On our tour we were taken to St. Michael´s Cathedral. We were surprised that there was a Catholic Cathedral there in China. This cathedral is the seat of the bishop of the bishopric in Quingdao and was built by German missionaries in 1934. The reason for a Catholic Cathedral being raised in this area dates back to the 19th and early 20th century, when Europeans forced China open for trade. The Germans built this oldest part of Quingdao and erected the Cathedral there. From 1942-1945 it came under the control of the Japanese Army and in 1945 it came under Chinese control. During the 10 year Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976 the Chinese abandoned the cathedral and partially destroyed it. And in 1981 the government opened it up again for services and 11 years later it was declared a Provincial Historic Building.
So there is a lot of history here. When we visited we wanted to see some Chinese buildings and temples and were not sure why we were being brought to see a Catholic Cathedral and not many were listening to the guide.
There are ca 10.000 Catholics in Quingdao and mass is held in the Cathedral at 6 o' clock every day in Chinese and Korean.
Sorry again for the lack of photos, I hadn´t got the VT-mentality back then. Now I would have taken loads of photos of all aspects of the cathedral.
On one of our sight-seeing tours we were taken to an outdoor restaurant by the bay. They brought us such a selection of beautifully made food that we were amazed. There were so many different sorts of food to choose from and they kept bringing us more and more food and stacked it on top of the other food.
This was lunch-time and my group had had several drinks the night before at the hotel, and just to give you an idea of how much they had to drink then the hotel ran out of alcohol and had to send out for supplies in the middle of the night. I cringe when I think about this, this was a 5-star hotel and they must have thought we were such hillbillies ;) Well, at lunchtime the group was so hung-over that most of them did not feel like eating. As you can see from the photos... They were almost begging the waiters not to bring any more food, as the food just kept coming. It was such a pity as this was such beautiful food. Due to my food-allergies I had brought food from Iceland with me, and I was in the minority group of people who didn´t get ill on the plane back. I guess a lot of alcohol and foreign to us food isn´t a good combination.
But kudos to the Chinese for this beautifully made and served food.
Wusi square is also called May 4th square and is named after the May 4th Movement. This square was really close to our hotel, so we went there a couple of times. There was so much life there, right by the FuShan bay, a lot of people playing with large kites, the sky was filled with them, an amazing sight really.
Although I don´t like modern monuments, I really liked the red monument on Wusi square. We got approached by a Chinese lady asking us if we wanted a photo by the monument. She only spoke Chinese, but holding up the camera and with hand gesture telling us how much it was, we accepted. She then wanted to take more photos, and we agreed to one more by FuShan bay, but then we couldn´t shake her off and had to be firm as to not having more photos taken. She then took us to a small photo-shop and had the photos printed... and asked for much more money than we had agreed to. She got upset and started yelling at us, so I just paid what she asked for, which wasn´t much anyway.
There are many booths selling pearls there for peanuts, which for sure were fake. I then bought some pearls at the hotel, as I didn´t want fake pearls, just to make sure that they were real. I bought a lot of pearls, for all my close female relatives. They were not cheap though, even though this was before the collapse of the Icelandic króna. I think they were little less than I would have paid for them here in Iceland, but I wanted to bring some presents back from China, so I bought them anyway.
Wusi square is divided into three parts really, the ShiZhengTing Square, the park and the central square.
I hope I´m getting this all right and I am missing my photos of the square plus videos, which I took on my mobile phone - which got stolen :(
One day we went to a whole different area of Quingdao where there was an indoor market selling fake brand-names of all sorts. It was amazing really, many floors filled with only fake brand-name bags and stuff, the same stuff probably they sell on the beach in Spain f.ex. We went there with a guide and decided on staying behind to have a look at this part of Quingdao, as we were staying in the posh part of it. People bought so much stuff there and the day after some of them came back, and by then the prices were double what they had been the day before.
In that area were also The Communist run stores, which were immaculate, but the atmosphere was really cold.
We walked in some side-streets, some of which were filled with fish, which was laid out straight on the side-walk. To our surprise Serbian music was being played in one of the bars we passed, not something I had expected in this area.
We had the hardest time getting back to the hotel as there was absolutely no taxi which was not occupied and we were getting really desperate, it was getting dark and the traffic was like something I had never seen before. We were finally able to hitch a ride on a taxi with a passenger which took us for a big detour of the city to drop the passenger off. Fortunatly we had been given a laminated card with the name of the hotel and written in Chinese that we needed to go there ;)
On one of our walks by the ocean/beach we saw a lot of couples taking bridal photos. It surprised me to see so many of them together so I asked our tour-guide. He said that it is a tradition here to take the bridal photos before the wedding. That is very different from the western world where the groom is not supposed to see the bride in her wedding gown before she walks down the aisle.
But this was so lovely watching and everybody seemed to be having so much fun :)
The beautiful ball on top of this building constantly changed colours, making it a mesmerizing sight.
It was located opposite our hotel and I couldn´t take my eyes of it at night. Back then I owned a digital camera with only 63 photos and too many of them I spent on taking photos of this tower. But it was really amazing... or maybe I am just a child at heart.
Craft Beer in Qingdao
China is one the biggest beer consumers in the world. Of course one of the most famous beers in China is Qingdao Beer so when I first went to Qingdao I did a whole lot of beer tasting. Although Qingpi (Qingdao beer) and Laopi (Laoshan beer) will always be a favorite beer of mine I have begun to appreciate the new craft beers in China over the mass produced lagers. Although lagers are one of the most popular beers in the world they certainly aren't the best. Craft beers have flavor and are different from brewer to brewer. Where as a blind tasting between Qingpi and Laopi may be indistinguishable to your average consumer, craft beers can contain much more individual character. It's not difficult to wing yourself off the bland industrial lagers and get yourself hooked on never ending craft beer adventure.
The biggest difference between the mass produced lagers and craft beer is taste. Craft beers can be a little bit more expensive but they're generally higher in alcohol and they're made with love. The mass produced lagers are made to be the least offensive to the most amount of people. This is why you will find adjuncts such as rice used in their recipes, rice is lighter and blander. Craft beers live more on the wild side of things and seem less worried about offending people. Many craft brewers use local ingredients, everything from fresh fruit, herbs, spices to pine needles and pumpkins. Some craft brewers are very intent on brewing to style and brewing the worlds traditional beers the way they were brewed 150 years ago. Other craft brewers throw all kinds of stuff into the brew kettle looking to find some new combination of flavors. The sense of smell and taste are powerful vehicles that can take you back to your childhood, aroma and flavor in some hidden craft brew is your ticket to ride.
I'm always on a quest to find new craft beers and China is no exception. Of course a lot of imports can be found on the shelves of some higher-end grocery stores but I'm more on the look out for the local brew. I've found wonderful beers being brewed in Dali, Yunnan at the Bad Monkey Brewhouse. In Hongkong, the Typhoon Brewery has a great interpretation of British style ale. The Nanjing based Oktoberfest Brewery reproduces decent German style lagers. Shanghai's Boxing Cat Brewery has a wide selection of beers including some great IPA's. The eccentric Great Leap Brewery in Beijing is a small craft brewery with a lot of uncommon beers using local ingredients. And finally, Qingdao seems to be the new home to Strong Ale Works, a balanced bottle conditioned ale.
The fact is craft brews are out there and can be a lot of fun seeking out. Next time you're traveling around China explore the area for a craft beer. Taking a craft beer adventure is not only supportive of the small local brewers but is also has it's cool refreshing rewards.
Established in August 2003, the Tsingtao Beer Museum combines the history of the brewery, from when it was started by the Germans in 1903, right up to the present day. It is divided into three sections: History and Culture of a century, Production and Multi Media Area. The first section details how the brewery was founded and built in Qingdao in one of its original buildings. On display are many old advertising posters, photos and other exhibits. The beer production section allows you to feel a part of the beer making process as you wander through the old workshops, brewing lab, fermentation and storage cellar. You finish this section at a mini bar where you can sample the beer before it's been filtered (which I didn't like the sight or taste of). The last section exhibits old packaging (see next tip for photos), new packaging and at the end is where you get your sample of beer which is included in the price of your ticket.
This long street is great to visit. Lots of really good places to eat and drink. All you need to do is get in a taxi and ask for Beer Street. They all know where it is. Located by the Beer Factory. Fun times had by all!
You can walk along the pier and have an eye on Huilange Pavilion.
There is also a sand beach near the pier, you may want to walk in the water to cool your feet after a while of hanging around. There are plenty of salespeople in the pier where you can buy all types of accessories.
Toilet facilities are provided.
On 19th June, sunset was at about 7pm.
Qingdao's Badaguan Villa District is considered one of the most beautiful urban districts in China.
Built originally as the German residential area, people come into town from different Western countries complemented the Bavarian villas with other villas built in their own national styles, creating a medley of architectural styles that today still remains. Today Badaguan features ten streets lined with ~100 classical French, German, Russian, Dutch, English and other Western-style villas. Each street is lined with single type of tree and flowers so that locals say that whoever comes to Badaguan will never lose his way because the flowers and trees will be his guide.
Badaguan is a perfect place for a relaxing stroll during the day hours in a pleasant natural scenery. It is also close to the Bathing Beach #2, providing chance to spend some time walking before or after some time at the beach.
Qingdao Historical Town is quite unique in the landscape of Chinese towns. If features some remarkable example of German architecture of early XX Century as well as a pleasant promenade along the Bay.
The most remarkable legacy of German days is the Christian Church, located on the top of a hill, featuring with the two red-colored bell towers each one topped by a big cross. The Church Square is surrounded by few historical buildings in Continental Europe style. Few other historical buildings may be found in the nearby Zhongshan Road, supposedly a major shopping street but in the essence nothing special. There is also a Protestant Church nearby, that I missed.
The Bay is the most attractive part of the Historical Town and features a boardwalk and the landmark of Qingdao, the Zhan Bridge, the pier built the Germans in the early 1900 with at its end a Chinese style octagon pavilion. The Zhan Bridge, a favorite of Qingdao evening strolling, is especially lively at night, when it gets crowded with people and souvenir vendors. I read that locals say that you can not know the real Qingdao if you have not gone to the Zhan Bridge.
It goes without saying that in the capital of Chinese beer production you have got to pay toll to the local institution and visit this museum, that impressive is not, but it is worth the experience.
The story started in 1903 when the Germans, taking advantage of the water available from the nearby Lao Shan spring, established a brewery in the site that today hosts the museum. One century afterward the brewery, which in the meantime has changed ownership few times, produces the best-selling beer in China as well as exports to a number of countries overseas.
The museum tells the story of the brewery and the brand, with descriptions, vintage photos and memorabilia. You can also learn about the brewing process, see historical equipment and a current production line in operation. At the end of the tour a glass of beer and peanuts are offered free of charge to visitors.
In my visit only guided tour in Mandarin was available, that didn't help me much as I do not speak any Mandarin.
In summary, a decent museum and good way to spend a couple of hours learning about beer production process and Tsingtao beer.
From the Historical City Center, it takes a 20-minutes taxi drive to get here.
There are six beaches in Qingdao (numbered from #1 to #6) though in my trip I was able to identify only four: #1, #2, #3 and #6. They are all metropolitan beaches with brown sand, grey-colored water and ships and cargoes at the horizon. The sea here is so shallow that you can hardly swim. Qingdao is promoted as a premier beach destination and you will likely read or hear of "soft sand and clear water" that can compete with this or that tropical paradise. My advice would be of not expecting much or you will remain disappointed.
Beach #1 and #2 are the more popular with tourists, with #1 larger and trendier (I have read it can host up to 200,000 people) and #2 more secluded and cozy. Both beaches are serviced with changing rooms, toilets and other public facilities and have easy access to shops and eateries. At time of my visit you had to pay a small fee to access #2. Beach #2 is also popular with newlyweds taking their wedding photos. You can walk from one to the other in ~20 minutes via the boardwalk, a pleasant walk if the sun is not too high.
In the Historical Town, very close to the train station, Beach #6 is popular with day trippers. This is the most colorful and hectic beach with plenty of street vendors selling every kind of food and merchandise and people contending a spot on the sand and the sea (photo on my Cover Page was taken in a Sunday morning here). At night, a crowd will gather in search for seashells in the shallow water off the beach.
Beach #3 overlooks the new part of town, with views of skyscrapers and the marina. Less popular, it is a good alternative to #1 or #2. It is reached from #2 by a ~30-minute walk via the boardwalk, in direction opposite to #1. If you are a good walker (and the weather is with you), you can walk from #1 to #2 and #3 and check them all out. As an alternative, hail a taxi and they will get you there.
Beach #2 is the one I enjoyed the most and, for some exchange with other foreigners, the beach of choice of many foreigners, especially Westerners.
Just like other telecommunication towers in many other cities of the World (I notice telecom towers are popular especially in Asia), Qingdao's TV Tower serves for tourists basically as observation point. From the top of its ~350 meters, it affords enjoyable 360-degree views of the city and the coast.
The Tower is a little out of hand to reach from the city center and you will need private transportation to get here. Note there are no taxi stands at the Tower and it may turn quite difficult to find one. You may want to negotiate the fare and ask your taxi driver to wait for you. As an alternative few of other taxis or private cars waiting for their customers will offer you a ride while they wait, but that would usually come with extra price.