HRC Seattle!

March 14, 2010

This is a new section that I’m going to promote to all you HR Cafe hoppers out there – write something about your local cafe, send it to me and I’ll post it right here under a new category – My HR Cafe!  So to get things started, I’ll be the first to write an entry:

My local cafe is Seattle!  It finally opened it’s doors on February 10, 2010 and I am so thrilled to have a cafe to call my own again.

Seattle Opens!

Mustang Guitar - bow to Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix!

HRC Seattle is ideally located a block up from the Pike Place Market – famous for the fish market (you know, the one where the staff throw your order across the floor to each other before packing it) and the original Starbucks location!  The 15-foot marquee Fender Mustang guitar is a sort of tribute to Kurt Cobain, although some may argue that Hendrix also played a Mustang early in his career… but let’s face it, why can’t it be a tribute to both?!  The Cafe is a different design from other HR locations in that it is a LEED certified building; meaning between construction with recycled materials, energy efficient air conditioners, heaters, appliances and lighting, the cafe hopes to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 metric tons per year!!  To top it off, the design is also beautiful and has an earthy feel to it (brick and timber), which fits right into the “granola” attitude around here.

First floor

Brick and Timber Earthy Look

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Chris On Tour – The Pursuit of Hard Rock Cafes

March 8, 2010

Taking a firm decision is the beginning of everything…

Planning my iternary starts months before departure.  I check flight routes and what to do at each place.  Booking early helps to save a few dollars, I use the airlines websites directly, sometimes I book through www.travelhero.com.  Well, this time it’s complicated, places from India to Fiji, the result is:  more than 20 flights in 35 days.  Eleven new Hard Rock locations and some other nice places are my target.   Don’t think I’m HR crazy just because I keep the focus of this trip report on the HR experience.   For the rest of my journey, please check out the pics, I took more than 1500, and it was a lot of work to select the best, then link to the pictures at the end.  Well, everything went smooth on this trip, thank God!

Early December, there I go… First, I made a stopover in London, I finally got to visit the Vault at the London Cafe, just to get a visit score at Beat’s site www.hardrockcafes.info/english/hrc-fan.htm.

India:  Well, despite my original profession as an athropologist, I leave the in depth culture thing for another journey.  Lack of time.  India greets me with nice temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees C.  Some ideas I’ve had about India were not ture (anymore).  Cows, I’ve seen less than a dozen in the whole of Mumbai.  It’s dirty, but not that much.  things that kept me from going to India earlier, like extreme poverty or examples of discrimination by the cast system, I didn’t encounter.  On the contrary, I’ve met lots of friendly people, no hassles at all, except for the tuktuk drivers in New Delhi (a city where you can’t find a taxi).

Chris in Hyderabad

The Hard to find Cafes…”know where to go”…

Mumbai:  it’s the impossible to find the HRC, since it’s on the backside of a business building, no hint on the front side. Who’s gonna find that place? Well, not my taxi driver 😉 even if he says he knows it… I wasn’t too far away, after visiting the scenic Haji Ali mosque at sunset, he thought it would be good deal when we settled the price, but only after 1 hour and asking about 10 different persons we’ve found it, darkness already surrounded us. The staff was friendly, the food was good, and the music loud, sounds familiar. 95% of the customers are Indian I was told. How do the other 5% find this place I thought…

Delhi:  this city is vast, definitely not enough for my short stop over. Will have to come back one day, visit the Taj Mahal at Agra too, and the cities of Rajasthan, and the tigers at Ranthamboree NP too. At least 3 weeks. Another time. The HRC, still hard to find, is at DLF Saket Mall. There are other DLF Malls in Delhi too. The drivers rather know the name of the mall next to it: Select Citywalk. It’s inside the mall, not too big, a lot of red and brown colors, very nice.

Bangalore (as still everyone calls it): is a nice city, but first, we drove almost 3 hours west to Mysore. The Mysore Palace is an absolute must visit. Sunday night, the palace is lit up, thousands of lights are admired by thousands of visitors.  My hotel, the Empire Int’l,  just a hundred meters away from the HRC, organised a car and a driver at a very reasonable price for this side trip. I hired the same driver for a Bangalore city tour the next day. My personal favourites are the ISCKON temple and the Shiv Mandir temple, (see my picture page). For me, the HRC in Bangalore is the nicest in India, they’ve given a historic building a new purpose, friendly staff too. Only “Bengaluru” items available now.

Pune:  I could have taken the train from Mumbai, but I prefered to fly, it’s so much more convenient. I hired a driver through my hotel (Hotel Srimaan, higly recommended, unless you can afford the brand new Westin. I can’t.) We’ve been to some sights, but nothing too spectacular. The HRC, pyramid shape, is another HTF Cafe, way out of the city. Take a left about 1 mile after the new Westin hotel, park at the end, and walk 1 minute, you’ll see it. Beautiful on the inside, we were the only guests (at 8pm!), and had some good talks with staff members.

HRC Pune

Hyderabad:  it’s hard to find words for this city, it’s a bit of everything, a mix of cityscapes, people and cultures. What I was curious about were the rocks at Jubilee Hills, giant rocks laying around, while the city expands nearby. My driver Ali, proud owner of his car, brought me to the HRC, located at the not so big GVK One Mall. He took a nap while I went for lunch and shopping. The impressive Golconda Fort is a great place to visit, don’t miss it if you go to Hyderabad. I was too early at the nice new airport, I saluted at the remnants of the former HR Bar in the most remote corner of the int’l departure area. No wonder this location didn’t last too long.  By the way, who’s approved this business plan, hmmm?!

Good memories of India…topped by excellent service during my Silk Air flight to Singapore. Terminal 3, I’m coming, that’s an easy to find HRC! Corp could easily open 50 airport cafes around the world I was pondering. Why don’t they do it?  Singapore, see you next year, I’m hurrying off to my connecting flight to Penang, Malaysia.

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