The Qingdao International Christmas Market was held at the Crowne Plaza this year, from December 11th-13th. This year was the 6th International Christmas Market, and the third in a row that we have been to. The proceeds from the tables hired went to support local countryside children with their education, and also subsidizes life-saving congenital heart disease operations for young children at the Qingdao Children’s Hospital.
Had we not already spent so much time and effort preparing for the ISQ Christmas Fair, we might have considered hiring a table and selling crafts at this market. We were, however, exhausted and couldn’t imagine a whole weekend of trying to sell goods. Each year, this Christmas market seems to be really different. Last year it was out in the cold and, assuming we missed something, we were in and out of the market in no time at all. In fact, after last year we had hoped that this year would have improved drastically, so we decided to give it another shot. Two years ago we really liked the market, and walked away with a few gifts and lovely new Christmas decorations. This year the market didn’t really meet our expectations, but perhaps we missed the hype since we only went on the third day.
We met my mother (aka “Nana”) downtown, in the Crowne Plaza lobby so that we could explore the Christmas Market together. We walked from stall to stall, sipping gluwein (Ummm… yes! All Christmas Markets need Gluwein!) and chatting to friends that we ran into along the way. There wasn’t much room for a stroller in the market, so left that to one side and walked around with Elijah. He liked sampling the cakes, cookies and Japanese snacks. Qingdao gets smaller and smaller every year. It is unbelievable how many people we know here now – we saw many familiar faces while we were there.
After about an hour, we made our way to a restaurant nearby for some dinner. Catching a taxi downtown sometimes takes longer than just walking to your destination, so we made our way there on foot. Justin and I have won quite a few competitions and lucky draws during the last month – more about that in an upcoming post – so since we were already downtown, we took this opportunity to use a dinner voucher that we had won.
Lisa’s Pizzeria (not to be confused with the Lisa’s on Aomen Lu, this one is on Shanghai Yi Lu) has served Mediterranean cuisine for the past eight years. They have some pretty decent specials. Two-for-one pizzas on Thursdays and German Stammmtisch every first Friday of the month. The menu is quite diverse – pizza, pasta, salads and Chinese dishes. Apparently the salmon pizza is a winner! Lisa’s also has a decent selection of alcohol, including some imported ales!
“A lack of air-conditioning and poor service means that the place isn’t what it used to be. Luckily for us, however, they do deliveries!”
–> We found this quote on MyRedstar.com, but we really don’t agree. Okay, there was no need for air-conditioning since winter is in full swing here, but in our experience, the service was great. There were not too many other tables, so perhaps things get a little crazy when the restaurant fills up, but we liked that there was a service button (one of our loves from Korea) and both people waiting on us were kind and friendly.
We shared a Lasagna and a Schnitzel with Fries. Elijah had one of his favorites, fried rice. All of the dishes were very tasty! In China, restaurants are usually completely frazzled when you try to use a voucher, or some form of discount. They often do not know what we are talking about, or how to deal with the situation. Both the waitress and manager handled our voucher very professionally. We liked that Lisa’s was kid-friendly. Not only did they have a high chair for Elijah, but they brought him a plastic plate and cutlery. There was a big Christmas tree up at the front door, and various decorations around the restaurant. It was a nice festive atmosphere. Elijah stood at the tree, wanting to touch, but keeping his hands behind his back. Four dishes and a couple of beers came to less than 100 rob thanks to our voucher. Not a bad win!
Not big fans of the cold, we like to stay close to home during the winter. This was a nice little family outing, even though we had hoped to return home with a few more Christmas goodies. Oh well, I guess we will have to stick to the online shopping!