Flying with Hello Kitty

FullSizeRender 13In 2008 I was at the Taipei airport on my way to Bangkok when I looked out the window and saw Hello Kitty plastered on the side of an airplane. I slightly freaked out. I learned that the Taiwanese airline EVA Air operates several Hello Kitty themed planes. Ever since then, I’ve been dying to go on one.

While figuring out the logistics of my trip for this summer, I knew I had to get myself onto one of the HK planes. I found my way to the route planner that shows where and when the planes fly and was glad to see that a flight between Osaka and Taipei fit into my schedule. The only downside was that unlike the other airlines flying between the cities, EVA Air wasn’t offering one-way fares for half the price of a round trip. So I booked a roundtrip flight and reasoned that paying extra was justified in this situation. If I’m spending the summer visiting cat cafes, I can’t NOT fly on the Hello Kitty plane. My only fear was the fine print that said the Hello Kitty plane wasn’t guaranteed and could be substituted for a regular one if needed.

Once at the airport, I found an EVA Air self check-in kiosk and printed my ticket. I then located the bag drop, knowing it was the right place when I spotted the monitor sporting Hello Kitty. I handed over my passport and generic boarding pass, which the woman at the counter poo-pooed as she printed a proper ticket worthy of the HK flight experience. Seeing my excitement, she also gave me a carry-on bag tag and an extra sticker. And then another airline employee offered to take my photo.

imgres.jpgAt the gate, I was disappointed to see that the jetway was very long and bent in such a way that it totally obscured the plane, so I only caught a glimpse of it through the jetway windows. Based on what I did see, it was the Hello Kitty Around the World plane, which is my favorite one! As I boarded, a flight attendant sporting a gold Hello Kitty pin offered me a deck of HK playing cards. The plane had standard seats and such, but was decorated with HK pillows and headrest protectors. The video screens and the seatback items, including the barf bag, all featured Hello Kitty.

Before takeoff, a flight attendant came to confirm my vegetarian meal. EVA Air gets bonus points for that; I’m at around 60% success overall when it comes to my requested meal making it to my seat. I had seen some photos of the plane meals when I was researching flights, so I was a bit disappointed that there were no cat-shaped items. I’m guessing it was because my flight didn’t originate in Taipei. At least there was Hello Kitty ice cream, although apple pie should have been the dessert, as it’s her favorite.

If you’re hoping to catch a flight with Hello Kitty, all of the routes start or end in Taipei. FullSizeRender 25Destinations include Shanghai, Osaka, Tokyo, Bali, Seoul, Guam, Fukuoka, Paris, Singapore, and . . . Houston. So yes, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of one of the planes in the US!

Oh, and when I arrived in Taiwan and went to the 7-11 to get a bus pass, there were a few design options from which to choose. It’s not a surprise which one I picked.

 

 

 

Hyo-neko no mori (Kyoto Bengal Cat Forest)

DSC_6326.jpgLattecats goes to Japan! I’ve now been to several cat cafes here, and I’ve found that the “cafe” aspect of Japanese cat cafes is usually an afterthought. Kyoto Bengal Cat Forest does away with the cafe altogether and simply is a room decorated like a forest with cats running around.

Seven bengals were in residence when I visited midday on a Friday. The place was quite crowded, and when we left there was a line outside. Guests are limited to 30 minutes, but as I wasn’t sipping a coffee, it was a sufficient amount of time.

The place has more of a business feel than a homey cafe run by cat lovers, and it’s located inside the (amazing) Teramachi shopping arcade. An owl petting zoo is located above the cat forest, and it’s possible to visit both with a combination entrance ticket.

Read More

Café Miao

FullSizeRender 10.jpg
Katte latte

Café Miao is Denmark’s first cat cafe and the site of my introduction to cat art in milk foam. It is home to seven friendly permanent residents: Stoffer, Åse, Peter, Guffe, Tiger, Panter, and Snehvide. The cafe wasn’t very crowded when I visited in the middle of a weekday, so the cat to human ratio was quite high. I suspect the cats have a taste that is a bit more traditional than that of the average Danish person, as the design of the place leans toward cat-cozy rather than the more customary modern Danish style.

 

Food options include burgers, a brunch plate, various udon noodle dishes, sandwiches, and salad. It looked to be standard cafe fare, with the bonus of cat-shaped buns for the sandwiches. I was tempted to order the veggie burger ($15), but I opted to stick to only a latte. The Copenhagen food scene is bursting with amazing eating spots, and I wanted to sample as many as possible during my 5-day visit. Plus I know I get so distracted by cats that finishing my coffee before it’s cold is enough of a feat.

Read More

MINKA Cat Cafe

Most cat cafes focus on the cat-visiting part of the business rather the food and drink. That’s okay by me, as the point of going to a cat cafe is to witness some purring, get in a few pats, and toss around some toys. It’s hard to focus on two of my loves (cats and food) at the same time, and there are plenty of non-cat options if I’m just looking for a falafel or some spring rolls. But sometimes you hit the jackpot and find yourself eating well-crafted food in a tasteful, modern environment with a cat sitting in the chair across from you.

MINKA Cat Cafe is located in the Āgenskalns neighborhood of Riga, Latvia, approximately a 30-minute walk from Old Town. Five former shelter cats call MINKA their home, and they make perfect companions for lunch or dinner. The cafe serves beer, wine, and alcohol in addition to coffee drinks. There is no admission charge, and the prices are very reasonable. The full menu can be found on their Facebook page.  I visited for lunch on a weekday, and there were guests at only one other table. But the place can get crowded at other times, so reservations are recommended if you don’t want to risk disappointment.

Read More

Blue Cat Cafe

It was pure luck that I landed in Blue Cat Cafe. A friend and I stumbled on it while walking home to our Airbnb late at night during a trip to Austin. Of course I insisted it be our first stop the next morning.

The cafe was started with funds from a Kickstarter campaign and sports both good food and creative decor. Yes, it’s a bit over the top cat-crazy, but in a good way. In typical Austin style, the food comes from a food truck and includes a variety of vegan Tex-Mex dishes. Coffee drinks are also all vegan. Visitors order outside, and servers bring everything in when it’s ready. It’s also possible to eat out in the courtyard.

Some of the cats are adoptable, while others are permanent residents. A three-collar system identifies the status of each cat. Those with green collars are in need of homes. A red collar indicates that a cat is in the process of being adopted. The remaining cats are permanent residents.

Location: 95 Navasota Street, Austin, TX, USA

Opening hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 am – 9 pm; Friday and Saturday 10 am – 10 pm; Sunday 11 am – 7 pm

Admission charge: $3

Reservations: No

Cats: Some are adoptable though the Blue Cat Foundation

Price for a small latte: $3.00

Seattle Meowtropolitan

Located in the Wallingford  neighborhood of Seattle, Seattle Meowtropolitan is Seattle’s first cat cafe.The friends I was visiting made a reservation for us to visit on a weekday at opening time. There were only a few other guests present, so there were plenty of cats to go around.

The cafe contains one room with a few tables where food and drinks can be purchased. It’s possible to sit in this section and watch the cats through a glass wall. A visit to the cat room costs $10 for 50 minutes, with one drink included in the entrance charge.

If you can’t get to Seattle, the cafe has a webcam on which you can watch the cats from 3 pm – 4 pm PST.

If you do make the trek, be sure to check out the Archie McPhee store that’s just down the block. You might want to pick up a dashboard cat buddha as a souvenir.

Location: 1225 N 45th Street, Seattle, WA, 98103, USA

Opening hours for cat lounge: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am – 3 pm and 4 pm – 9 pm

Opening hours for cafe: Monday, 9 am – 6 pm; Tuesday through Sunday, 9 am – 9 pm

Admission charge: $10 to enter cat lounge, includes one drink

Reservations: Possible to book online

Cats: 10-15 shelter cats from the Regional Animal Services of King County; some are adoptable

Food and drink: Various coffee drinks with vegan milk options available; pastries and snacks but not full meals

Price for a small latte: $3.30