Several colleagues and I had spent 12 days in Beijing for a hard working conference, working 19 hours a day, when we all needed to relax before going home to the four corners of the world. As usual, we decided to look for tours and the Internet’s the first place to look.
When booking a tour on the Internet from a company you don’t know, there is always an apprehension that perhaps the tour will be a disappointment. But seeing the great feedback gathered by Catherine Lu Tours, I did not hesitate for a moment. This was really an excellent idea. My colleagues and I only had one day to discover Beijing and the Great Wall of China, and although I first thought that visiting both Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China in one Saturday was going to be impossible, we did it.
And it was great!
Our guide, Glory, was incredible: she knew all of the short-cuts and the ways to escape from the crowds in order to have the most efficient and yet relaxing tour possible. She knew all the ways to avoid queueing and when there was a short queue, she’d queue for us while we were enjoying a break.
In the Forbidden City, Glory went as far as having us walk off the centreline where all of the crowds congregate and walk on one side, so as to have the sun behind us, thus making for exceptional pictures. We had time to sit down at various parts of the visit whilst Glory explained to us the long history of the Forbidden City. Every time there was a need to obtain tickets, she was swift in giving us a few minutes break whilst she went to get the tickets. This tour was a real pleasure. Glory was very experienced in the tour. She knew all of the answers to questions we asked her, and she also had an in-depth knowledge to make us not waste any time in queues. For a busy visit like the Forbidden City, it is really important to have someone with you who will show you which way to go without wasting time and she was fantastic for this.
The we were off, in the minibus, to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. The driver was very competent and safe and throughout the journey, Glory explained the history of the Great Wall and of China. At some point, seeing that we were rather tired from the work we had done earlier in the week, she even let us take a nap in the minibus.
We got to the restaurant not too far from the wall and here again it was top marks: it was not too crowded; it was clean; it was fast. There was so much food that we could not finish it. We really enjoyed the food which was typical Chinese and tasted very good. It was great to be able to arrive, relax for an hour while having our food, and then leave immediately afterwards for the Great Wall.
Glory told us all the history of the Great Wall at Mutianyu, which by the way is an excellent part of the wall to visit because it was not crowded at all, although it was a really sunny day. Whilst other members of our group did not manage to walk to the top, I did, next to the Chinese characters on the mountain – what an incredible view! I was awed.
We got back down just in time to catch the last cable cars and the driver took all of us back to the hotel so smoothly that I think most of us fell asleep on the way – but Glory was still well awake! She had great energy!
This was a very special day. I took more than a hundred pictures and I will remember this tour for a long time. It was tiring, but it was definitely worth it! I travel a lot around the world and this was definitely a tour I will recommend to colleagues who visit Beijing in the future.