China is at it’s most european in a small part of the north inner city of Shanghai. The former french concession offers streets lined with sycamores and small houses, that could be easily be standing in any european city. The concession is always a fixture in my visits to Shanghai.
The last time I had the pleasure with Ran it was early in the morning.
Monsoon season had just started, which can be pretty fierce in August.
The morning is the time, where few tourists or visitors leave the station mostly inhabitants of Shanghai. The streets of this small neighbourhood are deserted and one is surprised by every car passing by. This feeling is a rare one in asian cities. This foreign feeling of silence and harmony invite for a stroll.
A piece of Europe in Asia
It’s a pleasure to see that the city government wants to leave this part of the city alone. I went excitedly into a yard of a small office building, that looked like original Art Deco. Ran and I passed the doorkeeper (as usual) and went the steps upstairs. All the details like chandeliers, doorplates and lift decoration lifted my heart with joy. But I was quite flabbergasted when I saw an information plate, stating that the building had been erected in 2006!
Still, I must say that it looked authentic and fit quite well in the scenery.
The quarter was also popular after the revolution, visible in the museum in honor of the chinese PEN president 巴金 (Ba Jin), whose former house is just a stonethrow away. A big house, a big garden in a difficult time of chinese history.
The flair was unforgettable.
This dreamy place changes rapidly in one of the most pulsating parts of Shanghai after sunset. The streets become packed with people, based on the variety of restaurants, brewerys and wine bars. Here you can find everything that is culinaryly available in the world. This time Ran and I entered an italian restaurant. The Spaghetti Cabonara and the pizza Margharita could have as easily been served in a small ristorante in the city of Siena.
But someone seeking quiet it’s not advisable to appear in the afternoon or the evening. I have experienced this painfully in 2014. Slightly hangover from the evening before I wanted to spent some quiet time in the oldest local english bookshop, the Shanghai bookworm (Counterpart to the Beijing bookworm in Sanlutin). The bookshop however, was as full with people as the streets, even though with intellectual and vegan claims. Based on my condition at that time I might exaggerate.