I used to think that people who prefer Shanghai over Beijing were sissies. With all its Western influences it is much easier to live in Shanghai, but because of all these Western influences it could not be the real China. And I though only expats and people without any knowledge of China or the Chinese language would like it there, just because the real deal would be too hard for them.
Beijing is a rough city: the winter is intense, the influence of smog on your physical health and mental wellbeing is much bigger than I had expected, the dialect is ugly and hard, and many parts of the city are ugly with grey and dirty concrete buildings. Beijing has a lot of good food, but the food is often oily and covered in thick sauces. Shanghai on the other hand felt so light, there were many parks in the city and the streets were filled with trees. Shanghai is full of skyscrapers, but these look clean and the architecture is nice and there are whole neighbourhoods where you would think you’re in Europe instead of China. The food I had in Shanghai was extremely good, there’s a lot more variety and the flavors are light. And even though it is such a huge city, almost everything is walkable (when you’re able to walk at least).
So already after my first afternoon in Shanghai I had to admit to myself that either I was becoming a sissy too, or that living in Shanghai is just really enjoyable. Either way, I completely fell in love with the city and this was definitely not my last visit to Shanghai.