The Hanging Gardens of New York

It took 3 years to transform the Avenue of Death into the Alley of Life. Well, okay, 3 years and $50 million. Regardless, the creators of the High Line Park deserve a round of applause.

The High Lane Park, New York

In New York City we are tiny creatures surrounded by a mountainous jungle of glass and concrete. The streets and avenues of Manhattan leave little space for real greens. Chelsea is a particularly industrial and gloomy area… Well, it was before the rough old railroad was redesigned into a modern, delightful park. Continue reading

The One Buck Labyrinth

This place is so weird. I would not be surprised to meet a rabbit with a hat, flying on a magic rug offering everyone the choice of two pills: a red one and a blue one . Books are everywhere. They fly out from the shelf to greet guests. They lay on tables, rest on couches, twist whimsically up to the ceiling. An endless labyrinth of shelves sprawls across 20 000 square feet, harboring  innumerable amounts of stories, facts, thoughts and theories. In the heart of downtown Los Angeles the portal to parallel worlds, The Last Bookstore, exists.

The Last Bookstore. Photographer Irina Vasilevitskaya

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The Entirely Different Malibu

Every decent Los Angeles resident has to wear Uggs with shorts, use his own bags for grocery shopping and every weekend wake up at 6 am for a morning hike. Just in case you don’t know, a hike is a walk (or, for those who are sporty, run) in hilly areas. Demanding on stamina and miserable from consistently eating too much cheesecake, a hike can be from 1 to 15 miles long and have many variations of complexity.

Malibu Creek State Park

Recently one international team of amateur hikers went to explore some places they have never hiked before. The team consisted of an American English language teacher, a Russian photographer and a Turkish student. We expected to see frugal hills and a thin forest, but we stumbled on the beautiful Bavarian landscape, shining like a piece of a jeweled lake framed with spectacular rocky mountains. Continue reading

The Den of the Phantom of the Opera

At nine euros to enter this place it was the best investment of our Paris vacation. The Grand Opera is one of the most beautiful examples of architecture in the World.

The Grand Opera

For one of the most significant places, this one also has an exciting story of its creation. The Emperor Napoleon III narrowly escaped death during the terrorist act in front of the Opera at La Pelletier Street. Physically he was fine, but mentally hardly damaged. There was no way for him to visit that scary place at La Pelletier again.

What else was there to do for fun in 1858? There was no internet, TV or Improv shows at that time. He still had some days off even though he was full time emperor. Therefore, it was announced that there would be a contest for the best new opera house project design. Continue reading


If you are in Paris, it is mandatory for you to go to the very top of the Eiffel tower.

Planet Paris

This article’s headline is the excuse for the first picture and, in particular, for the forlornly tilted horizon. Photographers, take notes  :)

The idea of climbing the metallic construction in freezing and windy 41*F weather didn’t attract me much. But there was no choice. My cousin, Tatiana, is a big traditionalist. For her to be in Paris and not to climb the Eiffel Tower would be the same crime as for a decent communist to be in Moscow and to omit the Mausoleum. So I had no option to escape. Continue reading