Online shopping haul

Not long ago I promised I would show you guys the stuff I bought online, from a Chinese website called wish.com.

DISCLAIMER: this is not a sponsored post, I bought everything with my own money, and the opinions are my own!

Online shopping is good, as long as you don’t buy clothes, shoes, or expensive electronics. You must pay attention to what others have to say about the seller too, to see if you can trust  – but even then, you can get cheated.

This site wish is easy to use, you can sign up using your gmail account or even your facebook account. I paid with paypal, but I think credit/debit cards are also accepted.

This is what i ordered – a tote, 3 watches (!),  a deck of regular playing cards, and a tarot deck. I also ordered a bra for my friend – it fits her, but i will not show the actual product, and a whetstone to sharpen knives – it never arrived 😦

This is the Shadowscapes Tarot deck, translated into simplified Chinese, i believe. The English card names are at the top of the cards. There is one typing error on one of the cards “nice of cups” instead of “nine of cups, ” which i find quite funny, especially since this is a good card to get in a reading. The typo is barely noticeable, so it doesn’t bother me.

There are 2 extra blank cards included – I guess I can use them in case I lose one. As you can see the cards are quite long, so normal hand shuffling is a bit difficult. Maybe my palms are too short?

My other card deck is a playing one. But the images are with Vampire Knight, as you can see. Vampire Knight is a manga [Japanese comics] by Hino Matsuri. The cards are quite small compared to the tarot. Shuffling them is so easy!

I must admit, when i got them, i thought they’re bigger – before opening them up. I was quite impressed that they were sealed in plastic – the tarot wasn’t. Once i took them in my hand, i thought they’re really cute because of how small they appeared.

I didn’t use them, but I assume in dim light, it will be difficult to tell which card is which, so probably if you ever get your hands on a similar deck, play your games in stronger light.

So these are the watches I got. Why 3? well, i have a small obsession for watches. I have 4 of them in total. One – the first I ever got, is a Michael Kors. [I can’t really remember where it is] I’m not wearing it because it needs a battery and it had a small accident, and lost a decorative plate. I’m pissed about it – I still have it, but I have trouble putting it back with glue it doesn’t stay.

These watches didn’t arrive all at once, though the green ones have been ordered at the same time. The lighter green one was supposed to be more blueish. but the green one looks amazing! The first one to arrive was the one with a black bracelet. It is a mechanical one – the reason I got it. The other 2 cost me $1 each, and $1 shipping for each. I really liked the design, even though they require a battery.

The seller was nice enough to send them with a battery in AND with the hour set for Romania! how cool is that?

The tote is not as big as I thought it would be. I can fit a 15″ laptop in it, if i put it with the narrow side in. And it doesn’t go in all the way – but I rarely take my laptop with me, so that’s fine. It seems well done, though the sewing could have been more straight – in places where it is noticeable.

I like that it has a small inner pocket. The front is purple, and the other side is gray, like the handles and the bottom. The handles are long enough to allow you to wear the bag on the shoulder.

SHIPPING

The mechanical watch was the first to arrive, after some 3 weeks.  I thought i will never get to see my tarot deck nor my playing cards – they arrived quite late. The bag also arrived quite fast, but i forgot how fast. I also forgot how fast the other items came, but the 2 green watches arrived 1 week apart – shipped separately, though the seller was the same.

Speaking of sellers, there are many sellers on wish, just like on ebay or etsy. The prices can change from one day to the other, but they’re generally low. If you know me, you’ll know these items were cheap – since I hate spending money on expensive stuff.

site pictures VS real item pictures

There are slight color differences between the real life items and the image you see provided by the seller. The light green watch was the biggest offender, but since i like green, I’m not complaining. My light, though natural, wasn’t the best to take pictures. The tarot deck is less intense, much more pastel. As for the mechanical watch – just like with the others, several colors were available, that’s why mine is not golden.

Sadly, if you have a problem with your item, the customer support is from wish, and it is not the seller. you might also have the “luck” of talking to someone who doesn’t speak English well. You have 30 days for returns or refunds. This means i lost whatever I paid for my whetstone.

This is all for now. See you again next week!


©2013-2017 TheOwnerTravelsTo. All rights reserved.

Mara Mura – the sweetest looking cafe in Bucharest

On Sunday I was searching for a place to sit at, have a coffee, relax, study more Chinese, and just hope to people watch. However I found more than I was hoping for: a place where relaxation, cuteness, and inspiration go hand in hand.

The place is called Mara Mura, it is hidden on a narrow, one way street. The location of this cafe couldn’t be more fitting: the cafe is rather small, like a treasure that needs to be found. Just look at the picture above showing just a corner of the quiet terrace: I could spend the whole afternoon here doing nothing but relaxing!

The tables had each a small and cute yellow flower decorating them.

I received my menu and instantly I wondered if I made a mistake by sitting there: the menu was much shorter than what I was used to, however it was sweet and to the point. I ordered an espresso [8 lei = US$1.97 or Euro 1.79] and a Rose Lemonade [15 lei = US$3.69 or Euro 3.36]. I didn’t recognize the classic lemonade on the menu, so I ordered a coffee to be able to “better judge” this cafe. Read my post on how order stuff at new places to make sure you’ll like what you get.

The white and pink jar contains sugar. The yellow one was conveniently holding 3 teaspoons. I didn’t ask for sugar, but the presentation of my coffee exceeded my expectations. But look at my coffee cup! In the picture it seems bigger than it actually is! Is this a tea party for dolls? But it’s all good: espresso is served in small cups like this one. But it’s so cute!

And how about the yellow jar in which they brought not 1, not 2, but 3 teaspoons? Isn’t that adorable? It’s still small, but 2 of those teaspoons were small too: to nicely fit into the espresso cup 😉 By the way, I need to buy one too – I need one of those in my life! Don’t you? It’s made of ceramics, just like the cup and its saucer, so if it breaks, it’s gone!

I’ll have one of these, please! What for? To collect dust in them, of course!

The Rose Lemonade came in an unopened glass bottle. But the taste! The taste! It tasted like roses! as is someone made lemonade out of roses! No wonder it was called that! Take a closer look at the bottle – this is not made in Romania, but the owner did us a favor by importing this!

Yea, I drank it all before taking a closer picture of it. ooops!

This is not all! As I was enjoying my coffee, some British chicks came and sat at the next table. Two of them went inside to see what else they had and came out all excited reporting to their other friend “they have all sorts of good stuff!” Naturally, I had to go investigate! 

I didn’t expect to enter Candy Land! But, silly me not to believe the sign on the [other] window!

And the interior! it was amazing! The first thing i saw was these cakes!

OMG! I was salivating! I don’t think my picture taking skills do these desserts any justice! [but I hope this blog entry might] And, Wait! there’s more!

Chocolate! Macarons! Big cake! mini cakes! all the good stuff!

This is not all, because the interior is also nicely decorated. Furthermore, you can buy books too! and possibly other stuff as well, but I didn’t pay much attention to the other exposed merch. But here is just a sample of the art and one of the books! I believe it’s a children’s book, it is rather thin with hard covers. The art is really sweet too!  This book is written in Romanian and costs 35 lei if I remember correctly. That means US$8.62 or Euro7.85, but it’s a cute memento, right?

When I went to pay, I also got a slice of cake to go – I really wanted to enjoy it at home to relax for longer, of course. Want to see what I got?

Apple cake covered in confectioners sugar sold by weight and my piece cost a bit over 8 lei. The manager was beyond nice and gave me 2 choux on the house – I had to explain why was I taking so many pictures of the place. In case you don’t know, many cafes or cake places don’t allow people taking pictures of their shelves. This rule is also reinforced in the malls, stores, and supermarkets. The choux on the left was with coffee, the other one with passion fruit. I liked the one with passion fruit more, perhaps because I could barely feel the coffee in the other one. 

The apple cake! OMG! SO SOFT! and it doesn’t taste like apple pie, but like apple cake! These desserts are sweet but subtle. I generally dislike buying Romanian sweets because I don’t find them sweet.. as if they forget to add the sugar. But these beauties had a reasonable amount of sugar: not overly sweet. I recommend having these with milk-coffee, or with some subtle tasting tea. 

This is the box my cakes were packed in: simple, cute, and elegant at the same time. How nice!

I totally recommend this relaxation oasis to anyone who wants to unwind and enjoy some home-made sweets at the same time. Please go check their website [it’s in Romanian], like them on FaceBook, and follow them on Instagram as well! you won’t regret it!

I forgot to mention there’s a swing in the shop’s window. How cool is that? In any case, now that I know where this treasure is, I’ll go again to buy more sweets 😉 and Rose Lemonade!


©2013-2016 TheOwnerTravelsTo. All rights reserved.

Tips on testing a new cafe

Last week I went out to have a drink and relax. I had no idea where to go and I just wandered around until I found this cafe called The Drunken Lords.

The cafe, or bar -as I’m not entirely sure what its label is- is located in the Historic Center of Bucharest. This area is full of cafes, restaurants, bars, night clubs, and even random shops, especially those selling wedding gowns. I may show some of these stores in a future entry.

I never went here before, and I often go to new places just because. The downside is that I never know how the service or the drinks are.

I came up with a simple and rather sure way of testing out new cafes. I will share my observations with you, because you know, “sharing is caring,” and I started this blog for this particular reason.

Check out the atmosphere of the place.

This means you need to observe “each detail.” For instance, what do the seats and the tables look like? Do they seem comfortable? How many people can they accommodate? What type of decorations are there on the walls? Is there a funny scent, or is it too smoky?

The Drunken Lords had tables for two but tables for 4 or 6 persons as well. The  owner or the designer thought about using a combination of chairs and sofas [or couches] to appeal to the preferences of more people.

I sat on a chair, while my friend used the sofa to sit at the same table.

I really liked the wall decor and this is why I took two pictures of it. One of the walls was completely covered in these old books – most likely nobody would have read them anymore. Among all those books, some really old fashion suitcases were also sprinkled. You can actually see a little bit of one of them in the above picture.

I didn’t take a better picture because it took me minute to realize what was I looking at, and was feeling self conscious taking pictures. On another wall, the designer used the portrait of a gentleman [see below] – too bad my phone and the spotlight were at a bad angle. I really liked how the middle section was left as it was while the upper and the lower sections seem painted over.

Check the bathroom

You may not need to go, but you should still go wash your hands before consuming anything. This is exactly what I also did. Having a look at the cafe’s restroom is a great indicator of the care they put in serving their clients.

Luckily most of the restrooms I went to while being at a cafe, were CLEAN. They might not have someone to clean the place after each person, nor advanced Japanese toilets, but you won’t feel like throwing up while walking in there.

I never sit on the toilet seat, but that’s a different story. This restroom was not only clean, but it was nicely scented too. They have one for the ladies and one for the gents, separated, unlike many other places. 2 people can go in 2 separate stalls at the same time, and there were 2 sinks with soap and paper towel dispensers as well.

Can you tell I was nicely impressed?

Pay attention to the staff

Of course, many people would pay attention to the staff, and notice faster if the staff is rude or not polite enough.

The folks on duty on that evening were all smiles and excited to talk to me and my friend. This made the experience more relaxed and much more pleasant.

There is one slight minus that happens virtually everywhere I go: when the order came, there was no napkin in sight! 0.0 I realized this when it was too late, and took my own out [taken from another cafe. When our waiter noticed, he got upset, but he didn’t say a word. ooopsies]

I should have asked for some, but I’m not sure why I didn’t.

The way your bill is presented at the end is also important. Since you’re going to a more fancy place, you should receive it inside a little something, and not just given in your hand. Different locations have different ways of presenting it: in glasses, inside small fancy looking boxes, or specially created cases.

Place your order

This step is one of the most important one when going to a cafe or restaurant. However you must be prepared ahead of time.

What I like doing is quite simple, and uses common sense [I noticed not many people still have it these days, sadly].

I order some drinks I really like and that are super easy to get right or fail. [Well, I also pay attention to the quantity and the price, to see how ‘fair’ they are or if they’re trying to rip customers off – this is something that happens at times].

We ordered a lemonade and a hot chocolate with a side of a standard drink – Pepsi Cola [hey, Pepsi folks! can I get some change here for advertising your drink? =P LOL]. Pepsi was the last resort if we hated the other two drinks 😉

Lemonade is something REALLY easy to make. And it might sound ridiculous to some of those reading this entry, but I had a few places bringing me a NASTY lemonade. If they don’t know how to make a decent lemonade, how are they going to make other more complicated drinks?

The staff at The Drunken Lords made a nice lemonade for me. Its size was decent too – not too large and not too small either. I also found its price rather fair, so I can’t complain in this regard.

Hot chocolate is something that I had a bad experience with on a few occasions. This one was a good one, and therefore I have no complaints here either. The bad experiences were related to watered down chocolate, and the drink not being hot enough [at the same time too at least once], OR it being a pudding chocolate.

Hot chocolate is supposed to be like hot Nutella and a bit more creamy or liquid when hot. And the barista at The Drunken Lords did just that. YAY! [can I get some cash for advertising Nutella as well?]

All in all, I had a nice time there. I also liked it because at the time it was mostly empty, so it was more quiet.

The music was nice as well. At least in the beginning of my stay, because I can’t remember the whole playlist, but the music was pleasant all the way.

If you’re in Bucharest, you should totally check this place out. This is their website.


©2013-2016 the owner travels to. All rights reserved.

Barcelona and Bar Crawling is an amazing experience!

Hey guys!

This blog is called “I travel to…” but it seems like I didn’t travel much. Well, true, but at the beginning of June I went to Barcelona, Spain to visit a friend. I stayed there for a week and honestly it wasn’t enough to go see everything I wanted to. But it’s OK because there is always a next time, right?

What is one thing people do when they travel abroad? They usually like to party hard and late into the night. I’m not a party animal, but my friend wanted to meet up with some other friends  and to have some fun. I wasn’t going to sit home alone, so I joined them – the more, the merrier, right?

 pub crawl Barcelona

Friends at pub crawl Barcelona

The big question was “what to do to get a good taste of Barcelona, have fun, and to last for as long as possible in the evening?” Pub crawling seemed like a nice experience for all of us, especially since not everyone did this before. Yes you read that right, and I was one of them, but it’s understood if I’m not a party animal.

I was all excited to try something this “wild.” My friend suggested we contacted a pub crawl service for the night. The first thing you need to know is that if you want to pub crawl, Barcelona should be high on the list of places to go to.

 pub crawl Barcelona

pub crawl Barcelona

The service we got, had us meeting at 9pm at one of the bars we were to go to. You need to know that bar crawling is for people over the age of 18 only. If you look too young for your age you will need to bring your ID with you to prove you’re old enough for admission. It might be better to bring it anyways, but that’s just my opinion. Oh, and another thing: we learned we had to book our tour ahead of time, but we got lucky because another group cancelled with a short notice so we just replaced them.

There is admission fee, but it’s really cheap. The beers were also cheap and really good and they came in a huge selection. Sadly my memory is really bad, so I can’t tell you where we met or which places we went to. I do believe that not all the tours have the same stops, but I wouldn’t be sure about it. Oh, girls: avoid wearing heels for this adventure!

I may sound like I want to sell you some service, but I had a really good time and I usually write more passionately about the stuff I really enjoyed. I’m sure you’re the same. What else can I say about pub crawl? Barcelona is definitely a good place to start this popular nightlife style.

This is all for now. See you next time~~~

What I read: the Texan in Tokyo blog

And you should too!

This is my review for the Texan in Tokyo blog.

Copyright: Grace Buchele Mineta @ howibecametexan.com

Copyright: Grace Buchele Mineta @ howibecametexan.com

WHY DO YOU REVIEW IT?

1. I really like reading it! And the comics are so lightweight, they relax me!

2. It has comics too! [see above, and below!]

3. I learn about different cultures! And I mean, I learn a lot of things, especially differences. I can compare to m reality and try and see if I could live in a country on a planet of its own, Japan. I can try and realize if I could have a Japanese or Asian partner.

4. There are 2 published books – and the 3rd is about to come out! – featuring some of the published comics and blog entries.

5. I forgot my other reasons 😛

WHAT LANGUAGE IS IT IN?

The author is from Texas, therefore the blog and comics are written in English. As you can see in the featured images.

WHO’S WRITING THE BLOG AND DRAWING THE COMICS?

The author’s name is Grace Buchele Mineta. She is married to a Japanese guy whose name is Ryosuke. I’m not sure how to read Buchele – is it with an H-sound, or with an SH-sound [like in French]? I don’t know, but this is Grace’ maiden name. So, there! now you’re a few steps closer to becoming another stalker of Grace.

But if you really want to know more about her, go check out the blog, comics, and her videos! Grace uploads videos as well, on her YouTube channel!

Copyright: Grace Buchele Mineta @ howibecametexan.com

Copyright: Grace Buchele Mineta @ howibecametexan.com

WHAT IS THE BLOG ABOUT?

Grace blogs about her life in Japan. This comic here shows a major difference between dating in Japan and dating in USA, for example, but you have to read the explanation as well to understand the situation better.

Most of the comics talk about cultural differences: what Japanese people think is normal, no matter the situation, we, people in the West, may perceive weird or down right rude.

Her blog entries talk about various hardships she’s facing and how she deals with them, how she learned is better to deal with, and self encouragement.

Grace also talks about her experience as a Caucasian woman married to an Asian man… This subject seems to be a hot topic for everyone having the slightest interest in Asian culture. Of course, each AMWF relationship [this is how you currently call this type of marriage – Asian male, white female] is different, and it depends on many factors.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS BLOG/COMICS?

1. There’s no color: I can use my imagination to fill in the colors. YAY!

2. I can relate to some situations. I can also understand others better when there is an image.

3. The writing style is so informal, like talking to old friends. Grace is one of those authors who writes the way she talks, and I really like this. Her stories become more personal, more funny, more alive.

4. Each comic comes with a short explanation: just click the link under the comic above, and see for yourself!

5. I never know what topic comes next! The chapters are rarely connected, and this is exciting!

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU DON’T LIKE ABOUT IT?

I honestly feel that sometimes, some of the entries may need more explaining. But I learned [quite the hard way] that usually more explaining is worse than little or no explanation. Most likely, Grace also learned this, and quite frankly, this is not something I would really complain about.

Copyright: Grace Buchele Mineta @ howibecametexan.com

Copyright: Grace Buchele Mineta @ howibecametexan.com

YOU MENTIONED SOME BOOKS. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THEM?

Grace said she has been blogging about her life in Japan for 3 years. She said she also has a lot of unpublished material, so she decided to make some books out that. She self published, and her books can be found on Amazon, and even Etsy for those who want a signed copy! How cool is that? Have a look at her books!

WOULD YOU BUY HER BOOKS!

YES! I’d buy them and then start coloring them 😛 LOL – Don’t judge me, I read yesterday that adults benefit from coloring as well, not just kids do. It’s scientific [but you’ll have to search for that article by yourself].

Truthfully, I didn’t buy any of the books yet, but I know I will soon enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, this is my review for the blog Texan in Tokyo, or How I became Texan. I hope you liked it, and I hope you’ll go check it out!

Washing my hair with plain water

Hello there~~~

I may not be the cleanest person out there, nor the most organized, but I make sure I don’t stink or look dirty when going out. I like showering right before going out. I wish everyone had this much courtesy.

Some of you like to use eco-friendly cleaning and grooming products, or products that are natural as they can be. This is perfectly fine, and I kinda envy you for going the extra mile. What I know for sure is that many people out there also try to find budget-friendly solutions for cleaning and grooming.

I also know that some tips and tricks work and some don’t. This is because I tried some of them out. The most recent one is the trick, or was it a piece of advice?, said that we can clean our hair just fine with plain running water. Crazy? Yes, I know.

It’s been at least a month since I read this trick, but I was too intrigued by it to let it go. So yesterday I tried it out. Not because I ran out of shampoo, but because I thought any day is just as good. I have greasy hair, but lately it doesn’t become as oily as it used to. I also had to wash it one day sooner, but I was busy doing other stuff.

Went in the shower and did my routine, without shampoo. I was nervous, weirded out, and dieing of curiosity to see if it works. I also haven’t used hair conditioner, to have a better glimpse of the result. Having to go out for a bit, I let the outside air dry my hair.

CONCLUSION AND IMPRESSIONS

It worked. It wasn’t perfect, especially at the roots, but I may have had to stay in there for longer. I don’t know. My hair felt heavier yesterday, but today it felt an looked better. My friend didn’t tell me I have to wash my hair, so I am pretty happy with the result.

I must warn you though, that the results depend on each person’s type of hair, and water. I don’t think I will do it again, unless I don’t have any shampoo left anymore. I wouldn’t recommend it as lifetime solution, this is up to whoever tries it.

METHOD

I used hot water, as much as I could stand, with high pressure. I let the water run on my hair while scrubbing the roots. I tried to do this for as long as it takes me to use shampoo, rinse, use conditioner, and rinse again. I probably should have done it for longer for better results.

In case you were wondering, I did use shower gel to wash my body. Plain water does little for me especially in summer.

Take care until next time.