I agreed and we set about planning our trip. I found a Couchsurfing host, an eccentric artist who lived about 20 kilometers out of the city. (But I'll get to that).
I didn't mind the company, but a couple days before we left, the girl invited two friends, Still, four people was a reasonable enough number of travellers, and since she (Zuzana) planned on leaving Friday evening, and both I, and her friend, (a girl from Kyrgyzstan) planned on leaving Saturday morning, I had a travel companion on the train ride from Shanghai.
We planned to meet at exit 6 of the metro station near Shanghai railway station, but discovered that the exit didn't seem to exist. I walked past a sign pointing to exit 6 about five times, without actually seeing the exit. After about a half an hour, we finally met and bought tickets. Rain fell all morning, so I began to regret, at least a little bit, my decision to come this weekend. But when we arrived, only a thin mist hung over the streets, between the tall, thick line of trees. We met Zuzana and her French friend, only to realize that not only had Zuzana invited 6 other French people they had met at a hostel to stay with our host in Hangzhou, but that the host was okay with it.
We spent the day walking around the main attraction of Hangzhou: West Lake, a beautiful lake shrouded in mist, and flanked by old Buddhist temples and pagodas, with stone bridges, and with old traditional boats gliding over the water.
The fresh, plant-and-rain-smelling air came as a welcome relief from the air in Shanghai, which, if it smelled like anything, smelled like exhaust fumes, garbage or food cooking. (And in the case of fried tofu, this is far from pleasant.)
I'm always amazed, when travelling, at how many people will inconvenience themselves to help others.
Later, one of the artist's friends played her guitar and we sat around, listening, chatting, drinking beer, and, for me, drawing.