We enjoy our last breakfast onboard the Viking Emerald and by shortly after 8am we’re disembarking and climbing up the many steps to the top of the embankment. Once again our docking facilities lack any finesse. There are numerous porters on hand to help with carry-on baggage. (Our checked bags have already gone to the airport). One of the porters helps Dad up the steps as well as his back pack! For this he is very grateful as it is a pretty steep series of steps to get from river to street level.
We pile onto our bus which is parked randomly in the middle of a lane of busy traffic. None of the other drivers seem the least put out. We set off with a very amusing local guide regaling us with amusing accounts of life in this city of 30 million inhabitants. Yes, 30 million, all living within one massive mega city. Our destination is the city zoo. Big city. Big zoo. We are nice and early so there are no crowds. Viking is really skillful at arranging our tours during optional times. We head directly to…… can you guess?
I’m sure you guessed no animal other than Panda bears.
The first enclosure holds three year old pandas and they are in a playful mood.
I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.
Our zoo visit is pretty quick as we need lunch before heading to the airport for our flight from here in Chongqing to Xian.
Lunch is at a new place for Viking. We are the first to enjoy this upscale restaurant commanding a fabulous view over the river. The meal is traditional Chinese and much of it quite spicy. Even our tour escort Koby finds a couple of the dishes on the hot side. As usual there is way too much. The dishes keep coming and coming in an odd order. Rice shows up about half way through and two vegetable dishes arrive after we’ve all eaten much more than enough. We have none of us quite figured out how to pace one’s self through a meal of unknown numbers of dishes. This one consisted of about fifteen shared between ten of us.
Our flight is uneventful except for a hard landing. Barely two hours after leaving Chongqing we are climbing aboard our bus taking us to the Sheraton hotel in Xian. Weird hotel. The elevators are ridiculously complicated. Take 10 people all going to different floors, all of whom need to get to a slot by the door to insert their room key card card. The elevator will not stop at a floor unless a room card for that floor has been inserted and left in place until the floor registers. Pressing the floor buttons does nothing. The slot is not easily accessible if more than two or three people are in the elevator. The floors are not marked so one needs to look at the number showing within the elevator to figure out where to get off. The lights in the room have created mystery for everyone we’ve spoken to. They seem to work or not work randomly. The bathroom walls are fully retractable. Pictures coming of that oddness. I know – really weird! And dinner – not very good. We’ve been spoiled in terms of service and food quality on the cruise.