TRAVEL FRAGMENTS - SHANGHAI OLD & NEW
One of the first sunny and warm saturdays of the season was an invitation to spend the full day outdoors, after a long, grey and polluted winter. Our leisurely itinerary took us from modernity to tradition, kids in tow. We spent the morning in the new West Bund urban development area, before moving back to the Former French Concession and its shaded avenues and cafe terrasses.
Shanghai's West Bund waterfront development bills itself as the Asian's alternative to London's Southbank. It blends a mix of Art and Design venues, green spaces and recreational facilities. While it is easy to deplore the so-called ''copenhagenization'' of major cities, with identikit architecture and facilities, it is really refreshing to see Chinese authorities focussing on quality of life and providing their residents with well-thought out open spaces. Life in Chinese mega cities can often feel busy and claustrophobic, so having access to a fully pedestrian space (no courier bikes tearing down sidewalks beeping their horn at you!), complete with running tracks, a skatepark, several climbing walls and a promenade is a welcome novelty.
The area is perfect for bringing kids' bikes and scooters, and it is possibly the only location in Shanghai where you can let kids freely run around, without fear of them being knocked over by couriers and cyclists who routinely use the street sidewalks in the city. You can also make use of the public skatepark or take skateboarding lessons.
The day was too nice to not continue with the outdoors theme, so we made our way back to Xuhui district, also known as the Former French Concession and grabbed an easy lunch at Ginger by the Park. This gem of a place serves Indonesian fusion food in a unique setting overlooking directly a local park. Try to book a table on one of their terrasses and kick back with a cocktail. Kids canrun around and play in the park's playground / outdoors gym. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the tree-shaded avenues and nooks and crannies of the French Concession, finishing on the notorious Yongkang Lu. The street mixes old world buildings, local residents going about their daily business and cool eateries. Grab coffee at Cafe del Volcan and watch the old and new Shanghai mingling on your doorstep.