[September 24, 1933 – November 14, 1933]
Tsingtao was a German concession from 1897 to 1914 and like Harbin was like a little bit of Russia in China, Tsingtao was like a little pocket of Germany.
It was a picturesque place on the coast about 700 kms north of Shanghai, with St. Michael’s Cathedral, a magnificent gothic building, dominating the skyline from the sea. There were European-styled buildings with roofs covered in red tiles that sparkled in the sunlight on tree-lined boulevards, stores selling German goods and restaurants serving food like eisbein, sauerbraten and the likes. Mmmmm, yum! 😀
The Germans introduced a brewery called the Germania Brauerei (Germania Brewery) to the city in 1903 to produce beer in the German tradition, mainly for Germans and other Westerners in China. The brewery was taken over in 1915 and the name changed to Tsingtao. Tsingtao Beer is still going strong at the time of writing (2013) and is a favourite of many beer lovers.
Japan occupied the city twice, the first time from 1914 to 1922 and then from 1938 to 1945, and in the 1930s Tsingtao was a favourite summer port of the US Asiatic fleet.
Back in 1933 when George was there, there were about 600 Russians living in the city.
Tsingtao has the largest sandy beach in Asia, which goes by the rather strange name of «the No 1 Bathing Beach» at Huiquan Bay and surrounded by green mountains.
The Second Bathing Beach, developed by the German governor, also known as «Pacific Bay Beach» and the «Taiping Bay Beach», was located next to the Huashi Villa in the Badaguan area along Pacific Bay.
One attraction was a 440 metre long pier, called Pagoda Pier, built in 1891 as a naval pier and expanded by the Germans 8 years later. Now it’s called Zhanqiao Pier but the reason it was called Pagoda Pier was because of the Huilan Ge Pavilion (Pavilion of Rebounding Waves) which was situated right at the end.
The little island nearby was called Little Tsingtao Isle. Because of its shape looking like a violin, the island is also known as «Violin Isle». Germany built the white lighthouse at the beginning of the 20th century and the light shimmering on the sea at night gave it the nickname of «Floating Light of the Isle».
George stayed at 22 Kuangsi Road while he was there. I checked and found that the road is now called Guang Xi Lu and, in 1912 when it was a German Concession, it was called Prinz Heinrichstrasse. If you look at the map, you’ll see it was one main street back from Taiping Road, which was called Pacific Road back in his day.
He was working at the Tsingtao Café …
The gig at the Tsingtao Cafe lasted about 7 weeks. Apparently it was a well known restaurant on Chung Shan Road, which seems to be the main drag in those days. However I have no idea if George was playing with an orchestra or whether he was tickling the ivories as a soloist.
Tsingtao looks like it would have been a lovely place to stay in those days – even today it’s retained a lot of the ambiance from then – so I think those 7 weeks would have been a lovely experience for George. I wonder if he was sorry to leave or was he excited about the bright lights of Shanghai beckoning him 🙂
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