We traveled to China with Odysseys Unlimited Tour through the University of Michigan Alumni Group. This turned out to be a win-win situation for anyone traveling to China without being able to speak the languages. How so…well, we enjoyed the company of our small group of fellow travelers and our Odysseys’ tour guide, Ping, could not have been better. We saw everything we wanted to and much more!
We opted to get our own Visas through an agency we have used before but we did have Odysseys book our flight so we had no control over the airline or schedule. We will change that decision for our next trip. It may have been just plain bad luck but our flights there and back were unpleasant to put it politely. The travel advisory was Level 2 but at no time did we feel threatened throughout the entire (almost 3 week )trip.
Our first stop was Beijing and we arrived in the middle of evening rush hour so we got to experience the unbelievable traffic and endless high rises which we passed in slow motion. This was when I realized the China I expected to see was not China today! Unlike my husband, I was not prepared for Cosmopolitan China since my mindset was ancient China. We found both are exquisite.
The Hotel Wanda Vista Beijing is beautiful and close to Tiannanmen Square and the Forbidden City. It’s only a 20 minutes or so drive from the airport in non-rush hour traffic. Bring your patience as always when traveling because it took us over 2 hours.
Our first excursion was to Tiananmen Square which was packed with tourists from all over China. It was the beginning of the National Day Holiday. The first photo of flowers was taken in the Square and many real flowers were being planted for the celebrations to take place. The Monument to the People’s Heroes and the gate where Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 are located here.
Nothing is done on a small scale in China and The Forbidden City did not disappoint. We thought the outer court was stunning. Then we passed through the Gate of Supreme Harmony and stood in wonder of the architect. We were able to look at the living quarters of the Ming Empresses in the Palace of Earthly Tranquility.
On to the Great Wall tomorrow!!!