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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Gastronomy is a major reason to visit the northern coast of Spain. At Donostia-San Sebastián, we tried the restaurant Arzak.


Arzak received and held onto three Michelin stars since 1989 and is ranked no. 21 on San Pellegrino’s world 50 best restaurants (in September 2016).


Juan Mari Arzak earned the stars and is now joined by her daughter Elena who won San Pellegrino’s Best Female Chef award in 2012. She came to our table and chatted with us for a bit.


He is one of the heros of the region who started the Nueva Cosina Vasca (New Basque Cuisine) movement in the late 70s.


They have interesting ways to serve appetizers.


We were lucky to get a table only a few days before that evening.




We all chose the 7-course tasting menu (excluding various amuse bouche and desserts).

Scarlet prawn with krill


Fish of the day with patxaran and purple corn


Red space egg – one of the famous dishes here.


Monkfish Cleopatra (hieroglyphics in pumpkin and chickpea)


The idea of printing edible hieroglyphics is laudable but it was not that special tasting.


Lamb with cypress aroma


At this point, none of the dishes stood out as particularly memorable.


Square moon


Additional desserts




Overall, it was very delightful and delicious, lots of imagination has gone into creating the dishes. However, given a certain degree of anticipation, none of us was surprised or overwhelmed by the dishes.


Check out their pretty and dynamic web site here.

The Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val (Третьяковская галерея на Крымском Валу) – a branch of the State Tretyakov Gallery – closed at 6pm. I was among the last to leave. See earlier posts, for example, here, here, and here for the 20th century collection.


The gallery is situated in the Park of Arts – Muzeon (МУЗЕОН) – so this is a part of it. Muzeon is formerly called the Park of the Fallen Heroes.



Outside on the right side of the gallery is a small area filled with rows and rows of sculptures – literally a very compact sculpture gallery that is in open air.


In the 2000s, the park began hosting symposiums for sculptors working with limestone; the sculptures they donated are displayed on a special square reserved for white-stone sculptures.



In October 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, smaller socialist realism statues of Soviet leaders and unidentifiable workers and peasants were removed from their pedestals, hauled to the park and left in their fallen form. They were rectified later, although missing original pedestals.




Located just down the footpath towards the embankment are giant busts of ex-Russian/Soviet leaders. From the Krymskaya embankment, one get the full view of the Peter the Great sculpture on Bolotny island.



I can imagine how popular and crowd this area can be in the right weather – Krymskaya (Crimean) embankment – where sightseeing boat on the river departs.


It was getting rather cold as the park is situated right next to the Moskva river. I was so glad to find a tiny coffee shop – Caffe Parco – which was filled with very cold people.


The Peter the Great Statue is a 98-metre-high monument, designed by the Georgian Zurab Tsereteli to commemorate 300 years of the Russian Navy, which Peter the Great established.  He also moved the Russian capital to St Petersburg.


In more than one occasion, it has been voted one of the ugliest building in the world. Moscow is reportedly keen to get rid of the statue, offered to relocate it to Saint Petersburg, but this offer was refused.


These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #266 – signs – Orleans



random photo #267 – curtained 3


random photo #268 – spotted path – London


random photo #269 – no escape – St Thomas


random photo #270 – double U – Barcelona
random photo #271 – Manhattan – Chambord
 random photo #272 – l’Île mystérieuse


random photo #273 – soup – Miami


random photo #274 – ducking ducks – Chillon


random photo #275 – metro – Parismetropolitain-1

If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
We have nothing to do with the ads below.

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #256 – exit – Cologne



random photo #257 – into the light – Amboise



random photo #258 – shuttered – London



random photo #259 – pricks – Sao Paulo



random photo #260 – face value – Interlaken



random photo #261 – whale – Köln

random photo #262 – bench – London


random photo #263 – worker – Köln



random photo #264 – drama – Chenonceau



random photos #265 – drinks 2 – Milano



 If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
We have nothing to do with the ads below.

At a business meeting where we stayed for several days, the hotel put up these painting in its lobby area.

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The artist is Léon represented by Samhart gallery and the hotel is Chalet Royalp Hôtel at Villars-sur-Ollons. Hope they sell well, this is fun.

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We could use some Pop Art to lighten up – 21st century superhero/villain presented in Roy Lichtenstein style – bold colors, block contours and Ben-Day dots.


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Some of these superheros/villains come from comic strips from which Lichtenstein originally borrowed for his works.

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The very tight framing is done well – just enough to allow the viewer to recognize the character while retaining the tension generated by the closeness.

Think cat and mouse.

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Snow white

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pop art-12.

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pop art-11Robocop – engine oil

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Even fellow artists got the superhero treatment.


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Micky Warhol

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The names mentioned above next to the paintings are not the actual titles ( I did not look at them closely) – I took these photos rather quickly during breaks from the meetings.

Continuing with our posts on the bookstores we come across …, Libelle mit H&B is a high end, second hand bookstore (antique bookseller) in Basel, Switzerland. Click here to see their site.


It has a perfect location – a block from the city’s main thoroughfare –  and situated at just the bottom of the cobbled-stoned street that leads up to the boutiques on Spalenberg.


IT was looking for some old books on accordion or ballet, I vaguely recall. I was not looking at the books instead, I was admiring the interiors.


There are two rooms on the main floor at the street level. It is not a big place –  a basement, a main floor, and a first floor.


The stairs that hugs the perimeter of the space and connecting the three floors is a masterpiece – modern, minimal, functional.


The stairs allows access to literally the books on all four walls. One stretch has rather deep treads that allow a customer to remain on a stair step while browsing the books.


At the top of the stairs is a gallery that allows one to look down onto the main floor.


Another notable feature is the lighting fixture on the vertical part of the bookshelves. So minimal as it occupied little space, and functional that it provided light where it is needed.


The lighting fixtures also provided visually a vertical element in the space, contrasting the horizontal stair steps and bookshelves.


The store gave up one half of the street-facing shop window but retains the front of the first floor.


There is a small traditional library with places to sit and read as well as space to laid out maps and prints.


There were books in German, French and English, probably Italian too.


This is a version of my dream home library if I am going to have one.


Sometimes I wonder, I seem to enjoy collecting books more than reading them as there is not enough time to read them all.

Continuing our tour of the world’s bookstores, we found a Rizzoli inside the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle II in Milano. It is affiliated with the one in New York.


The Rizzoli Galleria are on three floors, it is not huge but carries quite a variety of Italian and international books.


According to the publicity material, the store guaranteed that true librarians are there to help customers, not mere store assistants.


It was temporarily closed and reopened in 2014, modernized.


The idea is to”re-launch physical brick and mortar bookstores, in order to highlight the beauty of discovering books and their contents, through a unique experience that could never be paralleled by an on-line store.” Bravo.


There are stations where one can browse today’s newspapers and current magazines electronically. Huh, even Abitare !


The store is flexibly designed to accommodate various types of events, notice the table on bicycle wheels above.

rizzoli-10Space for talks and book-signing.


The owners wish to have both stores, the one in Milan and the one in New York, to keep on being recognized as truly “iconic” places, to act as cultural agents and to act as catalysts to spread culture. While we were living in NYC, we certainly frequented the stores, especially the one on West Broadway, SoHo.


Travel books section.


The upper floor offers an interesting view of the Galleria and shoppers below.


On the day of our visit (in June 2016), it is the same day as the Champions League Final. There were chants by happy (and a little bit drunk) fans from Madrid on both sides. The two teams playing in the final were Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, both Madrid teams.


We are glad in a sense that the gallery where Rizzoli is has not been turned into yet another haute couture boutique alley. There are plenty of fashion houses in Milano that are within a few minutes walk from here.


There is even a McD in here (not visible from the bookstore). Happy browsing.

Click on the link books under category to see other bookstores around the world.

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #246 – B餐俯首做白羊 – 一世困在牧場


random photo #247 – islands – Ko samui


random photo #248 – glances – Lyonglances-1

random photo #249 – curtained 2curtained-2

random photo #250 – determined


random photo #251 – no vapor trails – milano



random photo #252 – lockers 2 – Milano


random photo #253 – arrival – Zurich


random photo #254 – world’s end – Madeira


random photo #255 – rot – Saumur


If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
We have nothing to do with the ads below.

Foro Italico, formerly Foro Mussolini, is a Fascist-era sports complex in Rome, Italy. I(Chris) saw this as a part of a tour of modern Italian architecture.

The forum was built between 1928 and 1938 as the Foro Mussolini (literally Mussolini’s Forum) under the design of Enrico Del Debbio and, later, Luigi Moretti (according to Wikipedia).

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At the foot of Monte Mario, it is home to numerous sports venues, such as the largest sports facility in Rome, the Stadio Olimpico, Rome’s 70,000-seat football stadium.

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From the main road, an open, broad parade ground paved with mosaic tiles lead up to the stadium.

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There were some damages to the tiles. I believe they were not treated as a first priority as repairs go because there is some tension among the Romans about what the stadium represented.

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Benito Mussolini who ruled the kingdom of Italy from 1922 to 1943 is il Duce (the leader). He ruled constitutionally as the prime minister until 1925, when he dropped all pretense of democracy and set up a dictatorship.

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He developed a cult of one-man leadership that focused media attention and national debate on his own personality. Towards the end of World War II, he was captured while trying to escape, and executed by communists.

The tiles are organized to repeat fascist slogans. I can imagine the sight of athletes or soldiers marching in formation over these mosaics.

Duce a noi = Leader to us

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Molti nemici molto onore = many enemies, much honor

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The ornate Stadio dei Marmi with its running track is surrounded by 60 marble nudes, each donated by an Italian state.

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The stadium was inaugurated in 1932.

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It has marble steps lined by marble statues in classical style portraying athletes that perform various sporting disciplines.

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The adjoining building is the seat of the Italian National Olympic Committee (originally built for the purposes of the Fascist Male Academy of Physical Education).

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The forum remains much as it was originally conceived.

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I don’t know what the sport portrayed by this statue is – taming a wild cat ?  – it has no modern day equivalent.

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Foro Italico has hosted important events, most notably the 1960 Summer Olympics.

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The entrance is marked by a huge obelisk, 17m high, made of marble from Cararra.

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Spectacular architecture by fascists, that’s in the past.

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The stadium can stay but we all hope the ideology never comes back.