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.”

Lighthouses!

My friend Kem recently returned from a family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.  Do you know what I found in the mail today?  That’s right! A postcard she sent days before her return.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Cape Poge Lighthouse. Photo by Paul Rezendes

Cape Poge Lighthouse is located on Northeast tip of Chappaquiddick Island.

Kem wrote that she always thinks of me when she visits a new place (how sweet!) and that my camera would be quite happy with the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard (I agree!).  The lighthouses were her favorite sites while there.  She talked about her trip and included pics of some of the lighthouses in a recent blog post.

I love lighthouses too, not only because they are beautiful structures but because of their interesting histories.  The Cape Poge Lighthouse postcard prompted me to take another look at the other lighthouse postcards I’ve received over the last several years.

Take a look:

Map of the Lighthouses of Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Until the Cape Cod Canal opened in 1914, every vessel sailing between Boston and points south had to weather the dangers of Cape Cod’s dreaded sand bars that thrust out into the Atlantic Ocean. In 1797, the U.S. government constructed the first lighthouse on Cape Cod. These lonely sentinels have since provided guidance to mariners.

Click the link for more information on the Cape Cod Lighthouses.

Scituate Light (Cedar Point), Massachusetts

Scituate Lighthouse–a historic lighthouse of the War of 1812. This lighthouse is located at the entrance to the harbor and offers a beautiful view of the coast and the harbor.

The Cape May Lighthouse, New Jersey

Situated on the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Cape May is recognized by the United States government as the country’s oldest seaside resort.  The Cape May Lighthouse, built in 1859, is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The St. Simons Lighthouse, St. Simons, Georgia

The St. Simons Lighthouse was built by James Gould in 1810. It was destroyed during the Civil War and rebuilt in 1872.

Great Lakes Lighthouses

Left to Right–

Great Lakes Lighthouses

Although the two “Great Lakes Lighthouses” postcards seem to feature the same houses, there is an additional house in the postcard above–Seul Choix Lighthouse, Lake Michigan (middle white lighthouse).

I received the postcards in swaps from 2010-2016.  However, the final postcard in my very small collection of lighthouses is a “souvenir” I picked up in San Francisco after a visit to Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse was the first one built on the U.S. West Coast, located in California’s San Francisco Bay. It is located at the southern end of the island near the entrance to the prison.

I enjoyed revisiting the lighthouses and reviewing the many other (unrelated) interesting postcards I ran across.  I encountered many that deserve blog posts, so look for some “flashback” postcard posts in the near future.

I think I just added a visit to all the U.S. lighthouses to my travel bucket list.  Maybe, I’ll get started this summer!

Have you visited any lighthouses lately?

Thanks for thinking of me, Kemi, and for prompting the visit down postcard lane.

My Art Liberated!

When I wrote about the Liberate Your Art swap hosted by Kat Sloma of Kat Eye Studio, I neglected to post the “art” I sent out into the world.  The last few months are a blur, but I think I sent four different photographs out into the world.   There was no real process in selecting the photos.  I have FAR too many to make choosing less than a daunting task, so I randomly selected four photos that caught my eye.  I hope you enjoy! And don’t forget to check out Kat’s site. May you be inspired to liberate the artist in you!

Goree Institute

This gorgeous courtyard can be found at Goree Institute on Goree Island in Senegal. I captured a number of images of this courtyard (of Goree Island in general). I was attracted to the colors, architecture and “layout” of the courtyard.

A Solitary Place

I shot this photo in 2005 at the Nature Center in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. The Nature Center closed, and as far as I know has not reopened. It saddens me that this “scene” no longer exists, but the photo itself often brings me a bit of serenity. I imagine myself sitting at the picnic table alone with my thoughts and my journal.

How High

This is our neighbor’s fence in New Orleans–altered in Photoshop. The vines climbing up the fence reminded me of Emily Dickinson’s poem.

“Beloved Wife”

My hubby and I were out and about looking for the perfect “Ides of March” photo for a swap I participated in–on March 15th of course. We ended up at one of the Cities of the Dead in New Orleans where we found many gems. That is where we found this beautiful tribute to a beloved wife. How this man must have cherished his wife!  I altered the photo in PhotoShop.  Perhaps, I’ll post the original one day!

If you missed the “Liberate Your Art” Blog Hop, check it out by clicking the link.