On vacation … great time so far

dsc04279Sorry I haven’t been checking in, everyone. I’m on vacation after a hectic pace at day job, and I’m trying to enjoy my time on the road. Also, I just had one of my Gadling stories picked up on the AOL.com home page, so I’ve had to review more than 300 comments about a story that involves fat people on airplanes. But, now I’m situated in Marrakech (after a two flights and two days in Madrid), and I’m ready to do some recreational writing and post some pictures.

First, I can’t say enough about the flight from New York to Madrid. It was basically empty, and Laura and I had an exit row to ourselves. It was a nice change from our last flights to Europe (particularly the two trips I took in November), which were jammed. The service on the plane was excellent. I realize that the flight attendants can do little to make coach bearable these days, but their positive attitudes more than compensated for the shitty airline food.

I know my new upbeat demeanor about flying will shock a few, but I’ve gained an appreciation for what the FAs go through. If you haven’t read Galley Gossip, do so. You’ll learn something. I’m not ashamed to admit that I did.

Well, Madrid was amazing. It’s not often that I see a city and immediately decide that it’s beautiful. Madrid i snow among two that have made me feel this way (Paris being the other). Sorry Reykjavik, Helsinki, Tallinn and my hometown (New York). Each city has its merits, but Madrid is just striking upon arrival … and stays that way.

In the two days we spent there, Laura and I kept busy. We were able to rush into a museum just before closing to see Pablo Picasso‘s Guernica. It’s even more impressive in person. In books, you don’t get a sense of what appears to be sketching beneath the paint. In person, it almost looks like a mixed media piece.

guernicasmallI took this photo illegally, since ou’re not permitted to whip out your camera at all — at least not in this part of the museum. Fortunately, I took the shot before I realized it was against the rules. I was asked not to do it again. So, I respected the staff’s wishes. I did not use that particular camera again. I did sneak another shot with my blackberry, but it was even worse than this one.

So far, the Retiro park is the highlight of my trip to Madrid. It is enormous, and seems to be the city’s answer to Central Park back home. But, the style is totally different. The large rowing pond is completely synthetic but surrounded by carefully sculpted monuments. The artwork is incredibly impressive, even if my photography is not.

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Within the park is the Crystal Palace. It’s empty, aside from some crystal sculptures that hang from the glass ceilings. The work is intriguing.

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Also, I learned that this spot has rules. You aren’t allowed to crawl under the sculptures to take photos from a different perspective. Also, you cannot extend your camera under the crystal balls using a telescoping rod (I’ll explain it in a product review for Gadling).

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