First, sorry for dropping the ball. I am not still in Morocco. After my last post in September, I traveled with my family for three weeks to London, Rome, Athens, Malta, and Israel, before coming back to Seattle and returning to work. I’ve been heads down since then helping put another Amazon Q4 in the books (an amazing holiday, check it out). It is time to get back to the blog, we’ve still got to catch up on those places and a quick but awesome weekend in Mexico city, but for now, fast forward to Christmas Eve.
Jerry was spending part of December in Asia visiting family, so I decided to join him nearby wherever I could find a free mileage ticket (frugal holiday given the travel budget is a bit blown for the year). I tried Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, all sold out. Not a lot of options over Christmas, but I did find a round trip ticket to Beijing so I decided to visit China for the first time (luckily after checking the Alaska Air site weekly we were able to switch the flight home to depart from Shanghai, giving us a bit more of the country to explore).
So on Christmas Eve I made my way through an empty SeaTac to wait at the new Delta SkyLounge (tip: use the new lounge in the main terminal, far better than the N gates – there is Beecher’s mac and other real hot food).
Sitting alone with other lonely travelers watching the Hawks game prior to a 12 hour solo flight felt like the most depressing Christmas Eve/Hanukkah ever. I was beyond excited to get to China, and see the hubby after a few weeks apart, but dreading the flight. Then my phone buzzed with a Christmas Miracle – the unicorn – a Delta international upgrade (yay for coach being overbooked). All I wanted for Christmas was a lie flat bed, thank you Santa.
And boy was I thankful for that upgrade after a nearly three hour tarmac delay, which pushed my arrival from 8 p.m. on Christmas, to 11 p.m. – nearly 15 hours in the seat.
Sadly this meant our plan for a Jewish Christmas, having amazing Chinese food in China, was foiled. Super Husband to the rescue ordered Peking duck from the hotel restaurant just before it closed and had it waiting when I arrived at the Fairmont Beijing.
We split the week between Beijing and Shanghai. As an overview, Beijing is the political capital of China, and has an ability to make you feel very small. Everything is oversized from the roads to the National Museum of China (one of the largest museums in the world) to Tiananmen Square (the largest public square). With a heavy military presence, you feel the fact you are in a political capital. In contract, Shanghai is similar to any other modern cosmopolitan city with sleek and ever-present malls (consumerism bashes you on the head in China), charming neighborhoods, lots of ex-pats, and a bit of culture still remaining sprinkled throughout. Beijing has historical sights that are must sees (Great Wall, Forbidden Palace), but lacks the charm and modern allure of Shanghai. Go to Beijing because you need to see it at least once, go to Shanghai afterwards to have some fun.
It was an interesting and worthwhile trip, but getting back in January to Seattle, I am deeply feeling the fact I didn’t do anything sunny and warm for Thanksgiving or Christmas and have to wait nearly two more months until heading to Mexico for my winter sunshine. If anyone needs a January weekend sunshine run, count me in.
Read more about what to do, eat, and where to stay (with lots of pictures) in my Beijing and Shanghai city write ups. Happy New Year’s all! May your year be filled with travel, friends, laughs, and great food.