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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Before posting on our latest trip, we thought it is best to put up the remaining Brazilian posts first.

Vila Madalena is an upper middle class neighborhood in the Pinheiros district on the west side of Sao Paulo. It is known for its bohemian lifestyle, galleries, funky shops, and night life.  I cannot judge its nightlife since I was only there around lunch time.


Don’t be mistaken by the graphics above. There are currently no tram servicing the area as far as I could tell, no subway either – only buses.


What I saw a lot was street art. These circus-themed pieces wrap around a street corner.


One way to describe the area is “Alphabet city on a hill”. Think NYC’s Alphabet city.


It has a flea market but I could not find it. May be it is the wrong time of the day/week.


It is sad to hear that 5Pointz in Queens, New York is being white-washed and soon to be demolished. I will do a post on it since I took some pictures of 5Pointz a while back.


Vila Madalena has plenty of high rises but is also dotted with houses, some of which have been turned into business premises – art galleries, garages, hairdressers, restaurants.


Among the high rises, I saw several of these designer mid-rises – about 3-4 stories high, residential (I think).


I went to a few galleries which were showing modern pieces. The galleries are quite scattered and not easy to find, for example, there is one hiding behind this light-blue garage door at the end of the driveway.


As I walked by, this bar/club named Favela was cleaning its floor and setting up chairs and tables – looked like it had a big party the previous night.


Vila Madalena reminded me of Palermo in Buenos Aires (Palermo is neater, however) and the Nimanhaemin Road area in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

vilam-15The area’s street art is really worth stopping to admire.


It was tiring to explore the area since it is up and down every other block. It made me try the city’s bus service in the end.


No idea what is housed in the building above and the one below.


Definitely a place to see, and I think if you know someone local, it could be a really fun place to hang out in the evening.


This is a new series of posts that is about funny business names that we saw. Since we are now living in continental Europe, from time to time we come across English names that makes us laugh.

White Trash Fast Food, Berlin


Well, these business names are not as crazy as the menu translations and informational signs in China (there are web sites and flickr pages dedicated to that madness). Click here for some laughs.

No Water – Versailles  – Yes, it is a bar called No Water.


Nocollection – Paris


the dog is hot – Barcelona  – hot dog takeout joint with racy graphics


Fatty, Sao Paulo – sells ladies’ shoes.


Fatty Man, sells to men.


Hope these photos brought a smile to your face.

Camp Nou (“New Field”) is the home of Barça  – FC Barcelona (Futbol Club Barcelona), Barcelona’s football team. The stadium is open to the public and is a major tourist attraction of the city.


I went with my colleagues on the last day of our conference in Barcelona. The camp is located not far from the city center.


The club is owned by its supporters. According to Wikipedia in 2013:

It is the world’s second-richest football club in terms of revenue, with an annual turnover of $613 million and the third most valuable, worth $2.6 billion.


There was no tour guide. We just walked along a marked path through the building and along the pitch. Occasionally, we see a guard to prevent people from straying.


The motto “Més que un club”  means “More than a club” and reflects the club’s role in the identity of Catalan culture.

campnou-7The building of Camp Nou commenced on 28 March 1954, took three years and ended on 24 September 1957. It was last renovated in 2005. It has a capacity of 99,354 making it the largest stadium in Europe, 11th in the world.

campnou-6We toured their changing room – it looked a bit spartan given its status. We all doubted if the team really use it, maybe it is used by the visiting team.

campnou-2Hot tub and showers.

campnou-3Prayers before  and after the game! This chapel is located just steps from the ramp leading up to the pitch.

campnou-4Next to the chapel is a TV studio.

campnou-5Commentator’s box at the top.

campnou-9The stadium houses the club museum which shows hundreds of clips of matches on demand.


Camp Nou has been used for many concerts – including U2, Three Tenors, Michael Jackson. The pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1992.


On display in the club museum are the various trophies the team won over the years, since its founding in 1899.

campnou-14A fan souvenir store lies at the end of the tour. Just outside the store are these giant posters of the team’s current players. In 2013, according to Wikipedia:

The all-time highest goalscorer for Barcelona in all official competitions is Lionel Messi with 327 goals. He is also the record goalscorer for Barcelona in European and international club competitions and the record league scorer with 223 goals in La Liga.


Nike, Qatar airways, Audi are the major sponsors – can’t miss them really.

campnou-16In 2000, fans were polled concerning the stadium’s name. Of the 29,102 votes the club received, a total of 19,861 (68.25%) preferred Camp Nou to Estadi del FC Barcelona, and thus the official name was changed to the popular nickname.

Today is Friday, the 13th of December, 2013. We are not superstitious about the number.

13 part 1-3

13, Lawyers, Paris

We just happen to live at No. 13 on our street now. I(Chris) used to work at Room 1313 on the 13th floor in an office in Manhattan. Chris used the No: 13 bus regularly while living at No. 26 (13 twice) in London. We are starting to post these photos in the 13th year of the new millennium (ok, this one is a bit of a stretch).

13 part 1-1

13, Klangwandel, Zurich, Kreis 5

We do not feel unlucky or otherwise about “13”. I(Chris) am just curious of the other No: 13’s – how they look and what’s behind them. So I started taking photos of “13” wherever I see them in public, most of them are house numbers.

13 part 1-7

Bar 13, East 13th Street, NYC

13 part 1-6

13 Rue Sainte-Catherine, Paris

13 part 1-2

13, Vienna

13 part 1-5

The French Justice Department is located at 13 Place Vendôme in Paris.

13 part 1-4

13 Place Vendôme, Paris (Ministere de la Justice)

13 part 1-8

13, Chambéry

This is an ongoing collection, let’s see how many more No.13 I find. This is Part 1.


We almost forgot about this post which was kept in draft form for the last 5 months.

Musee d’Orsay is probably the second most visited art museum in Paris after Le Louvre. So many of you may have seen the place already.


We were in Paris earlier this year. The lines for entrance tickets to the museum were so hopelessly long on the first day we went, that we just gave up and saw some other sights. On the second day, we went earlier and because it was drizzling, the lines were considerably shorter. We applied some patience and luckily got in only after about 30 minutes of waiting.


The museum used to be a railway station – Gare d’Orsay – which was completed in 1900 and in use until 1939.


By 1939 the station’s short platforms had become unsuitable for the longer trains that had come to be used for mainline services.


There are people walking behind the glass above the clock, their shadows fading in and out. I made a short video of it and here is a snapshot.


The station was slated to be demolished in 1970 but saved by the minister of culture. In 1974, a study of its conversion into a museum was commissioned.


A competition was held in 1978 to find the best design of the museum, which was won by ACT – a team of 3 French architects.


Aspects of the train station structure are still visible.


The museum was officially opened in 1986. It holds 2000+ paintings and 600+ sculptures.


Photography is generally not allowed in the museum. So I put my camera away while in a gallery. I made an exception with this painting.


Personally (Chris), I did not like this museum but cannot give a specific reason. Yes, the architecture is interesting. Perhaps, the exhibition space is so vast that many of the pieces, even the sculptures, lost some of its presence and potency.


But it has a restaurant with a nice period decor. Too bad it was not opened.


I did enjoy the temporary exhibition titled “The Angel of the Odd. Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst” (L’ange du bizarre. Le romantisme noir de Goya à Max Ernst) which suggests a certain influence these artists may have on the development of horror movies. Click here to see a description of the exhibition and a short introductory video.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 11.14.00 PM

Carlos Schwabe (1866-1926) – “The Death of the Gravedigger” 1900. If the image interests you, click here for a more detailed presentation of Dark Romanticism.

In the end, I think, unless they have a special exhibition, I do not see a need to return to M’O any time soon.


pinacoteca-9Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Museum of the state of Sao Paulo) is a highly regarded museum dedicated to the visual artists of Brazil from the 19th century to now.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 11.30.20 PM

Designed in 1897 by Ramos de Azevedo, the museum building housed the first art school of the city, Liceu de Artes e Ofícios. It is the oldest art museum in the city but slowly took on the role of the city’s museum of contemporary art.


The building is standing in one corner of the Parque da Luz.


In 1997, architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha renovated the eclectic neoclassical building by stripping it of the stucco that covered it and leaving a stunning columned palace in exposed brick.


He won the Mies van der Rohe Prize (2000) for this building and later the Pritzker Prize (2006) with another in Sao Paulo.


There are two interior courtyards each covered by a glass lattice which allows sunlight to stream inside, illuminating several pieces of sculpture.pinacoteca-4

Over its 100 years of existence, the museum has accumulated more than 9000 pieces representing 300 years of works by Brazilian artists.

pinacoteca-3 ‘The Nanás’ Fountain’ (Fonte das Nanás) by Niki de Saint-Phalle (photo below).

pinacoteca-5There is a permanent collection and the museum mounts several temporary exhibitions at the same time. The types of art work range from audiovisuals to modern sculpture.

pinacoteca-6I particularly enjoyed the audiovisual works of William Kentridge: Fortuna.


The museum has three floors connected by an elevator situated in one of the courtyards.


The lowest floor has an auditorium and a cafe. The museum shop is a bit underwhelming (compared to those in big European cities) but the museum has published many books in relation to its exhibitions.


Hmm, the upper floors are apparently supported by giants on the lowest floor !

pinacoteca-10This is a museum that is really worth visiting multiple times, for its timeless exhibition space and diverse exciting programs.


Parque da Luz (or Jardim da Luz) is one of two big parks in the center of São Paulo. The other one – Ibirapuera – is much more famous for its design and the location of several cultural institutions.

parque da luz-1

I came here primarily because the Museum of the State of Sao Paulo (Pinacoteca do Estado) is located on its ground (see next post), and the old train station which is located across the street from it.


Also, it is one of the few tourist attractions that are easily accessible by public transportation through Estação Luz (Linha 1- Azul/ Linha 4 – Amarela).

parque da luz-3

The park was full of people at around noon (I tried really hard not to include them in these photos).parque da luz-2

It was a bright and cheery spring day – the park was lush and intensely green.

parque da luz-9

The bandstand in the park had been carefully restored.

parque da luz-12

There is a second pond in the park – this one is next to the Pinacoteca.

parque da luz-13

Originally created in 1798 as a botanical garden, the garden was transformed into a public park in 1938.

parque da luz-8However, during the late 20th century, it became a place known for prostitution and drug trafficking.

parque da luz-7When the Pinacoteca do Estado was restored, sculptures were installed in the park, and with generous police presence, the park was returned to its citizens as a place to relax among vegetations.

parque da luz-6As Sao Paulo is huge, being a patch of green in a jungle of concrete, the park is a resting place for many migrating forest birds.

parque da luz-5

Judging by the number of people using the park, I think this park really improved the quality of life in the neighboring urban areas.

parque da luz-11.