My Life as a Traveler

One Hot Night in Madrid (No, Not That Kind of Hot)

June 26, 2012

There are four of us together again: me, Mary, Susie, and Morgan. We say goodbye to the cathedral as we walk through the park to the train station. The 8am train to downtown A Coruna is on time. After a bit of asking around, we find the bus to the airport and arrive to find a huge line for check-in. We guess the computers are down because nobody is moving. The flight status monitor says our flight is an hour late anyway, so we just chill in line. Morgan hasn't emptied his Platypus yet and it's somehow leaking all over the airport floor.

Eventually, another counter opens up and we shuffle forward to get our boarding passes. After a trip to the candy store, we go through security (Susie got a lecture for wrapping her poles, but didn't have to surrender them), board our flight, and fall asleep before the plane leaves the runway.

We decide to stop in at the Lufthansa counter in Terminal 2 to get our boarding passes for our 7am flight tomorrow. I've rented an apartment through Airbnb.com and I text the woman who's supposed to meet us there that we are running late. By the time we buy our Metro tickets and get lost finding the apartment, the woman who is supposed to meet us is gone and won't be back for about an hour. No worries.

Somehow, on the way to the apartment, Mary finds two 50euro bills on the sidewalk. She asks people around if it's their money, but nobody claims it. The Camino provides.

It's 3pm. Susie and Morgan are tired and hungry and do not plan to leave the apartment tonight, so they go across the street and grab lunch/dinner. Mary and I wait in the lobby and share candy, sunflower seeds, and cookies to tide us over until we can go out and find some real food.

Tatyana finally comes, lets us in, and shows us around the 3 bedroom apartment her grandmother left her and her sister. Gorgeous hardwood floors, a nice bathtub, and plenty of room for everyone to sleep. Mary and I unilaterally decide to give snoring Susie (love you!) the biggest, darkest bedroom, Morgan gets the closet bedroom, and Mary and I get the hot one in the back. All the drapes are pulled because there is no central air, just one of those weird Euro a/c units with a hose vent to the outside that really don't work that well. It's a record 40C or 104 degrees fahrenheit outside and barely passable inside.

Even though we're pretty much running on fumes, Mary and I feel the need to go out to explore the neighborhood. Tatyana recommends the restaurant at the Real Madrid stadium which overlooks the soccer field. We're too late for lunch (here's the link for a pic of what we missed: http://www.realcafebernabeu.es/restaurante/galeria-de-fotos/galeria-2.html), but the bar is open and the attractive female bartender brings us two jumbo-size Tinto de Veranos and a big bowl of potato chips (Lyn! Wish you were here!) paid for by the Camino sidewalk money. We chat in the coolness.

It seems like too much trouble to go all the way downtown to see the Madrid of the guidebooks. Besides, across the boulevard from our apartment is El Corte Ingles, the iconic Spanish department store. Mary wants a Spain Vogue magazine (comes with free gifts) and I always think it's fun to shop where the women of Madrid shop.

El Corte Ingles is a combination of Nordstrom's, Macy's, Target, Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, and the best grocery store selling wine that you've ever been to. This must be the flagship store, because it is an entire city block with 5 floors of merchandise. They have an entire floor just for spa services and medical practitioners. It's Tuesday afternoon and the place is packed. Mary considers a Longchamp bag, we admire the olive bar and the huge hams in the grocery, and finally find the magazines. The Camino buys her the Vogue and a Telva for me, which comes with free huaraches. I wish I had more pictures of this place, but I was just too, too tired, and frankly overwhelmed by the crowds after my solitary days on the trail, to aim a camera at anything.

Now I'm hungry and we walk back to see if we can have dinner at the stadium, but it seems a little too fancy for our sweaty selves, so we settle on a tapas bar just a few doors from the apartment. There's more tinto de verano, fried artichokes, and other delicious treats, courtesy of the Camino. Somehow, there is still more to talk about!

When we get back from the apartment, Susie is sleeping, Morgan is on the internet in his underwear, and the hot bedroom in the back is even more hot. Not even a cool shower makes it worth sleeping there, so I flop on the futon in the hall and in a minute, I'm out.

The alarm is set for 5am – we have a 7:40am departure back to the US tomorrow.

 

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