I went lightseeing

I enjoy sightseeing. My family and I have been privileged to see many wonderful natural and cultural sights in the United States from New York City’s Grand Central Station to Yosemite’s Half Dome.

Today I am by myself on a rare international business trip to Spain, and the miracle of modern air travel granted me an unplanned extra day. Unfortunately, it was spent almost entirely on a bus that travelled much slower than the intended jet.

So I’ve been doing a little lightseeing.

Yesterday morning, before I realized the dense fog would ultimately cancel my flight and transform my trip home into a 44-hour trek, I was fascinated by the way light filled the early morning air. Cranes tall enough to lift containers over the 17+ floors of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas filled the dry dock with light that reflected off every particle of moisture to fill the air with light as soft as down.

I was put up at NH hotel in Madrid by the airline, and the quiet neutral modern room was a serene break from the congested bus rides. Lighting in the room helped me relax, especially when I turned off the glare-inducing shallow downlights.

The headboard was wrapped in linear LED light that softly illuminated the room with very little glare, and shielded bedside lamps gave me more light when needed. I was surprised by how much I liked the simple cylinder bedside lamps, but the extra shielding makes sense in a space meant for sleeping.

Terminal 4 in Madrid is covered by an undulating roof of wooden slats that reminds me of the bottom of a ship. Ingenious lighting caught my eye and I stopped to check it out.

Simple industrial lights hang below high points of the roof and shine upwards. Instead of depending entirely on light reflected by wood- an inefficient method- the designers added segmented reflectors to push more light back down to the floor. I found the effect more creative than typical indirect cove lighting and much less monotonous (cloudy day).

Light on the escalators was used as a language-free indication of which end to use. Green light changed to white as I ascended towards the terminal gates and was just one of the ways that light has been incorporated into our lives as a communication tool.

At the top, white turned to red, warning others not to go the wrong way and alerting me to the end of the ride. It was helpful to have lighting to entertain me and keep me from falling asleep.

My upcoming flight is listed as 9:40 in duration. That would give me plenty of time to write a lengthy post on the little adjustable reading light above my seat and the new color-changing cabin lights airlines are touting.

But I’m hoping to be out like a light.

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