Day 258: Bad at Badminton

Hello again! Another blog post in the same day! Why? Peter set up the router and my VPN! Hooray! Now I can access WordPress from my own laptop while he plays video games. Why do boys like video games so much? It’s so weird.

Boys also like badminton. But so do I. Here is last Saturday’s photo of the day:

Look at that action. But before I get to last weekend, I just need to complain about a few things here for a second.

1. Pollution sucks. Shanghai has been blanketed in dense smog for 3 days now. Your eyes, face, and throat burns. It leaves me exhausted. My eyes have been red and irritated. Will I every breathe easy here?

2. Reading my favorite healthy living blogs kind of depresses me now. I am so jealous of their easy access to amazing and delicious clean foods. Their biggest complaint is how to avoid another pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. In China I am lucky to recognize 10% of any food labels in the grocery store. I just want some canned pumpkin, kale, quinoa, and an oven. So spare me the details of your recent trip to Trader Joe’s. I don’t want to hear it!

3. I need to lift weights. Get me in a gym and let me pump iron. I miss it. I need it. PLEASE.

Whew. I feel much better. Moving to China is like landing on Mars. We have it so easy in America! I will never take it for granted again.

Despite these 3 gripes, I feel very comfortable in Shanghai. I feel like I belong here in this moment. It helps that Peter is so wonderfully supportive and keeps me busy with socializing! I know right? Me? Socializing?

It all started last Saturday with a morning of badminton at his friend’s apartment complex. Let’s just say it was an intense 2 hour competition that left me sweaty and sore.

Badminton can definitely be easy and slow. However when you play with three very competitive people, one of whom was a college varsity tennis player, things get intense. 

Based on Peter’s crazy jumps you’d think he kinda sucked. Well Mr. Tennis Pro was spiking birdies left and right. I on the other hand struggled with moving my feet and letting my arm swing without too much thought. Too much thinking equaled missing the birdie. Again and again. I blamed jet lag. At least there’s room for improvement.

Badminton was so much fun!! I loved it. Even though I was exhausted I loved playing with other people and getting in some fun exercise. Who says exercise has to suck? It’s all about movement. And I definitely moved.

After badminton we lounged around the apartment before meeting another couple for dinner. Check out the sunset from our place!

 

Wow.

For dinner we met up at Cantina Agave in the French Concession. We enjoyed some margaritas and delicious Mexican food. The French Concession area is very white which means that there are tons of foreigners there. It felt like America. Weird.

So we embraced our whiteness.

It was a fun Saturday night that left me completely exhausted.

Speaking of exhausted, I am tired! Time for a shower and bed. My nose is already dripping like mad, probably my body trying to rid itself of pollution. Yuck.

This is China!

 

Shanghai: Americans eating German food in the French Concession

That title sure is a mouthful isn’t it?

Let me explain.

For my final weekend in China, Peter wanted to take me to the French Concession for dinner. He had been there before with some Chinese friends but didn’t know how to actually get there (whoops). So we did some research online, picked a nearby metro stop, and went to town.

Getting off the metro, we have absolutely no idea where we are so we pick a direction and start walking. The area is typically modern which means we are definitely in the wrong place so we go to a hotel for directions. Well the concierge has never even heard of the French Concession. Excuse me? Confused, we grab a hotel map, locate the French Concession ourselves, and begin walking in the opposite direction.

30 minutes later we finally turn off the main road and begin sauntering down quiet streets lined with trees and quaint architecture. We found the non-existent French Concession! The streets are dark and mostly residential and so keep walking in hopes of finding some restaurants.

Well we get lucky. Really lucky. 

Making our way to a cab-lined street, I notice a big building nestled away from the sidewalk behind a fence and some serious shrubbery. Enticed by the brightly lit windows, I convince Peter to explore this building. As we near the building, I see a sign that says “Paulaner Brauhaus”. We opened the door and are greeted with a big, bustling, German restaurant and beer house!

The restaurant is 3 stories tall with an open floor plan that reveals the extraordinary number of people dining. There is a fairly large German population in Shanghai so I am not that surprised. We are seated on the third floor with a great view of the bar below. The menu is chocked full of typical Bavarian cuisine that reminds me of my time in Austria. “This is the food of my homeland!” I joke with Peter.

Clearly he is excited to eat.

To start I order a beer because it would blasphemous not to drink beer in a beer house. Duh. The beer is refreshing and lasts comfortably throughout our entire meal.

Then they bring out fresh German bread with a variety of spreads including butter, liver pate, and some other meat spread. Oh my lord it so delicious. I am practically licking liver pate off my fingers.

For the main course, I convince Peter to try the beef goulash. It was one of my favorite dishes in Prague and is served here Vienna-style with potato dumplings that knock our socks off. Yum.

For my dish, I order the Vienna sausages with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Oh my goodness. The sausages are perfectly crispy on the outside and pair fantastically with sauerkraut and potatoes. You honestly cannot go wrong with sauerkraut.

Stuffed and happy, we notice a band setting up downstairs. Soon, they begin playing American classics such as “Stand by Me” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. Children get up to dance in front of the stage while a group of rambunctious Chinese youths begin hollering and taking shots.

It is time to go.

So that was our random experience in China. Just a couple of Americans eating German food in the French Concession of Shanghai. You gotta love China.

Cheers!

Paulaner Brauhaus @ Fen Yang Road
150, Fen Yang Road, Xu Hui Qu
Metro: Shanxi Lu

Day 63: The French Concession

One night we walked the dark streets of the French Concession in Shanghai. This area was a French settlement from 1849 to 1946 till the Vichy French government gave it to the Nanking government. We got lost because nobody except tour companies and hospitality calls it the French Concession.

The streets are narrow with cobblestone sidewalks perfect for sauntering and lined with flowerless trees. The roofs are rounded like French barns.

It doesn’t look like much, which is exactly why it is so wonderful. In Shanghai, any respite from the hectic city environment is welcome.