We are a small family of three and this is our second year living in Shanghai, China. We moved here because of my husband’s job, when our son was three months old. He is currently 2 years old. Shanghai is a boisterous but burgeoning city where dozens of things happen simultaneously. There are never-ending things to do and see, which makes planning a weekend somewhat of a challenge!
8:00 AM MORNING
You know young children don’t care if it’s the weekend or not, they wake up early, so we take this to our advantage to make the most of every day. After our 8 am breakfast, we head out for a walk around the former French Concession.
This neighborhood is filled with leafy trees that change depending on the season, small shops, cafés, boutique clothing stores, bustling local markets, and traditional Shanghanese lanes.
The beauty of this place is that it is unique in comparison to other Chinese neighborhoods, which usually have huge skyscrapers, little green and gigantic avenues. We walk to the park that is closest to our home, where the Chinese enjoy all sorts of activities: women gather for dance lessons, people play badminton, older children roll around in skates, and young children enjoy the playground. You can usually also find men writing traditional Chinese characters with water on the floor. Some parks even have rides for young children, such as carrousels and small roller coaster, which of course, our son loves.
Brunches are very popular in Shanghai, and best of all, it seems like they were all made with the whole family in mind! The Chinese love young children – especially western ones! So almost everywhere we go we are treated very nicely! Waiters try to give us their best table, they run with the high chair for our son, and before we even get the menu, they already have given him special cutlery and plates, and sometimes even something to play with!
Brunches tend to be small, but yummy – perfect bite size for children! And best of all, there is usually a free flow of wine, which is always nice to enjoy while the caring waiters entertain our son!
We are lucky that our son is still okay with napping in the stroller. This gives us the opportunity to continue exploring while he gets his needed rest. As he sleeps, we usually finish with our own lunch (It’s hard to worry about your own eating when having to negotiate with a toddler – right?) and then we head on to our next activity, which usually requires us taking the subway or a taxi. This is either an outdoor or indoor activity, depending on the weather. Shanghai can get very hot and humid in the summer, and quite rainy and cold in the winter.
One place we love is the Shanghai Natural History Museum. The exhibits are well organised and interesting for our son – especially the real life sized dinosaurs and other animals!
The Shanghai Art District – also known as M50 – is another great place to see. It is a trendy, open space with art galleries, some graffiti art, and plenty of space for kids to run around and play and lots of opportunities for taking beautiful photos!
17:00 DINNER – EVENING
We usually make one last stop before going back home – a coffee shop! Our son loves to pretend he’s having coffee after demanding I give him water in a coffee cup. This gives us the opportunity to take a rest from all the activities we’ve done throughout the day, before we head back home for our bedtime routine.
Depending on my son’s mood, we may also take a stroll around The Bund, a famous waterfront area which follows the river Huangpu and allows for spectacular views of Lujiazui, where all the important skyscrapers in Shanghai are located. Here, you can see the Shanghai Tower (tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa!), the Oriental Pearl TV Tower (iconic building in Shanghai) and the Shanghai World Financial Center (also known as “the bottle opener” because of its shape). Watching the sunset in this area is amazing because of the way the changing light of the sun reflects on the immense buildings. Also, they slowly start to light up with fashionable and extravagant light combinations.
As you can see, we love living in Shanghai, even if sometimes dealing with the culture shock involved in life in China may get a bit challenging.
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