48 hours in shanghai

China’s mighty financial center of the north is great for business, but how is it for lazy weekends, casual dinners out and raucous parties? Perhaps better than you’d think.

At 24 million strong, the most densely populated metropolis in the modern world has been frequented and resided in by expats for many years now. Of all the major Chinese cities, Shanghai probably embodies the transition from pre-cultural revolution to present day urban jungle best. Just 20 years ago, the Bund was virtually barren. A quick fast forward and today, you have a stunning, panoramic skyscraper vista that rivals the aesthetic beauty of even Victoria Harbour. Shanghai in a nutshell is tradition meets cosmopolitan.

Where to start?
I began my weekend with breakfast in the French concession, followed by an afternoon of rugby in a nearby Irish pub called the Blarney Stone on Yong Kang Road. I was informed that the area has seen somewhat of a decline in foot traffic since all the nearby bars were prohibited from operating outdoors. Nonetheless, there was still a vibrant group in attendance.

I gleaned the local gen and discovered the concession was actually established in 1849 and was in operation until eventually, in 1943, the Vichy French government signed it over to the pro-Japanese puppet government in Nanking. It finally returned to Chinese hands after the war. The serendipitous Shanghai Saturday afternoon soon merged into dusk and I found an interesting local art exhibition that was followed by a rather late night at the city’s club district—Found 158.

Sunday naturally commenced with a hangover, but after copious quantities of H2O, I treated myself to a veranda with a barbeque in back. A few glasses of Chardonnay later, a well-deserved siesta naturally ensued.

Another night begins
Early evening came with restored clarity and it was time to sniff out a lesser known part of Shanghai: 1933. Originally designed as a slaughterhouse by the British architectural firm Balfours, the structure located in the old Hongkou district was once built in the theme of an old Roman basilica.

The oblong exterior gives way to circular designs that are in harmony with the traditional Chinese belief that the universe is round and the earth is square. Eloquent stonemasonry looks stunning with oblique angles making for an amateur photographer’s paradise.

Sunday naturally commenced with a hangover, but after copious quantities of H2O, I treated myself to a veranda with a barbeque in back. A few glasses of Chardonnay later, a well-deserved siesta naturally ensued.

The building has since been renovated and is now an upmarket platform for drama performances and exhibitions. After my eyes feasted a while, I stumbled across a newly opened whisky bar and decided it was time for a wee tipple.

The place was intriguing, with crudely drawn diagrams of the peat distillation process sketched on the walls. Glass panels beyond granted viewing access to the many stacked casks within the cellar. After discovering the establishment’s connections to the Scottish isle of Islay, I felt it would be impolite not to sample. I opted for a sixteen-year-old single malt Lagavulin, which did not disappoint.

Ultimately, it was time for the inescapable trip to the Bund. Selfie with the pearl tower—check! And with that, my brief 48-hour glimpse of Shanghai came to its eventual end.

Flight delays aside, touring the city was a fantastic experience. While some may opt for the more stereotypical side of Shanghai, I was determined to seek out something a little more off the beaten track. You should do the same.

Category Travel