Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Well, I wanted to cram El Escorial and Aranjuez onto one visit, in order to minimize my stay in Madrid, which I'm starting to actively dislike (don't know why, I just don't like the feel of this city), but rule 2: "befriend" subsumes any impetus to hurry, and with the sparse trains to and from Madrid to some of these places all day yesterday was mostly spent just "hanging out" and chit-chatting. {shrug}

Anyway, the visit to the Royal Palace of Aranjuez was nice, rather short, and though the palace itself is quite pretty, the exhibit makes the mistake of covering up the floors in garish rugs of tasteles flower designs, that clash shockingly with the devoted efforts of Queen Isabel II, who with much zeal and perseverance proceeded to decorate most of the rooms of permitted access to the visitor. What, the curators have never heard of clear plastic walkways, or is a neutral-colored rug too much to ask? {shrug}

Aranjuez was originally simply a springtime palace for the Bourbon kings (it was founded by Felipe II, though), designed to be fairly isolated from nearby populations and originally accomodating only the main court and a few servants, who were the only ones who stayed at Aranjuez year round. However, under Felipe IV the palace expanded and a town was planned around the palace to accomodate the rest of the court, which explains why Aranjuez is such a pretty town, with lots of tree-lined streets and gardens and a very harmonious layout.

But the first thing that hits you, when arriving into Aranjuez as you exit the train station, is the sound of at least 15 different kinds of birds. It is a beautiful city, not so much because of its architecture, but because of its natural music, and I think I could see, even before nearing the palace, why it became Joaquin Rodrigo's inspiration for his famous guitar concerto. It is very curious, but this is the first place I encounter, where I think the city is beautiful not for its sights, or its architecture (though Aranjuez is pretty for that too), but for its sounds. Cool, huh? So much so, in fact, that as I was walking through the tree-lined streets, during the bright midday light, my eyes had difficulty adjusting, and it was easier to just shut them closed as I walked, and at that point, after having long ago given up on trying to distinguish the individual tones of the different chirping songs, I actually thought, bathed in the chords of so many little symphonies: "I could be blinded at this moment, and I really would not care."

Scary, huh?

No comments: