One of the great things about living in Beijing is the variety of cuisine that is available to eat. Last night after work a group of us met to have a belated birthday celebration. We went to a wonderful Italian restaurant that is situated not far from the Lido Holiday Inn.
The Lido was the first western hotel built in Beijing and at one time was central to the only area where westerners were allowed to live. Due to that it has a very western feel in the hotel and surrounding area. It is a place where I go when I want a touch of home. It helps keep me centered especially on a China Day. These are days when the Chinese culture, country, language are winning and I am not. These are days when nothing makes sense especially banking, lines, traffic, taxi drivers or when they have moved the muffins I like from one part of the store to another, I can’t find them after walking around aimlessly in a 3 storey Chinese grocery store and I don’t know the Chinese words for muffins or for “Why did you move the bloody muffins? They were perfectly fine where they were.” On China Days you might as well go home, take a pill and go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning things will be alright again and you will be able to cope with all life throws at you including the smog and spitting.
Anyway, back to the Italian restaurant – we had a great time laughing, talking, eating delicious food, drinking endless bottles of wine discussing many topics including the political race from an American, Australian and Canadian point of view – most of the people at our table tended to lean towards the Democrats but we were split on who would win or who we thought, with all our wisdom, should win.
Three hours later we walked the kilometer back to an apartment dodging traffic, beggars and whatever else we ran into. Once inside the 16th floor apartment, with its massive ceiling to floor wall to wall window at the end of the living room, we sat and watched fireworks that were being let off in the next complex and continued laughing and talking. Finally, fighting sleep and I said zidian, rode the elevator back down to street level, flagged a cab, told the driver my address in Chinese which he understood (praise be) and within fifteen minutes was back in my beautiful apartment ready to sleep. All in all it was a great evening and we will return again and again to the restaurant though we do want to try the French restaurant which is next door even though the prices are higher and the portions smaller. Gotta love the culture of Beijing….