Following a busy weekend in Toronto with my family, I was feeling jet lagged and lacked ambition to do much at all. I'd been rostered on a trip to Shanghai, where I planned to catch up on my sleep over the course of a shockingly long 55 hour layover. It was a brand new destination on the A380, and unlike myself, the majority of the crew had never visited the massive Chinese city. During our briefing they quickly made plans to venture out to the famed nightclubs and busy markets. I kept a low profile, hoping to hide from the party crowd upon arrival.
I was happy to find that my friend Vanja would be joining me for the weekend. We decided to go with the flow and do whatever felt fun at the time.
We arrived mid-afternoon, and as the rest made dinner plans, I wasn't feeling capable of doing anything other than sleeping. I retreated to my room where I was thrilled to find that we'd arrived just in time for the Royal Wedding!! I'll admit, I'm a sucker for fairytale stories and since my own engagement 5 months ago, I've become mildly obsessed with weddings. I crawled into bed to watch just as Prince William made his way to Westminster Abbey. I proceeded to watch the entire ceremony, wiping tears from my eyes as the royal couple said their vows. I'm really not sure how I'll maintain my composure when it's my turn. After they were pronounced wed, I was fighting fatigue and decided to give in. I snuggled up in my cozy bed and called it an early night.
I was up bright and early the next morning, ready to meet Vanja for a massive buffet breakfast. I'm normally opposed to eating in hotels, but I'll make an exception when it comes to China. I'd read an article in the local paper stating that less than a fifth of all restaurants in Shanghai met good food hygiene standards. The same paper had an article about cinemas using toxic fluorescent brightener in their popcorn, and the two articles were enough to persuade me to dine in my clean hotel. We spent nearly 2 hours in the buffet restaurant, loading plate after plate of breakfast goodness while catching up after a few months. Vanja had never been to Shanghai and was hoping to visit the markets. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about spending my day bargaining for lower prices of fake designer handbags, but I really didn't have much else to do so I agreed to tag along. We met up with a first class crew member and the first officer and together made our way to the Yatai underground markets. Nothing appealed to me, but I giggled as I watched the others desperately bargain with the stubborn Chinese sales ladies. No sale goes down without a fight. After a few hours we were exhausted from wandering from shop to shop filled with the same items. We returned to wait for the shuttle back to the hotel.
With plenty of afternoon ahead of us, we sat in the hotel coffee shop and sipped lattes over typical random crew conversation. We parted ways to relax for a few hours, agreeing to meet up for dinner later on. Vanja and I had our hearts set on sushi in the Japanese restaurant, and we were devastated to discover that it was closed on Saturday and Sunday evenings. We sadly made our way to the other restaurant, unable to fulfil our sushi craving. I must admit, the salmon that I ordered instead was cooked to perfection.
It had been a long day and we were both feeling ready to call it a night. As the rest of the crew prepared for a big night out, Vanja and I (the 2 youngest crew members, might I add) were off to our rooms for the evening. I spent awhile talking to Ryan, but the phone connection was terrible and we eventually gave up. It was time for bed!
Like the previous day, Vanja and I met up for breakfast again in the morning. I loved the buffet and the variety of foods from every corner of the world. I showed my Canadian pride by eating waffles drowning in maple syrup. I would have liked to have done something a bit interesting that day, but Vanja wasn't up for venturing to the city and the rest of the crew were too hungover to leave their rooms. I settled for a lazy day, going for a quick walk around the area to avoid spending the entire day in my hotel room. For whatever reason, we are placed in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. I received strange looks as I wandered amongst the locals. I was a bit sleepy despite a good night's sleep the night prior, so I decided to take a nap. I thought I'd get in an hour's sleep at the most, but to my surprise I didn't wake up until that evening, only an hour before the wake up call! I got ready for my flight and headed back to Dubai feeling very well rested! It had been an uneventful layover, but I'd enjoyed the time spent relaxing. I was happy to be headed back to Dubai, home of far more appetizing cuisines!