I love bike tours. We try to do a tour in each City we visit, like in South Africa, Paris, Barcelona and Dublin. I found Cycle Shanghai on TripAdvisor and visited their website to book a tour. I never heard back from them following the online booking. A few days before I arrived in Shanghai, I emailed them directly asking for a tour of Old Shanghai Saturday morning at 10h00. The next morning I received a confirmation email, along with the name and a map of our meeting place. We took the Metro and arrived right at 10am and found our bikes and our guides waiting right where they said they would be.
We completed the obligatory paperwork and found that we were actually doing a private tour, not a regular public tour. We had a guide and a guide trainee. They asked what we wanted to see and then built the tour around our interests. I was a bit concerned as we started out as it didn't seem like they had a plan on where we were going, but after about 15-20 minutes that feeling was gone. I told them we love architecture and wanted to explore the French Concession and Old Shanghai. And we're off.
We met at Central Plaza, hopped on our bikes and road down very busy streets talking briefly about the history of the area. We had a few stops on the trip where we hop off the bike and explore an area on foot.
As we walked around Tianzifang we saw many stray (or wandering) cats. One of my favorite photos is of this police (army?) man taking time to stop and pet a stray cat on a motorbike.
Before I left for Shanghai, I read many articles about restaurants and More Than Toilet was mentioned in several of these articles. While I would never has sought out this restaurant, we did stumble across it in Tianzifang. This restaurant has a toilet motif, with urinals on the walls, the seats at the tables are toilets and food is served in little toilet bowls. Oh and the food also looks like poop. Gross.
|Our guides demanded we get our pictures taken here.|
Throughout the tour, our guides would ask what else we wanted to see and each time they would ask, we'd agree. We want to see everything! I'm in Shanghai for 50 hours, I want to see and do it all. One of these options was to visit a home that was used as a training center for the young Communists in Shanghai. The house was well maintained, but not-surprisingly very Spartan. We were not allowed to photograph the interiors, but we could take pix outside in the garden.
|Our Tour Guide Trainee|
|Old Town Shanghai with Shanghai Tower in the background|
Throughout Shanghai there are these old mansions from the Colonial Era that are being rehabbed and turned into very high end vacation rental homes. Our guide was very adamant that we get our photo taken in front of this home with the skyscrapers of Pudong in the distance - you can see the Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center.
|Our guides. One taking a photo of MS, the other exploring the area.|
|Taking a photo of someone taking a photo.|
|Not sure why they are leaving forward, but all |
the wedding couples were doing the same thing...
|...so we joined them for a quick photo!|
|We aren't very good at being ferocious animals...|
|Taking a quick break in some wicker chairs at the |
slaughter house -- how often does one get to say that?
Our tour started at 10h00 and was scheduled to last about 3 hours, but our tour lasted until about 15h30 - all for the same price of 400rmb per person. We visited a few markets including a food market and a plant and pet market. We also had lunch at a street market all part of this tour (we paid for our own food). I'll review the markets and food in another post.
We really had a great time on this tour. We were able to see so much of Shanghai. Our tour guide was very good - her English, while not perfect, was excellent. She had to ask for the word a couple times, but it caused no problems with the tour. Our trainee guide had never been on a tour before and she needed a bit of work. She always tried to ride next to me or MS, instead of behind us, so when we'd go through tight areas, she would be bumping into us. She also didn't have a whole lot of knowledge of the areas or the building we visited, but she was eager to learn - and our main guide did a great job.
The bikes were fine - they were comfortable and relatively well maintained, although the biggest issue was the brakes. The brakes were a mushy and you really had to keep a keen eye open and anticipate any issues ahead as the brakes don't allow you to stop as quickly as you'd like.
Would I suggest you tour with Cycle Shanghai? Absolutely! I thought these folks did a great job - they weren't quite as polished as the folks in Dublin, but it was a fantastic way to spend part of a day in Shanghai - DO IT!
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