West Coast New Area

Resort with a taste of romance

By Robert Willox | (China Daily) | 2018-03-23

One of those will be of the Badaguan scenic area, a grid of big homes and lush, tree-lined avenues that mark the beginning of the German quarter.

Further west, near the top of Signal Hill, there's a more impressive manor to visit - and it's fully furnished with all the original furniture and fittings.

This 1908 schloss was the German governor's residence or Ying Bin Guan. It was later used as a guest house by the authorities for visiting dignitaries. Mao Zedong stayed there on holiday in the late 1950s.

One of the opulent rooms currently features an exhibition of models of other German architecture in the area.

Perhaps the most intriguing building still in operation is the one that was to become the headquarters of the Red Swastika Society.

The society was a Chinese quasi-religious, charitable organization, and there are no remnants of its existence in what is now Qingdao Art Gallery and Museum.

The society's only legacy is a complex of three buildings built in classical, Chinese and Islamic styles. At the moment, they contain exhibitions of works by three very different Chinese artists.

For reminiscing breaks over coffee, cold beer or glass of German hock, or a candlelight dinner if you are serious, head back along the shore toward the center of town and the May 4th square and monument, and set back a little from the beach you'll see a former German ambassador's residence.

This is Cafe Roland, roomy but intimate, stylish without being pretentious or expensive, and wonderfully old-fashioned, yet with iPads for menus.

The building featured as Lang Park, the setting for a romantic novel of the same name by Chinese author Zhao Mei, which was later turned into a TV series featuring Chinese-American heartthrob singer Kris Phillips.

That was screened back in the 1990s, but the scenes remain the same. Moonlight across the bay on a warm summer night, a yacht heading back to the marina, lovers, families, artistic, philosophic loners strolling down the boardwalk. You could be in Nice or Nantucket, the idyll is international.

All right, I might be laying it on a little thick, the syrup, but if you're not the imaginative type, there's always the beer.

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