Monthly Archives: June 2013

North America trip day 9: Chinatown and aquarium in Vancouver

I’m enjoying my 33rd country visited – Canada. Vancouver is as they say – very liveable, very comfortable, and a real relief after three days in the unwalkable LA. Strangely enough, entering Canada was more difficult than entering the US. I was asked various questions, including how I know my friend I would be staying with. This was in addition to some stress at LA airport, where a registration desk worker almost didn’t want to let me through because according to the system I needed a visa. Fortunately, there is free wifi at LAX, so I could check the website of our MoFA and remember to mention that my passport is biometric, which makes me eligible to visa exemption. She didn’t notice that the passport was biometric. Anyway, it’s done and I’m in Canada.


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North America trip day 4: mountains of California

I was pondering over the choice of transportation between San Francisco and Los Angeles for a while and eventually decided to opt for the bus. I wanted to experience space and distance instead of forming a pointilistic understanding of the West Coast. On the way, I saw various views of rural California, its silky yellow fields and impressive mountain ranges. Most of the agricultural produce in the US comes from California.

I arrived at the Union Station in LA, which is a very impressive, but confusing building.

North America trip day 5: UCLA sculpture garden

This horse is a part of the Murphy sculpture garden on UCLA campus. Its author is Deborah Butterfield. Believe it or not, the horse is made out of metal, beautifully made to look like wood. The garden’s patron wanted to create a space to appreciate beauty from the most abstract to the most detailed forms. The garden also includes four plaques featuring a woman’s figure by Matisse, going from detailed to abstract over 20 years of the artist’s career. There is also one work of a Lithuanian artist, Vladas Vildžiūnas, whose “Bird Goddess” is also erected in the Baltic Sea resort Palanga in addition to here in LA. Although Vildžiūnas worked in the USSR, quite a few of his works were exhibited in the US in the 70s.

UCLA seems to be as cool as I expected. I would really like to spend more time here. Here’s more from the UCLA campus:

UCLA campus [click on the image to enlarge it]

UCLA campus: bottom right image is the collection of Matisse works [click on the image to enlarge it]

North America trip day 3: Grumpy sea lion and farmers’ market

San Francisco is hyper urban, but the main tourist attractions are bisons and sea lions.

The family I was staying with told me a story that pier 39, where sea lions rest, used to be a private pier for boats. Sea lions started assembling there after the great earthquake, and the people who were using the pier were driven away to make space for the endangered creatures of those already decided to assemble there. Now it’s a major tourist spot, particularly for families. Around pier 39, there are many touristic restaurants and various attractions. Continue reading

North America trip day 1: the Mission

I’m doing an American-style ‘eurotrip’, but in the US.

I learned about the concept of ‘doing Europe in 7 days’ in high school English class. Now I’ll try to ‘do’ the US in two weeks.

I started with observing the legendary murals in the Mission, San Francisco. Surprises so far: some advertisements are in Spanish only, and the ubiquitousness of Spanish is impressive.

The murals often use elements from the Mayan mythology and some add something from India to play around with the double meaning of ‘Indian’ in the past. Migration of native Americans, some of whom still speak Mayan, added native Americans in the places where they were driven away from or assimilated.

The murals often depicted various mythical characters, but there was a copyright sign under almost each of them. Good that ancient Mayans didn’t have copyright.

Dubrovnik – the expensive urban and natural paradise (II)

First part here.

Outside of the Old Town, a picturesque fortification attracts not only tourists, but also the theater and cinema industries. It is also used for rock diving. On it, the official motto of the former republic, ‘freedom can’t be sold for the whole gold in the world’, is inscribed. The republic’s nobility (men only) elected their representatives to the parliament, but rich traders were excluded from political representation and increasingly frustrated. The republic was abolished with the French conquest in 1808. The upper fort in the city was built to control the fort in the sea. During theater performances, Hamlet’s father’s ghost appears in the fortress. Our guide said that during her childhood residents could enjoy a lot of street theater, but nowadays theater happens in more closed spaces. Continue reading

Dubrovnik – the expensive urban and natural paradise (I)

Visiting Dubrovnik for the first time got me asking why I never thought about going there before. I am not surprised why it attracts so many people – there is everything for every taste… except, perhaps, budget travel. The popular Croatian city rests on the remainders of the once-prominent Republic of Ragusa, which was known for its vibrant economic and cultural life, as well as diplomacy and tolerance, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Walking in the city feels as if everything is perfectly preserved since then – but in fact its protection by UNESCO since 1979 did not prevent it from being severely bombed in 1991. Scarce remaining residents of the ancient walled city had to look for ways in which to restore their property, with strict UNESCO requirements for specific tiles and colors. Maps detailing the damage of the bombing hang next to regular tourist maps in the main sightseeing spots.

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