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October 2018. Wherever I am I the world I often like to squeeze a skyscraper into my city trips. I’m a sucker for a sweeping birdseye panoramic and the resulting photos always look great in my articles and usually end up as the feature images for my menu pages. Built in 2010, Nanjing’s chief cloud-piercer stands at an impressive 1480 feet, making it the sixth tallest in China, fourteenth tallest in the world. Home to a luxury six floor shopping mall and The Nanjing Greenland InterContintental Hotel, Zifeng Tower’s main draw is its 72nd floor observation deck. So off I went to see how awful the Golden Week queues were and if I had any chance of getting in.
October 2018. When I got to the tower there was hardly any queue at all! So buoyed was I by the situation that I cockily decided to go and grab coffee and a slice of cake at a nearby café and then head inside. It was the ultimate schoolboy error. When I returned the line was flowing all the way out into the square and down the road. Nuts! Worse still, we were moving forward at a painfully slow rate, so much so that it took forty-five minutes simply to get onto the switched off elevator that led down to the entrance. When I eventually made it to the doors I found myself suddenly accosted by a Chinese man who threw his arm across my chest and shouted at me to get to the back of the queue. He’d literally come out of nowhere and seemed convinced I was trying to cut in. I was utterly bewildered and then furious, telling him in no uncertain terms to **** off! Luckily, the group of grandmothers in front of me came to my rescue and firmly told the guy that he was wrong. Red-faced and shaking with anger, he slunk away and I was able to duck inside.
October 2018. The observation tower lobby was chaos! There were people everywhere, some being fed into the elevator, some standing in line, others led away into a side room where a man with a loudspeaker barked out mysterious information. Seeing that I obviously had no idea what was going on, one of the grandmothers grabbed me by the arm and pulled me along with her into the side lounge. I’d read that you needed to buy an 80RMB ticket (£9/€10/$11.50) to get up to the 72nd floor, but from what I could gather it was free that day, perhaps as a Golden Week gesture. But as the guy with the speaker intermittently called out names and people disappeared off to the elevator, it dawned on me that these slots had been pre-booked. I was just starting to fear the worst when the grandmothers numbers came up and… having been grabbed by the arm again… they dragged me along with them and into the lift we went.
October 2018. The observation deck was pretty plush, a glitzy circle of chandeliers, leather sofas, a bar and a grand piano. Having thanked the grandmas a thousand times over, all that was left to do was soak up the views. Like just about everything else in Nanjing during Golden Week the process of getting here had been long, complicated and tiring, but in the end it was all worth it!
October 2018. Zifeng Tower is located at 2 Zhongshan North Road and is open daily from 08:00-21:00. The nearest subway stop is Gulou Station (Line 1). Follow the exit signs for Zifeng Tower and it’s literally a five-minute walk from there. You can’t miss it, just keep your eyes open for a massive blue skyscraper.
This travel report is dedicated to the trio of Nanjing grandmas who rescued me from the false accusations of Mr. Asshole. And, I suspect, they were the only reason I managed to get up Zifeng Tower at all that day.
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