The best thing about Shanghai?
Our friends from Austin, Kent and Larisa. Getting to see them was GREAT - they are the consummate hosts. (And if you're a guy in search of traditional menswear, Kent is a talented designer with his own online store!)
The second-best thing about Shanghai? KITTY NUBBINS! Kent and Larisa's ragdoll cat, Paisley.
And then there's the city itself, with its blend of old and new (mostly new). Nowhere is this more easily seen than along the Huangpu River; on one side, the European/Art Deco/Art Nouveau Bund.
And if you turn your back on the Bund, the steel and glass skyscrapers that make up the district of Pudong.
Along the Bund, there are lots of buildings you can peek inside - if you're a fan of Art Deco, I highly recommend you do so, at least at the Fairmont Peace Hotel. In fact, the heritage of Art Deco in Shanghai is so strong that the city will be hosting the 2015 World Conference on Art Deco.
Note also that the Peace Hotel is a lovely place to duck out of the rain/cold/heat/crowds (depending on the time of year) for a tea or coffee.
Other Shanghai architecture delights:
Heading up into the World Financial Center (also known as the Bottle Opener, but don't call it that to its face)
for a view of the city from the observation deck, which was the highest in the world from 2008 - 2011 (and still the highest enclosed observation deck). Yes, it's apparently higher up than the one at the Burj Kalifa in Dubai, which we visited last November! We went up at sunset; it was a bit hazy out, but getting to see all of Pudong's towers light up at twilight was a real treat.
The observation deck is most impressive. The floor has a glass stripe down the middle, so you can look down on the people and buildings well below. Lots of our fellow tourists were loath to step out over the abyss; so it was really fun watching one particularly hesitant Japanese man's friends drag him literally kicking and screaming out on top of it.
And there's a urinal with a view!
If you're a fan of dioramas, which I am, there's a great one at the World Financial Center. It walks you through a time-lapse day in Shanghai, at the end of which there are enormous fireworks. Duck and cover!
If that isn't enough diorama love for you, you can also visit the Urban Planning Exhibition center, which has a gigantic model of Shanghai, including the Expo 2010 buildings.
Next up: a LOT more Shanghai! Soup dumplings! Uyghur food! Markets and an amazing kaiseki experience! Stay tuned.