– Light or radiance remaining in the sky after the sun has set. (Oxford dictionaries)
– Sense of fulfillment, completeness, and general wellbeing that one feels after the effects of a psychoactive drug have faded. (Urban dictionary)
– The mildly euphoric feeling experienced after a pleasurable experience. (Wiktionary)
Amsterdam is a city of many facets. It literally offers all the kinds of afterglow mentioned above.
Whatever one’s pleasure, the canals offer something for everyone. Just catching sight of the dusk reflecting on them is enough to give me a high.
The best way from Vienna to Salzburg is by train; it’s convenient and you see a bit of the Austrian countryside.
Though photography through the window of a moving train can be a challenge, I managed to snap a few.
As the trip progressed and the city faded in the distance, I was reminded of the song “Vienna” by Billy Joel.
“Slow down, you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It’s all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you.”
And the alps.
Billy Joel continues.
“And you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want or you can just get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even get half through
Why don’t you realize, Vienna waits for you
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?”
I found this window in a pub in Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic) intriguing because of the wheel. For some time it was a mystery to me what the wheel was for.
After some research, I now believe it’s a spinning wheel, used to spin thread or yarn from natural fibers. Invented in India, it was widely used in Europe until it was displaced during the Industrial Revolution.
The mystery is probably solved, but now it takes on a different meaning, evoking the old days before electricity when people were spinning threads near windows.
A window to the past.
(Venus of Willendorf on display at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria)
The Venus of Willendorf is a 4.4-inch figurine made around 28,000 years ago, a famous example of “Venus figurines” from the Old Stone Age (Upper Paleolithic). (Archeologists associate this period with the earliest appearance of modern humans — this is where “Paleo diet” comes from, also called caveman diet or hunter-gatherer diet).
The “oldest undisputed example of a depiction of a human being yet discovered” is the Venus of Hohle Fels dating as far back as 40,000 years ago.
These figurines, no more than a few inches high, are carved from stone, ivory, or molded from clay. Many depict women with exaggerated sexual features, faceless heads and missing arms and legs. Their use and meaning are naturally subject to much speculation and nobody will probably ever know.
The exact purpose of the carvings aside, it is worth noting that they show such detail and craftsmanship. It is mind-boggling that such artifacts of great creativity and symbolism already existed in the Stone Age, a manifestation of culture at the dawn of human history.
The Venus of Willendorf, like other Venus figurines, is unusual. But maybe we can also take pride that our species is truly unusual too.
“The best portraits are those in which there is a slight mixture of caricature.”
– Thomas Babington Macaulay
York Castle was built on the orders of William I to dominate the Viking city of York in Northern England in the year 1068.
Clifford’s Tower, the keep (strongest and most secure part) of the castle, survives to this day and is one of the most distinguishable landmarks of the city.
It has gone through a tumultuous history involving massacres, fires, explosions and wars.
It has been used as an office, an armory, a prison, and even a cattle shed over the centuries.
The tower has a commanding view of the city, perhaps only matched by the more famous York Minster in the distance.
Going down the spiral staircase, one is reminded of how lonely it must have been for the guardsmen as they kept watch over Clifford’s Tower.
“Human says time goes by –
Time says human goes by.”
Not quite Evanescent
The world today sometimes makes us feel “broken” in our everyday life, our aches and pains and joys disjointed, we ask “what is the meaning of it all?”
“The easiest thing to do is throw a rock. It’s a lot harder to create a stained glass window.”
– Jon Foreman
Stained glass windows are made of fragments, like pieces of a puzzle. Only when viewed from afar that they transform into a beautiful whole.
If we stop and step back, maybe we can see how far we have come. In our relationships, the joys we have brought to others, our contribution to the world no matter how small, perhaps we can see a pattern emerging – a beautiful stained glass window in the making.
“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Stained glass windows offer a glimpse into something sublime. They tell us that there is something beyond the mundane, that perhaps we can transform ourselves and our world beyond the ordinary.
Stained glass windows at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic