Abandoned Airports Brought Back To Life

Abandoned airport
Travis Estell, Flickr

We’re used to thinking of airports as places that flurry with activity no matter the hour. Much like a big city, they tend to be bustling hubs that never sleep. But all around the world, there are a number of airports that have been abandoned — vast structures that became ghost towns after economic problems caused them to fail and shut down.

The good news is that some of these zombie airports are now being given a new lease on life as they’re transformed into attractions like amusement parks or repurposed into places like schools.

In Sweden, the former Bulltofta Airport was turned into a park and entertainment zone. In Denver Colorado, Stapleton International Airport has been redesigned into a mixed-use housing community. And in Madrid, Spain, the Ciudad Real Central Airport is currently being used as the set of a film. So it got us wondering — what kinds of cool things would we like to see airports turned into?

  • A restaurant district. Just imagine all the quirky little places you could set up a restaurant. Sushi conveyor belt at the security checkpoint? Meals with a view in the air traffic control tower? It would sure beat the current airport dining experience.
  • Go kart racing tracks. How much fun would it be to whizz around on miles of airport tarmac? I mean, really, do we even need to sell you on this idea?
  • A hotel. Old airplanes and airport facilities would make a great site for a concept hotel. In fact, the Jumbo Stay hotel/hostel in Stockholm has already seized on this idea, turning an old Boeing 747 into a funky place to crash for the night.
  • A fitness center. Dragging ourselves through vast airport terminals is an absolute chore when we’re jetlagged and running late for our flight, but all that space is ideal when the goal is working out. And those moving walkways? Yup, they’re perfect built-in treadmills.

What else would you like to see old airports transformed into? Let us know in the comments!

Madrid Offers Up Great Summer Art Season

Madrid
Dalí, El gran masturbador, 1929 © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, VEGAP, Madrid, 2013

Madrid is one of the best destinations in the world for art, and this summer its many museums and galleries are putting on an impressive array of temporary exhibitions.

The blockbuster of the season is at the Reina Sofia, which is having a major exhibition on Salvador Dalí. “All of the poetic suggestions and all of the plastic possibilities” brings together almost 200 works here by the famous odd man of surrealism.

Organized in roughly chronological order, the earliest paintings in the exhibition date to the mid-’20s and show a surprisingly traditional technique. Once he’d mastered the basics, however, Dalí soon plunged into his own unmistakable style. The exhibition is accompanied by detailed texts on Dalí’s life and career. For example, we learn the reason why we keep seeing the same set of cliffs in Dalí’s work. In his youth Dalí and his family would vacation at the seaside town of Cadaqués, where he became obsessed with the cliffs of Cape Creus. He once said, “I am convinced I am Cape Creus itself. I am inseparable from this sky, from this sea, from these rocks.”

%Slideshow-2876%Many of his best-known works are here, as well as early sketches and little gems, like a painting of Hitler masturbating. Who but Dalí could pull that off? (Pun intended.) Numerous video screens shows Dalí’s many film experiments, including the famous “Un Chien Andalou” with Luis Buñuel and several other lesser-known films. The show runs until September 2.

The Reina Sofia has two other exhibitions. “1961: Founding the Expanded Arts” looks at a vital year in the history of modern art that saw the expansion of artistic collaborations and music experimentation and the launch of Concept Art. It runs until October 28. At the museum’s annex at Retiro park is “Cildo Meireles,” which looks at the acclaimed Brazilian conceptual artist’s work and runs until September 29.

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza has a major exhibition on Camille Pissarro. This cofounder of Impressionism was the only one to take part in all eight Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886. The museum brings together more than 70 of his works, mostly the lush landscapes for which he was known. The show runs until September 15.

El Prado also has three temporary exhibitions. The headliner is “Captive Beauty: Fra Angelo to Fortuny.” This exhibition brings together almost 300 works characterized by their small size and technical excellence. The point is to demonstrate the ability of some of Europe’s greatest artists to create beauty in a confined space and to highlight works that are often missed hanging next to giant, better-known works. They are arranged chronologically from the 14th to 19th centuries. The show runs until November 10.

Another of El Prado’s exhibitions examines the relationship between two 18th-century artists, Anton Raphael Mengs and José Nicolás de Azara. The two painters traded ideas and collaborated on projects throughout their careers. “Mengs and Azara: Portrait of a Friendship” runs until October 13. “Japanese Prints,” which runs until October 6, showcases items from the museum’s collection from the 17th to 19th centuries.

This year Spain and Japan are celebrating 400 years of friendly relations. In 1613, a group of Japanese emissaries set out to visit Spain. They crossed the Pacific, passed through the Spanish colony of Mexico, and then crossed the Atlantic. After touring Spain they continued on to visit the Pope in Rome before heading back home. The whole trip took seven years. We talk a lot about adventure travel here on Gadling, but nothing in the modern day can measure up to what these early travelers did.

To honor the anniversary, the Museum of Decorative Arts is hosting “Namban,” a fascinating look at the artistic influence these two distant cultures had on one another. One interesting object is a large screen in the Japanese style, yet bearing a Spanish colonial painting of Mexico City. There is as yet no closing date for this exhibition.

If you hurry you can still catch a free exhibition of the work of Swiss surrealist Alberto Giacometti at the Fundación Mapfre. The exhibition includes numerous examples of his famous statues of elongated human figures as well as his lesser-known paintings. This exhibition runs until August 4.

We’re suffering sweltering temperatures here in Madrid right now, so beat the heat and go see some art!

Hotel News We Noted: March 8, 2013

the jefferson boardroomWelcome to this week’s edition of “Hotel News We Noted,” where we round up the week’s best, most interesting and just downright odd news of note in the hospitality world. Have a tip? Send us a note or leave a comment below.

The hotel world has been buzzing this winter with new and planned openings, extreme amenities and packages galore. Here’s our take on what you need to know this week:

Shangri-La Goes After Saudi Princess Who Skipped Out on $7.5 Million Hotel Bill
The Shangri-La hotel in Paris is going after the Saudi princess who left in the dead of the night and skipped out on her $7.5 million hotel bill, Business Insider reports. The princess spent six months on the 41st floor of the hotel, and her father, the King, has refused to pay her debts. The king has since confined the princess to a palace in Saudi Arabia after she left a trail of unpaid debts across Europe. Nothing quite says “princess” like palace confinement, hmm?

Hotel Openings: ME London
The first ME by Melia hotel in the UK and the fifth in the brand opened last week in one of the world’s hottest cities for hotel growth – London. ME London is located in the heart of the West End, on the site formerly inhabited by the famous Gaiety Theatre. The 157-room property will feature a rooftop bar, Radio, offering panoramic views of the city, as well as the brand trademark penthouse, SuiteME – a two-level superlative experience offering a fire-pit warmed private terrace, a private lounge, separate dining room, three 3-D televisions, a pillow menu and much more. (Remember the crazy Cancun penthouse from the Real World Cancun?) NYC-based The ONE Group is the hotel’s official F&B provider, with two of its iconic brands opening venues within the property – STK London and Cucina Asellina.

Luxury Hotels Coming Your Way: Four Seasons Madrid, An Aman In Venice and Multi-Billion Dollar Las Vegas
While much of our hotel news is often focused on newly opened or revamped properties, this week seemed to have much to offer in the way of “soon-to-come” luxury hotels. Four Seasons announced their first property in Spain, Four Seasons Madrid, in the next four years, Aman is coming to the Grand Canal with a new ultra-luxury property opening on this summer boasting 24 suite-style rooms, and a Malaysian investment firm has paid $350 million for a multi-billion dollar hotel complex to come in the former Echelon site in Las Vegas, USA Today reported.Tech Tips: Eventi Offers Hi-Tech Amenities For Travelers
Sick of traveling with tons of gadgets? Eventi, a New York City Kimpton property, now has a “Business Bar” where travelers can rent gadgets ranging from iPads and MacBook Pros to Kindles, Nooks and even digital cameras. This free service is geared to help travelers who like to pack light, but who would love to sample some of these gadgets as a trial before buying, particularly the cameras!

Sleep Better: Accor’s Ibis Offers a Sleep App
We’ve certainly written about hotels with great sleep programs before, but this is the first time we’ve seen a hotel brand unveil their own sleep app. ibis Styles and ibis budget are transforming your restful night into a digital work of art. Every morning, it allows iPhone users to see how their night’s sleep has been transformed into an original digital work of art. Once the Sleep Art app has been programed, the iPhone becomes a sensor that captures movements and sounds. This data is converted real-time into a virtual “work of art” as the user sleeps. Every night is different. These virtual works of art are stored in the gallery and users can therefore compare each night’s sleep and share results by email or on Facebook, so that as many people as possible can also find out about this unique digital experience.

The President Dines at The Jefferson in Washington, DC
Much buzz has been heard in the news this week about President Obama’s dining with 12 republican leaders. But we’ve got the inside scoop on where he dined – most outlets only called it a “discreet” Washington hotel. The property was, in fact, The Jefferson, a Preferred Boutique property in downtown Washington. The congressmen and President dined on everything from Blue Crab Risotto to Lobster “Thermidor” to Peanut Butter Crumble. We hear that the president picked up the tab!

[Image Credit: The Jefferson Washington, DC]

Museum Honors 75th Anniversary Of Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ With Special Exhibit


It’s Picasso’s most famous and discussed work. “Guernica” was the artist’s response to the Luftwaffe’s bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Some 1,654 civilians died. Nazi Germany was supporting General Francisco Franco and his Nationalists in their attempt to overthrow the Republican government, a fight he eventually won.

Now the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, which houses the work, is honoring its 75th anniversary with a new exhibition titled “Encounters with the 1930s.” This show examines the crucial decade through its art, looking at the various artistic movements and how they grappled with the increasingly polarized political landscape of Europe.

More than 400 exhibits are divided into six sections: realism; abstraction; international expositions; surrealism; photography, film and posters; and Spain: the Second Republic, the Civil War and exile. The museum is also hosting a film series titled “Cinema of the 1930s.”

This exhibition comes at a time when the old divisions from the Spanish Civil War are beginning to reemerge. This excellent article on the BBC goes into more detail.

“Encounters with the 1930s” runs from October 3-January 7, 2013.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Photo Of The Day: Madrid’s Palacio Real

Today’s photo, by Flickr user APANCHA, takes place at the changing of the guard at Madrid’s Royal Palace (Palacio Real). The tight marching pattern of the soldiers, evenly spaced as they pass in front of the palace’s stately architecture makes for quite a show for photo-snapping tourists. There’s an intriguing geometry to the shot – the neat, upright marching of the soldiers almost seems to mimic the palace’s stately vertical columns behind them.

Taken any great photos during your own travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.