Mural Search – South Main

The mural search took a huge detour for lunch. I found myself at the Starbucks at the very edge of the Olympic Village. All I had was my iPhone and the Starbucks app to pay for food and drink. At least I had something.


I also decided to open up my Pokemon GO to see if anything was going on in the hood. That’s when I realized there was a blooming triple-lure spot. Couldn’t help but plunk myself in the Bird Plaza for about an hour to rest up my feet before setting out for more murals 😛

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Rodin’s Parisian Garden

In the garden of the Rodin Museum behind The Thinker

June 30, 2015 (Tuesday) – Auguste Rodin was a famous French sculptor who is considered one of the progenitors of modern sculpture. The Rodin Museum was not high on my list of places to visit, but it was just too conveniently placed in between the Musee d’Orsay and Les Invalides, home of Napoleon’s tomb. It was a destination along the way to another destination. Our Paris Museum Pass allowed us quick entry into the museum grounds. So why not?

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D’Orsay Morning

View of Montmartre and Tuileries Gardens from the Musée d’Orsay

June 30, 2015 (Tuesday) – Our fifth day in Paris started with a visit to the Musée d’Orsay. It was a 30 minute Metro ride on the green Line 12 from our Marcadet-Poissoniers. Even though we got to the Museum early, it was already a long line-up to get into the d’Orsay. We had our Paris Museum Pass that allowed us to go through a different line. However, that line was just as busy as the regular ticket line this morning.

The Musée d’Orsay was another high priority on my visit to Paris. One of my clients had talked about how much she loved the Musée d’Orsay over the Louvre Museum. I know that the Musée d’Orsay houses many of the great works of the great artists. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.

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Toronto 2013 – Ai Weiwei at the AGO

When I told one of my high school friends that I was going to Toronto, he highly recommended dropping by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see the Ai Weiwei exhibit. Thankfully, the exhibit had been on for a while and the David Bowie exhibit just started the weekend I was there.  So basically, I wasn’t fighting to buy a ticket.  The David Bowie exhibit had already sold out for the day.

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Paper Cities

I’ve been sick lately, so I’m going the lazy route and reblogging something from Price Tags.

Price Tags

UK-based artist Matthew Picton uses strips of paper to construct maps of cities from around the world. The Londoner’s sculptural creations use both historic and fictional texts to produce cartographic representations of multicultural cities like Las Vegas, Dresden, Tehran, and Venice, created with text from “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann and the music score from Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice opera.



Lower Manhattan created from headlines that accompanied the 2001 World Trade Center bombing and DVD covers of the film “Towering Inferno” also book covers of the novel “The Plot Against America” by Philip Roth:



Bonus for naming this city, created from the covers and text of the novel “The Lathe of Heaven” by Ursula LaGuin and the DVD covers of the films “Dante’s Peak” and “Volcano”.


Answer – and more cities – here.

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Remo Camerota’s Drainspotting

I came across an interesting article in the local Vancouver Chinese newspaper.  The colourful photos of manhole covers caught my attention.  And the photo of the British born, Australian artist, Remo Camerota, exhibiting his work in Hong Kong also caught my attention.

Camerota was recently hired by Hong Kong’s Towngas to design a unique manhole pit cover for the company.  He released a book on Japanese manhole cover designs back in 2010. It’s amazing what you can make a book from.  I would be one who has an interest in this kind of book because I have taken my own photos of unique Japanese manhole covers.


One was taken up in the onsen (hot springs) resort town of Arima in west Japan.  It depicts the river that runs through town and the gondola one can take to get up to the town.

The kanji in the middle is the character for “song.”

Here’s another one that I came across in Kyoto’s Gion district.  Gion is famous for being Kyoto’s geisha quarter.  You have a higher chance of encountering a geisha on the streets of Gion.

So I may just go and pick up a copy of Camerota’s Drainspotting if I can find it.  I think I’ll check out Oscar’s Art Books first to see if they have it.  Too many local bookstores closing these days.  I should try to support one when I can.

You can follow Camerota on his blog at

Cover of Remo Camerota’s “Drainspotting”

Gastown Heritage Walk | Cordova Street – from Water to Cambie

The Vancouver Heritage Foundation‘s walking tour is in full swing. I signed up for the last of the 3 Gastown walking tours. Again, the ever bubbly and informative Maurice Guibord was our guide today. We met at the intersection of Carrall and Water where the statue of Gassy Jack stands. We went through Blood Alley, Garage, and John Fluevog Shoes. Then we past the Gastown Steam Clock to the Landing. Now, we rounded back east onto Cordova Street.

Traditionally, I don’t think of Cordova Street as being part of Chinatown. Cordova Street has usually been a nothing street during my time. It’s the street between the busy tourist street of Water Street and the old traditional centre of activity along Hastings Street. There isn’t the same buzz as along Water Street and no brick street to demarcate a tourist area. However, this is still a part of Gastown.

There are a few shops and offices in this area. The most interesting of these to me was the Old Faithful Shop. They stock all these classic and simple items for daily living. Some of these items really are old school. They have lanterns, army blankets, canvas laundry baskets, good old soap, and rhubarb syrup to name a few. Most items really have a bygone days feel to them and displayed lovingly around the store.

A few doors down from the Old Faithful Shop are a few consignment clothing stores that may interest a few. Around the corner from those shops on Cambie Street is Danny’s Inn. My parents used to run a clothing store for a short period of time in that building. At that time, I was still in elementary school and remember walking from my parents store to the Woodward’s department store and a toy store on East Hastings I loved to visit. No trace of my parents’ shop is left.

Our tour ended on the corner of Cambie and Cordova. However, Maurice recommended that we walk up to the alley between Hastings and Cordova that runs from Homer and Richards Streets. A graffiti mural on both sides of alley is on display right now. The art installation is by Cold World. According to the Murals Vancouver website, the installation started in 2005 and has continued to grow. It says it extends through the alley on the other side of Homer towards Cambie.

If you are from Vancouver and haven’t explored Gastown, I think it is well worth the visit. A lot has changed over the years and some very neat shops have popped up in the neighbourhood. It is definitely more of a neighbourhood since I was last there. If you are not from Vancouver, you almost invariably find your way into this historic district. However, go past the tourist shops and explore the neighbourly sections of Gastown and duck into a store apart from the regular tourist fare.

Hotel Europe @ Alexander and Powell Streets

Walking Boston – Public Garden and Boston Common

Many cities have green oases in the middle of them.  New York has Central Park and Vancouver has Stanley Park. In Boston’s case, there are two green spaces right next to each other, which I guess you could think of as one larger space.  However, they are named separately and are bisected by Charles Street in the middle.

Public Garden and Boston Common

The Public Garden was founded in 1837 (just like the sign says).  It is a park full of meandering trails, public works of art, and the lagoon that fills up the centre of the park.  It was meant to showcase floral and decorative in botanical gardening.

The Lagoon is largest feature of the Public Garden.  Swan Boats are available for rental. When we were there, it seems like there were no boats on the water.  It must have been too early for the boats.  However, the Lagoon provides a beautiful foreground to the greenness of the Garden and the glass and brick of the surrounding buildings.

 This was an idyllic Saturday afternoon to be walking through the Public Garden.  The afternoon sun gave the Garden a warm, welcoming tinge.  It surprised me a little that the trees were all yellow.  It makes me think of the fall more than the spring.

The Public Garden Foot Bridge right in the middle of the lagoon offers a focal point to the Garden and gives great, peaceful views of the Lagoon and Garden.  Normally, the Swan Boats would be plying right under the bridge.  Again, it was probably too early in the season for them to operating.

The Public Garden also has its collection of monuments and sculptures.  The first we came across was the bronze statue of George Washington, except at the time, we didn’t know it was George.  So we totally passed by his statue.  I only took a photo of it from afar.  Sorry, George.

The next thing I just had to see was Make Way for Ducklings.  It is a sculpture inspired by Robert McCloskey’s children’s storybook of the same name.  It is a heart-warming and adorable piece of art. It is very appropriate since the story itself takes place in the Boston Public Garden.  This was on my must-see list.  My coworkers were very happy that I insisted on coming to see the Ducklings.

The other notable public art piece we came across was the Triton Babies fountain.  Triton is in reference to the sea god, Poseidon.  However, the fountain babies to raise quite a few eyebrows of many passersby wondering why one child looks like he/she is straddling the other child in a somewhat suggestive pose.  Also, the fountain wasn’t running yet because it was still early in the spring and somewhat chilly at times.

As we were exiting the Public Garden, we came across a one-man-band busker.  Boy!  Was he ever playing a lot of instruments at once.  He was doing his own rendition of 3 Doors Down’s Kryptonite.  Obviously, it wasn’t as rock, but he was definitely rocking the song in his own unique way.

 Then we exited the Public Garden, crossed Charles Street, and entered the Boston Common.  The Boston Common had a lot less trees and shrubbery compared to the Public Garden.  The paths were primarily straight lines cutting through the green, rolling pasture-like park.

The big highlight of walking through the Boston Common this day was the game of Quidditch being played in the baseball diamond.  This was the one time I wished I brought my telephoto zoom with me to Boston, but I hate carrying that weight with me when I don’t tend to use it much.

Quidditch in the Common

Oh yes.  Young men running with faux-brooms between their legs.  Somebody out there must be getting a kick out of that.

We didn’t linger much in the Common.  We ended up making a b-line for Massachusetts State House just past the northeast corner of the Boston Common.  The Freedom Trail starts in the Boston Common and makes for a good self-guided walking tour of Boston.  You could also hired a guide in a period costume to lead you down the Freedom Trail, as well.  We just didn’t have time to take in such a tour, but it may be something that interests you.

Massachusetts State House

The Death of the Vancouver Bookstore

In the past few years, I’ve watched the retail fronts of many a bookstore lower their shutters never to open them again. It looks like the good old local bookstore is disappearing in favour of online book sellers and the big box book megastore.

It is with sadness that a local Vancouver icon in the book business is going out of business. I remember when the Book Warehouse occupied major locales in the city, such as stores in Metrotown, Downtown Granville Street, and West 4th Avenue. They had been slowly shrinking over the years, but they were still offering great discounts on all books that they carried. If I had a choice between Chapters and Book Warehouse, I’d rather go to Book Warehouse because it was almost always cheaper and it was local.

Their Yaletown location just closed a few months ago. Now their 4 remaining locations will also be closing out. I’ve gotten some great deals over the years from them. My favourite book from the Book Warehouse was the late Chuck Davis’ The Greater Vancouver Book. The telephone book sized was full of juicy trivia and tidbits. I took a copy with me to China and left it in the teacher’s library there. I wonder if anyone ever reads it still?

Duthie Books (credit: Szymon Surma)

Another iconic Vancouver bookstore that closed shop last year was Duthie Books. Their last store was on West 4th Avenue beside the Capers Whole Foods Market. I remember a time when Duthies took over for the short-lived Bollum Books at Granville and Georgia in the 1990’s. Today, London Drugs occupies that location.

When Duthies closed, I also picked up a few books during their closing sale. My favourite is a book called Wuhu Diary, which documents an American woman’s journey to China to adopt a young girl and her return years later to show her daughter the city of her birth. It was a sentimental read for me because it reminded me greatly of my time in China. Another great book I got from Duthie is Paris Underground by Mark Ovenden.  It’s a illustrated history of the Paris Metro.

Sophia Books (credit: Jeremy Hood)

For me personally, the loss of Sophia Books was one of the worst.  It was a small specialty book shop that carried books in many different languages.  I loved perusing their Japanese section for neat little books or magazines.  I must admit that I was more of a peruser than a buyer there, but it was a great store that I would visit anytime I was near Harbour Centre.

My most memorable purchase from Sophia Books was a small collection of posters of the anime classic, Macross.  I bought it way back in the 1980’s when the shop carried primarily Japanese language books and it was located on Nelson Street just off of Granville.  You can read more about my history with Sophia Books here.

There is, however, one more independent local bookstore out there that I’ve visited from time to time.  It’s Oscar’s Art Books on West Broadway and Granville.  It’s directly across from the giant Chapters in South Granville, but it has survived so far.  I often go in there looking for discount calendars around Christmas time.  It’s also a good store if you are into art, design, architecture, photography and/or erotica.  Oscar’s has found its own little niche thus far.  Time will tell if Oscar’s can survive with the likes of Chapters and Amazon in the market.