Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday in Beijing--Olympic Park

A very lazy start to our day today--we relaxed, ate a late breakfast and left the hotel at almost 11 a.m.  All that climbing and walking yesterday must have worn us out!

Our plan for the day was to take the subway over to Beijing Olympic Park to see the Bird’s Nest Stadium and the Water Cube.  I think the Bird’s Nest is a beautifully designed masterpiece of architecture--so to see it in person was a treat for me. 

The beautiful Bird's Nest Stadium--it's HUGE!

I loved the matching landscape lighting:

We walked around the Park, almost all the way around the Bird’s Nest, looked at the Olympic Torch and Water Cube, enjoyed some interesting sculptures and took a few photos.  There were quite a few people enjoying the park, with a couple of children’s events were pretty lively.  The main square is huge--I could not imagine being there with tens of thousands of people!

Interesting sculptures:

The Olympic Flame:

The Water Cube:

VERY interesting architecture nearby--IBM Building

After wandering around the park we walked back to the subway, made a few line changes and came out in an older area of town.   The subway station is right next to the YongHeGong Lama Temple, so we didn’t even get lost!

We decided to have lunch first, so walked along a restored hutong alleyway, checking out a few restaurants.  As usual, we passed on the fast food chains, including KFC-which seem to be on every block here in China.  We eventually decided on ............Mexican food!  Yup--I think we are both officially tired of Chinese food.  We shared a plate of nachos and a cold beer.  The nachos were very good, and of course the beer was great.

The YongHeGong Temple, built in 1694, was originally designed as an imperial palace for a Manchu prince.  It was converted to a Tibetan Buddhist Lamasery in 1744.  The temple grounds are beautiful, and even though there were bus loads of other tourists, it seemed very calm, hushed and peaceful.  The grounds were lush, green and impeccably manicured, and the pagodas and temple halls were very clean and well maintained.  We even saw a man on a ladder dusting the wood carvings!

The park like setting leading into the Lamasery:

Entrance Gate:


Inside the grounds:

Dusting, dusting!

Scenes from around the Lamasery grounds:

We strolled around the temple, looking in the many halls and pagodas, really enjoying the respite from the noisy city.  We took a few exterior photos, but there were signs posted outside the halls and temples:  “Please no burning of incense or film inside”, so we didn’t burn film!

Soon we noticed the monks were closing and locking the doors--they close to visitors at 5 pm.  Darn--we would have enjoyed more time in this lovely place.  We walked out and back to the subway--it was a long ride “home”, with 3 line changes during rush hour. It was pretty packed!

We decided to stay in for the night, we were both tired and a little cranky!  We have found that at about the 4 week point in our trips we both seem to have less reserve and tolerance, but we always manage to get through it!  Of course, a wise person would just take shorter trips, but you all know my motto: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing”!

Dinner tonight?  Just a bowl of noodles from room service, and a nice relaxing evening at “home”.

Tomorrow in Beijing:  No set plans--but I’m sure it will be something interesting!  We have 3 full days left here, and we want to make the most of them.

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