Thursday, October 04, 2007

stuck in barajas? no problema!

I am writing this as I'm stuck in Madrid after a missed connection (*?@#ing JFK traffic), and I have to say that if there's an airport to have an unexpected layover in, this would definitely have to be in the top five. A word to the wise in case you've never been here: Madrid Barajas International Airport is the s***. Well, architecturally, anyway. It's true, their seats are actually not at all comfortable, there's nowhere to lie down in case you want a cat nap, and there are no work stations or even power outlets (although you can pay to surf the Web from very hip-looking kiosks). No, the awesomeness I'm talking about is the visual eye candy that is MAD. There are two main terminals, each a feast of silver mesh, glass, rainbow-colored support beams, and undulating wood (bamboo?) ceilings. The support beams are painted in hues that seemingly span the entire electromagnetic spectrum, which creates the illusion that you're in some sort of theme park. There are hardly any lights on in the place; with all the glass walls and circular pore-like holes in the ceiling, the airport is lit almost completely with natural daylight. At the center of the main terminal is an impressive array of shops and restaurants. Equally enthralling are the architectural details that make me wish I'd majored in industrial design: clear round-edged elevator cars that look like they belong in the Parisian Pompidou Centre; tapas cafes lit by giant eyes staring down from the roof above; and white robotic-looking contraptions that remind me of giant ET heads keeping watch over passengers as they wait for their luggage. (Oh, and by the way, the rain in Spain, does fall mainly on the plain - also, on the poor airport workers who are getting drenched as they report for cargo-buggy-driving duty.)

Anyway, if you ever find yourself needing to choose a connection city for your flight to Europe, and you have an eye for great industrial design, come to Madrid Barajas. It will make your five-hour layover suck a lot less.

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