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What Japanese Envy

A Western woman, who’s taken on Japanese style and speaks Japanese very well, asks people in Tokyo what they envy in foreigners.

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Virgin Atlantic

From the creative safety video to the actually yummy food, Virgin Atlantic was a joy to fly. I don’t know how I’ll manage with lesser airlines. The crew was genuinely polite and at the end of the flight they thanked us for letting them take care of us.

Amazing. I’ve never felt that American crews enjoyed that. I’ve felt that they put up with the passengers and I cringe when they sharply direct non-English speakers to “Stow your bags!” They don’t seem to realize the problem might be that they use uncommon words like “stow.”

The entertainment selection was vast and there was something for everyone to enjoy. The food, especially the mini strawberry popsicles were tasty.

I definitely aim to be a regular on Virgin.

Ibis Hotel, Harbin China

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With a great location that’s walking distance to St. Sophia’s Russian Orthodox Church, Zhaop Park and Zhangyang Street with all its European style architecture, Ibis Hotel is a good choice in Harbin. For about $30 a night I got a spic and span room with wifi and a TV (not many Western channels though). I could easily get from the airport bus stop to the hotel following the well marked streets and my Lonely Planet map.

The room’s are basic, but that’s all I wanted. They offer breakfast, but no other meals. I opted for a nearby Starbucks as I wanted the music and a place to work in the morning on my homework before I did my afternoon sightseeing.

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If you insist on kind, polite staff, this isn’t the hotel for you. In fact, the Harbin-ites I encountered just didn’t smile. At the hotel and elsewhere staff was gruff and unhappy about doing more than the minimum. Maybe they wanted people to feel they really were in Russia ;-). They do their job and they fixed my problem and put me in a non-smoking room when the first room was for smokers, but they’re not able to be cheerful.

Since the hostel just had a 57% satisfaction rate, I’m glad I opted for Ibis.

Review: Club Lucky

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Club Lucky has a retro 1950s look and feel. It’s an Italian restaurant in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. On Friday and Saturday it’s crowded and reservations are a must. We went on Sunday and getting a table is a breeze. (We did have reservations.) The menu features loads of appetizers, salads, pastas, seafood, steaks and poultry. My sister suggested we share a meatball salad, which sounded weird to me. Everyone liked it and it’s a new favorite for some. I’m not big on meatballs so I just had the salad and was satisfied.

I liked my chicken tortellini with English peas and vodka sauce. The serving could easily serve two. Other tempting dishes were the steak sandwich, roast chicken and fettucini with chicken, asparagus and roasted cherry tomatoes. We finished by sharing tiramisu, which was good, though not out of this world.

The service sufficed. Our waiter was polite, but missed the boat taking dessert orders. He later apologized explaining that he was detained giving people directions. We’d finished eating the birthday slice of tiramisu for my sister. While I probably would have ordered some dessert, that moment had passed and we were ready to go.

All in all, a fine place for Italian. Valet parking is $8. Good for groups or dates.

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