Snapshots from Madrid: Beauty and Oppression

It’s Friday, so that means I am back with another installment of “Snapshots from Madrid.” Here Cy shares stunning architectural photos from Toledo and Buen Retiro Park in Madrid. Instead of the expected tourist response to the edifices, she shares her unique musings on the buildings.

There are a lot of things that I can say about Spain, some good and some bad, but I choose the good every day. What’s the use in rehearsing the problems that are familiar to us?  Today, I bought a few souvenirs from street hawkers. The hawkers are a bit ragged, but they work hard. So I buy a little something. As a tourist, I am careful to spend money with traditional as well as non-traditional vendors. That way everyone benefits.

The photos I am sharing today are from the expected tourist routes. The first is an alley in the Jewish Quarter of Toledo.

The Jewish Quarter Alley in Toledo, Spain. Photo by Cy

The others are from Buen Retiro Park in Madrid. I think these are the remains of a palace, but I’m not sure.  The “remains” are not like the “ruins” of Jerusalem and Greece. They’re more like museum structures–well-maintained partial structures with interiors.

“Park of the Pleasant Retreat,” Buen Retiro Park in Madrid. Photo by Cy.

“Another View,” Photo by Cy.

What do these preserved historical edifices have in common with the vendors I encounter on the streets?  I wonder what they would say about the paradoxes of which they are a part.  If they could speak, what would these edifices say about the people who are selling wares against such backdrops of beauty…and oppression?

If you want more information, click the links to find out more about the Jewish Quarter of Toledo and Buen Retiro Park and be sure to tune in next week for our final installment of “Snapshots from Madrid.”

Snapshots from Madrid: The Path I Take

In case you missed last week’s Snapshots from Madrid–Cy is sending me notes and pics about her experiences in Madrid this month, and I’m sharing some of her messages as blog posts. She is involved in an intensive month-long workshop to enhance skills in teaching English as a Second Language. Cy spends most of her time in classes and studying, but she takes a moment to photograph scenes from her daily life. These posts aren’t about tourism, but about the day to day path of a traveler who finds beauty in the mundane.

“The Path I Take,” Photo by Cy

I walk by this street almost every day on my way to and from school.  It’s prettiest in the morning when few people are out. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live abroad–for a few years at least. But, I have not yet found the place that calls me to stay and leave everything behind. Madrid is lovely and I’ve heard that there are more breathtaking cities in Spain. I’ve not had a chance to see those other places; still I know this isn’t the country that calls my name. It’s been a good experience so far, and I’ve learned quite a bit in and out of school. But when it’s time to leave, I will go.

Earlier this year, Cy and I challenged ourselves to “look for the light” in our daily movements. This photograph demonstrates that Cy is still finding light. That’s a good thing.

Tune in next Friday to see what Cy shares. I think I’ll make a personal request for some architecture photos. 😉

Snapshots from Madrid: Restaurante Chino

One of my friends, Cy, is in Madrid this month. I lamented about her being unavailable the whole summer for “artsy play dates,” so she’s compensating by sending photos of her experience. Am I letting her off easy? Probably… 😉

Cy photographs when something catches her eye or moves her in a particular way, and she typically shoots an angle I don’t expect. Although most people would expect photographs that immediately speak to Spanish culture, I was not surprised that the first photos she sent were shot inside a Chinese restaurant. This is not about the food though. Cy loves Asian cultures and much of her recent scholarship focuses on dislocation and Chinese literature.

View from inside Restaurante Chino, Palacio Oriente. Photo by Cy

She writes:

It never ceases to amaze me that I can find good, authentic Chinese cuisine in Europe. I have been studying Chinatowns in England, but this is is not a Chinatown restaurant. While there are several Chinese-owned businesses in Spain, there doesn’t seem to be a distinct Chinatown [as we find in New York and London] in Madrid. The family-owned restaurant in Madrid is very good and the prices are excellent. I have found the fruit and vegetables to be market-fresh.  There are loads of menu choices and special order options.  

Cy’s Meal–chicken, ginger, leeks, and vegetables in broth.  I’ll pretend the chicken is tofu.  😉  Photo by Cy.

I’m sure Cy and I will have a nice long chat when she returns about the history and presence of the Chinese peoples and cultures in Madrid.

I’ll be sharing “blurbs” from Cy’s experiences every Friday, so tune in next week for the next installment of “Snapshots from Madrid.”

Guest Post: “Walks with Chandra”

The week promises “cruel and unusual punishment” with little time for fun, so my friend Cy volunteered to write a guest post for me. Here, she shares photos from a few of our photo walks.  She very thoughtfully stages photos for her Instagram feed, so maybe, we can convince her to write a post with some of her IG photos one day.  Maybe, we can convince her to start a blog too!

Thanks, Cy, for taking a little of the burden for me this week!

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“Begin where you are with who you are. In order to go where you want to go creatively, you have to start somewhere.” Julia Cameron~ Walking In This World: The Practical Art of Creativity

Two years ago, I joined Instagram, became a planner addict, and started taking photos with my cell phone. These things happened because of my walks with Chandra. Our walks are not for exercise. They are art walks, the kind that inspire me to see a tree or a cloud as art. I am interrupting her blog to share some of the photos I’ve taken on my walks with her.

I’ve never considered myself a photographer, but I’ve taken some cool photos. Of course, Chandra’s photos show much more skill than mine, but I think my photos have improved because she has shared a bit of how to look at the landscape.  My photos have been shot with a Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6.

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“Light and Shadow,” Photo by Dr. Cy

This image (above) was taken after Chandra pointed out to me how the light and shadow played against the side of a building. We were taking photos of trees that day, but like a good teacher, she saw something more interesting and we changed course for a few moments.

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“Light and Shadow II,” Photo by Dr. Cy

This image (above) was taken on the same day, just a few feet away from image one. The same concept of light and shadow is emphasized.

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“A Walk in the Clouds,” Photo by Dr. Cy

Sometimes, we just take photos of the same thing over and over. One day we took photos of clouds only.

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“Tree in Bloom,” Photo by Dr.Cy

This image is of a blooming tree. Chandra had seen the tree the day before and we made a special trip to take photos of it the next day, but in less than 24 hours the tree had already lost some of its “blossom” fullness.

"Tree in Bloom," Photo by Dr. Cy

“Tree in Bloom,” Photo by Dr. Cy

Same tree, different perspective.

So, let me know what you think. Has Chandra been a good teacher?