Often when travelling to long distance and exotic locations we have managed to squeeze in a ‘free’ stop-over to give us the opportunity to see and experience another city. This is done quite easily by booking flights with a long layover connection time.
In the past we’ve spent a whole day in Vancouver (en-route from Honolulu to London); an evening in Abu Dhabi (en-route from Seychelles to London) and probably the best example was a weekend in Dubai. We had booked return Emirates flights for only £600 each from London to Singapore and our outward journey meant stopping in Dubai for 2 full days which gave us enough time to explore the main points of interest of this amazing city.
This time as part of our round-the-word trip our plan was to travel from Tokyo to Colombo, Sri Lanka. After much Skyscanner searching we found reasonable flights with China Eastern which meant a 24 hour transit in Shanghai. Fab! We would get to spend an evening exploring Shanghai and therefore have a little taster of China.
So, the plan was to arrive in Shanghai at around 4 pm; transfer to our airport hotel to check in and off-load our luggage; get the metro to The Bund (famous riverside area of Shanghai); perhaps take a leisurely boat trip or sunset walk along the river banks, soaking in the atmosphere with the new city on one side and the old Shanghai on the other and ending with a meal before the return metro back to the hotel…
Unfortunately this did not happen and nothing, including the weather was in our favour…
- The flight was a couple of hours late meaning we landed at 6 pm rather than 4 pm.
- We were at the back of a large plane and the transfer through customs was lengthy.
- We missed our free airport shuttle transfer and there wasn’t another one.
- The first ATM wouldn’t accept UK cash cards.
- The second ATM wouldn’t accept the first card we tried (but thankfully we withdrew cash with the second card (always best to carry at least 2 different cards))
- An airport transfer service tried to rip us off by charging $40 to take us to our hotel. After finding one friendly airport worker he pointed us in the direction of the metered taxi service where we were charged the equivalent of less than £5.
- The metered taxi driver didn’t know the way to the hotel and had ask for directions, then stop again to phone the hotel to check.
- Eventually we got to the hotel (which wasn’t exactly an airport hotel as it was about 25 minutes away) and the wifi wasn’t working so we were unable to check any directions or start Google maps.
- By then it was about 8:30 pm and pouring with rain so we gave up and had a pizza in the hotel restaurant!