The area of Shanghai known as Tianzifang, off of Taikang Lu, is several of my friends' favorite place in Shanghai. It was described to me as a neighborhood containing unique art galleries, shops, and little cafes where you can sit for an entire afternoon doing work. Sounds like my kind of place, no? Therefore, I decided that it would be the first place in Shanghai I'd check out on my first day off of work since arriving here.
Two Saturdays ago, I set off for Tianzifang. It involved taking one bus and three metros and a little over an hour of time. In New York terms this is pretty ridiculous (how far can you go in an hour?) but this is pretty much the way things go in Shanghai. Fortunately I got out at the right metro stop and immediately saw this sign:
Success! Right across the street was an entrance:
Tianzifang turned out to be a tourist-happy collection of small little lanes tucked in between two larger and more modern streets. There are art galleries and souvenir shops and lots and lots of bars, cafes, and restaurants.
After wandering for a bit amongst the waiguoren with their fanny packs, white sneakers, and DSLRs slung around their necks (tourists do look the same anywhere in the world), I had lunch at a cafe that cost slightly more than I had wanted it to, which solidified my suspicions of Tianzifang as a tourist site catering to foreigners.
Not a big deal. There's bound to be places like that in all the cities in the world. But it did mean that I didn't stay as long as I had thought I would, nor did I buy anything, nor did I have any fun adventures. It's a pretty and quaint little place, but I think I will content myself with imagining it set in a small town full of friendly locals and friends. More to come as I go off in search of Steph-happy places in my new city!