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crisella74

crisella74
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Member since: 15.10.2008

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      04.04.2009 11:13
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      A typical Ibis hotel

      There was a time when we had to travel by car quite a lot, especially in Italy, Spain and France. Since there was no specific route or time constrains we would find ourselves on the highways late at night and when getting tired you can not be so picky choosing the hotel. There were good experiences but some were just plain wrong. So the sign of an Ibis hotel was always like seeing an oasis in the middle of desert. Might not be the world's best hotel, but it was nice and comfortable and you knew exactly how your room it's going to be like long before you set foot in it.


      Ibis is an international hotel chain, part of Accor. It has a number of 767 hotels worldwide, out of which 370 are in France and the majority of the other hotels in Europe. Usually, the hotels are situated in the vicinity of railway stations or airports. The first Ibis hotel was opened in 1974 in Bordeaux.


      The first Ibis hotel opened in Romania in 2001, and we couldn't miss the chance to test it.
      The hotel is situated at only 200 m from the main railway station in Bucharest, Gara de Nord.
      Right across from the hotel there is a subway station as well as a tram station. I would recommend using the subway as it is the fastest way to move around, the trains are quite modern and they take you almost anywhere in the city.
      The trams might be an interesting way of traveling around for those who live in countries which took out the tram system and some lines are "fast trams" which means they have " special tracks and normally don't get stuck in traffic.
      I think the worst way to travel in terms of how long is going to take you to get from A to B is by bus or car. The traffic is unbelievable and I know it's bad in any city but you should be warned that in Bucharest rules do not apply. Think Italy. Crazy people hitting their horns and traffic jams at every intersection.

      As you approach the entrance, the first thing you see is the big parking lot that separates the main street from the hotel and trust me, in Bucharest a parking lot it's good news.
      The building is the typical prefab hotel that Ibis relies on. Nothing more than squares blocks on top of each other, the hotel is no wonder of architecture.
      Right in front of the entrance is the reception, on the right side is a little bar and then the restaurant and on the left side are the elevators. Although this hotel is used by business people and for conferences, the check in was a breeze and shortly we were handed the magical card key. In order to use the elevator, you will need the card.


      The room was quite big and spacious, the furniture was modern and well maintained, exactly what you expect in an Ibis hotel. Ibis rooms have quite big beds with a comfy mattress and this was no exception.
      There is a very long desk where you can place your laptop and the rooms have free internet. However, you need a data cable as it's not wifi internet. If you don't have one, you can buy it at the reception for 8 euros (about 5 pounds).
      We had quite a small TV but since I hardly ever watch television it didn't bother me at all. The closet was large enough and the mini-bar was quite handy as this hotel doesn't have room service.
      The one thing I really didn't like about the room was that the windows don't open and you can't get fresh air in the room, a big thing for me. The bathroom was large, well equipped and very clean.

      The breakfast was included in our room price and it was quite a nice choice of food: cereals, yogurt, eggs, sausage, a choice of different types of salami and bacon etc. If it's not included in the room rate you can pay 10 euros per person at the reception, which I would recommend since it's hard to find restaurants or bistros in Bucharest that will serve breakfast with most of them opening at 12.
      We had dinner one night at the hotel and I had a mushroom cream soup which was pretty decent but wasn't impressive at all, so I think you are better off eating out as the selection of restaurants is very good and they are not expensive either. Try some Romanian specialties, especially "mici" (spicy minced pork meat that goes wonderfully with a good beer). Hey, while in Rome... well, Bucharest.

      The staff was quite alright, I wouldn't give them the award of best customer service but I can't say they were bad either. They all speak good English and some also speak German, Italian or Spanish. We didn't have any problems but I did hear others complaining about the fact that they have been unhelpful in anything that wasn't directly connected to the accommodation, which is a shame really as any stay in a hotel is greatly influenced by how welcome you feel.

      The rate for this hotel is 79 euros for 2 people (breakfast not included) during the week and 59 euros over the weekend. They have a winter rate as well at the moment, 69 euros during the week and 49 euros during the weekend. Accommodation is free for 1 child less than 12 years old sharing a room with the parents, and 50% discount is applied on breakfast.

      With the Ibis fidelity card you get a 10% discount on accommodation and dinner and, as with all Ibis hotels, you can get 250 miles per night if you have a Flying Blue card.

      This hotel is a typical Ibis, the good thing is you know exactly what to expect and how your room is going to be. Although the location is very good in terms of transportation access and vicinity to the biggest Bucharest's rail station, the neighborhood is not one of the safest and I wouldn't want to walk alone in that area at night.

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        23.02.2009 12:01
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        As close to miracles as it comes!

        A few years ago I was buying some cosmetics and I received Estee Lauder Advance Night Repair Complex as a sample with the purchase.
        My skin is very oily and while that can be very annoying when it comes to skin care and makeup, the advantage is you don't get wrinkles easily.
        Around my eyes, well, that's another story. I am very sensitive to light and if I'm not wearing sunglasses, even during the winter, I am constantly looking through my eyelashes because I can't keep my eyes open. Which means the only place I have wrinkles is around my eyes.
        Couple that with insomnia and a very late sleep pattern and you will understand why I was very eager to try this product.

        Estee Lauder was founded in 1946 by Ms. Estee Lauder. The company markets over 10,000 products under a large portfolio of brands such as Estée Lauder, Clinique, Aramis and Lab Series as well as others added over the years, adding each year more than 300 new products. About one third of the annual sales come from products introduced within the previous three years.
        In the beginning, due to the lack of advertising funds, Estee Lauder promoted their products by distributing free samples at fashion shows and by mail. It was the first company to do so and the strategy proved to be extremely successful.

        The product:
        The small squared shaped bottle is brown with a golden nice elegant golden lid. It looks very sophisticated and I like seeing it in my bathroom. This may be irrelevant to a man, but we women are funny that way.
        The bottle is a 0.5 oz (15 ml) and as you can imagine, it looks really tiny. I was amazed when I saw how small this is, considering the amount of money you have to spend on it. However, you only need very little to use and it lasts for a few months, so in the end I think the amount of money you spend are well worth it.
        The bottle contains a gel like cream of a very light orange color with a smooth consistency, it's not runny but not thick either. Along with the bottle you will get an applicator but I find it much easier to take a little bit with my finger as I feel it gives me more control.
        Dermatologist-tested and non-acgenic.


        What is it for?
        It's a light, silk formula that helps revitalize the skin with a smoother firm look., helps the building of a rich reserve of anti-oxidants to replenish skin's natural protectants and neutralizes up to 90% of environmental generated agent free radicals which causes 80% of the visible sings of aging, boosts and maintains skin's natural production of collagen to reduce fine lines and prevent the appearance of new ones.
        Most importantly, and the reason I buy it for, reduces puffiness and diminishes darkness for a fresher, more rested appearance.
        Vitamins C and E and a plant-derived hydrating complex help protect and moisturize skin, leaving it smooth, soft, conditioned.

        Ingredients:
        One of the main ingredients is Hyaluronic acid (also called Hyaluronan) which is a component of connective tissue. The connective tissue function is to cushion and lubricate joints, eyes, skin and heart valves.
        Hyaluronic acid was named by the press "key to the fountain of youth" because studies showed that people who ingest a lot of food with high content of this tend to live long lives. In fact ABC news had a show entitled "The Village of Long Life: Could Hyaluronic Acid Be an Anti-Aging Remedy?".
        In 2003 the FDA approved hyaluronan injections for filling soft tissue defects such as facial wrinkles. Restylane is a common trade name for the product. Hyaluronan injections temporarily smooth wrinkles by adding volume under the skin, with effects typically lasting for six months.
        Commercial products which contain hyaluronic acid are used or being studied to be used, to prevent, treat or help in the surgical repair for many types of problems people with connective tissue disorders tend to have such as: scaring, wrinkled skin, wound healing, ligament healing and many others. Hyaluronic acid works to correct these problems because defects or deficiencies of hyaluronic acid are what cause these problems in the first place.
        HA is influenced by nutrition and other environmental factors. Many of the features of premature aging syndromes and connective tissue disorders are also known to be caused by nutritional deficiencies, and not surprisingly these are often the same nutritional factors that influence the manufacture of hyaluronic acid. Ascorbic acid and cigarette smoking are known to degraded hyaluronic acid, while estrogen treatment increases its activity.
        You can find more information on this at: http://www.ctds.info/hyaluronic_acid.html

        Applying:
        All you need is to apply 3 tiny dots around each eye and gently patt it around the eye area with your finger. The area around the eye is very sensitive, so avoid rubbing it, just gently blend it starting from the corner of the eye (from the nose side) towards the exterior part of the eye. A friend who took a class in cosmetics taught me that apparently this move is the best way to avoid the fine lines and is the most beneficial for your eye.
        The gel takes a bit of time to be absorbed in the skin and it's easy to apply. It does leave my skin looking a bit shinny at first but it does eventually go away. The instructions recommend it both at night and in the morning and the shinny part can be a problem if you need to go but I tap my eyes with a paper tissue very gently before applying makeup and that solves the problem.


        My eyes are very sensitive and I had problems in the past as other products felt a bit tangy and irritated my skin or my eyes, but with this product I had no problems. The skin was left feeling fine and smooth, it didn't cause any irritation or redness and I was extremely satisfied of how my skin and eyes reacted to it.
        Applying makeup after using it was easy and it didn't make it in any way worse. Sometimes I have noticed that after using an eye cream my foundation or powder would get into the fine lines around my eyes, but after using this I haven't noticed anything like that. Whatever makeup I'd be using, be it foundation, powder or eye shades, they glide on my face perfectly and without any problems.


        The result
        The first thing I have noticed after using it was a great improvement in how my eyes looked. I couldn't quite point down what exactly changed but somehow they just looked better and brighter. There was something different in appearance but I couldn't say what.
        For one, the skin was definitely smooth and soft and while I didn't noticed my dark circles improving, there was a certain brightness of the eyes that was showing that something is going on. They did seem to look healthier, like the skin looks like after a good facial.
        The next thing I noticed after using this for some time was the puffiness around my eyes disappearing. While I am still young and don't have a huge problem when it comes to that, I still had a bit of a problem with it, due to the fact that at that time I was going to bed very late at night and you know how badly that affects your skin, especially the eyes. So, from this point of view, the improvements were quite drastic.
        The last thing, after even more time of using it, was an improvement in the dark circles around my eyes. I don't have naturally dark circles, in fact I didn't know what they are until around 25 years old, when due to a 2 days nonstop crying incident I woke up with dark circles that never went away afterwards, no matter how well I was rested.
        That improved visibly, although not completely. Since dark circles are not something I was born with (like my best friend, for example) I don't know how well this would work for someone that genetically has this problem. In my case it did improve it but it didn't completely get rid of it.
        As far as fine lines go I also saw an improvement. Of course, this is not going to just make them disappear but it did diminish them and, what's more important, I am very convinced that it helped tremendously slowing down their appearance.

        I think Estee Lauder had a brilliant idea giving away samples of their products as I have been addicted with this ever since. I might not be able to buy it all the time, but it's always on my list of priorities and it's well worth the money.
        There are no miracles products, but when it comes down to it this is as close as you can get and I'm really happy I found this before permanent damage was done as I believe with the help of my "Fountain of Youth" now I can age gracefully.

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          13.02.2009 07:58
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          Feel pampered in a great hotel

          Although I live in Bucharest, I stay in hotels here quite often as my husband (which is not Romanian) is being sent to Bucharest on business with accommodation paid and since we love hotels, every time it's like a holiday without having to go anywhere. Marriott hotel, however, it was more my doing. After loving our first stay here, I have joined the Marriott Reward Club, which meant I had a couple of free night vouchers, discount rates on booking and 50% discount on drinks and food. It was a stealer deal and I took advantage of it.


          Location and a bit of history:
          The hotel is located at about 10 minutes walking from the city center, in the vicinity of Parliament Palace, the second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon. Previously Parliament Palace was called "The House of the People" and it has been build by the former communist dictator Ceausescu. He didn't live to see it finished, let alone move in it and it's probably the most famous building connected to his name. It is highly controversial, and now it houses Chamber of Deputies and Senate and well worth a visit if you ever get the chance.
          The hotel is part of a architectonic complex built by former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu between 1980-1989 after a Romanian project, using exclusively Romanian building materials, along with Parliament Palace and the headquarters of Ministry of National Defense. The building was bought from the government in the beginning of 1990 and transformed into a luxury hotel, one of the main shareholders being Fahti Ta-her. The hotel has been turn into a JW Marriott, through the well known franchise system.
          The hotel has been a huge success, its turnover in 2007 being over 38.5 million Euros, with a profit of 16 million Euros, according to General Manager, Kurt Strohmayer.


          The hotel:
          8 floors of luxury, with 379 rooms and 23 suites, 21,528 sq ft of total meeting space, this hotel really is, as they call themselves, "a city within the city". The very first time I have stayed there I was quite impressed. It was during December, they had a Christmas tree and beautiful classy decorations and everything was breathing elegance and opulence. The lobby is massive and very impressing, with marble and green carpets around the reception area. Right as you walk in there are two long hallways on the right and on left, where all the shops are located. And we are talking about at least 20 shops, a travel agency, a book store (quite a nice selection of books in English), a saloon for your beauty needs. As you walk straight from the entrance, the reception is right in front of you, there are quite a few tables with sofas for informal meetings or gatherings and on your right hand side is the Pavilion Lounge, an international Bar. They have a wide variety of drinks, cocktails and, of course, coffee.
          The lower floor (I guess you could call this basement lol) has a worldwide brand fitness club (World Class Health Academy) and, believe it or not, a Casino. The hotel guest have complimentary access to the fitness club, pool and sauna and it is really worth your time, but more on that later.
          On the first floor you will find the meetings rooms, the restaurants, and The Vienna Coffee House, with the most delicious cakes and an amazing coffees. I was a member in the fitness club for a year and the coffee was a ritual after classes that we all enjoyed. I was also the happy possessor of a reward Marriott Golden Card which gave me a 50% discount on food and drinks, so it wasn't expensive either lol


          Rooms:
          We had a standard double room which was very spacious. I really liked the furniture, the bed was huge and very comfortable. In most hotels I find the mattress either too hard or too soft but this was just right. There is also a pull-out sofa, a desk for your computer, a nice closet which I thought it was quite big and which incorporated the TV, minibar and a little station for tea and coffee facilities. I am a coffee freak, so that was quite handy. I absolutely adored the carpet, it was dark green with golden speckles, very thick and it looked just gorgeous. I hate it when hotel rooms use tiles, I am a carpet person and for me that is always an important aspect of the room. The bathroom was quite big, had a bathtub and all those little accessories you find in good hotels. I don't actually use the shower gels and shampoos they have in the bathrooms but I love seeing the little bottles there. Oh, and I always take the shower cap lol. It's actually very handy when you're doing a hair mask or dyeing your hair. Any girl will know what I'm talking about :)
          They also have robe, hair dryer and the mirror area was very good for makeup, the lighting was just perfect.
          I think all the rooms are exactly the same, we probably been there about 5 times, on different occasions, and every time the room looked just the same. I liked the fact that they are quite spacious, we had people coming over for meetings and even if you have 4-5 people in the room it doesn't get claustrophobic. Other highlights: internet, 2 phone lines, iron and ironing board (which actually was very useful, especially since all your clothes get wrinkled in the luggage), mini-bar, practically everything you needed.


          Restaurants:
          Marriott Hotel has 3 restaurants, 2 bars (actually one bar and one coffee house) and an outside restaurant which is only opened from May to October, due to weather conditions.
          Cupola restaurant is situated on the first floor, opened for breakfast, lunch and diner. The specific is international and they have a very nice selection of food that should accommodate any taste. This is where the breakfast is served and I found that they really have a wide selection, from healthy choices of low-fat yogurt, cereals, fruits to those who like a more consistent start of the day like omelet, bacon, sausages, salami etc. Normally, breakfast is included but I remember one occasion when it wasn't included and the bill was about 20 pounds for 2 persons, which it wasn't that bad. I do recommend booking with breakfast included thou, as it works out cheaper and it is really worth having breakfast in the hotel. We also had diner here and it was lovely, the food was very good and the service excellent. They have night entertainment, usually is a band singing and the atmosphere is very pleasant. I have noticed people tend to dress up a little, so while there is no problem getting in there wearing casual clothes, you might find yourself feeling a bit out of place. On Sundays they are holding the Brunch here, so you won't be able to get a table unless you are willing to pay the 40-50 pounds for brunch. If you are into those kind of things, then you'll be happy to know the food is, once again, excellent, with a wide selection. They are also serving champagne and the staff was kind enough to prepare a Mimosa (champagne with orange juice) when we said we would prefer that. They also have a station for fresh natural juices. Children were paying half price and they also have a close by room where they can play, there is a clown with games and face painting and all those little things that make kids happy.

          Cucina restaurant is situated on the first floor as well and it's open for lunch and diner. Unfortunately I can't say much about this one, as I have never ate here, but its specific is Italian and it looks quite nice. Maybe next time.

          Champions - The American Sports Bar&Restaurant is... yes, a sports bar. They have Tex-Mex cuisine, which basically means a lot of chicken wings, onion rings and cheese potatoes, all very tasty but not good for your waist as I have noticed. I really didn't like their selection of sandwiches, I found it quite bland and unattractive. They have 29 screens playing different sport events, of course, and while generally the place is quite empty, seems to be very popular whenever a big sporting event is broadcasted. Don't go there during the soccer games! Well, actually go, it's quite fun, you get to have a few drinks and lose your voice encouraging your favorite team. During the weekends they have a Kids Corner here, with clowns, games and a lot of fun. My girls loved it and they also enjoyed games machines they have there. Prices vary, but I would say you can have some decent meal at about 20-25 pounds per person.

          Vienna Coffee House is one of my favorite spots in this hotel. The coffee it's just amazing and they have a delicious range of cakes. It is located on the first floor, between the Cucina restaurant and American Sports Bar&Restaurant. In the weekends there is band playing classical music or someone playing the piano. There are free newspapers, both English and Romanian, if you fancy enjoying your coffee while reading the latest news.

          The gym and swimming pool area are very well equipped, in fact the gym is actually a health club, not personally run by the hotel, so the quality of the equipment and trainers are very high as the annual membership is over 1k. It's free when you stay in the hotel so by all means, take advantage of it, very professional. Aerobic classes include: Step&Tone, Kick, Aqua, Step Express, Pilates, Body Sculpt, Latin Dance, Strength Cardio. The fitness machines are top quality and there are plenty of them, I use to go there 3 times per week and I never had problems finding a free one. The personnel is very attentive and helpful. When signing in you get 2 towels and the changing area is downstairs. They have lockers, showers, hairdryer etc and it's very clean and well maintained.
          The swimming pool is quite large but not huge and it's rarely anybody there, which is a great plus. The only time is a bit crowded is on the weekends, when members can bring in their children for free. There is also a Jacuzzi and that is pure bliss, especially if you have been doing a good job in the fitness area.

          If you travel for business the facilities are very good. There is an Executive Lounge with computers, printer, fax, and free internet access. You can also mail letters, transmit faxes, hire translators and personal guides, etc
          Whatever problem you have, ask the staff as they are very helpful. They all speak fluent English, and some also speak French, German or Spanish.

          The only downside was the card system for lift as if you have guests coming to your room you will need to personally come down and pick them up. I remember the first time we were there my sister came down for a visit and we were phone in from the reception to pick her up. My husband was in the shower and our 3 months daughter just fell asleep so there was no way I could go downstairs. I asked them to send her up or have someone from security accompany her upstairs, but they weren't willing to bend the rules. By the time my husband got out of the shower 10 minutes later I was furious, my sister was still downstairs about to burst in tears and everything was humiliating and we ended up making a complaint with the manager of the hotel. That was the only time we had a complain and they were very apologetic about it, sent us a a nice basket with champagne and fruits, but my sister was upset about it for a very long time.

          The hotel allows pets for a non-refundable fee (I think it was around 20 pounds), has disabled access, internet in the room for which you have to pay extra, underground parking (10 pounds per day). The price for the rooms vary, on average a double room is between 120 to 200 pounds per night. If you have a Marriott Member Card, as I did, the rate goes down to about 70 pounds, which I think it's a fabulous rate.


          All in all, I love this hotel and we would be returning with any chance we have.

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            08.02.2009 18:52
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            I don't have my heart set on it, but it's the best one I found so far.

            Someone told me a long time ago "In your family, there must have been some Mongolian that fell inlove with one of your Romanian ancestress." Well, he actually used a more blunt word for inlove, but let's keep it romantic.
            The reason he was telling me that is because I have a slightly oriental look, although as far as I know there are no Mongolians in my family. But since Romania was conquered many times by various races, it might be possible that a long time ago we got to know "the enemy" a little bit closer. My eyes are almond-shaped and it runs in the family, my uncle and my cousin have the same shape of eyes. Apart from a really nice shape of eyes, for which I get a lot of compliments, another gene that it was transmitted down for generations is a very fine, thin hair. In some ways, it's actually a very nice looking hair, it's fine, it's healthy and it shines. But if you think of any oriental person, you will often notice that it lacks volume, and this is my biggest problem. What is the point of having fine, shiny hair if you can not wear it long? The problem is that as soon as it passes shoulder length my hair looks like it's been glued to my scalp and my face it's draped by hair falling like a curtain

            This is mainly the reason for which the last 10 years I have cut my hair rather short. However, what started last year with me being too lazy to go for a haircut turned into a desire of letting my hair grow long once again.
            The trick now it's handling the volume problem, so I set off to look for products that would help in this area. I have read somewhere that Pantene Sheer Volume Conditioner has won a test made by the German institute Stiftung Warentest as being the best volume conditioner. I don't usually use Pantene but after trying various products that haven't worked, I decided to give it a try.

            The product:
            It comes in a white plastic bottle with a purple and silver design typical for Pantene products. The lid is at the bottom, which makes it very easy to get it out and I imagine you can get every drop out. This conditioner is based on Pro-Vitamin formula, with an Amino-S Complex. The conditioner itself it's quite creamy, not very thick but not runny either, it has a nice consistency. It's white and it has a nice, soapy smell which I find it doesn't linger in your hair for very long (unfortunately).

            What is it for?
            Pantene Pro-V Sheer Volume Conditioner is the important second step to beautiful hair with volume, body, and amplified attitude. The silky, lightweight conditioning formula helps target the areas of your hair that need it most, giving you protection against combing/styling damage while respecting your volume. Its Pro-vitamin formula is rich with moisturizers that won't weigh down your natural volume. Use as a system with Pro-V Sheer Volume Shampoo to:
            - Give you the right foundation for a manageable, volume style
            - Leave hair shiny and healthy, while helping to protect your natural volume


            Using it:
            Another problem I have with my hair is that is falling out, so the shampoo I am using it's a special one that should strengthen my hair. After shampooing my hair, I flip my hair hanging down to avoid getting conditioner (which is very greasy) on my skin and I take a little bit of conditioner and apply from mid hair to the ends. On the bottle it says to apply from the ends working your way up, which I always find it amusing... seriously now, how would one do that? Right now, my hair is shoulder length so I don't need a lot of conditioner, I only take out as much as it comes when I squeeze the tube one time.
            I comb my hair with my fingers to work it into it, until it feels nice and soft. And it really feels extremely soft, I could see a huge difference while applying it, my fingers would just glide through my hair. I normally put my hair up while I continue to shower, letting the conditioner to penetrate the hair better, so it stays for a good few minutes.
            Then it's time to rinse it, once again I flip my hair upside down so it doesn't touch my skin and run the shower over it. It takes a while to rinse it, but not too long and the hair still feels very soft as I comb it with my fingers.
            I normally towel-dry my hair, to avoid damage from the hairdryer, but I still use it when my hair is almost dry, and that is because I find that it looks much shiner and nicer when styled using the hairdryer. When I dry my hair I focus at the roots first, using a round hairbrush and rolling each layer of hair toward my chin, heating it with the hairdryer. Once again, my hair is flipped upside down. As I dry each layer of hair, I put it up on a large roller. Once all is done, I leave the rollers for about 10-20 minutes, until the hair cools down. I know it's a lot of work, but it really helps giving the hair a nice bouncy, full body look. I do this every time I wash my hair, regardless of what shampoo or conditioner I use, so it won't affect my view on this conditioner.


            Results:
            As I said, the shampoo I am using it's to strengthen my hair and the way I style my hair it's been the same for years, so the only thing that is different is the conditioner. After using it, I have noticed my hair does somehow appear to have more volume then it had in years, and believe me, I have tried tons of products for volume. I won't say it's suddenly movie star volume or that I can't recognize myself, but it is much improved. I can really see a difference. My hair, for once, doesn't look stuck to the scalp, it's bouncy, full bodied, soft and looks healthier then it looked in a very long time. I can honestly say this product really worked well for me and would definitely recommend it to anyone.
            The reason I am only giving 4 out of 5 stars is because, well, it's not perfect and I wish the scent would last much longer.

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            • Salads / Recipe / 222 Readings / 213 Ratings
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              23.01.2009 10:30
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              Worth a try!

              Yes, it's that time of the year again. New year, new resolutions and, of course, the lovely resolution of losing weight. Winter is coming to an end, pounds have piled up over the holidays and spring, summer, short skirts and bikinis on the beach are looming over us!
              So I have dusted off my diet and decided to start again my quest to a slim me. I have a diet who was made by a nutritionist for me. So, it's balanced and has all the good, healthy stuff one should eat when trying to lose weight. The biggest problem, however, is that my nutritionist doesn't really believe in eating meat. That's something her and I don't really agree on, since I don't feel I have eaten yet if I don't see a little piece of meat on my plate. So, lately most of my dinners consisted in a selection of either soup and salad, cottage cheese and salad, fruit and salad and so on. Now, anyone who was ever on a diet knows that salads are not exactly the tastiest or the most filling meal. So, I have set myself on a quest to find the perfect ingredients which will make my salads a little more eatable. Now, a salad it's a salad. No matter how you look at it, there isn't much you can add to it if you're dieting. The option I had, really, was playing with the condiments, trying to come up with the best combination. After many trials and errors, I have come up with a combination that I truly enjoy and makes eating salad less of a char. It may not satisfy any taste, but it's worth a try.

              Ingredients:
              ½ lettuce
              3-4 tomatoes
              1 medium cucumber
              1 onion (sliced thinly)
              1 large carrot (shredded)
              1 pinch of oregano (by pinch I mean the quantity you can take between your fingertips)
              1 pinch of dry basil
              1 pinch of sweet chili powder
              1 pinch of dry thyme
              2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
              2 tbsp of olive oil
              Salt and pepper

              This makes 2 servings or a salad for two. If you want to make it for more people, multiply accordingly.

              Well, making it it's pretty simple and it shouldn't take more than 5 minutes, 10 if you are really slow, as I am lol
              Cut lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and carrot to you liking and mix well. Add the condiments, mix and let it sit for at least 10 minutes, so the juices can penetrate the vegetables and kick up the flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste.
              If you are not on a strict diet, you can could add some feta cheese (either shredded or small cubes) and some olives. Should you do so, double the amount of oregano you put in, as this condiment really enchases the flavor of the feta cheese.

              Nutritional information:
              Whenever you make your own recipe, it is very hard to know the calories and nutritional information. However, you can use online programs to calculate it. I use www.fitday.com everytime I am curious and information about foods. You simply add the ingredients you are using from their database and you can calculate the total. I don't know how accurate it is, but here it is:
              Per serving:
              Calories: 215
              Fat(g): 14
              Carbs(g): 21
              Proteins: (g): 7
              Main vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A, B6, C, E, Calcium, Copper, Manganese, Potassium, Thiamin, Zinc.

              Taste: Well, it's obviously still a salad, but the condiments add a lot of flavor. If I had to describe the taste I would say it's a powerful sweet-sour combination. If you don't like the sour taste, add only a tbsp of balsamic vinegar instead of two.

              So there you have it, my attempt in creating a more tasteful salad for dieting in style. I hope that you will try it and enjoy it!

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                07.01.2009 11:56
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                I haven't been convinced

                I purchased Paul Mitchell Lite Detangler a couple of months ago for my little daughter. She has a very dry, slightly curled hair, that gives us a hand full of work every day. It gets tangled every night and mornings are known to be a battle of will between me and her regarding combing her hair. To her defense, she does put up quite a fight for a 5 years old , kicking and screaming all the way.
                And so I got this Lite Detangler from the hairdresser, hoping for a little bit of sunshine during our mornings.

                Who is Paul Mitchell?
                Paul Mitchell is a hairdresser who, together with John Paul DeJoria, decided in 1980 to created a brand designed especially for hair care professionals. The company wasn't a big success in the beginning and they struggled not to go bankrupt for the first year. In fact, the now famous Black&White packaging of the brand is the result of not being able the afford color ink. They were the first to offer complete refunds if the saloon would not be able to sell their products and slowly they started to conquer the market. Sadly, Paul Mitchell died of pancreatic cancer in 1989, but the company continued to flourish under Paul DeJoria, growing into one of the largest in history, currently producing over 90 produces, with annual salon retail sales approaching $900 million.

                Product: It comes in a white hard plastic bottle, shaped as a long tube, with everything written in black, as all Paul Mitchell products.. It has 250 ml (8.5 fl. oz.). On the bottle it says that it is only guaranteed when sold by a professional hairdresser, otherwise may be counterfeit or tempered with. I did buy mine at the hairdresser but I see is largely sold online as well as different beauty shops.

                What is it for? Paul Mitchell Lite Detangler is a leave-in conditioner, suitable for fine to medium hair and it contains the activated moisturizing and conditioning blend of Hawaiian Awapuhi, wheat protein and essential amino acids. It claims to have a mild formula that aids in both wet and dry combing and that its lightweight conditioners leave your hair full of volume with added shine. Also, it's a fragrance free, so it's excellent product for detangling the kids' hair, which is exactly the reason I bought it for.

                Using: After shampooing her hair I normally let it dry a little bit, normally for about 10-20 minutes, depending on how the little princess feels like that day walking around the house with her head wrapped in a towel. I noticed that, given her hair, it's actually much better if I use the hairdryer as little as possible, as her hair will be less static. The Paul Mitchell Lite Detangler can be sprayed both on wet or dry hair, but I prefer using it while the hair is still wet. However, I did use it some mornings as well on dry hair just to help detangling her hair and it worked just the same. It is better to protect clothing prior to prevent getting them sprayed all over, but I did not noticed any stains after using it. Spray liberally throughout hair and gently comb through to detangle. Do not rinse afterwards, as it is a leave-in conditioner spray formula.

                Effect: I have noticed that her hair it much easier to detangle after using it and it seems that indeed it does help eliminating static as it doesn't get tangled as easy as it used to. It has no smell, I have to say I prefer products that leave a nice fragrance but I rather have no smell then the chemical smell I get from Shampoo Three, so in this case that's a good thing. The product it's supposed to leave the hair full of volume and shine but I can't say that's entirely true. I have not noticed any difference in the hair's volume and the biggest problem I have with this product is that the "shine" they promise looks more like the hair is greasy, especially if you didn't manage to spray it evenly.

                Conclusion: While it does detangle the hair and eliminates the static, I do not like how the hair looks after using it. It is not a bad product but it's not perfect either and I have used other products in the past that have proven to be better. Considering this, I would not buy it again nor would I recommend it, but since it works on detangling the hair I would not recommend against it either. It's just that, in my personal opinion, there are products out there that are doing a better job.

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                  04.01.2009 13:11
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                  I would have expected much more from Paul Mitchell

                  Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three claims to be a deep internal cleansing shampoo designed to penetrate the hair shaft to remove residual minerals from hard water and fatty acids left behind by medications. It was recommended to me by a stylist after complaining about the chlorine in the water which is causing my hair to look completely dull. I bought it from the hairdresser, which apparently is the only place recommended for buying as otherwise it is not guaranteed as it may be counterfeit, old or tampered with (or so it says on the bottle).

                  Product: The shampoo comes in a white plastic bottle of 250 ml (8.5 fl.oz). It is for all hair types, suitable for daily use, except on color-treated hair. It is especially effective before deep conditioning treatments and after swimming and claims to contain the finest ingredients and activated conditioning blend.

                  Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Disodium Cocoampho-diacetate, Urea (?!!!), Magnesium Sulfate, Sodium Thiosulfate, Bisamino PEG/PPG-41/3 Aminoethyl PG-Propyl Dimethicone/Glutamine/Tyrosine/Leucine/Cysteine/Glycine/Symphytum Officinale/Plantago Major/Wheat, Protein/PEG-12 Dimethicone, Sodium Borate, Sulfated Castor Oil, Magnesium Carbonate (CI 77713), Tetrasodium EDTA, Trisodium HEDTA, Disodium EDTA-Cooper, DMDM Hydantoin, lodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene.
                  Now, if you are anything like me you probably have no clue what are all those ingredients, but if you have any allergies to any ingredients, you should check the list.

                  Directions as per bottle: Wet hair thoroughly. Apply a small amount and massage throughout the hair and scalp. Rinse completely. A second shampoo may not be necessary.
                  From my personal experience, you need to use a bit more than with other shampoos, the shampoo has the consistency of a gel and I put quite a bit (let's say the size of a big olive). With other shampoos I did not need as much, so in terms of how long a bottle is going to last I would say about half of uses compared to a normal shampoo. Another problem is that I did feel the need for a second shampoo if I was using a lot of hair products previously (such as conditioner, hair mouse or hair spray).

                  End result: It does seem to clean the hair fairly well but I have not been impressed at all. The smell is terrible, I would have expected a nice "saloon" kind of fragrance but it is more like a chemical smell that I really hated. Thankfully, it goes away quickly but this shampoo is definitely not leaving a nice scent in your hair, which is very important for me. After drying and styling my hair I have noticed that my hair is finer than usual and I couldn't get it to look nice with any amount of hair spray or mousse, it was just lifeless and dull.
                  Bottom line? This shampoo does not lather well, smells terrible, and leaves my hair feeling stripped, dry, and tangly. It may work cleaning your hair of chlorine and impurities and it may be even great if you swim a lot, but to be honest it just didn't work for me, I didn't like how my hair looked after using it and I would definitely not be buying it again or recommend it to anybody.

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                    05.11.2008 18:30
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                    Nice hotel, spacious rooms, situated in a very green area on the offshore of a lake.

                    Location:
                    The hotel it's situated in the north part of the Bucharest, which it's the nicest area and, of course, the most expensive. There is a lot of greenery here, lots of parks and lakes. The hotel is situated on the shore of Tei Lake and the vegetation around it really gives it a very nice look. Both airports in Bucharest are in the north part so the hotel it's only 10 minutes away from the Baneasa Airport (used more by low cost companies) and about 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the traffic, to the Otopeni Airport (commercial airlines).
                    Very good location, however be aware that public transportation is not handy. To go and come from the hotel you will most likely have to use a taxi, which can be costly at times, depending on the distance. Make sure you ask the reception to call a company cab for you, private taxi are a rip off.
                    The hotel:
                    This is actually a complex that has 3 buildings of different types of accommodation: 2, 3 and 4 stars.

                    Caro Horoscop 2*: has 6 double rooms, 4 double rooms and 1 apartment. The rooms have minibar, TV, coffee maker, radio, alarm clock, hair dryer. Other facilities: parking assured by a modern control/access system, room-service 7 AM - 23:30 PM, laundry& cleaning services, business center assistance, concierge service

                    Caro Parc 3*: 28 double rooms, 18 double twin rooms and 8 duplex.
                    Facilities: air conditioning, minibar, TV, coffee maker, hair drier, radio, alarm clock, parking, wireless internet, Business Center, laundry.
                    The rooms have view either to the garden or Tei Lake.

                    Caro Golf 4*: 65 double rooms, 23 double twin rooms, 8 junior suite, 1 apartment. The rooms have air conditioning, safe box, mini bar, TV, coffee maker, radio, alarm clock, hair dryer.
                    Facilities: Parking, Room service, Laundry, Wireless Internet, Business Center
                    The hotels rooms are nice and cozy, very clean and up to date. One of the times I stayed in this hotel the AC did not work but I assume it was only a temporary problem. They really like blue a lot and they use plenty of it but that didn't bother me as I actually like it in decorating.

                    Restaurant:
                    The restaurant has 150 seats and it's quite nicely decorated. The breakfast was included and they had a good variety of sausages, salami, cereals, eggs etc It was pretty much everything you needed without going overboard. We ate dinner once but I wasn't extremely satisfied. They do run some pre-set menus, which have a good value:
                    Caro set-up menu - 30Euro/pers
                    Executive set-up menu - 25 Euro/pers
                    Business set-up menu- 19 Euro/pers
                    Standard set-up menu 17 Euro/pers
                    I have never used this offer so unfortunately I cannot tell you what it's included or the quality of it.

                    Shuttle bus:
                    Otopeni Airport: 18Euro
                    Baneasa Airport 10Euro
                    City Tour 35 Euro
                    Downtown ride 5Euro
                    For the airport if you are 2 people the price is half so basically you pay the same amount if you are 1 or 2 persons.

                    Price:
                    They run weekend offers and when I staid there I got a double room for 2 nights, 2 people, breakfast included at around 120 Euro.
                    During the week the price is normally around 100Euro per night.

                    The best feature of the hotel is the room, which I found to be quite big and elegant. Considering all aspects I would rate it as an average 3 star hotel.

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                      19.10.2008 20:45
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                      The power of asking and how to go about it.

                      Jack Canfield is a psychotherapist, educational consultant, trainer and writer. He is the co-author and CEO of the Chicken Soup for The Soul billion dollars company and it has been called by the Time Magazine "the publishing phenomenon of the decade".
                      His best-selling books include The Power of Focus, Aladdin Factor, Dare to Win and his latest success The Success Principles Book. From an underpaid teacher to a millionaire, he certainly has a thing or two to say about success and self made millions. One of those people who "walk the walking and talk the talking".

                      The book:
                      The edition I have has a red cover with, of course, the Aladdin lamp featured on the front cover. It has 293 pages dived into three chapters I will go over a little bit later. It is written in co-operation with Mark Victor Hansen, who is also the other co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul.

                      What does it promise?
                      "Anything is possible...if you only dare to ask. Personal Happiness. Creative Fulfillment. Professional Success. Freedom from fear -- and a new promise of joy that's yours for the asking."
                      "You'll learn not only how to ask for what you want, but how to ask and what to ask for. You'll discover the five barriers we all face in asking for what we want and how to overcome them...and you'll read about the seven characteristics of those who ask successfully."
                      "The Aladdin Factor is a practical guide for taking control of your life, realizing better business and personal relationships, having and giving more love, maximizing your talents and skills -- and enriching your lifestyle like never before."


                      Content:
                      The book starts with the author thanking all of those people that help them write this book and trust me... that's a lot of them, about three full pages, so many that you start to wonder if they actually did anything at all to write this book lol But more power to them for not taking the entire credit for it, a simple "thank you" can take you a long way.
                      The introduction is a story of Aladdin who is talking to the genie about the power of the lamp and of asking. It goes on explaining what it means to ask, what it can bring you and how most of us never think that all they should do to resolve their problems is to... yes, you guessed it, ask. (I should know lol).
                      The book itself it's divided in three chapters:
                      1. The Aladdin Factor
                      2. Release the genie
                      3. How to ask, whom to ask, what to ask

                      Chapters
                      1. The Aladdin Factor
                      This chapter goes over the five most important obstacles that keep you from asking: ignorance (not knowing what is possible and what is available, not knowing what we want and what we need, not knowing how to ask), limiting beliefs (very good explanation on what are those and how we got them), fear (of being rejected, of looking stupid, of being helpless, of humiliation and many, many others), low self esteem and pride. It's very explanatory which helps understanding much better why you are doing what you are doing and, most importantly, that you are not alone. You know all those little problems going on and on in our mind that we are afraid to even talk about? One of the greatest things for me was realizing that everybody else feels and is afraid of the same things I am! Talk about feeling part of a community! Welcome aboard, would you like to see our 12 steps program? What a relief, I wasn't the only weirdo in the world, there at least few other millions having the same fears as me.
                      The chapter goes on tempting you with a whole new idea... what if, just what if, you could dare to dream and ask what you want? What could you get? And he really is good at showing you the other side of the coin and how wonderful could it be if you would simply ask and get what you wanted. By the time I finished this part of the book I almost believed I can do anything :)
                      The last part of this chapter goes on telling us what people who are good at asking do to get what they want. This part describes what are the 7 characteristics those people have and for each one of them there is a real story shared by someone who accomplished something otherwise impossible by asking.

                      2. Release the genie
                      This chapter starts to go deeper into asking and getting what you want. It starts with the logical thing to do: making a list. Lists are very popular these days it seems. Want to go shopping? Make a list. Want to change career? Make a list. Want to get married? Make a list. Want to get divorced? Just do it, girl!
                      OK, so back to the list. Firstly, you need to make a list with 101 wishes and analyze exactly what is it that your really want from life. Simple as it sounds (we all KNOW we would want so many things if we could only dream) I actually discovered I had a really hard time coming out with 101 wishes and while I did come a very long way I still haven't managed to finish off my list. What it started as a pure fun, relaxing, let's see what I can come up with list turned into a very soul searching experience. Very useful actually, I highly recommend it. There are a series of exercises thru this chapter in discovering what you really want and, as always with Jack Canfield, lots and lots of real life stories shared by his clients and his readers (no wonder there is a three pages thank you note in the beginning). The last part of the chapter goes on into dealing with fear and all kinds of fear that are holding us back. There are exercises to establish what your fears are, what they really mean and how to overcome them. My favorite, as I am sure many of you will agree, is fear of rejection. I never ask anything because I'm afraid of being said no. The whole idea is... if they tell you no, what's the big deal? Did your life become worse because they said no? Well, no, you didn't have it before you asked and you still don't have it if they say no. Your life it's not worse, it's just the same. But if you ask enough people, someone somewhere along the line will eventually say YES! OK, so that is my favorite because I can relate to it so strongly but there are many more so whatever yours is you are bound to find it within.

                      3. How to ask, whom to ask, what to ask
                      The last chapter goes down to business. Enough of the theories just tell me what to do!
                      With this very important part of the book you will get some very good information and approaches such as: ask like you expect to receive, ask someone who is in the position to give you what you want, be very clear, ask with passion, ask creatively, give something to get something and everyone's favorite... ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask.
                      Now, where to ask? He goes on talking about asking at home, from your partner (yes, some more lists coming up), from your kids, school, work, the world and yourself. There are some very good examples on what to ask and how to ask it. The last part of the chapter while it concentrates on the part with what to ask is full of stories on what other people asked and how they got what they wanted. There are some very emotional stories in there and not once I found myself with tears in my eyes, but they are very powerful and inspirational.
                      The fact that the book has so many stories, in fact I think it has more real life stories then theory, has advantages and disadvantages. On one side you want to get more information than stories but on the other hand the stories are so powerful and inspirational that there were a lot of times I would find myself more convinced by the story then by the principle the story was illustrating.


                      Price:
                      You can find it on Amazon 8.99 pounds, but it's well worth it.

                      Personal notes:
                      I have found this book to be very inspirational. I even found stories that I can read to my kids and they love it, I like that I can send them a very powerful message thru a story they enjoy.
                      I am one of those people who are absolutely terrified to ask what they want, from various reasons. And while this book didn't miraculously change my life, it definitely made a difference. I practice and I take baby steps but the truth is... it did make a difference and that's all you can ask for.
                      Remember that the book it's just a tool you can use and ultimately YOU are the one that holds all the power. Nobody else can do it for you, not a person, not a book, not a class, nothing. You are in charge of your destiny and your life and when you take charge and accept responsibility of your life, everything will change.

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                        15.10.2008 15:06
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                        If you are interested in self improvement, I highly recommend him.

                        Jack Canfield, aka American's #1 coach holds a BA form Harvard University, a Master Degree in Psychological Education from University of Massachusetts and a Honorary Doctorate from the University of Santa. He is best known as one of the co-authors of the Chicken for the Soul series, being the CEO of the enterprises.
                        He is a psychotherapist, educational consultant, trainer and writer.
                        He holds two Guinness World Records for having 7 books simultaneously on the New York Best Selling List and for largest book signing.
                        Jack Canfield has been in featured in over 1000 radio and television programs such as Oprah, 20/20, Inside Edition, The Today Show, Larry King Live, Fox and Friends, The CBS Evening News, The NBC Nightly News, Eye to Eye, CNN's Talk Back Live!, PBS, QVC and many others.

                        I personally am a fan of his earlier work, the audio programs Self Esteem and Peak performance. While I do not think he is the best writer out there, his personality and sense of humor makes him an amazing motivational speaker. I am listening to this programs over and over again and it really is a good pick me up as well as containing a wide range of valuable information and tactics. Definitely worth trying.

                        His latest book, The Success Principles is a best selling book and it contains 64 principles of success aimed to increase your confidence, overcome obstacles and achieve personal and professional success.

                        Other best selling books are The Power Of Focus, Aladdin Factor and Dare To Win.

                        While I don't think his writing skills are amazing, he does has a lot to say on the subject and he is an outstanding motivational speaker. One of the things I do like about him is that he is not using the professional terms but rather uses a basic language, accessible to all categories. His advice and suggested tactics are well taught and his inspirational stories are very powerful. Even if you don't apply everything he says, I think it stills makes a major impact in your life as it will help you deal with a lot of obstacles.

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                        • Wizz Air / Airline / 155 Readings / 149 Ratings
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                          15.10.2008 11:36
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                          Short flights only

                          I have flown with this company quite a few times (10 times or so) between Bucharest and London.
                          Company:
                          From what I understand the company is Hungarian with 8 operating bases to Katowice, Warsaw, Gdansk and Poznan in Poland, Budapest in Hungary, Sofia in Bulgaria and Bucharest and Cluj in Romania, offering flights to over 50 destinations and 100 routes in Europe. It's quite a young company, considering their first flight took off in May 2004.

                          Aircraft:
                          Their aircraft is Airbus A320 with 180 seats on board. The seats are single class only, there is no seat assignment so you sit wherever you can. If you are picky about your seat and do not like to fight with 100+ for a window seat, take advantage of the pre-booking (2. 5 euro for bus, 4 euro for aircraft per flight during booking, more after booking) or extra legroom(5 euro during booking, 10 euro after booking).
                          Luggage:
                          The limit is 20 kg and they make no exceptions. They will ask you to pay even if it's 0,5 kg extra. It's not cheap either, 50 euros for 0-5 Kg at the airport, 25 euros online. No single bag can exceed 32 kg.

                          Staff:
                          They were trying, I have to say that ,but it's obvious they are young and inexperienced. On a couple of occasions the person at check-in was quite obnoxious (at the London airport) but I am not sure if she was the airline employee or the airport's.
                          Food&Drinks:
                          All food or beverages are bought on the airplane, amounts vary for 1-2 pounds for drinks and 2-4 for snacks or sandwiches, there is no hot food served.

                          On time:
                          In more then 50% of the times I have flown with them, thy were at least one hour late. The most I had to wait was 4 hours. I would recommend not to tie it up with a different flight as they are rarely on time. If the flight its the first one in the day it's usually fine, but after that they get more and more delayed.
                          Value:
                          Well, it is what it is, a low cost company. The price varies, I mean I flown between Bucharest and London for 55 pounds return flight, normally it's around 100 pounds thou, while commercial companies start at 150 pounds. I can't imagine flying with them transatlantic but shorts flight are fine as long as you book in advance to take advantage of the low price. The minute the price is near the commercial airlines... would not recommend buying it anymore.

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