Fishing Village up the river from Thandwee

A Shore . Fishing Village up the river from Thandwee, Rakhine State, Myanmar

Locals - Fishing Village up the river from Thandwee

Locals – Fishing Village up the river from Thandwee, Rakhine State, Myanmar

Inspiration comes from many sources…

In this Age of Abundant Information, we have the world and beyond at our finger tips… as long as we are connected to the internet.

And Inspiration, well that can come from anywhere or anything.

Every moment we experience,  good or bad,  has a profound impact on the decisions we as individuals make each day.  There is inspiration all around us in images,  sounds,  aromas,  and in social interactions.  Traveling is just one way of broadening our perspective,  opening our hearts to different views,  values and approaches to life.




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                                                                                                         Marcel Wanders exhibit at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

A few years ago,  I had an amazing opportunity to spend five weeks traveling by train across Europe indulging my spirit and soul with Museums,  Art Exhibits,  Music,  Architecture,  Cultures,  History,  Family and Friends.

I made my way from Paris to Barcelona,  Nice,  Milan,  Firenze,  Rome,  Kiel,  Copenhagen,  Amsterdam,  forlornly finishing my journey in Somerset the South West of England, vowing to have another adventure…   soon.

It had been quiet some time since I last travelled abroad.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  How much it nourished my creativity,  my imagination,  my love for life.

And for me, delving in the History and the Art of a place,  seeing how the past is integrated into its present,  fuels my passion for design.




A city that beautifully integrates its past and present.  Almost everything appears to be a work of art: a simple street lamp,  a sign,  a petite garden that suddenly appears along your path,  the way the fish monger displays his catch and the arrangement of cheeses and  meats in a charcuterie.  Every moment,  a  picturesque vignette with a story.


Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Square du Vert Galant, Ile de la Cite

Square du Vert Galant, Ile de la Cite

Jardin de la Nouvelle France

Jardin de la Nouvelle France

Musee du Quai Branly

Musee du Quai Branly

Tuileries Garden

Tuileries Garden

Statue of Voltaire in the Latin Quarter

Statue of Voltaire in the Latin Quarter

Art Nouveau Metro Entrance

Art Nouveau Metro Entrance


Fromagerie, Montmartre



Le Bar å Huîtres, Montparnasse

Le Bar å Huîtres, Montparnasse

Outdoor Market

Outdoor Market














Frog Legs in Garlic Butter Sauce!

Frog Legs in Garlic Butter Sauce!

And yet,  this picturesque city is thoroughly modern where the old and the new seem to magically reside in harmony.  In addition to the curb side Vélib’ rental bikes,  they also have little Electric Cars you can rent the same way.  A city where bike paths co-mingle with the cars,  new structures stand peacefully next to glorious old edifices,  and contemporary sculptures inhabit sacred spaces.  The citizens seem to hold upmost respect for their city.  And I can not forget to mention that Paris  has over 420 curbside Sanisette,  or self cleaning toilets,  normally open from 6am – 10pm.

What a “relief” that is!


Vélib’ Curbside Bike Rental


Electric Curbside Car Rental











Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay

I saw two amazing exhibits at the Musée d’Orsay,  formerly known as La Gare d’Orsay,  a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900.  Gustav Doré,  and Van Gogh.

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Gustav Doré  was born in 1832 in Strausburg.  He was an illustrator,  lithographer,  painter,  and sculptor.  A child prodigy who began illustrating these amazing caricatures before he was 7.  I mean AMAZING!!!   By the time he was 14,  he was hired to illustrate for a French paper Le Journal pour rire.


Puss in Boots

He has illustrated the works of Lord Byron,  Rabelais,  Balzac,  Milton,  the French edition of Cervantes’s Don Quixotes,  Dante’s Inferno in 1861,  various Fairy Tales,  and Edgar Allen Poe’s the “Raven“.


Dante’s – Paradiso, Canto XXXI

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Dante’s – Inferno, Canto X



He painted  landscapes of the Scottish highlands that almost seemed to come to life.  In the  latter part of his life,  he delved into religious art and sculpture.

At the time of his death in 1883 he was sketching illustrations for the works of Shakespeare.

Here is a link to Musée d’Orsay exhibit : Gustave Doré (1832–1883): Master of Imagination


The Scottish Highlands


Mountain Landscape



Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890),  Breath-taking to see so many of his works in one place!  “Van Gogh/Artaud: The Man Suicided by Society”.

Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) French playwright and poet was invited by the art dealer Pierre Loeb to write on Van Gogh for the January 1947 retrospective of  Van Gogh’s work at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.  Artaud seemed the perfect candidate to write on the retrospective as he himself,  had been in and out of  psychiatric hospitals for the past nine years suffering from depression and psychotic episodes.

The exhibit was guided by his book Van Gogh, The Man Suicided by Society.

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Bedroom in Arles, 1888

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Landscape from Saint-Rémy


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Self-Portrait, September 1889

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Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888

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Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889





















Van Gogh created over 2000 paintings the last ten years of his life.  And, it was only in the last ten years of his life that he had devoted himself  solely to painting.  He died at the age of 37.  No need to describe how,  but I believe the truth remains just out of our grasps.

And we are…  left with these fantastical paintings that sway,  dance,  and vibrate in ones retina.  At least they do in my retina.  It is as if life is in constant motion,  never at rest vibrating one moment to the next.

Vincent you are my hero… and you bet,  I went to see the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam!  And.. after the museum closed everyone gathered for dancing, DJ, and drinks in the atrium.


Le Louvre Pyramid

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Because this “blog” is a recollection of a trip I took a few years ago,  and I’m writing it in segments as I get a chance.  I will apologize now,  if it’s not flowing smoothly as it should.

Now Back to Paris

Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

The Palais de Tokyo was originally called  “Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris ”  when it was built in 1937 to host the  International Exhibition of Arts and Technology.  It stands separated from the Seine by the Avenue de New York (formerly Avenue de Tokio from 1918-1945).   It seemed to be one of the most neglected building exteriors I’d ever experienced in Paris.

It’s 1930’s monumental nationalistic architectural style (very similar to EUR in Rome) is impressive upon approach, but as I entered the main pavilion, I was overcome by the desire turn around from the stench of urine and alcohol,  and the amateurish graffiti tags carelessly and hastily sprayed on the walls and statues. Don’t turn back!

There are some extraordinary works of contemporary and modern art inside.

The permanent collection houses works from Fauvism, Cubism, Dadism, Surrealism to late twentieth-century art and furniture. The west wing of the museum displays temporary exhibits of contemporary art and installations.

The Museum is open til 12am.

Musée du quai Branly

I have a long list of designers and architects I admire and Jean Nouvel is the latest on my list.  I felt I could have spent days just walking through the museum taking in the nuances of experience. The easiest way to explain my experience walking through the museum is comparing it to the movie  “The Fantastic Voyage”.  You are an explorer and you’ve entered the capillaries of a complex organism.

Entrance, Musée du quai Branly

Green Wall, Designed by Patrick Blanc

Gardens, Musée du quai Branly

Gardens, Designed by Gilles Clément

The museum features the indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceana and the Americas. It houses both permanent and temporary exhibits. This spectacular modern museum ingeniously designed by French architect Jean Nouvel opened in 2006 to controversy and speculation on the ethos of the design based on a colonialist ideology.

Vantage from the street, a long green wall designed by botanist Patrick Blanc, initially captures your attention and partially hides the museum which rests on stilts. Upon entering the enclosure you are immediately struck by Gilles Clément’s undulating gardens with a the multitude of aimlessly placed acrylic pylons that emerge from the ground.  However as evening approaches,  these glowing plexiglas tubes start to project splatters of surreal light on the underside of the museum.

As you enter the museum proper,  you are again visually transported into another world of light and darkness.  The path flows from one level to the next and your eyes are allowed to focus on the beauty and uniqueness of each item displayed with out distraction.

Musée du quai Branly. Walkway to main exhibitsMusée du quai Branly.

Musée du quai Branly

Musée du quai Branly.


Musée du quai Branly.








There’s really no way to explain how ingeniously creative the flow of the space was designed to enhance your experience. And in this moment you realize why it took Jean Nouvel over 10 years realize his design. It’s a museum that must be experienced.

On another note, I wish that the Fondation Louis Vuitton deigned by Frank Gehry had opened while I was in Paris. Alas a reason for another visit!


Lastly,  before I leave this amazing city,  I wanted to talk about the history of Parc des Buttes Chaumont.  It’s amazing how with the right timing, right marketing, appropriate design,  and a few generations in between,  something with a bleak and horrid history can be turned into something else completely different.  As if it’s history has been completely erased from sight!

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Today,  it’s a picturesque park with gardens,  rolling paths,  chalet gatehouses,  a grotto with a waterfall,  restaurant pavilions,  and a miniature roman Temple.

Now to it’s dark and slightly depressing history…

The hill which the park derives it’s name from,  in the 1300’s became known as the “Gibbot of Montfaucon”.  For over 400 years Parisian from miles around could see the decomposing corpses left hanging, at times,  for years from the massive gallows.  By 1760,  the guillotine had replaced the gallows, and the site became a refuse and sewage dump for the city of Paris.  After which it became a knacker yard,  and penultimately a gypsum and limestone quarry before it’s final transformation to the extraordinary park it is today.

Île de la Belvédère

Île de la Belvédère

Artificial Grotto. Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Artificial Grotto. Parc des Buttes Chaumont

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In 1860, the site was chosen by Napoleon lll’s urban planner Baron Haussmann for a new public park in Paris.  Built by engineer Jean-Charles Alphand,  designed by landscape architect Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, and architect Gabriel Davioud,  the park opened in 1867 to coincide with the Paris Universal Exhibition.  Some of the many features of the park included a 65’ grotto with an artificial waterfall,  Davioud’s Tivoli inspired miniature Roman Temple of Sybil  and Gustave Eiffel’s  200ft. suspension bridge allowing access to the Île de la Belvédère.

I could go on for pages about Paris and all that inspired me in my short stay there,  but it’s time to leave… and take the express train to Barcelona.

Au Revoir Paris! Until next time.


Paris to Barcelona via SNCF

Before I start on Barcelona, I’ll digress bit with some of my pre trip planning.

If your budget is like mine, “LIMITED” and you like getting the most from the dollars you spend, a little bit of internet research goes a long way in making your trip safe, comfortable, worry-free and throughly enjoyable.

If you prefer to skip this section… 

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