Interview with Linda Montemarano, Away by TTI Personal Travel Advisor
Why did you choose China?
Linda Montemarano: I hadn’t been to Asia for several years and wanted to have that full immersion experience in a culture very different from ours. I also wanted to see the Great Wall of China as it has been one of the top visits on my bucket list.
Tell us about your itinerary.
LM: My husband and I flew direct with Air Canada to Shanghai and spent three nights at the new and very beautiful Four Seasons Pudong. The highlight of this stay was their delicious Chinese breakfast (they also serve American) and the pool on the 41st floor, offering impressive city views.
I then took a 45 minute bullet train to Hangzhou in the south of China to visit a more rural area. It is the ‘tea capital’ of China with some of their finest green teas. I stayed at the Amanfayun that was previously a village restored to be a luxury resort. They offer a private tea tour with your own butler. This was a completely different stay from the Four Seasons and one that was so peaceful.
Our last stop was in Beijing for five nights at the St. Regis Beijing, located very close to the Pearl Market. The service was impeccable and each floor has its own Butler Service that offers packing/unpacking, pressing, breakfast delivery, etc. I visited all the main sites including Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and of course the Great Wall of China, which is only 1.5 hours out of the city.
I flew direct back to Toronto from Beijing. If you are flying in Economy Class, do prebook and pay the additional $120 for Emergency Exit seats. It’s a long flight and this will make it a little more tolerable.
Most memorable moment?
LM: The day we walked the Great Wall it was cool and overcast, perfect for this excursion. It was extremely busy at the beginning but we kept walking and at one point we were the only two people on that section of the wall. It was an moment we won’t forget!
What surprised you the most about the destination or experience?
LM: I know there are many people in China, but I was not expecting that feeling of always being crowded, particularly in the subways. They are very efficient and clean, but also very busy. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean each city was. We were also surprised at how difficult it is to get taxis particularly in the evening. Do arrange this through your the hotel. We stayed for 10 days and I’m ready to go back and explore other exciting regions!