So starts the epic saga that is Madrid. The day started at 02:45, after a whole 30 minutes of sleep. My phone is telling me that I need to get out of a bed that gas only just warmed in order to leave plenty of time in my “no way am I missing this flight” schedule. With a pint of coffee, a similar amount of OJ and some egg and cress butties bought from Sainsbury’s only a few hours earlier I hit the road. My camera bag and suitcase in the boot. All is going to plan. That never happens. Oh crap, did I pick up my travel documents? Here’s Stafford services. I pull off, pull into the carpark and check my bag. All is good again. All of my documents are there and I’m only 2 minutes into my very generous wiggle room.
Then there is the roadworks. It’s fine. I mean how much can it affect me at this time? Well all I can say is “enough”. Still I thought, even worst case means I’m at the airport parking 2 hours before my flight and that is easily enough. I was right, 2 hours left and I’m parked. However, it takes 40 more minutes for the shuttle bus to load up and take us the 2 miles or so to the terminal. 80 minutes would have been fine were it not for the farcical check-in delays and the woman at security taking 20 minutes to decide which of the 5 litres of unbranded cosmetics she would leave having packed them all in hand luggage. A quick sprint across the length of Birmingham International and I catch my flight with seconds to spare. Right, drama over.
Despite a tight transfer schedule at Schiphol I’m at the gate before it opens. Things are looking up. The flights even had decent legroom, edible food and coffee. By the time I get to Madrid I’m feeling a little better, especially having experienced the effects of a pint of coffee, another of OJ and yet another of water have after a couple of hours and the comedy values of turbulence and fluid projection. Things start to change again however when the luggage carousel is unforthcoming with my case. It is at this point, waiting at lost luggage I am starting to regret wearing all my heaviest clothes (but oh so glad that I always take my camera as hand luggage). It appears that I’m not the only one there are a number of us sweating in arrivals, conspicuously devoid of baggage. One by one we are assured that our bags, currently sunning themselves in exotic locations all over the world, are being wracked onto flights to join us later in the day, delivered to our accomodation. With that I relax somewhat, though not enough to stem the flow of perspiration starting to fill my overly warm shoes.
It’s time to get the metro. As I leave the fourth travellator and about to join the fifth I hear my name. Not ominously over the distorted tannoy, but right next to me in a familiar voice. Who else would it be but Mr Jamie Meir, all-time king of the top torque, suited and booted working on a contract at the airport for a few days. As we get metro tickets and move towards the platform we meet the crowds and as quickly as he arrived he was gone. No matter I think, I’ll no doubt catch up with him later and I have a hostel to find.
2â‚¬ and 3 trains later (god bless European transport) I’m standing outside Lidl, gps-ing the hostel in the hot sun. I spot the first ledges in the busy square and note it for later. So now, after checking into the coolest of hostels and relieving myself of many layers of clothing I am sitting on one of those ledges, eating egg and cress butties while writing this on my phone. Slightly concerned that I have no skates, or phone charger I am surprisingly chilled. It’s amazing what the Spanish atmosphere, the Spanish sun and many many beautiful Spanish ladies can do for a guy’s mood. For now I’m going to take my camera into that hot sun and contemplated step two on this adventure.