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trip to china

My Trip to China, by Events & Adventures Member Gustavo

Many people asked me, “Why do you want to take a trip to China?” Everyone knows the food is horrible, it’s crowded, and it has a lot of pollution. Regardless, my answer has always been the same—because I had never been there and I wanted to experience for myself how China is different from the countries that I have visited. And I can tell you, I do not regret it at all; China has been one of the most amazing trips that I have ever taken. It was different, it was magnificent, it was…simply amazing!

Let’s start with the language barrier. When you are trying to order food and you have no idea what you are ordering, basically you just go by the pictures or how it looks on the table. You just try it, because at the end of the day this is all about experiencing the unknown. When do you really get to eat something crazy, anyway? It was always good food; sometimes it was better than others but overall it was healthy.

We visited three different cities, and when I say different, I mean it. Beijing is a combination of an ancient city mixed with modern construction; the contrast between the styles of architecture was really clear. Xi’an is a smaller city but with a lot of people. It’s very crowded and there’s a lot of traffic, and despite it seeming more polluted than Beijing it still felt like an ancient city. Shanghai was just magnificent. It looks like a modern metropolis and has an amazing skyline with big, colorful buildings. It looks like what it represents–a cosmopolitan and important global center.

As far as sightseeing during my trip to China, the Great Wall just blew my mind!

This should come as no surprise, but what a hike. Obviously, there are no elevators or any easy ways up the wall. There are only stairs and all of them are different heights, sometimes narrow and sometimes very wide. We hiked through 12 separate forts built into the wall to make it to what we think was the top of the wall. Going up was challenging but going down was downright scary, you always want to make sure that you watch your every step.

We visited the Ming Tombs, the Sacred Way, the Temple Of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Last Government Protected Historical Hutong District—all of in Beijing. In Xi’an we had the chance to visit the Terracotta Army, a Buddhist Temple, the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, and the Xi’an City Wall. Finally, in Shanghai, with its spectacular skyline and impressive new architecture, we still got to enjoy the city’s old gardens and a town market where you can buy almost anything and bargain for everything.

I do not have a bucket list of the places that I want to visit—I just want to go everywhere. But before the trip, it was clear to me that China was one of those countries where I would go only with a group, and once again Events & Adventures did not disappoint. The trip was very well-organized from the beginning, the tour guides were terrific, and the staff was always trying to make sure everyone had a great time. I had the chance to make new friends that I had so much in common with and I am sure we will share more awesome adventures in the future. That was my trip to China!

shanghai adventure

A Shanghai Adventure Ends Our Amazing Trip to China

On Day 5 was the first day of our Shanghai adventure, but we were finally able to have a bit of a downtime before our afternoon flight there. The tour days are long and packed so it was nice to be able to relax at the hotel and visit a few local spots. It wasn’t too long before we arrived in Shanghai and met our local tour guide Allen, who was extremely knowledgeable about the city and gave us so much information on the way to our hotel.

The first evening in Shanghai was like a dream. Our tour guides offered a cruise on the Huangpu River, where we were situated in the boat’s VIP section. Being in the VIP meant we wouldn’t have to fight for good photos of the Shanghai skyline! The Huangpu River is considered a symbol of Shanghai, originating at Dianshan Lake and emptying into the Yangtze River at Wusongkou. It is 71 miles long and 437 yards wide and is ice-free year round. The river basically divides Shanghai into east and west. One spectacular sight is that the two suspension bridges, the Nanpu Bridge and the Yangpu Bridge, appear to arch over the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and is said to resemble “two dragons playing with a ball”.

The west bank of the Huangpu River is the cultural, residential and entertainment center of Shanghai. The Bund, Monument to the People’s Heroes, Waibaidu Bridge, and the oldest park in Shanghai, Huangpu Park, are located on the west bank. In addition, many historical buildings left over from Shanghai’s colonial days have been preserved. The east bank of the river (Pudong) is the newer district of Shanghai and is its financial and commercial hub. Steel and glass structures are abundant here. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower, skyscraper hotels, offices, and malls of the Lujiazui Financial Zone are located on this side of the river.

Cruising on the Huangpu River has become a must for most visitors to Shanghai. The busy wharfs and the “three-layer waters (or three-color waters)” at Wusongkou are within sight while on the boat. The ‘three-layer waters’ are formed by the convergence of the Huangpu River (gray white), the Yangtze River (yellow), and the East Sea (green) during high tide. When the sun sets, the river is veiled in the glittery neon lights. The nighttime skyline of the city was definitely one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen.

Day 6 was our last full tour day of the trip as Day 7 was a free day. Our Shanghai adventure continued with a tour of the silk factory. China, and specifically Shanghai, is known for its silk and Suzhou is most famous place for silk producing. We learned about the entire lifespan of the silkworm followed by watching them make silk products.

After the silk factory we arrived at The Jin Mao Tower which is 420.5 m high, with altogether 88 stories and total construction area of 290,000 square meters. It is a perfect combination between the Chinese Traditional Architecture Style and the advanced building technologies of the modern world. Some of our members decided to try the Sky Walk—walking around the outside of the tower on the 88th floor attached to just a bungee rope. Don’t look down!

After exploring the views at The Jin Mao Tower we arrived at The Bund, which we had seen on the boat tour the evening before. It was a beautiful day for walking, exploring, and seeing that it is a boulevard lined with impressive neo-classical buildings. The Bund is the classic image of Shanghai and the city’s main attraction. Sweeping along the western side of the Huangpu River, the majestic building dates back to Shanghai’s grandest days. Many banks and financial companies built impressive offices here in the early 20th century when Shanghai was the financial capital of Asia.

After The Bund we decided to head to what they call the “Shanghai Bazaar”, the Yu Yuan Markets. It was packed as it just so happens it was a National Holiday in China called “Labour Day”. Here we were able to purchase a mish-mash of items including traditional Chinese arts and crafts and souvenirs, ornate chopsticks, Chinese medicine, walking sticks, fans, silk umbrellas, bamboo and rattan furniture, goldfish, pottery, and much more. We all did some shopping, had lunch on our own and then met up with everyone to go check out the Yu Yuan Gardens which was a stunning layout of beautiful pavilions, miniature lakes, bridges and rock formations.

After exploring the Yu Yuan Gardens we had time left over so our tour guide’s brought us to what is called The Shanghai French Concession. The French Concession is the area of Shanghai once designated for the French, consisting of today’s Luwan and Xuhui Districts. Luwan’s Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is also home to both Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for tourists. Xuhui is also ever popular for tourists and is home to Shanghai Stadium. The tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions in the area still retain an air of the “Paris of the East”. This place was a little bit of home to us as it had classic western food, draft beer and many people spoke English.

It was bitter sweet arriving at dinner that night knowing it was the last dinner together as the little family we had created on our travels! The friendships created, the memories made, and the laughter would be something that would last a lifetime. To travel with 42 strangers who would become like family was the most surreal experience of the trip. I had expectations going into this trip and this experience had exceeded them all.

The last day of our Shanghai adventure we had to ourselves to be able to explore whatever our hearts desired. Our tour guide Allen put together a tour of his home village of Suzhou, which they call the “Venice of China”. The city’s canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions in China. Some of our members visited The Classical Gardens of Suzhou that were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000.

Other members visited Shanghai Disney which was only opened last June and is the biggest Disney in the world. They went on rides, ate food, bought souvenirs and had a blast seeing the differences between Disney US and Disney China. Some members went on food tours and ate things such as Szechwan tofu, lamb kebabs, crawfish and wok fired snake. Others checked out markets and museums.

Upon arrival back to the hotel we decided to go out as a group for one last dinner to close out our Shanghai adventure. We went to a French restaurant called Va Bene located in the French Concession that we had seen the day before. We ate the most delicious French cuisine, drank some wine, and reminisced over the past week of our China adventure. Shanghai adventure

Although there are some things I won’t miss, such as Squatty Potties, the smog, language barriers, and having to pay for water everywhere I go (just some of the luxuries we have living in the US and Canada), it will be very difficult to say goodbye to this amazing group of people that I did not know a week ago. Watching the dynamics of everyone come out of their shell from Day 1 to Day 7 was really great to see. The best thing about Events & Adventures is the lasting friendships created, the love connections that have flourished, and that we are all here for one purpose—to have an adventure of a lifetime. Until next time, whether it’s a Shanghai adventure or another amazing place across the world!

curling class

Curling Class with Events & Adventures Minneapolis

Warmer Weather in Minneapolis Means….Curling Class?  Curling may seem like the last thing a winter-weary Minnesotan would want to do in spring, our club had a full turnout for Curling 101 at the Chaska Curling Center. Our members were eager to re-don their winter hats and mittens to try their hand at learning this medieval Scottish tradition.

The Chaska Curling Center was more than happy to accommodate us with the necessary equipment to start our curling adventure! First opened in December 2015, the Chaska Curling Center is home to over 1200 members with a six sheet arena, locker rooms, and a player’s lounge.

During our two-hour Learn to Curl class, our members learned curling etiquette, rules, scoring, delivery, and sweeping. Some members showed some real promise at possibly pursuing a new, and unusual, career in sports. At the end of the class, they had the option of obtaining a membership with the Chaska Curling Center and even the opportunity to enter a local league for competition.

When asked about their curling class experience, our members had this to say:

  • “If you’ve ever watched it, don’t understand, but feel like you should because you’re from the land of ice and snow, this is something to check out! Judgement free and highly encouraging. What a fun time.” ~ Lisa Ghylin
  • “I loved it, I expected it to be a little harder but I had a great time.” ~ Jeffrey Mark
  • “Amazing experience with knowledgeable instructors.” ~ Tiffany Osterman

Events & Adventures make it easy to live a life you love by finding new and exciting things for our members to do.  Contact us today to learn more about the curling class and the many other great events we host every month right here in the Twin Cities, not to mention our other clubs around the US and Canada.

spring training

Spring Training with Events & Adventures Phoenix

Here in Phoenix we have the good fortune of being the West Coast home to the wonderful world of Major League Baseball’s Spring Training games. And frankly, spring with Events & Adventures would not be complete without a fun outing in 70-degree weather to enjoy seeing the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the World Champion Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa. Sloan Park is a baseball park where the primary tenant is the Chicago Cubs, and the ballpark serves as their spring training home, but it’s also the home of the Arizona League Cubs.

Events & Adventures Phoenix attended the sold out spring training game as part of its own exclusive group!

It’s not every day you can get that close to World Series Champions to enjoy hot dogs, beer, and the American pastime. The best part of the game? The socializing of course! The lawn seats are the place to be at any spring training game. New members were amazed at how comfortable they felt stretching out on the lawn while the sun set behind the park. We laughed through all nine innings, with our favorite part being the mascots signing autographs and playfully taunting the other team throughout the stadium. There were two home runs and lots of fouls, but despite our high hopes we’ll have to wait till next time to catch one.

And in case you are wondering—yes, the Diamondbacks hit a home run right into the concession stand! Speaking of which, if you weren’t sure that a bacon-filled heaven actually exists—we can confirm it does if you are a baseball fan in Arizona! You could tell which team a fan was rooting for—the Zonies were ordering the 18-inch corn dog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapenos, and bacon, served with a side of fries, while other fans ordered the Chicago deep dish pizza.

Although Sloan Park is not their home field, the Diamondbacks sure made it feel that way as they won the game by the score of 7 to 3! It’s always exciting when the members of Events & Adventures Phoenix can get together for any sporting event, but it’s even sweeter when the home team comes away with the win.

puzzle room

Take a Shot as Sherlock in a Puzzle Room

If you have ever wanted to feel like Sherlock Holmes you need to check out a puzzle room! If you are unfamiliar with the concept, here is the gist of it: you and your team are locked in a room and have to solve puzzles and riddles and follow abstract clues in order to escape. There is an endless string of possibilities with a project like this, and each room is unique which means the game never gets old!

In January the Seattle Events and Adventures club went to a local puzzle room called Serial Mysteries. This puzzle room divided our group of 20 people into three smaller teams, each with their own obstacles to overcome. Once each team accomplished their task we were able to put the three separate pieces together in order to open the final safe and escape the room!

In March we decided to challenge ourselves yet again and went to a Redmond puzzle room called Flee Escape. For this, our group of 35 people was divided up into five separate teams. Each team had a different difficulty level and theme which meant that everybody enjoyed a personalized experience. Some of the themes we encountered included Egyptian, Museum Heist, and Escape from Prison!

What’s great about puzzle rooms is that you go in as a group of individuals and come out as a team!

You learn about one another’s strengths (word games vs. math equations) and work together to escape the room! Every team—after exiting their puzzle—was all smiles and claps on the back…even if they didn’t beat the room!

This is a great way to build friendships and learn about your fellow Events & Adventures members! Not to mention it’s super fun! So grab your magnifying glass and pipe, Sherlock, and let’s solve a mystery!

Swing Dance Into Spring with Events & Adventures

swing dancing

With Spring fast approaching (even faster for us Minnesotans it seems with all this unusual weather!), our Minneapolis members have been itching to get up and shake off the stiffness of winter! What better way to do so than to Swing into Spring?

Uniquely American in origination, swing dancing burst onto the scene in the 1920s and 30s, evolving with each new generation of music into modern times. From the eight-count Lindy Hop to the six-count East Coast Swing to the flair of the Charleston, swing dancing has something for everybody!

Here are just a couple of swing dancing tips.

  1. Learn the basics before getting too fancy!

While aerials and other more visually exciting moves are tempting to the do in the beginning, don’t do it! Not only are these moves not acceptable to do in a social dance setting, but unsafe for yourself and others if you and your partner are not well versed in them. Take your time and don’t rush!

  1. Dance with everybody! Especially in the beginning.

Take the time to dance with everyone you can, especially in the beginning. You’ll learn much quicker and this will prevent you from simply anticipating your partner’s moves since you are so familiar with them. Mix it up and ask as many people as you can to dance, and try to accept every dance you’re offered.

  1. Have fun and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

Dancing is supposed to fun and social not stuffy and full of rules. Don’t feel bad about messing up, even the best dancers have two left feet sometimes! Have fun and don’t worry about looking perfect out there.

  1. Watch better dancers dance

Get inspired by watching other better dancers go through their motions. Try out some of their moves or add tweaks to make them your own! Be as creative as you want.

  1. Dress up

Part of the fun of swing dancing is looking the part! Even if you aren’t an avid swing dancer, or are still new to it, dressing up can help boost confidence in your abilities and can just make you feel good. Pick out your favorite dress or pair of slacks, and consider investing in a pair of proper swing dancing shoes with leather or suede soles which will make dancing that much easier.

Events & Adventures is dedicated to creating fun and social environments for our quality single members, and swing dancing is just one of those events that checks all those boxes. So consider Swingin’ into Spring this year by trying one of our swing dancing events! You won’t regret it.

Houston Life with Events & Adventures

Houston Life is more than the name of a show!

This week we had the pleasure of being invited by KPRC to be featured on locally produced television show Houston Life!  With Valentine’s Day falling in this week, the producers of Houston Life wanted to see how Houstonians that are single experience the holiday, and what it’s like to be single and a member of Events & Adventures.  Club founder Mark Owen and Houston event manager Reid Johnson were excited to be a part of the show.

Hosts Derrick Shore and Jennifer Broome asked Mark about why he started Events & Adventures and asked Reid what kind of events he’s be hosting for the Houston club.  They were also curious to hear from the members about their experiences and reasons why they joined the club.  We heard from current members who just moved into town and were eager to meet new people as well as previous members who met their spouse through Events & Adventures!

Events & Adventures was very excited to be included in the show and look forward to taking part in future segments.  Check out Houston Life weekdays on KPRC Click2!

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day in Vancouver 80s Style

It’s that time of year when love is in the air–Valentine’s Day. That day when many people exchange cards, candy, gifts, or flowers with their special Valentine, while others feel social pressure from all the newly engaged sharing their pictures on social media. Whether you love the idea of Valentine’s Day or think it is just another overpriced commercial holiday, one thing is for certain—it can be a very lonely holiday if you are single. However, it definitely doesn’t have to be lonely, and you don’t have to pretend like it’s any other day just to get through it, either!

Events & Adventures has got the cure for the Valentine’s Day blues. The best thing about Events & Adventures is you never have to feel alone. With over 30 events per month, you will always have something to do—even, and especially, on Valentine’s Day. This year for Valentine’s Day we are going back all the way back to the 80s for one night only with our annual Valentine’s Day Bash! If you love Footloose, Top Gun, The Goonies, Dirty Dancing, or Ghost Busters then this is one party you don’t want to miss. Events & Adventures staff and members will be pulling it all together to make the event like stepping out of a DeLorean and re-entering 1985.

This is How E&A Does Valentine’s Day in Vancouver

With 80s attire, tapas, a mac and cheese station, champagne upon arrival and a live DJ, this will be the Valentine’s Day bash to attend in Vancouver. Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be about the love between two people but the love of a community of people, the pure enjoyment of new friends, new connections, and maybe even a new significant other. Events & Adventures has been hosting the Valentine’s Day events for almost 10 years, and we make sure all members leave with memories that will last a lifetime.

Bald Eagle Float Trip with Events & Adventures

Bald Eagle Float Trip with Events & Adventures

Recently, the members of Events & Adventures Seattle got to experience an amazing event that truly showcased the natural beauty we get to enjoy and appreciate here in the Pacific Northwest!  The Events & Adventures Bald Eagle Float Trip was a wonderful opportunity to brave the elements and immerse ourselves in this picturesque natural environment.  Members of the Seattle club were tremendously excited for chance to catch our national symbol in its own world!

Bundled up in lots of layers, we trekked into the January cold and were rewarded with gorgeous views of the Skagit River Valley and the bald eagles that migrate there each winter.  They call the valley home for several months of the year after migrating south.  There is also a sanctuary in the valley that presents a safe area for both the birds and the researchers that are studying them.  It was amazing how much we learned about the bald eagle and its life in Washington, all while experiencing the native beauty of their habitat.

All the members were thrilled with our bald eagle float trip.

Though seeing a bald eagle in our area isn’t unheard of, it is great to see them in their natural environment.  We are looking forward to more fun outdoor events, especially as we begin to transition into spring.  In February, we will be hosting a volunteer tree planting, which will provide our members with a to give back a little something to that Pacific Northwest green that we all know and love so much!  The Adopt-a-Stream Foundation is partnering with Events & Adventures for a fun, rewarding experience where we can walk away with chilly fingers and warm hearts.  If you haven’t already checked out our upcoming Seattle events, be sure to do so soon and snag a seat (or a shovel!) while you can!

Weekend getaway

Weekend Getaway with Events & Adventures

I know I’m not alone when I say traveling and experiencing new worlds is always a blast. Sure, getting to your destination can be tedious, but if you plan your trip right, it’s always worth it.  And Events & Adventures always does it right!  This time it was a weekend getaway out to Tahoe for some skiing and relaxing.  I arrived in South Lake Tahoe late Friday night at the house Events & Adventures rented for the weekend.  Even though it was almost pitch black, I could tell how beautiful it was, perhaps even more so with all the powder surrounding it!  I was greeted by super-friendly members from Events & Adventures clubs in other cities, and the hosts still managed to make me feel welcome and help me get settled even though it was two in the morning.

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings, we were served a full breakfast that was prepared by other members that signed up to help out.  We only had to help out with cooking or cleaning once throughout the entire weekend.  While cooking for a group of 35 might be daunting, the members were outstanding in getting the food well prepared and in a timely manner. It was no small task, but they did a great job and it was the perfect way to get charged up for the day.

Why choose between snowsports or relaxing on a weekend getaway when you can do both?

During the day, we had the option to go to Heavenly Ski Resort or a few others that were not as close by.  Heavenly offers skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and a gondola.  The views are stunning, and on our excursion the snow just kept coming down.  But if adventuring into the heavy powder isn’t quite your speed, the rental house was perfect alternative for just chilling and relaxing.  Several members did just that, including me on Saturday.  The house was equipped with two hot tubs, an indoor swimming pool, a movie theater, and a game room that had pool, shuffle board, ping pong, and foosball.  There were some members who also brought some board and card games from home, as well.  Needless to say, there was plenty to keep the whole squad entertained!

Different members took turns cooking delicious dinners on Saturday and Sunday evenings. It was really nice to see so many people teaming up, helping each other, and enjoying themselves while doing so.  Though we were back at the house relaxing, a couple of serious Jenga games broke out that actually resulted in way more laughs than I ever thought possible from balancing wooden blocks.  On Sunday morning, we had a grab and go breakfast with more pastry, muffin, and bagel options than the continental breakfasts you get at most hotels, which was a nice way to kick off the morning.

The hosts from Events & Adventures did a great job at making everyone feel welcome, making sure there was plenty of food, and catering to those with special dietary needs.  They were also really helpful in making sure anyone had a ride to and from Heavenly Ski Resort as needed.  This was my first time to South Lake Tahoe and it was definitely a trip to remember. I am already looking forward to the next weekend getaway to South Lake Tahoe to be posted so I can go again!

~ Erica P, Events & Adventures Member