The Great Wall of China has always been at the top of my bucket list. One year my husband and I decided it was time to make the dream of visiting this enchanting place a reality. Since China is not a common place to visit as a family destination (with two small children) we received a lot of criticism from various friends and family. We felt confident in our decision and did not let this deter us from going. Once committed, we planned our trip during the month of June. In hindsight I must admit that may have not been the smartest decision, as it was one of the hottest months of the year. Looking back maybe we should have visited during winter or spring, but the upside of going in the summer was that there were fewer crowds. We stayed in Beijing and decided it would be best to hire a driver for the day to take us to the Great Wall. We are not individuals who book tours for trips. Traveling with small children often results in unexpected situations and we like to have the flexibility to go at our pace.
Our driver drove us to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. We chose this part of the wall because it offers a cable car to ascend to the wall itself and a toboggan to descend from the wall once you are done. These seemed like perfect activities to complement the visit to the wall that we knew our children would enjoy. Of course walking through the wall was surreal, amazing and very hot! There are lots of stairs which made it a bit of a struggle to get around with a stroller and kids, but was still worth it for sure. The stroller added many stares and criticism from other travelers, but we did it to keep our toddler safe, protected from the sun, contained and for the ease of allowing him to nap when needed. Our driver, who also took on the role of guide, helped my husband carry the stroller through the stair sections of the wall. We were very grateful to him for his assistance. If I could do it again, maybe I would have waited until our son would have been older, however it made for a very memorable experience that we all love to talk about and laugh to this day. The crowds on the wall were minimal compared to the high peak season so in the end it paid off to go in the summer. As we finished our trek on the wall we reached the toboggan slide. I knew our children would love this part but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. While going down the slide, my daughter (who was riding with me) and I, laughed and smiled the whole way down. I kept thinking – where on earth can you have a blast sliding down from one of the most amazing and iconic structures on earth? It was the perfect ending to our adventurous excursion.
We bought a few souvenirs before walking back to our vehicle. After all that we were pretty hungry. Our driver suggested that we eat at an old American schoolhouse restaurant near by. It was a great recommendation. It was very clean, nestled in beautiful surroundings, the food was delicious and even the bathrooms were spotless. It was the perfect place to sit back and soak in what a thrilling and exciting day it had been.
Even after traveling all over the world, I must say visiting the Great Wall of China still continues to be an unforgettable experience with respect to the many others we have had thus far… One we will never forget.
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