It took forever to find our hotel, because neither Google Maps nor Hotels.com put the pin in the right place. The address turned out to be correct, but even locals had trouble pointing us in the right direction. We eventually went into a bank that was near where one of the pins told us to be, and they called the hotel for us and gave us directions. Thank goodness.
Turns out our hotel is in one of the easiest places to find, we just didn’t know it. The Bell Tower is in the center of the city (both geographically and popularity-wise, it’s like Times Square) and the roads going out in each direction from there are North Street, South Street, East and West Streets. Our hotel is one block up from the Bell Tower on North Street. And somehow, nobody knew where it was. Oh well.
Our first stop was the Muslim Quarter, just west of the Bell Tower, next to the Drum Tower. This is a lively street with stalls of food, souvenirs, and other random stuff.
We picked up some new food there. We shared something like a pita stuffed with beef. Very yummy. And Isa got a fried persimmon stuffed with a random concoction of veggies and beans. She liked it.
We decided against the rainbow of churros.
Then we headed south to the City Wall. This was way more expensive than we had planned (53 RMB each, which is only $9 each but it’s more than the Great Wall and we didn’t think that’s right). But you have to hand it to them, the wall is giant and complete, which is more than you can say for the Great Wall.
Upon entering, a ceremony was starting in the courtyard of the South Gate where we were. It was a changing of the guard in old traditional costumes. I stayed down below, Isa went up on the wall for some aerial shots.
Most people rent bikes to see the whole thing, but as we’re trying to save money, we decided to walk and see what we see. From the south gate, we headed west and then ended up going all the way around to the North Gate, a distance of about 4 or 5 miles.
We moseyed the whole time, so we spent a few hours up there. We watched the sun set, the sky turn black, and the wall light up. We goofed off at open platforms along the way and stayed almost to (if not past) closing time. Here are some pics along the way.
All in all, it’s definitely worth it to see. The bikes would be fun if you don’t mind spending the money. But it’s just as fun without them. We didn’t have anything else planned (there’s nothing much else to do in Xi’an now that high season is over), so it was nice to kill the whole afternoon up there.