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 night I didn’t end up staying in a capsule.

Though I spent my first two nights in Tokyo at Khaosan Original Hostel in Asakusa, I felt that no trip to Tokyo would be complete without staying at least one night in a capsule hotel. I first came across this concept years ago while reading William Gibson’s cyberpunk classic Neuromancer (which has since become one of my favorite books), where the down-and-out protagonist, Case, is staying in one at the beginning of the novel because he can afford nothing better.

Now there are tons of capsule hotels in Tokyo that cater mainly to salarymen who have stayed out too late (or gotten too drunk) to catch the train home. Some are actually quite luxurious with tons of amenities, while others are very basic and a bit seedy. I apparently had the misfortune to find the seediest one in all of Tokyo. Continue reading

Minca: the best place in Colombia I never planned on going to.

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Minca is one of those small towns that the Lonely Planet barely devotes a page to, so it was never part of my itinerary. I had barely even heard of the place until meeting Jay in Santa Marta, and it turned out that he owned a hostel up there in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After traveling with him and Susan to Tayrona, where I picked his brain about what Minca was like, I decided I should see it for myself and we decided to meet there in a couple days. Continue reading

Santa Marta and La Brisa Loca

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Santa Marta was not a place I expected to stay long. When I first arrived from Barranquilla, I expected a short stopover, maybe one night, but I kept extending my stay until I had spent nearly a week in town. Santa Marta’s central location makes it a great base to explore the nearby town of Taganga, head to Tayrona National Park, or serve as a starting-off point for a trek to Ciudad Perdida (something I sadly missed out on this trip). To be perfectly honest, though, I wasn’t doing much of anything that week. Santa Marta is also a popular vacation destination for Colombians (it’s where my Barranquilla-born friend used to spend his summers), and I was taking it easy like them. Continue reading