Well, we are here. So hard to believe. The trip was long (13-14 hour plane ride). Luckily we had the most amazing selection of movies/tv/music to watch/listen to on our private seat TVs. It truly made the trip seem to go by quickly. We all slept for short amounts of time and we were all seated together which was good as well.
We arrived in the afternoon and had a bit of a panic (after an easy time getting through customs and baggage claim) when we discovered that one backpack had been left near the bathrooms before we took the crowded shuttle train back to the main airport building. There was virtually no way back to get it. Luckily someone had quickly turned it in to lost and found and it was there in no time. Phew.
We were met by our guide George who was so much fun and such a wealth of knowledge about Chinese history, culture, and Beijing. We traveled by shuttle to the hotel and took his recommendation to have dinner at a local restaurant across the street. Dinner was delicious and else were quite the sensation at the restaurant. I couldn't stop laughing when I noticed the man at the next table videoing Drew and I. Yes, we were definitely noticed and couldn't have stuck out more. We communicated with points and sign language with our waitress. Somehow we ended up with a fabulous meal and it was so inexpensive.
We were all falling asleep by the end of dinner so it was back to the hotel for an early bedtime. The next day we would be packing in the two day tour all into the one day (due to our later arrival).
Because I am blogging using a pretty limited app on my ipad, I am not able to as easily layout my blog posts as I would like. I realize my photos are laying over into the side margins (this bugs the perfectionist in me...I will redo once I get home). It is not easy to place my photos amid journaling as I would like so I will list most of my photos after I write. Ok with you all? Hope so - I know it's the photos you are here for - so don't worry. They are coming. Hard to choose as we all are taking pictures and they all capture our trip from slightly different angles and perspective...
Sunday started very early - 730 take off for sight seeing. All I can say is - the traffic rivals NYC. Crazy and a bit scary. But our driver was obviously not flustered by it at all. We took off for the Forbidden City first. I had no idea of the size. Silly me thought it was a large palace inside a wall - it is actually HUGE!!
It was beautiful and majestic and colorful and amazing. However the best part for me was waiting for George as he bought our tickets. We stood among a huge crowd waiting to get in. We were suddenly famous. Everyone was staring, touching, asking if they could take our pictures. Asking them to put an arm around their children and pose with them. It was HYSTERICAL!!! I just could not stop laughing. I think they thought Kate was some sort of super model. All the men and boys seemed mesmerized by her long light hair. Jack was a rock star for being so tall. Ben was a kid so everyone wanted him in their photos. Even John, Drew and I were super rock stars. This happened to us later at the Great Wall. I thought we would never make it to the van we were stopped so much!!
Worst part of the morning was spraining my ankle - big time - while walking the cobble stones. What was I thinking wearing my clogs?? I hobbled thru the day as my ankle doubled in size. I was able to change into sneakers later but it did affect my climb up the wall.
My next post will cover the afternoon visit to the Great Wall and the jade factory.