With about 10 hours to explore Tianjin before my train took off toward Beijing, I decided to start off my morning at Nanshi Street. The name is slightly misleading as it's not a street at all, but more of an indoor food mall. The inside is two large crossing halls filled to the brim with food stalls and a second story lined with restaurants all the way around. After walking through the food stall area I walked the entire perimeter of the second floor in search of a Tianjinese restaurant.
|Outside Nanshi Street|
|Inside Nanshi Street|
After I sat down at my restaurant of choice, it wasn't easy to get the attention of the owner. I sat for about 15 minutes before anyone acknowledged me, only to then be moved to another table so a local could sit where I was. Ordering turned into its own fiasco, the menu was written in Chinese with no pictures and I found that pointing at the dishes on the poster outside didn't work either. Eventually the owner brought over his son who knew some English, I asked him to recommend a couple dishes and he went ahead and pointed them out on the menu for me. When the owner showed me the price it was about double the cost of the two dishes I'd just seen, luckily after threatening to leave the owner decided to offer me the correct price.
|Restaurant I ate at|
Earlier on the way to Nanshi I had seen something interesting to the north of the Goulou subway stop. After I finished up my food I walked north to check it out, what I found was some art shops, a drum tower and people trying to charge me 50RMB to use a bathroom. To the north east of Gulou I found the fashion district, and then further on from there I finally found myself in what seemed to be the rock and the book district, this is known officially as Ancient Culture Street.
|Ancient Culture Street - Rocks|
|Ancient Culture Street - Books|
After escaping the shopping district I crossed over the Hai river. Walking along the river I found lots of people enjoying the afternoon including some Tianjinese fishermen and gunmen.
|Some happy people with guns|
Eventually I arrived at Italian Style Town, this area was taken over by the Italian concession in the 1900s and has since been converted into a commercial district. Filled with European restaurants, bars and boutiques; walking around the area was a breath of fresh air compared to the Chinese surroundings which I've become used to in Beijing. With 4 hours left to kill I managed visit a German, French and Italian restaurant; the upside to these was a variety of good food and beer but still the majority of these places were major corporate chains and lacked any good service. By the time I made it onto the train I was exhausted and drunk enough that I fell asleep during the ride back to Beijing.
|Entrance to Italian Style Town|
|View from train station before I left|