Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Madrid, Israel & Jordan

For the next few weeks I'm on the road ... Madrid, Israel and Jordan. I'll be blogging daily...read here for the latest!

On this crisp crystalline morning, I arrived in Madrid. The city seemed strangely quiet -- so little of the infamous traffic -- and it turns out that it's a holiday, the day of San Isidro, Madrid's patron saint.

It's my first visit to Madrid -- long on my list of places to visit, but never managed until now. My hotel is the famed Ritz, built in 1910 at the behest of Kong Alfonso XIII to put Madrid on the luxury hotel-palace map. The hotel bears an air of understated refinement, but not so stuffy that I'm embarrassed to be rolling a canvas duffle still dusted with the red earth of a Christmas trip to Cameroon. I imagine they've seen worse.

They've also seen better: Everybody from Brad Pitt to the Dali Lama has stayed here in its suites with thick woven rugs, pink bedspreads, exquisite flowered wall paper and marbled baths. And high-speed Internet; even such traditional icons have to keep up with the times.

The budget allows one night only; tomorrow I'm off to the Best Western on a great Internet rate.

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