After a night in the train, we arrived at the Beijing West train station and into the chaos. The train rid was OK, the kids loved it. We took the soft sleep class, the highest, and it is indeed quite comfortable and very clean.
At the train station it took us a bit of time to find the information desk and taxi queue but once we managed to find it, what a queue. It took us 45 min. to get on a taxi and be on our way to the hotel. The taxi rid took us via one of the main avenues of Beijing which is very impressive, wide, clean, with new buildings all along. We passed Tienanmen square and I knew we were closed to the hotel so I called them to ask that they direct the taxi driver. This was a smart move as the hotel is located in a hutong that is quite difficult to find. For those who don’t know, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences.Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan
to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another.
The hotel is a peaceful place for backpack travelers. It is isolated from the city noises but 5 min. from the forbidden city and the city center. It is absolutely delightful with 12 rooms and a courtyard where we had our first, and best, breakfast in China so far.
After resting a bit, we walked to the Jingshan Park from which there is a beautiful view of the forbidden city and the surroundings and from there to the Baha’i garden, another peaceful place. In between we stopped for lunch in another hutong where we had the best wanton soup ever. In the Baha’i garden we took an electric boat for 4 and visited the garden on the water.
We ended the day in Grandma’s Restaurant after the kids demanded burgers and pizzas. This is a cute western restaurant just across the hotel who serves delicious, huge, burgers.
Tomorrow is dedicated to the forbidden city, we will go back in time and spend some time with the last emperor.