Friday, August 29, 2008

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words...

So here is one detailing my lovely new home in Hong Kong University.  

It's not so bad. I'm actually having a very pleasant time here!  I've just been getting paperwork ready, buying knicknacks to spruce up my dorm and meeting people everywhere.  The humid weather is mighty difficult to adjust to but I've solved that problem just by not showering. (Don't tell my new friends.)  

I love Hong Kong's transportation system! I love being able to go everywhere at my own free will. I love practicing my mandarin and (limited) Cantonese! I love seeing my cousin's beautiful face!  I love not having to cook!

I went shopping yesterday and dropped some major dough via my brand-spankin'-new Canon G9 digital camera!  
This camera has a very vintage, old-school vibe about it but is actually top of the line and super awesome. It has both automatic and manual features meaning I could take pictures like a tourist and like a semi-pro.  You'll be seeing more shots from me in the future. Until then!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Destination: Hong KOng!

As of 2 o' clock this evening, I will be boarding the red eye headed for the bustling, shiny city of Hong Kong, my home for the next four months.  

Packing was a tricky feat as I will be enduring three seasonal changes during my time there. I mostly brought along light, layery things for clothing as I know I will be dropping some major bills in the fabulous shopping districts of Hong Kong.  The rest of my luggage consists of things for my cousins and school supplies.  

School!  I can't believe I'm going to school there for a whole semester!  I know the most educational things I'll be learning will be about myself and my place in the world but hopefully the stapler and erasers I've packed along will come-at least a little-in handy.  

I'm going to miss all my friends back home but I know you all have your own lives to live.  Before you know it, I'll be back in a jiff! (Hopefully not too soon though).  

California, thanks for the heat, the bad traffic, the Hollywood false glamour, the In N Out burgers, the it's time for something just a little bit different.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Reading

There is nothing I like better to do than to waste away summertime hours engorged in a book.  I'm somewhat of a "bookworm," though recently, this title has been changed to a "book-eater," a "book-engulfer," a "book-monster" for the ferocious speed at which I can digest a book. 

They should really have an Olympic sport for that.  I can just imagine it now.  The timer starts... pages fly..."Need more light! I need more light!"...finished books consistently piling up, to the tipping point of toppling over...Done! The gold medal is all mine!! Librarians everywhere cheer my name!

As glorious as that sounds, nothing beats reading a good book. One that rocks your world and shakes you to your core. One that makes you cry, makes your heart swoon, makes you look through rose tinted glasses.  

As a constant reader, surrounded by the gajillions of books out there, it's a tricky process to pick out the gems.  The bookstore can sometimes be way overwhelming. I mean, have you seen the Santa Monica Borders?  Droolworthy.

And the timing. The timing has to be just right. I've had a couple of instances where I'll read a book at a certain time and it just wouldn't strike me the right way and then I'd pick it up again after a couple of years only to find it utterly beguiling.  Unfortunately, not all books get that second chance.

So I have my method, my system.  I read "Entertainment Weekly" (my other bible) and devour the books review section.  I check out the synopsis of the ones I know I'll be interested in and the next time I head to the bookstore, I make sure to keep an eye out for it.  I also constantly keep an ear out for what my friends are reading.  It's sad that there's not too many of them out there who does it (reading for fun, that is) but for the few, their suggestions I greatly appreciate.

Anyway, this summer I didn't really have as much time to peruse through as many books as I usually do but I did find a few to be particularly good companions to bring along for the plane or the train.  Oh, and I've also recently been all about "girl power" and strong, quirky, feminine heroines.  The following six recent reads all share these qualities.  Blame Hillary.

Sammy's Hill -Kristin Gore

Genre: "chick lit"
Written by the daughter of everyone's favorite would-have-been president, Al Gore, this book is a easy breezy read set in the world of Washington D.C. You could consider it a chick lit because it has a bubbly heroine doing her thang and then meeting dreamy guys along the way but I don't really appreciate the term "chick lit" because it sounds as the book can't really be taken seriously.  I mean, books written by male writers that includes male protagonists aren't called "lad lit" or "dick lit" (Actually, Wikipedia proved me wrong and stated that those two terms do indeed exist. They're just not as marketable, I guess).  Anyway, this book really stuck out to me because the heroine is such a cooky delight!  She gets rashes every time she talks to a hot guy, she likes to celebrate obscure holidays and she's so clumsy she makes Lucille Ball seem graceful.  But despite all that, she's still a smart, witty woman willing to speak her mind and work towards making her beliefs about progressive change a reality.  I also really appreciated the fact that not once did Sammy ever talk about her weight or her looks.  "Chick lits" are usually filled with references to fitting into a hot dress or not being pretty enough for someone.  It's refreshing that Sammy is unaffected by such superficial needs.

Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

Genre: memoir
My friend Anisha turned me onto this book and now she and Elizabeth Gilbert are both my heroes.  This memoir details a year in the author's life where her world turned upside down so she decided to do go for a complete change and travel to different countries in search of things to satiate her need in life.  She went to Italy and sought food, pleasure and comfort.  She went to India to calm her spiritual desires.  She went to Indonesia and found everything she was looking for.  Gilbert writes with wit and candor and because of her journalism background, describes things with such gratuitous vocabulary that you literally feel like you're there with her.  When I was on the plane back from Taiwan this Spring, I saw people everywhere reading this.  I just wanted to grab all of them and form a "We Love Elizabeth Gilbert" club.

I Was Told There'd be Cake - Sloane Crosley

Genre: Essays 
If you're a hip bookie, this was the buzzed about book of the year.  Crosley is this trendy, young, pretty New Yorker who pretty much had the book world a twitter over her collection of essays even before it came out.  The press proclaimed it hilarious, true to heart and genius.  I must say, I was a little disappointed after reading it.  Crosley is a good writer, no doubt, but she wasn't as much as I'd hyped her up in my mind to be.  However, the book is an easy read and great for the A.D.D.'s who have short attention spans.

The Late Bloomer's Revolution - Amy Cohen

Genre: yet another memoir
Yes, yes. I'm really into memoirs these days but there are so many of these young female memoirists telling their stories and as a young female reader, I can't help but to want to hear what they have to say.  Maybe they'd be like a bigger sister telling me things I've yet to experience. Maybe they'd be warning me about what not to do. Maybe they'd just be confirming what I've already done.  Anyway, this memoir is especially personable to me.  I've always felt like a late bloomer.  I had my first kiss late in the game, my first boyfriend, my first cell phone...  I couldn't even drive properly until I was 20!  And for everyone else who feels like they're just a little behind, Cohen is here to tell us that it's okay.  Even if for awhile, you feel like the world has come crashing down, it's okay.  You'll get over it.  And even if you don't end up with what the world deems is a "happily ever after," it's okay. You'll get your own version of it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

Genre: fiction
You've probably heard the hype over his other book, ("The Kite Runner," anyone?) and a lot of hype over this one as well but trust me, it's definitely worth every praise it gets.  Hosseini's characters are captivating and his story lines electrifying.  Knowing that some women actually live lives like the heroines in this book chills me to the core.  After reading it, I appreciate the freedom and liberty that I have.  But I've also come to understand that if situations get bad, I can get out of it just as long as I put my wits and my will to use.

The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant

Genre: historical fiction
Because of the title of the book, it's very fitting that I actually have a very romantic story to tell about the time when I was reading the book.  I had finished the book while in the middle of a train ride to Munich.  When I finished, I decided that my luggage was no longer big enough to hold the novel anymore so I took out a pen and scribbled, "Hey there! This book was a great read and I thought it'd be fun to share it.  If you read it and want to talk about it, email me at" Then, I just left it on my seat and walked away.  Ok, so maybe that story wasn't all romantic but isn't it an invigorating thought to imagine that some stranger actually does pick up my book to read and strikes up a connection with me?  Pretty message in a bottle, if you ask me.
Oh yes, but back to the book.  Well, I'm a huge fan of historical fiction so I can't complain with this one.  It had everything I love; corsets, descriptions of the court, the lush countryside, the forbidden love affairs.  But it also had a very unconventional heroine whose thoughts weren't all about how to land a husband or find true love but about how to make her deepest secret longing of painting become a reality.  It also tickled my bones that she was smart, sassy and hilarious.  I seem to like that combination in a woman.

My summer's almost done (I leave for Hong Kong in 3 days!) but my reading is far from finished.  I still have a long plane ride ahead.  I'm already on the first few pages of "Twilight," by the new J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyers but is there anything else you would recommend I pick up? Ooh! And if you ever feel like reading any of the above, I have them all except for "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and "The Birth of Venus" (you know why).  Feel free to borrow!  

I actually played librarian when I was in elementary school and would loan out copies of my books to friends.  I even made those manila-colored check out cards and holder and taped them to the insides of the books.  Yea, other girls played with their dolls but I played with my books.  It doesn't get any nerdier than that.  And I like it that way.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You Stay Classy, San Diego

I've never actually watched "Anchorman."  I couldn't sit through the entire movie despite my love for Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate.  The reason I know the "you stay classy" phrase is because my friend Stacy would always end her livejournal posts with it.  After a peaceful, tranquil and family-filled fun weekend at the city, I find that the city has anything but class. 

 I mean, seriously, the place is filled with tanned old  men in Hawaiian shirts of various hues and tanned old women with fanny packs.  

But what SD lacks in class, it makes up for with its beautiful beaches and delicious restaurants.
The first night, we drove into downtown San Diego and dined at the Blue Point Restaurant, a trendy little seafood joint that racked us up a hefty bill.  We had the works though; wine, mussel appetizers, steaks and fishes, chocolatey desserts.  Gracias to Jessica for footing the bill!

The next day, we headed to Shamu's home, SeaWorld for a wet, wet time.  We rode rides like the Journey to Atlantis water coaster...
And attempted to avoid getting splashed by killer whales at the "Shamu Rocks" evening show. (Which really did rock, BTW.  Those killer whales sure can move!)

My baby niece, Jasmine was especially delighted at a showing of Clyde and Seymore comedy. I was delighted at being able to capture a shot of her joy.
Hooray for a wonderful cousins day out! And lots of love to Donnie Gou Gou and Ce Ce Jie Jie for planning and treating us!

The next day, we had plans to visit the San Diego zoo, (I don't know if it's because I'm getting older and so my "boring" mode kicks in but I actually enjoy going to places I used to think was a bore; places like the zoo and Disneyland and the dentist) but instead, opted for a lazy day at the beach.  Those Californians sure do like them beaches.  Cars lined the road headed to the ocean and there were no parking spots anywhere.  Jessica and I were just happy we even got to touch the sand.
The view of the ocean sure is beautiful but I don't think I would be able to handle the place for little more than a weekend.  I'd be bored out of my mind. I'm such a city girl.  And I want my class!
*The delicious photography skills belong to Donnie and Johnny

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I am by no means a high maintenance gal. I like my eyelashes curled every once in awhile and maybe a pair of heels here and there but I can do without a lot of things.  But it was traipsing around Europe that made me realize just how essential and useful some of the smallest of things can be. Below are a couple of items that really pulled me through for my trip.

1) running shoes
2) umbrella
3) Coin pouch
4) tissue paper
5) water bottle
6) hand sanitizer
7) hair tie
8) student ID
9) (unphotographed) watch

1) running shoes
My beloved Asics took me everywhere; up the 500,000 steps we take to get down to the city of Montreux, through ice caves in Chamonix and hot streets in Paris, through jogs across the hills of Switzerland, and through hikes up Austrian mountains.  My other shoes had ultra flat soles that pained me every time I walked too long, too hard.  I think I'll be investing in some nice walking shoes for the future but as of the present moment, these babies were it.  I could run in them, walk in them, jump in them...I haven't yet tried wearing an evening gown in them but I don't think the results would look pretty.

2) umbrella
You think, "Europe..summer...not going to rain." You think wrong.  I was amazed at how many times we would step out of a building, belied by the blue skies and think that it was going to be a sunny day only to find the clouds turn on us with a vengeance and drench us in a downpour.  I've been caught in what could only be described as "water being poured over my head by a massive  bucket" raindrops one too many times.

3) coin pouch
Any and all things that would fit into my bright and cheery yellow coin pouch (provided for me by my wise friend Nicole) did.  I went on the trip not bringing a wallet because I knew I would not want the additional bulk. And I was right.  The coin pouch was convenient for storing money, chapsticks, and...well, coins.  It was also easy to carry and fit anywhere.  

4) tissue paper
For a cold, for a dirty toilet, my tissue paper packets carried me throughout Europe.  It was especially good because my friend Sheila got sick towards the end of the trip and I was able to play "mommy" for her and provide her with things to wipe off the snot in her nose. YAY!

5) water bottle
Aw, my ubiquitous bubble gum pink water canteen...
If I had a cent for every compliment my water canteen wrung, it would have paid for the bottle itself.  Switzerland is known to have amazing tap water and everywhere else in Europe charges excruciating prices for h20 so I just brought my "inconspicuous" bottle around, filled up with school or hotel water, and drank merrily away.  Water, it does a body good.

6) hand sanitizer
I'm becoming a little bit obsessed with this contraption. I know I know, you can't use it too much because then your skin will get adapted to it and it will no longer be "antibacterial."  Give me a break, ok?  I just like the fake feeling of clean hands.

7) hair tie
Girls with long hair should always have this around. Especially at dance clubs.  When you're shaking your thang and getting all hot and sweaty, nothing feels better than when all your hair is pulled out of your face.  I've abused the poor dear so much, it snapped before my trip ended.  

8) student ID
Being a student who pays $20,ooo+ a year to go to a public university, it feels nice getting a slight discount here and there just by flashing your ID.  I keep going to places with friends who would forget theirs. HAh! Guess who had an extra euro to buy a baguette later on? Always bring your student ID in a foreign country, folks.  They're more valuable and useful than your driver's license.

9) (unphotographed) watch
Geez, back at home, I hardly ever wear my watch for fear of getting a watch tan but abroad, this is certainly a necessity!  Especially since I didn't own a phone, getting separated from the group requires knowing when the set time is to meet up again.  It also helped me in terms of knowing when to eat, which is highly important as well and crucial to my physical and mental well-being.

I just wanted to write an ode to these small objects, giving them thanks for what most people would consider a meaningless job.  They accomplished what they were made to do and made me very proud.  You guys are my heroes!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Choo CHoo

I tell of a harrowing tale.  One of twisted bed positions and cramped necks. One of injured arms and wet bathrooms.

It is the tale of taking the Eurorail through Europe!  

The convenient thing about the continent is its awesome train system, where you can go from Geneva to Paris in just 4 hours.  Where there are trains at almost all hours of the day so if you should choose to leave at 4 in the morning or 10 at night, you can! (California public transportation, take notes)  Where you can meet crazy people, cool people, drunk people, mean people, smelly people, cute people, where you can actually meet people! (as opposed to being trapped in your car all by your lonesome.)

Sheila, Sepehr and I purchased Eurorail passes which granted us five traveling days to four different neighboring countries.  We utilized those passes to the extreme, going from Switzerland to France to Germany to Austria and then back to Switzerland.  All these days of traveling left us frazzled and drained but we still kept a smile up.

That is, until one of the nights, we decided to head to Austria on a night train.  I've had romantic visions of the night train where young attractive strangers are all huddled together in small quarters, sharing stories of their travels and becoming life long friends.  I envisioned a cozy little sanctuary where I would write in my journal, stare out at the beautiful night hills whizzing by...

well, this wasn't exactly what I had planned.  

Six of us were squeezed into this small itty bitty  cubicle with all our luggage.  We tried storing our luggage everywhere; in the little gap in the ceiling, in the middle of the cubicle, at the foot of our beds.  Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep that night.  And I tell ya, I wasn't kept awake by a mysterious Austrian boy whispering sweet nothings into my ear all night. I was more kept awake by my own brain exploding from thinking, "wow...I am really uncomfortable in here."  I would doze off into little fits of sleep only to awake and find myself in the same cramped situation, only a little more cramped.  I thought my legs were going to fall off and it probably would have but our cubicle wouldn't have anywhere to store it.  Then what would I have done, thrown it overboard? Leg overboard? I don't think so.
Sleeping on the day train was a WHOLE LOT more comfortable.  And Sheila and I did a lot of that. LOL. At least the book I was reading is opened. I think Sheila barely cracked open hers throughout most of our journey. Oh Sheila, learn to love reading!
And so, our journey has now come to an end.  This is our last stop and our final destination. Until next time!

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of my Stomach

Oh beautiful, peaceful Austria. The last stop to our Europe jaunt was this beautiful country filled with rolling hills and massive palaces.  I believe I would have enjoyed this place more if we weren't all sick and tired and sore and broke.  Everyday of sightseeing grew more and more torturous for my feet and spirit.  It even got to the point where Sepehr, our unofficial group photographer got sick of taking pictures!  Instead of his usual 200 snaps a day, he maybe only tok around 75 a day.  Woe!

To heal my pain, I ate. I ate a lot in Vienna and in Salzburg. All I can remember is popping into restaurants and bakeries and cafes and stopping for something sweet, something warm, something delicious every chance we got.  It's no wonder I gained weight when I got back to Cali!
Here, we all got a massive craving for home food, Persian food.  Oddly enough, we found one a few streets down from our hostel!  We quickly hightailed it there for a bountiful lunch.

Ten minutes after our ginormous Persian feast, we headed down the street and stopped by a bakery for some divine gelato, cappachino, and pastry.  I love how these European shops would always provide a small glass of water to go with the sweets.  They know even the sweetest of sweet tooths can't handle that much treats.
Afternoons usually entailed some sort of bread or pastry.  I had heard that Vienna was famous for their "Wurstelstands" which are little stands that sell all different forms of hot dogs and pretzels.  I ordered the standard hot dog which is a sausage embedded in a drilled baguette and infused with ketchup and mustard already in the bun.  Every bite of the hot dog has melted cheese squirting out and it was a messy but ultra delicious treat.

Nightfall brought us to the ubiquitous Falafel and Kebab stands of Europe!  Everywhere we go has these establishments which are usually opened until 5 in the morning.  Kebabs are basically this humongous slab of meat hoisted up on a stand, roasting, with the oils dripping off.  When you order a kebab, the kebab seller would use a knife and scrape off the meat so they're in thin slices. Then he puts in into either a pita or regular hamburger bun and douses it with veggies, delicious sauces.  It is the BEST late night snack ever!  Also the best breakfast, lunch or dinner ever.  I'm really itching to open these up in LA.  I think college students getting the munchies would most definitely hit these late night spots.
We usually have to end our nights with something sweet.  Late night coffee shops proved to have just the sustenance.  Here is a cone filled with berries and cream. YUm!  We also visited the famous Mozart Cafe one evening and everyone thought a cup of hot chocolate infused with a little somethin' somethin' would warm our throats up. Turns out it did, it downright nearly burnt our throats! I think hot chocolate and alcohol should never mix.  And it never will in my cup again.

In between all that eating, we visited some sights.

Is it wrong that I'm between some of the greatest minds of Vienna at the University of Vienna and all I can think about is having a hot dog from the Wurstelstand?

Apple? Why yes, don't mind if I do!

In front of the world famous Vienna Opera House, dreaming of our next meal.

The interior of this chapel in Salzberg. Our growling stomachs probably disturbed much of its peacefulness and tranquility.

Pretty building. I wonder if there are any good restaurants nearby?

This is the house where Mozart was born and raised.  Looks just like a delicious slice of lemon cake huh?

St. Peter's cemetary, one of the famous landmarks where "Sound of Music" was based off on. The entire town of Salzburg was filled with these locations and we visited a few but wasn't able to find all of them.  I never got to take my "running down the hill like Maria and her children" picture.  Pity. But no worries, that Wurstelstand hot dog more than made up for it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beer and Bikes! And Boys!

Leaving my tracks in Munich, Germany.

My visit to Munich, Germany would have to be the highlight of my entire trip.  It was a definite change of scenery from Paris, where everything was hectic and stressful and the people were rude and furious.  Munich was very tourist-friendly and had a mix of big city life with small-town quaintness.  It was easy to maneuver around the city and many people spoke English. In fact, there were quite a lot of young backpackers and travelers just like us all over the place.  

Any place would have been an improvement over the last hell hole but our hostel, Easy Palace, was a surprisingly nice place.  It was truly a youth hostel, with teens infiltrating the lobby and bar and dorm-styled rooms complete with bunk beds.  
I indulged in some simple things here.  Drinking beer and biking around town.  The first night, we visited a huge tourist attraction: Hofbrauhaus.  This is a huge beer hall, with picnic seats set up to look like a huge dining room.  People eat and drink with strangers and there's a loud polka band that plays jolly tunes for drunk dancers.  We, being the sissy Americans by far, loved the Radler, which is a beer mixed with lemonade drink that supposedly only "sissies" down.  I personally see nothing wrong with being a lightweight! 

Sheila and I loved the Radler so much we were fighting for it!

The next day, we embarked on a bike tour where we were led by only the best tour guide ever, Lenny!  Lenny's Bike Tour is a free tour around the city of Munich where the bikes are provided for you and all you give them is tip at the end.  I hadn't ridden a bike for a couple of, oh, years so I was a tad nervous to get on it again. But within minutes, I was riding around, carefree and reminiscent of my elementary school days.  

The bike tour led us all around Munich, showing us some of the hotspots of the city.  History fills the place. As you may recall, Munich was one of the infamous places which Hitler occupied during his reign of terror.  It was incredible to learn about all the landmarks, places and people which have been affected just by one man and his thirst for power.  We were warned that people are still very emotional over this subject and just by even discussing it in a tour group, random people may come up to us and spit on us or cuss us out.  

Some other fun places we stopped by was a HUUGE nudist park.  It was a chilly day so there were only a few nudists sunbathing but even seeing the few opened my eyes up a bit!  We ended up at the largest beer garden for lunch where we engaged in a beer chugging contest.  At first, my team was leading but towards the end of the line, the other team had these guys from Sweden that, no joke, downed the beer in about 30 seconds each!  It was ridiculous watching them.
There was also this one other lady that we met on our tour.  She was like 80 years old but still a complete wild child! She was able to out-bike, out-beer chug most of us and was such a saucy old thing.  I can only hope to be as spirited and lively as she when I get to her age. Heck, I was I was as spirited and lively as she is right now!
Biking around has made me in love with the sport.  I am truly hoping to come back from Hong Kong and invest in a nice bike.  It helps the environment, keeps me healthy and is totally fun.  If anyone out there is also enthusiastic about bikes, totally hit me up and we'll bike around together!

But as for the beer, I think I can do without. I love beer in that it's easy to drink and good to get a buzz from but oh man, that beer belly!  I'll stick to water and champagne, thank you very much.

OOh... and just so you know, the boys around Germany were soooo cute!! All of them were super eye candies.  YUM YUM YUM. They were almost as delicious as this Girly (that's really its name!) ice cream bar I had on the train ride to see the Neuschwanstein castle, the one Disneyland's castle is based upon!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder

I've always admired Leonardo Da Vinci.  Always have, always will.  

I confess, my love for him sprang from the movie "Ever After" with Drew Barrymore which portrayed him as a kindly, comedic old man who just happened to be the smartest and most talented guy ever alive. And he was quite the matchmaker.  It grew with the Da Vinci code which spotlighted his most famous works of art to me.  His style is uniquely his own and the fact that he invented and painted and sketched made him all the more of a Renaissance man to me.  Whenever I get asked the question, "If you could meet anyone, dead or alive?" (and I get asked that a lot more than you'd think), I always answer with an enthusiastic, "Leonardo Da Vinci!"  

But seriously, what is the big frickin' deal with the Mona Lisa? 

I know, I know. It's the seductive half smile.  It's the moony eyes that seem to follow you everywhere you turn.  It's the milky skin.  But when you put it all together, you have to admit that she's a little bit creepy-looking.

It really just proves that some things really don't live up to the hype and that everyone's perception of what if beautiful are really really different.  Thankfully, the rest of the Louvre really was amazing.  A morning truly wasn't enough time to explore the treasure trove but I did the best I could, traipsing around the museum by myself, getting lost, turning this way and then that way.  I encountered some pretty groovy things.

I think this just about covers my college tuition. And then some.

Loving the Louvre

Now the "Winged Victory of Samothrace" truly was something to stare at

Most of the paintings at the Louvre were so depressing and gloomy.  This was the first one that made me smile.

She was so close to being "Mona Lisa!"

The Louvre, inside and out, is a masterpiece. A work of art. I'd definitely go back a couple more times to finish the galleries.  And maybe just to check out Mona Lisa again and see if she improved with age.