Maidreamin’

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As if a visit to a cat cafe wasn’t enough, I also visited a maid cafe while in Tokyo. Apparently the Japanese really like their themed restaurants and stores. I hadn’t planned on going (in fact I’d never heard of this phenomenon before), but some boys from my hostel wanted to check the whole thing out and my interest was piqued as well.

We ended up at Maidreamin in Shibuya, part of a chain.This location had vaguely Nintendo-themed decor, with Mario Bros. wallpaper and color-changing blocks hanging from the ceiling. That totally wasn’t the weird part, though, and actually the interior design seemed like a bit of an afterthought. It was all about the maids here, and ended up being one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Continue reading

The magical fairyland of Japanese 7-Elevens

7-Eleven may have originated in the States, but let’s face it, the ones here are pretty beat. You go in if you’re on a road trip and need snacks or are otherwise desperate for sustenance and/or cigarettes. We didn’t even have them here in New York until a few years ago and trust me, we weren’t missing anything. Let’s face it, no one is going in there and eating the hot dogs out of choice. The only reason to stop in is a slurpee, right? And then half the time the machine isn’t even working.

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Knockoffs in Santa Marta

I don’t know if it’s because it’s a beach town full of tourists seeking the comforts of home or what, but I found quite a few eerily familiar products and restaurants in Santa Marta.

First there was Carambolo, a frozen yogurt place that definitely seems based on the Pinkberry/Red Mango business model:

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It was delicious though, and froyo was exactly what we needed after a hot day getting lost in the local market and haggling over hammock prices. I also ended up learning a new word there: jengibre (ginger). Continue reading