Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace!
Breakfast at The Regent is spectacular. Guests are glad they are staying 3 days so they can try as many different dishes as possible (and they still won't manage it, by the way). This morning we took a short drive to Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square. From here we walked into the Forbidden City. We had to cross a major streeet via a pedestrian underpass and someone (who shall remain nameless) decided to go through the underpass ahead of their group and guide. That wasn't the end of the world, of course, however it's pretty busy here, and once you lose your party, it's quite fun trying to re-group! Especially when you can't persuade the local police to allow you back through the "one-way" tunnel. Anyway, within a few minutes we're all back together and we begin to explore the amazing Forbidden City.
Completed in 1420, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the world’s largest palace complex, consisting of 9,999 rooms. The city is protected by a 20-foot-wide moat and a 32-foot-high wall. Now known as the Palace Museum, it was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and outside visitors were forbidden for five centuries.
Lunch is enjoyed at the Nikko Hotel, a mixed Western and Chinese buffet. Complimentary juice, soft drink and beers are included - which means some folk may be asleep this afternoon. After lunch we drive to the magnificent Summer Palace, once the summer retreat and playground of the imperial family and royal court during the late Qing Dynasty. Considered one of the finest Chinese architectural gardens, the Summer Palace spans over 700 acres with breathtaking views, pavilions, towers, palaces and halls. Our visit features two short boat trips. The weather is glorious - warm and sunny. Add that to the earlier beers, and it's not surprising we hear some gentle snoring on the way home.