The next stop on our recent trip to China was to the city of Xi’an (pronounced she-ann), home of the infamous Terracotta Warriors. We flew from Beijing to Xi’an on China Eastern Airlines and it seemed as though we had stepped back in time. For a two hour domestic flight, (similar to taking a flight from Denver to LAX at home), we were given a hot meal, movie choices, choice of four different newspapers, blanket and slippers. And these were the cheap seats!
And hot tea. Lots of tea.
In fact, it is almost impossible to find cold drinks of any kind in China. This water machine was the “drinking fountain” in the airport. The choices were warm or hot water. That’s it.
In fact, at our hotel, I tried to order an iced tea, and the hostess stared back at me, so puzzled. She finally brought a very small cup of hot tea with a glass of ice on the side. With Matt’s order of iced coffee, my iced tea and the girls wanting a Sprite with ice, we became affectionately known by the hotel staff as “The Ice Family”. They thought us so strange.
Xi’an is one of the oldest cities in China and is one of the four great ancient capitals of China, but the somewhat recent discovery of the Terracotta Warriors has really put Xi’an back on the map.
Our hotel lobby depicted some of the ancient history.
Ella enjoyed the welcome tea.
After check-in, our first order of business was to find the historic bell tower in the ‘old town’ section.
We found the bell!
This city is still surrounded by the original wall, which was pretty cool to see.
Smog in this city was horrible!
But, I was impressed with the flowers everywhere and the nice wide city streets.
Inside the tower, we happened upon a traditional musical performance.
We made it to the top!
I kept referring to Xi’an as a ‘town’, but in reality, with a population of 8 million people, it’s the size of New York City! It seemed so small and quaint in relation to Beijing or Shanghai, each with a population of around 24 million people. China is enormous!
We were stopped for pictures a lot, which we’ve dealt with before, but here it seemed to be more like a teaching moment for their kids and I found it endearing. To them, seeing Eva’s blond hair was kind of like seeing a unicorn. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.
We found our way to the Muslim Quarter next and I absolutely loved the energy there!
There were several blocks full of street food and other local items to buy. SO many food choices!
Beef was skewered on to these big sticks. I don’t know what kind of wood it was, but I’m sure it lent a great flavor.
This was some sort of apple pound cake, which was good.
The girls loved the fancy cotton candy.
My best guess is that this was some sort of taffy pulling. They would pull the candy until it almost touched the ground, then they would flip it back up the hook. So fun to watch!
Also, they were pounding some other form of candy with large mallets.
Matt saw a beef sandwich that he just had to try.
The boy chopped up the beef to a fine mince, then loaded it into a flat bread and added some sauce.
The finished product. We all loved this sandwich.
Not every day you see a sheep being cleaned right in the street!
I found the spiraled potato to be very intriguing, the crab on a stick? Not so much!
Lots of yummy naan, too!
We kept seeing these fried cakes, too. They looked like some sort of donut, so we decided to try one.
We decided that it was actually some sort of sweet potato (?) patty with a gummy, chewy texture. I liked it okay, don’t know if I’d order it again, though.
The Muslim Quarter was in the old town and I loved all of the traditional architecture in the area.
Then you’d come across beautiful hidden courtyards, such as this one.
Overall, I just loved the vibe of this entire area!
On our walk back the hotel, we saw this ladder balanced on top of some rickety scaffolding with a guy perched on top. We kind of wanted to hang out to witness the outcome of this decision.
Later that night….I had a soak in this amazing tub, overlooking a busy city intersection and loved every glorious minute of it!
Up next, one of my trip highlights, the amazing and most impressive Terracotta Warriors.