True, it's been a slow week here on EGAD. I'll try to keep that sort of thing to a minimum in the future. Suffice to say that a number of projects are competing for my time, some of which may get chronicled here, whereas others are entirely unrelated; a few might even relate to my
As such, I've been something of a slacker about the photography recently. But as a stopgap, I still have a pile of older photos that can surely be massaged into a semi-coherent ramble of some sort.
According to the local weather reports the first snows
Chicago will take a little longer to chill out, with the substantial heat capacity of Lake Michigan right next door, but I hear it's already dipping below freezing some mornings. However, it was sunny and reasonably warm when I was there, transferring from Delta to Iberia at O'Hare. I managed to snap a picture of the plane at the terminal, although for some reason people seem to think it's odd to be taking pictures in an airport, unless there's some sort of soccer mom involved.
I haven't decided if I should invent some symbolism for the fact that my Airbus was named the
I likewise quite readily suspect that the US carriers feel that it would be somehow silly to go around slapping names on the sides of their planes, especially considering that the things get sold, repurposed, and whatnot on a regular basis, so they're constantly being repainted. But then again, given how airport terminals are generally constructed, I suppose it's possible that I've seen the noses of so few planes that I've just never noticed the practice.
A transatlantic flight at night is a relatively boring affair, once you get out over the ocean. I flew over some bits of Canada en route that I don't normally get to see, but since only so much of it is really inhabited, it also holds rather limited interest on a nocturnal flight. I was able to make out Prince Edward Island, I think, but other landmarks were only discernable through the assistance of a progress map that occasionally flashed up on the television monitors. On the whole, this isn't a terrible thing, considering that so far as the circadian system is concerned, the flight is like living a night in fast-forward. Sleeping when one can is a good idea, since once dinner is done you've perhaps four or five hours to do it in, while the body still believes it's 9 pm.
The entire north Atlantic was covered by a high fog of some sort, and if I'd had a steady place to mount my camera for a long exposure I'd have tried to capture the effect. Rather than the ten kilometers or so the monitors claimed our altitude to be, we appeared to be hovering above a fuzzy, luminous surface perhaps a couple of kilometers down -- although distance is hard to judge with something as scale-free as fog. Nevertheless, the monitors reported our altitude as 9, 10, 11 kilometers; oddly enough, we appear to have been climbing for the entire flight. Unless there's some effect associated with nighttime or the north Atlantic that artificially inflates altimeter readings, of course -- but I don't think the atmosphere contracts by 15% at night.
Each was, in its respective heyday, a center of cultural and economic activity in its region, and besides that, a building. But the aesthetics, function, philosophy, and ages differ tremendously. I've probably got one more post worth of Madrid photos to put together, so we'll delve into that some more.
El Parque del Buen Retiro, a royal retreat in the 1600s, is now somewhat analogous to Central Park. Except, of course, that it is much older, a bit smaller, and contains bits of an old palace.
Since my jaunt through the park occurred before check-in time at my hostel, I was dragging a fairly heavy suitcase around with me, and my exploration was a bit incomplete. But I'd heard about its interesting fountains, so off I jaunted.
Getting to the park was actually quite easy, as it has its own
My suspicion is that the texturing on the sides of this fountain is meant to evoke stalactites, indicating an aquatic grotto setting, perhaps. I did not establish what Tigger was doing there, or why he was towing a stuffed toy tiger around on a skateboard behind him.
Interestingly, given the park's history, the statue of Rey Alphonso XII overlooking the artificial lake is the only royal monument that I ran across, and it is an extremely recent addition. But, given that most of the palace compound was evidently destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars, earlier regal commemorations may simply no longer be present. The lake itself is quite pleasant, especially on an autumn weekend such as this day; Madrileno families are out in force, feeding the ducks and fish, watching puppet shows, picnicing, and taking rowboats out for a spin.
I got very few odd looks struting doggedly around with my luggage in tow. I can only assume that, this being around the height of backpacker season (it seems to be a long season), kids wandering around with lots of gear and no apparent destination are a common sight.
The far end of the lake is bracketed by another fountain on an aquatic theme, this time striking a more obviously royal note. Notice the two classical figures, the male pretty clearly Poseiden/Neptune, holding a shield between them. I wasn't able to immediately identify the crest represented, but I made a close-up in case anyone has some ideas in that direction. Since the entire park was, at its inception, royal grounds, it isn't clear to me why some installations would express this powerful regality, while others are more playful. Simple variety suggests itself as an explanation, but I am inclined to hold out for a deeper aesthetic justification -- although I should note that I don't know the installation dates for these fountains, and thus whether they belong to the royal period or the later era as a public park.
In any case the next, and by far most
The 1878 sculpture won international artistic acclaim when it was crafted, but I haven't been able to discover what reaction the people of this staunchly Catholic city might have had to this monument. Aesthetically, however, the piece strikes me as a success, with the power and pathos of the lifelike sculpture at the top both removed from and imprisoned against humanity in a distinctly Promethean pose, atop a pedastal that is remarkably forbidding for a popular park. The severe angles of the thing reflect a somewhat Tolkienesque sense for the personality of form, while the dragon-wolf gargoyle figures likewise suggest both protection from the evil above, and malice in their own right.
For those of you playing along at home, it is 4:30 am local time, and in an hour and a half I will be off to take the Madrid subway (the Metro) back to the airport. Had a lovely day here, but thanks to the jetlag I had to grab a nap in the afternoon, and haven´t slept tonight. Which is okay by me.
Later there will be pictures of Madrid architecture and the Buen Retiro, including the oldest known public monument dedicated to the Dark Lord. Sorry art buffs, but the Prado didn´t make the cut.