We woke up this morning at 4:00 AM, so we obviously haven't fully transitioned to the Chinese time zone. That gave Jenn and I time to go over photos from the previous day and get ready for today. Originally we had planned to go to the Great Wall but after talking to the concierge he recommended to go on Sunday for less crowds and better weather, so we obliged. So instead today was all about continuing our touring from yesterday, but this time using the subways.
We went down and had breakfast at the buffet again this morning and it didn't disappoint. I started with the Asian dishes while Jenn went with her staple eggs, bacon, and potatoes. We made sure to eat as much as possible because we knew we had a busy day of touring if we were going to check off everything off of our “must see” checklist.
From breakfast we made our way to the nearby subway station, Dawanglu. Once on the subway, Jenn easily navigated us down to the Olympic Park which is on the other side of the map. We made it there in no time at all; transferring to three or four lines just to get there. This first stop of the day was all about checking out the much talked about “nest” like stadium that was built for the 2008 Olympics. Even though its five years after said Olympic Games, the stadium and the surrounding area are still quite the tourist attraction. There were a ton of street vendors and people trying to pawn off all sorts of things. But Jenn and I learned our lesson from yesterday and made a bee-line for the stadium which was incredible. After taking a multitude of pictures we headed back to the subway station that was right at the entrance and made our way to our next stop for the day the Summer Palace.
Getting to the Summer Palace from the Olympic Park would not be an easy task for any veteran subway traveler, but Jenn managed it with no problems at all. The only drawback was the subways for this route were beyond packed. I've never felt so uncomfortable in my life. As someone who enjoys my personal bubble, that was popped immediately after riding the Beijing subway. Even with our personal space violated we still managed to make it to the subway stop unharmed and in one piece.
The map we got from the hotel said which stop to get off of for the Summer Palace but it didn't say what to do once we got out of the station. So Jenn and I after doing a quick observation and seeing no signs directing us where to go did the next best thing and followed the crowds. Unfortunately the wisdom of the crowds failed in this instance and we were saved by a group of middle-eastern tourists who stood near us on the subway and saw we were going the wrong way and came and got us and told us the Summer Palace was in the exact opposite direction. It was shocking on two levels. First that we could ever be wrong and second and more importantly that there are good people in this world like this. A group of people who had no incentive to come back and help but did anyways. This group of people really left Jenn and I an awe for the rest of the day. They were angels.
Once our course was corrected we were then off to the Summer Palace, and what an incredible place this turned out to be. Similar to the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace is as photogenic as they come. From the very Chinese architecture to the beautiful lake and canals it was quite the place to be. We started off walking through the main entrance and veered off to a beautiful park which had a trail that led down to the lake. Unlike yesterday which had off and on light rain today was a scorcher with temperatures in the mid eighties with close to the same percentage of humidity. So we took our time, enjoyed the beautiful views and took as many opportunities to sit down and enjoy the moment as possible.
We spent a couple of hours at the Summer Palace before the heat got the better of us and we made our ways from the beautiful canals back to the subway station. We decided that instead of going back to our hotel that we would take advantage of the beautiful day and head back to the Forbidden City and re-take some of the pictures with blue skies instead of rain. On paper this seemed like a really easy and fun thing to do. But with a key subway station closed we ended up riding the subway for over an hour making our way back to Tienanmen square.
Luckily the long subway ride was worth it and we walked back through the impeccable Forbidden City and had a great time taking pictures and catching things that we missed the first time. From the Forbidden City we made our way back to one of our favorite spots in Beijing, Jingshan Park. Even more so today we were both taken aback by how well kept and gorgeous this park is. It ended up being so worth it to hike to the top of the park and take in the beautiful vistas of the surrounding city.
By this point we were exhausted beyond belief. We had probably already walked at least six miles (conservative estimate) if not more and had a two mile walk back to the Tienanmen subway station to take us back to our hotel. Not only were we tired but both of our feet ached from the constant standing and walking and we were ready to relax. So after the long walk we boarded yet another subway and rode it back to the station near our hotel and made our way back to the room.
We are both foodies and wanted to try more authentic Chinese food but our bodies told us otherwise. So instead we ordered room service again, this time I had their wagyu beef burger while Jenn went with her spaghetti bolognase again and minestrone soup. It was a great meal but I was so tired I even had problems just keeping my eyes open to finish my burger. After dinner it was a little after 7 PM and we turned in for the night and have both never slept harder in our lives.
We both have said at least a dozen times how surreal it is to be in Beijing. And even with how amazing the trip has been so far, tomorrow is the crown jewel of our time in Beijing as we make our journey to the Great Wall. Until then we will bast in the epic glow of another yet wonderful day on this journey.