tired and hungry!

Cold Stone wasn't busy, though, so we decided on ice cream for supper! Hadassah didn't mind! ;)

We also got some savory breads to go with it, since those were a quick pick up as well. Then we had a picnic...

But OUTSIDE of the gate of the park we'd planned to walk through after supper. Despite light lasting into the evening, it seems most parks close around 5 PM here.

But while we waited for Ryan to get the ever-present need of water, it was a pretty place for a cousin picture! It's pretty cool how these cousins will always be a little closer, despite the years age gap, due to the 6 weeks together.

Our hotel had a beautiful night-light view. Ryan took Alex and Danielle to the Bund to see it all lit up after the girls went to bed, and I had a glorious, relaxing time scrapbooking with this view!

We'd planned to go swimming after breakfast, but the pool didn't open until 11 AM. Dassah enjoyed the last minute switch of Ryan taking her to ride some rides at People's Park though!

Alex and Danielle met them at a subway stop to go to the point of the highest buildings in town.

They got to go to the very top of the tallest building in China (and 2nd tallest in the world!) - The Shanghai Tower.

The view was pretty incredible! The city is huge...

From the top, even the other two tallest buildings looked short!

Back at the hotel, I enjoyed another relaxing scrapbooking break while Ellie napped. The view with blue and white was pretty awesome too! And when Ellie woke and we waited for lunch to arrive (ordering gyros to the hotel was the best ever!) and the others to get back, I turned on Chris Tomlin music and danced. It's been a while since I broke out the old ballet moves, and Ellie laughed to see me spin and leap and dance her around. The words rang out:
"I lift my hands to believe again, 
You are my refuge, You are my strength. 
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember: 
You are faithful God forever!"

With the view of a huge city full of people, and the memories of how faithful God has been through all of the transitions and changes, and how He could use this huge city to bring His Name glory... I knelt, lifted my hands, cried and prayed. May His will be done here. And though I'm not always thrilled by the day-in-day-out discomforts of life overseas, I am thankful to be a small part of what He is doing here.

After lunch, Dassah got to do what she had looked forward to most: swim! This girl loves the water! And Ellie enjoyed her first experience in a big pool too! Since it was closed in the mornings, Ryan even took Hadassah again that night before bed. :)

While the girls napped in the afternoon and Ryan rested at the hotel, I got to go with Danielle and Alex to Yu Yuan Garden. It was awesome how, by now, after their trips downtown to see various museums in the past weeks and their recent forray to the Jewish Refugee's Museum, they knew the subway system better than I did!

There were cool rock formations...

And beautiful, artistic gates.

Small details like these make my eyes happy. :)

It is really neat that out of my side of the family, these two will forever know more about our life here than anyone else!

There were a ton of touristy shops selling things, so they were able to pick up some things for family and friends, and even try their hand at bartering!

Then, it was our turn to enjoy the town. :) It was a perfect late afternoon at the Bund, breezy, pretty empty... So we got our own space and took many timed pictures until we got the perfect one. :)

I love being out with my man, and being out with just him made me appreciate the city even more. It definitely is a fun, romantic spot to be!

And the sky... It's been so beautiful in the recent weeks!

We enjoyed delicious food with fresh bread at an Italian restaurant just around the corner. And we just talked and didn't have to get up once while we ate supper. Amazing to parents of two small children!

"Now we see in a glass dimly..." Never would we have imagined ending up here. I look forward to seeing what God will do in the years to come!

Ellie was ready for us to get back home though. ;) She had the best babysitters, but in her current mommy-clingy state and a cold coming on (we realized later) she was ready for mommy's arms!

Our bright blue eyed big girl was also glad to see us. :) But what a blessing it was to have "live-in" babysitters and be downtown so we could even order pizza in for them! Something we haven't figured out how to do way out where we live...

When the girls were safely tucked in bed, we headed out again. We were going to a hotel where there was supposed to be salsa dancing at 9 PM, but we arrived early and enjoyed chocolate. :) It even happened to be half price!

We headed up where the dancing was supposed to be, but there wasn't any going on. But we found this amazing, secluded balcony with the best view of the city. Wow.

Kissing on top of the world! It was a secluded balocny, and almost didn't seem real. The air was clear, the clouds seemed close enough to touch, and I was with the one I love most. Seemed like a dream world... Romantic outings have been harder than we'd prefer to come by in the last few years, but this was a huge blessing from the Lord to remember!

We waltzed in the clouds as we sang our wedding dnace soung ("A Hundred More Years" by Francesca Batistella) - and cried as we realized how blessed we were as...

"they can dance, under the moonlight, 
and God is smiling down on them tonight... 
And they want to stay right here, 
make it last for a hundred more years!" 

Then we went back down the spiral suitcase, back to our responsibilities, who thankfully slept soundly all night!

Before church, since we didn't have the hour commute we usually do, Ryan took Hadassah to do a few more rides at People's Park while we packed up. A ten minute taxi ride to church seemed so short. The singing and sermon were refreshing, and the potluck afterwards (since it was a 5th Sunday) delicious! A great ending to a great weekend.

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