As a brilliant philosopher once said, "¡Amo Madrid! Pero odio salir de Madrid", or "I love Madrid! But I hate leaving Madrid."
Russ and I arrived in Madrid (dead sober, if you can fathom it) to a ridiculously huge, ridiculously nice, ridiculously empty airport. We rode for miles on the train from the gate terminal to the baggage terminal, to wait for our luggage. And wait and wait. Finally the luggage came and we made our way out through customs. Or attempted to. Again, the airport was so massive we felt like we were in Poltergeist -- for every step we took towards the exit it got two steps further away. But eventually we overcame the demon and got out. Two cash machine attempts later, euros in hand, we headed out in a taxi with a cute boy from Brighton into Madrid.
Right away the city amazed us. It's so gorgeous; I had no idea. Even out by the airport, where less image-savvy cities pile up acres of hideous projects & council estates, there were beautiful villas and tasteful stucco apartment blocks. Only once on our way in did we see a concrete development of the type London is so fond, and including that I only recoiled at three buildings I saw the whole time. Madrid is big, regal, and gorgeous.
But I don't understand it at all.
We'd heard about the famous lateness of Madrid, so we tastefully showed for dinner at 10:30 for 90 minutes of dining, followed by a good night out. Madrid is gorgeous, and this time I am referring to the people. It's a little ridiculous, actually. I feel sorry for Calvin Klein et al, throwing millions of dollars into advertising with models strewn about on posters, just to be ignored because, in Madrid at least, the people on the streets are the ones you notice.
But back to going out, we always had a great time and found some good bars (Sunrise!) and some bad ones. Only hit one club, Cool, which I quite liked. I failed in my plan to secure a new, hot Spanish boyfriend, but I did meet a cute English boy, which is nice in its own way. What confused us was this: we'd be at a nice bar, very full, people having fun; decide to try a new bar; have one drink there and decide to go back to the first; it's been emptied, closed and shuttered up! So we're suddenly alone on an empty street wondering where everyone went.
The other peculiar thing in Madrid is how long the days are. I went to bed three separate times on Saturday, with full-on doings in between each. How do they get so much time in one day?
And thus we spent our days and nights, wandering, eating, drinking, going out, leaving in a happy frame of mind.
But you can't visit a country as passionate and hot as Spain without some drama, can you? We learned upon arrival that there's a strict 55-minutes-before-the-flight rule at Madrid's airport. We learned this by showing up 50 minutes before. And not being allowed on the plane. Or rebooked on the next. Or the next. Since our tickets were considered null & void since we'd missed the first cut-off time. End result: we got to pay €260 (£180, $323) each for a flight back on EasyJet. This should provide a nice bit of ironic humour to those of you who remember we decided to go to Madrid instead of Athens since the flights to Athens were so expensive.
So, as was said:
"¡Amo Madrid! Pero odio salir de Madrid."
- Shaun Coley (1974 - )
Russ left yesterday morning and I miss him already.
Next stop: Bologna, 11 May.
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