It took a 5 hour round trip from my hotel to make it to the The Great Wall and back, but I had to do it. Cannot come to China as many times as I do and not go to the Great Wall, right? The first picture I borrowed from Wikipedia because it offers several insights : that the wall started as several walls built by different emperors, was built over a long period of time (of course) and is not one continuous wall. The section I visited is a reconstruction, as are all the tourist view points to some extent. I hired a driver and guide from the hotel and they took me to south east of Jinshanling, the Mutianyu section of the wall (a white dot on the map below). It is some 70km to the north and east of the city (my Google Latitude location was taken at the Wall). The driver took the less-traveled roads which saved us from getting stuck in traffic. It can easily take two hours one way.
Lanes of willow trees along the way starting to bud in spite of the very dry weather (typical in spring). The next two pictures shows one of several gates indicating the name and entrance to villages along the way.
Here is the arrival point at the Wall. I passed on sitting on the deck to sample the pure Italian coffee (sign on the right). I also did not buy anything ! The next picture shows a steep and somewhat hairy ski lift ride up to the Wall. One can also walk up there. My excuse for not doing that is that I was short on time ! Then there is a toboggan slide which one can take on the way down (on the left). I was game to do that but the line was very long, so we just took the ski lift back. There are sections of this part of the wall that are amazingly steep. And of course the Wall has to be built on the ridges of mountainous terrain – it cannot be built in a valley since that would invite a bridge to be constructed right over it.