Qingdao is a nearby city in our province on the coast. It was the first trip we took after moving to China. We hopped on the train eager and excited, but unprepared. When we arrived in Qingdao we made the mistake of taking a "taxi" to the hotel. The man drove us in the wrong direction and then insisted on doubling our rate to get us where we needed to go. Drew had a word with the man and ended up getting us to the hotel at the original rate, but it was a lesson learned to only take legitimate taxis from then on. That trip to Qingdao was essential for our family. We got out of our town and our apartment and got our first taste at exploring China. Returning from our trip was when Weifang became home. It wasn't an easy trip though. We hadn't quite yet learned or discovered all the recourses available to us since we were so new to China, so helpful apps or Chinese phrases were lost on us this time.
We were excited for our trip to Qingdao for 2 reasons. The first being the beach. Qingdao is on the Yellow Sea and the water is our family's happy place. The second draw to Qingdao was the German influence of the city. Germany occupied parts of Qingdao from 1898-1914, so you can find German-style architecture in the center of the city, and one of my favorite things to do is look at the different architecture of the different places we travel.
Unfortunately, the weekend we went was FREEZING, so we spent most of our time in the hotel and didn't make it to city center or the beach, but we didn't mind. Relaxing in a clean, comfortable, beautiful hotel room was exactly what we needed, and the international breakfast was a plus too. Our family was still adjusting to our new home and city, and being away from the mold in our apartment and sleeping on a REAL bed (we've spent the last year sleeping on a box spring) were welcomed amenities! Our hotel was also across from a little shopping area and nice park so we still got to walk around and enjoy Qingdao without the kids getting too cold. We also met lots of curious children who loved following us around and playing with the kids.
The week before returning to the States, we decided we needed to return to Qingdao. It was summer so we would be able to enjoy the things we missed before, and it only seemed right to end our travels in China right where we started.
We spent our morning at the beach and were surprised to find we were the only ones in swim suits. We already stood out in the crowd, so that didn't cause to much unwanted attention. Ellie spent all morning scouring the beach for sea glass, while Grant found contentment in throwing rocks in to the ocean. The day was perfectly clear and the skies were blue, which is a BIG deal in China. There were countless brides and grooms taking pictures on the beach because it was the perfect day.
We ended our day in city center, walking around the big Catholic church and taking in all the beautiful architecture. It was a perfect day and although the Western influences in Qingdao excited me for our move home in just one short week, I started to feel that little sting, and knew I would really miss China.