Monday, March 23, 2015

The Most Famous of Places

For the last stop of the trip, we headed to Beijing.  Finally, a nice hotel-- no raucous parties of smoking Chinese business men outside our room, no smell of mold or smoke.  Our hotel was in the heart of downtown, with Starbucks and Pizza Hut within walking distance.  The air was clear and the skies were blue.  The city felt clean and organized and modern.  The urge to get home suddenly melted away, and both girls were feeling sad that vacation had to ever come to an end.

One thing we learned traveling with seven years olds is to take the chair lift up and the toboggan down, and that is indeed how we visited the Great Wall.  In Phoebe's words, "The toboggan was awesome!  . . .And the Great Wall was pretty great, too."

The next day was our very last, but since the flight didn't leave until evening was had the day to explore on our own.  As it ends up, our hotel was just a few blocks from the Forbidden City, so we checked out, left our bags at the desk, grabbed a map, and made our way through the city.  Beijing is about a month ahead of us in Spring, so the forsythia was in bloom on one of the first 70 degree days.  Really beautiful.  We got the audio sets to self-guide our tour and navigated our way through thousands of Chinese tourists around us.  There is an element of huge-plaza-after huge-plaza to the Forbidden City, and being with kids makes that sensation a bit worse, but the kids really did a good job.  About halfway through Phoebe said, "Look, that's where Big Bird was!"   Ends up we retraced a lot of Big Bird's steps from Big Bird in China.

Ah, the Forbidden City-- Here we are!

This is where Big Bird was, apparently.

Taking a break.  Lots of walking!

I love this dragon in the Imperial Garden. 

And then, homeward bound.  A great trip.  Phoebe lost two teeth in China, met her foster mom, and declared that she is going to return to China again someday.  Miranda, whom I always feared would feel a little left out, embraced this trip as if China were her own from the start.  I hope they remember this trip when they are older, but even if they don't, it was well worth it.  Even if the details fade, they will have a sense that China is part of who we are as a family, together.

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