La Tahona Garden Bungalows(Fuerteventura, Spain)
I've not long got back from staying here so have all the thoughts of this place still fresh in my mind. What made me decide that I wanted to come here on holiday? Good question. After all the holidays that myself and my husband go on are generally different to a relaxing holiday in the Sunshine. We have braved the streets of New York, ... Climbed up Vesuvius, wandered around Pompeii, Went to the Coliseum in Rome, and looked around the Acropolis in Athens. All in all we prefer the kind of holidays that are more about looking around things and not all about lazing around a Pool, going to the Beach. However the lure or a cheap all-inclusive break away from the Rainy Scottish weather sounded like a good idea, so we thought why not. After all so many people swear by these kind of holidays and when we got there we could make the holiday more to what we wanted to.
I would like to state that this review is about the Hotel - as you would expect from the section, but I will touch a little on the area which this is in, but I'm sure you understand this is mainly about the Hotel. If it were about the area then I would be writing under the area section.
I booked the Holiday through www.lowcostholidays.com and this Hotel was 1 of the ones listed. This wasn't the cheapest one, but the cheapest 1 was in the Corralejo area, which from what I understand is the more Tourist-y area. I wasn't against staying there, and the Hotel was £10 cheaper for the whole 7 nights, but it was 1 hour away from the Airport according to the site, whereas this Hotel was 15 minutes away. I had read up on the Calete De Fuste area and although it seemed that there wasn't that much to do there, it was deemed a bit of a quieter area but still with shops and eating out places.
The price for this Hotel varies - as prices normally do. We stayed from Saturday the 17th of September and left mid day on Saturday the 24th of September. We booked 7 weeks ahead of us staying and got all inclusive for 2 adults for £330. There was the option of self catering and Half board as well, but the difference between self catering and all inclusive was £18 a day. So we thought we may as well pay the extra and at least that way we didn't have to worry about needing lots of spending money. So to cost the Hotel per night it was basically £47 a night. I kept trying to find an official site for this Hotel, but kept just finding Hotel booking ones, so guess the way to book this is through a 3rd party site. Before I stayed here I had read up on the Food not being all that great, but I will come to all that part later on. This Hotel has 102 1 Bedroom Apartments and 8 2 bedroom Apartments. The address details for anyone interested is Alcade Marcial Sanchez Velazquez, 17 Caleta de Fuste Fuerteventura.
This Hotel is in a not bad location. There is restaurants from 1 minute to around 5 minutes from here. The food in the Restaurants outside of here cover Baguettes, Indian, Chinese, Pizza, Italian and just a good mixture of different foods. The prices are not bad in these Restaurants as well - probably due to the competition of all the eating places, and also since perhaps there is a lot of people going All Inclusive to keep the holiday cost down. About a 5 minute brisk walk away is the coastline, which we walked along a few times. It is here that you can find the Chipmunks and you can buy a bag of Monkey Nuts for 1 Euro and feed them. If you go down on the rocks they will come right up to you and eat out your hands - once they have gained their trust in you. There is a British Food shop nearby selling all British brands and frozen food from Tesco, Iceland and Asda. The shop is a bit expensive - 2 euro for a Pot Noodle (!). A few Supermarkets in the vicinity so you can get your essentials. The usual Tourist shops are a couple minutes walk away so all in all in a good enough Location I think.
Well my first impressions aren't the same as my 2nd impressions. When we pulled up outside here I thought "Hmm, looks a bit dingy". The outside of this place isn't impressive and I think it can be made better. The wood is a dark brown colour and to be honest I think this looks a bit '80's Motel looking. Doesn't look inviting from the outside and a lot of the Hotels in the area look brighter and better. Inside we went and went to the reception area to pick up the Key. The whole place has Tiles on the floor - probably for the heat and maintenance factor. Nice and cooling though. The buildings look ok. The Complex is made up of many Bungalows, but they are stacked 2 high, which is alright as you aren't surrounded by people. The room number we were given was 301 and that was an upstairs one. That was ok as we had quite a large patio area and it was sunny being upstairs. Perhaps a downside was that on out upstairs landing bit there was 5 other Bungalows apart from our one, so people ended up walking past out door to get to their door. To be honest the 2 Bungalows could have went up a separate set of stairs to get to their, but our stairs were closer to the reception area, so closer as they would have walked out. There is a Pool in the centre of the Complex. Not the largest looking Pool I have seen and for the amount of Bungalows that there is here. There would be a bit of a crowd if most of the people all wanted to go to it. There is a larger section of the Pool and then a smaller part inside of it. There is also a part of the larger Pool blocked off so not sure if this is a more shallow part for young kids to use. Around the Pool is the Chairs and this area was always quite busy. There is also a Sun terrace off the Pool area which is above the building so a nice Suntrap area.
The seating area downstairs in the bar and Restaurant area is alright. Plenty of tables and Chairs and these are scattered around the bar, the main restaurant, some in a sort of sun trap conservatory area, and then some more in a larger hall area before you go into the Bar. This area was pretty hot though as it seemed to get the sun all the time.
So now to the important part - our Apartment. It was nice enough, but a bit basic and in need of a freshen up but I have found that people on trip Advisor are stating the same thing. The living room area was ok with a large couch and a chair in it. We had 2 patio Doors, so could leave these open and look outside while sitting on the couch. Gave a nice breeze in as well. There was a living room table, and a TV here, but the TV wasn't tuned in. we had a side window as well, which gave us breeze from the corner of the building as well. All the windows had shutters on them, so we left the Bedroom ones only on the shutters which kept the light out but let the breeze in. There was no Air Con in here, which was a shame, but since the Island is pretty Windy and the shutters were there then we got a good supply of cool air anyway. There was a kitchen table and 2 chairs in here too, and a good few cupboards which had crockery, pots, pans, cutlery, glasses etc. We used the odd plate but nothing else. The fridge freezer was an ok size for us to keep a few bottles in and it was turned up to the coldest setting so nice, cold drinks!
The bathroom area was a bit odd. The Toilet seemed loose and everytime I sat down it would either move forward or back. Done the job and that's all that matters. In the Apartment information book it stated that we should do our best to conserve Water as they don't get much rainfall over there but there was no Plug in the bathroom Sink (!). So we had to keep the water running. There was a bath, but it wasn't a full sized one. I had to sit in it with my legs bent and I'm only 5 foot 7. There was a shower on the wall, but no Shower Curtain and not even any hooks to indicate that there should have been a Curtain there. So that's why I ended up sitting in the bath while washing my hair as I would have got Water everywhere.
Another point to make is that in the Apartment manual it stated that the Apartment would be cleaned 3 times a week and bedding changed once a week. Given the Hot climate which ranged between 90-100 degrees when we were there then I would have expected the bedding to be cleaned more than once a week, but it's their rules. As for the Apartment cleaning we never once came back to having the apartment cleaned, and we were forever going down and asking for a new toilet Roll and Fresh Towels. We only had 4 towels in the Bathroom, and if you think about us both having a shower and also needing a towel for washing hands and that then you are going to get through them more than once every 2 days. Staff were ok when we asked for replacements and on the 3rd day of being there and still no cleaning had been done I asked reception for it to be done and someone came and down it about 2 hours later.
All apartments only come with Single beds advised the receptionist, so we just moved them together and made a nice big bed. I guess this is to cater for single people sharing as well as couples. Not really a problem I would say.
Some people have said that the Apartments were dirty and that there was Cockroaches, but ours was fine and I didn't see any Cockroaches.
I found the staff here to be ok. After reading on Trip Advisor some people said that the Staff were unfriendly and also that there wasn't enough of them, but I didn't have any problems. Throughout our stay we dealt with 4 people on the reception desk 2 females and 2 males. They were all pleasant, and when we dropped out Key in when we were going out for the day they always wished us a "good Day" and that. Some of the staff seemed to double up. For example to person who worked the Breakfast seemed to be on the pool bar until about 15:30, then the person who tool over around 15:30 went on to run the main Bar at night until it closed at 23:00. A couple of times I had to wait at both Bars to be served, but to be fair the bars were normally busy and people were stocking up on more than 1 drink. I don't think I ever waited more than 4 minutes and even that length of wait was few and far between. The staff seemed to work hard anyway, the only thing that the Bar staff didn't seem to know all that much English, which I would have thought they would have known quite a bit. I had to resort to the "international pointing" on more than 1 occasion to advise which Crisps I wanted and that. We got there in the end though.
What can I say, the best bit of the holiday. Juice and Beer were available from 8am-11pm. The Juice was branded pepsi Juice, so 7UP, Pepsi and Diet pepsi. The only Beer was a local Beer called Tropical and my Husband said it was nice. All other Alcoholic Drinks and Fruit Juices were available from 11am-5:30pm from the pool bar or 6pm-11pm from the main bar. The Spirits were branded spirit bottles (can't say if they were branded or just decanted into branded bottle) and the range was good - bacardi, Smirnoff, Gin, Whiskey, Jack Daniels and so on. A large range and surely something for everyone. Also on All Inclusive was a choice of 8 Alcoholic Cocktails and this was what I lived on drink wise. I loved the 1 called Paradise. This was vodka, Pineapple Juice, 7Up and Blackcurrant. It was lovely. All drinks were served in half pint plastic cups, apart from at night time if you wanted a drink in the main bar which was glasses - or if you wanted a drink to take out then it was plastic cups. The drinks were so nice and we made sure we got out All Inclusive price back this way.
Probably the best meal of the day. A range of fresh bread (Toast it yourself if you wish), Rolls, Bacon, Scrambled eggs, Boiled Eggs, Mushrooms,Tomatoes, Hot Dog Sausages (instead of "real sausages), Beans, Fresh Fruit, Fruit salad, Cereal, Yogurt, Tea, Coffee, Fruit juice. All ok.
This consisted of a Salad bar with lovely fresh Coleslaw which tasted home made, Chips and there was always a Fish Dish, 2 Meat Dishes and a Vegetarian Dish. I probably would have expected a Pasta Dish but you didn't get much pasta over here. The dishes indicated what it was by a picture of the animal eg Chicken, which I would guess would be good for all languages, but there was no telling in what kind of sauce the Chicken was in. There was a lovely Seafood Paella here 1 day, and although I don't eat Seafood I scooped some of the rice up and it was very nice. An adequate Meal, but just not what I would be used to eating at lunch time.
Evening Meal - 6pm-9pm
Again a bit of a choice here, but sometimes not for me I'm afraid. Much the same as lunch time so 2 Meat dishes, 1 fish Dish, 1 Vegetarian, a couple of side dishes, Bread Rolls, Soup and Salad. 1 night we went down and the main choices were Rabbit Stew and Squid. I don't like either of them. Another night there was a lovely Vegetable Curry, and battered bits of Chicken. Another time there was some lovely Lasagne The meals just seemed to be a bit hit and miss. We tended to eat out at night time as we were put off a bit with the food choices, but there seemed to be plenty people eating down there when we went down.
I do think that the food bit could be improved and if it is down to costing then even think if they put the room rate up by £1 a day, then considering that there is 110 Apartments here and it seems a busy resort then I'm sure that could invest in some different food. There was a good few people complaining about the Food when we were there, but I heard 1 person complaining to the rest of his group and all he wanted to eat on holidays was Egg and Chips, Burgers and Pizza. The food here does seem quite European, which is not a bad thing, but perhaps some cheap fixes such as some Pizza, perhaps the odd night of Chicken Curry then this could be improved?
This has been my first All Inclusive holiday so I cannot compare it to anywhere else. I don't know if this is quite average for the price, and if Food is normally not all that great in such a kind of resort?
- Price was ok
- Drinks were great
- Staff were ok and hard working
- Location was good
- Area was quite, but safe and plenty to do
- Lack of Towels
- Lack of Toilet Roll
- Sheets only getting changed once a week
- Food not great
- Cleaning doesn't seem to get done 3 times a week
- Rooms could do with a lick of paint and freshen up
Would I recommend this place for someone to stay? Yes I would. The disadvantages can get overlooked, and if you are not fussed about drinking much then I would perhaps recommend staying self catering. The Supermarket down the road sells 750ml bottles of Tropical Beer for less that 1 euro, and the Spirits are not bad priced either, so it may be cheaper for you to eat out all the time and make your own drinks in the Apartment. I would stay here again as it was all ok.
I think I have covered everthing, but if there is anything else you want to know then just let me know.
Thanks for the read.
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Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (Rwanda)
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge - Rwanda We stayed here for two nights in order to see the 'Gorillas in the Mists'. We had flown from Heathrow at 8pm via Nairobi and on to Kigali. By the time we arrived in Kigali we had been travelling about 23 hours. We then did a few things in Kigali before driving two hours to get here. We were ... pretty sleep deprived by the time we arrived as you can imagine so we very happy to get to the hotel.
As we turned off the main road onto the driveway to the hotel we both commented in the fact that had we been driving ourselves we probably wouldn't have driven up that road. It was rocks about 6 inches square. It really had to be seen to be believed. Great huge pot holes and almost wall like lumps to climb. I don't suppose even the solid four wheel drives last long over those roads. The tyres must be tough too.
We were greeted warmly in Reception with a cup of ginger tea before being escorted to our room. Our guide came with us plus two porters so we had a huge entourage but we carried nothing!
The room was just enormous. It was split in two by a sloped edge which we kept forgetting and tripping over! The bedroom part had a huge king sized very comfortable bed with three pillows and lots of warm blankets, duvets etc freshly made with lovely crisp cotton sheets. There were two small bedside tables with a phone on one and an emergency hurricane lamp on the other. In the section of the room there was a storage shelf and hanging space and a safe which worked on a combination lock but interestingly wasn't actually attached to the wall in any way so could having been carried away in total by anyone wanting to steal anything. The bed had three small carpets around it, one each side and a larger one at the end which all matched and were in muted green and beige tones.
The other half of the room was a sitting area with a carpet like those in the bedroom part, three nice comfortable chairs and a coffee table. There were also three more upright chairs and a desk to work at. The fireplace had a huge fire hearth a bit like an old bread oven which was lit for us each day, sometimes twice if we went out as the fire died while we were out. Above the fire was a shelf with coffee and tea making stuff.
The bathroom was possibly one of the biggest I have ever had in any hotel. You almost needed a packed lunch to walk across it. There was a bath with shower over it but no shower curtain! A toilet and then two basins plus a hair dryer plus a laundry basket and a towel rail and that was it. The floor was tiled and the walls concrete painted a dull orangey brown.
The view from our large picture window was of the mountain that was the border of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. If you climbed to the top you could stand in each of the countries but it would have been some climb as I think it is about 5,000 feet but through rainforest jungle terrain.
The grounds were lovely with plants flowering, a lot of blue hydrangeas and many others that I didn't recognise. An ibis was sitting in front of our 'house' on the grass and the next morning with had two large heron sitting on our roof. The sounds of animals calling in the distance plus the birds singing and sounds from a local village along with the smell of wood smoke created a very atmospheric feeling.
DANCERS TO ENTERTAIN
In the evening at about 4.30 a group of local children and young people come and dance on the grass, again this was just in front of our room so we didn't even really have to go outside to watch. They were just brilliant, so full of energy and enthusiasm with lovely happy, rather cheeky faces. They danced pretty well non stop for half an hour. They did have a box for tips and I went back to get some money for this, when I popped it in the pot the young lady gave me a hug and a kiss which was rather sweet and thanked me profusely - we put $8 US equivalent in Rwandan francs so not huge amount really.
The bar served a vast array of drinks considering we were in the middle of nowhere along a couple of miles of rock road. We tried a couple of local beers but there were South African wines and all kinds of spirits. The beers were reasonable Primus was cheaper than Mutzik and was a lot lighter in alcohol, our guide told my husband that Primus was for ladies so that slightly put him off! They were about $5 US each for a litre bottle so not a bad price at all. We did leave the barman a tip each night too as he very kindly soaked off the labels for my husband who collects them as souvenirs wherever we go.
All the food was included in the price. As we booked the trip though an Africa Travel company and paid the lot all together I am not sure what the price of this hotel is.
Breakfast and all the meals in fact, were buffet style. Breakfast offered tea or coffee, fresh fruit, bananas, pawpaw, passion fruit and pineapple. Two types of yogurt and some chopped fruit, as before but no passion fruit was next to a choice of about three cereals. The hot food included warn croissants and ready made toast, sausages , local bean mix, bacon, omelettes, tomatoes and potatoes. It wasn't a huge buffet but perfectly adequate and well cooked.
Lunch was a buffet again. Lovely freshly made soup with warm rolls, a choice of three salads then hot stuff offered a choice of eggplant curry, stir fried vegetables, a stew and potatoes and rice. There was also a selection of about half a dozen desserts and fresh fruit.
The evening meal was pretty similar to lunch with three different salads, another fresh soup then selection of vegetable including really tasty local creamed spinach, fish and roast beef and another goulash stew.
Before we came we read some pretty harsh reviews of this place and so were not expecting great things. People said the food was poor and the service a bit strange. We found the food to be fresh, tasty and well cooked; it wasn't posh cordon bleu cuisine but good fresh home style cooking. As for the service we can't complain at all. I think people sometimes expect the staff to understand everything they say and think they are at fault when they can't. English is not Rwanda's second language, that is French but it is changing and in schools English is being taught as they realise that English is now the main language spoken throughout the world for tourism.
SERVICE AND THE RWANDAN WAY
Service was a bit hit and miss but to us that is part of the experience; if everywhere was the same then why bother travelling? We had fires lit every day, sometimes twice if it had gone out. The first night we had a hot water bottle in our bed but not on the second. We came back from breakfast on the day we were checking out to find the lady changing the bed and making it up. We didn't have to check out until 12.30 and we planned on spending the morning just recouping our strength and packing so we were going to be in the room until 12.00. She left our used towels but it did mean we couldn't lie on the bed unless we were being mean and making them do it again. They then hung around looking into our room hopefully but we did just ignore that.
The hotel only had generators for electricity and these ran from 4.45 till 7am, from 12.30 till 1.30 and finally from 5.15 till 11 pm. This did make it a bit of a challenge as my laptop only has two hours of battery and we tended to only be in at time when the generator was off in the day.
The hot water was also limited and some reviews on Trip Advisor complained there was not enough hot water but we had plenty. We had two baths a day and the water was scalding hot so you didn't need much. We didn't use the shower as there was no curtain and the bathroom would have got very wet and slippery. The bath also warmed us up in the morning and evening so it served two purposes, cleaning and warming.
There were toiletries, a bath gel and soap plus a body lotion so that was a surprise as we were not expecting anything. The hair dryer was one of those big things on the wall with a hose like a vacuum cleaner that blows luke warm air at you but it did the job.
We loved the place as the setting could not have been more perfect. The room was lovely, very relaxing with a view to die for. The room was cool but the fire kept the chill off it and had you wanted more warmth there was an electric radiator that you could have used in the evening. The water took a while to fill the bath but it worked and was hot. As soon as we arrived we made up sterilised water for teeth cleaning and kept that in a bottle in the bathroom. Two bottles of drinking water were in the room daily so all in all we were very happy. The people were lovely and friendly and we found they couldn't do enough to please us.
When we came back from our Gorilla trek they took our boots off us at the door of the hotel and gave us plastic slip on shoes to wear back to the room. They cleaned our boots and returned them to us later. Umbrellas were provided at the main lodge area and there were also two outside our room on our balcony. I think they had tried to think of everything to give the visitor a nice stay and while some things were not quite perfect we found it a really great hotel and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone coming to Rwanda to see the gorillas.
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Hotel Leifur Eriksson (Reykjavik, Iceland)
During my trip to Iceland earlier this year I stayed in the Hotel Leifur Eriksson in Reykjavik. It was one of the hotels available for me to choose on the Icelandair website (I booked a flights + hotel package with them) and I chose it because of a combination of the description, price and location. ***Price*** It's hard ... for me to state exactly how much the Hotel Leifur Eriksson costs, as I booked it as part of a package deal. My flights, airport transfer and four nights in this hotel (single room) cost £399, which sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
The Hotel Leifur Eriksson is situated in the centre of Reykjavik, opposite the Hallgrímskirkja (church), on the top of a hill. It's a short walk to the harbour and the sea, and it's within easy reach of the main shopping streets of the city. Reykjavik is a small city so most hotels in the area will be close to the main amenities, but this particular hotel had one major advantage for me. I'm really bad at finding my way around and was slightly worried about getting lost, but the hotel's location at the top of a hill next to the church made it very easy for me to find my way back from pretty much anywhere in Reykjavik. All I had to do was look for the spire!
The hotel is situated in a lovely old building which is small and compact. Inside, there are a few steps down to the lobby which is right next to the lounge area, used as a bar during the day and evening and the breakfast area in the morning. There are four floors in all (I was on the top floor - typical!) and there is no lift, so the hotel wouldn't be suitable for disabled guests. The décor was pleasant and neat and I was pleased to see a bookshelf on one landing, full of books that could be borrowed (or contributed to) by guests.
The Hotel Leifur Eriksson has 47 rooms, each with a telephone, radio, satellite TV and en suite bathroom. Room service is available 24/7. I should point out that I didn't use any of these amenities (except for the bathroom!) as I prefer to sit quietly and read on holiday without the TV!
My single room was clean and simply but attractively decorated, with a sloping ceiling, a wardrobe, a couple of chairs, a dressing table and a double bed. Unfortunately, about half of the room was largely unusable because of the sloping ceiling (and I am quite tall!). Also, the room was small (but not tiny) in the first place. I hope the presence of the double bed doesn't mean that the room is used as a double one. It would certainly be far too small for two people. Still, I must admit that it was perfectly adequate for my needs, particularly as I didn't spend too much time there anyway. When speaking to one of the hotel staff later I found out that this is actually the smallest room in the hotel, so the other rooms probably don't have these problems!
The bed itself was very comfortable, and I slept quite happily there each night.
The bathroom was small but adequate, and very clean with a simple to use shower and the usual mirror and sink.
I very much enjoyed my breakfast at the hotel (which is included in the price of the room). The breakfast is set out as a buffet, with an assortment of cereals, European style breads, cheese and meat as well as condiments and hot and cold drinks such as tea, coffee and orange juice. A toaster is provided so you can toast your own bread. Best of all was the pancake maker - you can make your own pancakes using the batter provided and drizzle them with maple syrup. Sometimes you did have to wait a bit, though, as this was very popular! The food was very tasty and I never had to wait to be seated.
The hotel is described as family-run and this makes sense, as at different times there was a man, woman, young woman and young man behind the reception desk! All the staff were very friendly and helpful and spoke very good English. Apart from checking in I didn't really have much to do with them except the odd hello. However I asked them a couple of questions about the excursions I booked onto (which involved being picked up at the hotel by minibus) and asked them to book me onto my airport transfer at the end of my stay. They were helpful and friendly at all times. A number of leaflets are provided in the hotel lobby so you can find out more about what Reykjavik and Iceland have to offer. It's also possible to book excursions and trips through the hotel, though I didn't do this as I had already booked online.
I was very happy with my experience of the Hotel Leifur Eriksson and if I was to return to Iceland I would certainly consider staying there again. Though not a luxurious hotel, it was clean, comfortable, friendly, centrally located and great value for money. My only slight issue was the small size of the room, but this doesn't warrant removal of a star as far as I am concerned. A really nice place and highly recommended by me.
Address: Hotel Leifur Eiriksson
101 Reykjavik, Iceland.
Tel: 00354 562 0800
Fax: 00354 562 0804
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4 Stars Hotel International
Address: 37 Avenue de la Motte Picquet / Hotel International / 7 Arr. / 75007 / Paris / France
Address: Khalid Bin Waleed Street / Hotel International / PO Box 115160 / Dubaim / 52555 / United Arab Emirates
Address: Route 328 / Hotel International / P.O. Box 226 / Oudtshoorn 6620 / South Africa / Tel: +27 044 2726721
Address: Norman Manley Blvd / Hotel International / Negril / Jamaica
Address: Hammamet Yasmine / Hotel International / BP 35 / Hammamet / 8056 / Tunisia
Address: P.O. Box 63003 / Hotel International / Paphos 49100 / Cyprus / Tel: 26 964848
Address: Jinane El Kantaoui / Hotel International / Sousse / Port El Kantaoui 4089 / Tunisia
Address: 6 Rue des Paquis / Hotel International / CH-1201 Geneva / Switzerland / Tel : + 41 22 7081717
Address: C / Hotel International / Rosselló 191 / 08036 Barcelona / Spain / Tel: +34 902 021 505
Address: Douar Bouchareb / Hotel International / Marrakech 40000 / Morocco / Rating: 4 Star
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