Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu Great Wall of China

(This post got lost in the transfer. And it is found!) Great Wall of China - magnificent, majestic, grand, spectacular! When we reached the top, I teared up with emotion. Photos do no justice. It's one of those see-it-to-believe-it spectacles. Originally built in 500 BC, portions of the wall have been rebuilt and maintained through the 1600s. The Great Wall is measured to be 5,500.3 miles long (did you hear that?! built with bare hands!), to include actual walls, natural barriers (like hills and rivers), and trenches. It was built to protect China at the northern borders from invaders. (I won't go on and on with a history lesson here...)
Tucked away en route to the Great Wall entrance is The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu Great Wall, formerly a real schoolhouse turned restaurant, luxury hotel and art studio. Our driver pulled into this charming little plaza surrounded by low brick walls. Inside the courtyard were scattered bistro tables. To the left was the restaurant and to the right side, an art glass studio. I think the restaurant itself was divided into 5 separate rooms (originally classrooms). By this time, we were excited at the thought of a 'Western' meal. 
We were seated in a smallish, charming room with large windows and light pouring in. Each table had a stack of grid paper placemats and pastels.
Each menu cover showed off original art left by touristy patrons. I love that!
A big chalkboard listed the daily specials handwritten by the super-friendly staff. The vibe was cheerful, playful and casual, refreshingly different from all the formal ultra-Chinese dining we've had.
Butternut Squash Ravioli and Cream Sauce.  With all the walking and hiking we've been doing, I deserved this delicious, heavy, cheesy, carby plate of nourishment.
Kedgeree, Fusion Curried Vegetables and Fried Rice. Awesome flavors and textures. So light and flavorful!
Caesar Salad.  Creamy, crunchy, parmy, capers.  Comforting...delicious and Italian.
House Rolls with Roasted Garlic Cloves...Cappuccino, Chardonnay. So un-Chinese!
Our Western lunch was fantastic, but actually left me craving Chinese food! Right across the courtyard was the "Schoolhouse Glass," a glass studio showcasing beautiful art by local art students.
Now, the Great Wall of China! We learned that there are several entrances to the Great Wall and we chose this one...
Gorgeous beautiful wild cats were everywhere roaming the streets and jumping walls. Check the eyes - they absolutely look Chinese!
I felt like I was at the Canyons... Very clean, very efficient Gondola.
At the top, toilets.
Seeing the grandness of the Great Wall in real life was life-changing. Gazing out at the majestic landscapes was inspiring, breathtaking.
After coming down, we were solicited by every street vendor. I ended up buying personalized Chinese seals for each of my kids, American name plus their equivalent Chinese characters.
For more on my China dining that week, check:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lisa,
    I log on to your blog on a regular basis. Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spendinga significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    Mutianyu Great Wall is a good alternative for Badaling, often quiet, with less tour buses and stops. Being the longest fully restored section of Great Wall, Mutianyu has the complete facilities including a cable car, chairlift and toboggan.I'd love to share a blog with you: