6AM of December 31st when we arrived in Haerbin; went straight to the hotel and was granted with early check-in with no additional charges, sweet right? Since we can’t avail our inclusive breakfast yet, hubby and I just took the liberty to find a closest food stall. Thankfully our hotel was situated along Zhongyang (Central) Street in which western food chains like McDonalds, KFC were just few steps away.
Zhongyang Street was constructed back in 18th century, roughly 1450 meters long from end to end; all made with cobbled square stones and non-passable to vehicles. It is clearly made for tourists to enjoy a taste of century old European architecture, good dining and shopping experience. A morning walk is a must if you want to get the opportunity to explore the area with fewer crowds. During winter the entire street is ornamented with amazing ice sculptures and Christmas decors, definitely interesting pieces to see.
Tip: For foreign travelers (like us) I would recommend on staying in any hotels along Zhongyang. Not because it is the common place to say to a cab driver, but because basic necessities are easy to find in Zhongyang. Walk few meters further you’d find best and recommended restaurants in town, go to a corner then you’d see a tourist spot, then there are big malls, novelty stores and western boutiques everywhere if you wish to shop and the most important of all – banks! Bank of China, China Merchant’s and China Construction Bank, to name some; all carry Union Pay privileges.
After Zhongyang, we then decided to visit one famous church named St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral built in 19th century; famous of its magnificent structure and impeccable beauty which will remind lectures of your old history class about the Byzantine era. Styled with marvelous brick walls, long glass arc windows, dome colored roofing with pointed cross; true symbol of classic work of art. Isn’t she beautiful? A perfect view, truly magnificent worth freezing for; it was -12 degrees when I took this photo.
What sadden me though that no matter how beautiful the church looked at the outside, they never really used it as a church. Instead after the great revolution, they converted it to a boring silly museum inside. *sigh* Anyway right across the church is a huge square, in winter it is all white covered with snow and rest of the seasons pigeons can be found lurking around the vast space.
Stay tune for next posts and more picture on wonderful places in Haerbin.