Taking the train to Madrid

September 30, 2017 - Madrid, Spain

Breakfast at the Sercotel La Coliseo was from 7.30am on the weekend and our train was to leave at 9.20am so we needed to be at breakfast for the early shift and ready to go by about 8.45am for the short walk to the station.

Although there were hot choices and Margaret went for beans on toast, I stuck to the formula from our rural times and went for juice, toast, meats and cheese. It was all good and the many options I didn't take looked appetising as well. Even the coffee from this dispensing machine was very good. It must be the choice of beans as we have had the same machine in several different hotels and the coffee has ranged from undrinkable to perhaps a step above coffee-flavoured dishwater.

Our bags were already packed. In fact we had done little but grab out a few overnight things so we were out the door and at the desk with time in hand. Just as well as the chap on the desk was very precise, and very, very careful, and very, very, very slow. And he had to deal with a chap before us who was equally deliberate in counting his cash payment (what seemed like seven times but was really only twice). Change was delivered and counted in the same precise manner by both and as we were beginning to hop from foot to foot, the desk clerk then attempted to repair the guest's glasses strap with a stapler. Thankfully they were both glad to give up that idea or we may still be waiting.

Our Check-out was simple but still attended to with the same precision. Then the card machine lost the internet connection and had to start all over again. Then the paper ran out and had to be re-loaded. Then make sure that when Margaret said to pay in Euros from the card that she really meant in Euros. Ages later we were out the door and scurrying up the street in the rain. Yes, it seems to rain in Spain, but mainly on the plains (and so far not on our days planned for outside events. But I thank my Travel Agent for that planning, Thank You, Margaret).

We arrived at the station with our Madrid Chamartin train blinking on the departures board. No, that didn't mean it was about to leave, that meant the platform number had just been announced at 20 minutes prior to departure. So a casual walk to Platform, a quick scan of the tickets and we walked up to Coach 5 Preferente, seats 14B and C. This may be the very same seats we were in when coming from Valladolid to Bilbao nine days ago.

The views out the window were very damp and foggy as we wound our way through the mountains to a stop at Llodio and out onto the plains of Castille at Miranda Ebro, where the San Sebastian part connected on and we became one long train.

We arrived in Madrid Chamartin at 2.30pm and had to get to Madrid Puerta-Atocha. After passing through this way from Toledo to Valladolid we knew our way to get to the Metro and buy tickets but there was no indication that said which platform for which line went to which stations once you were through the turnstiles. I went back to the machines and asked a person in a uniform who told me Line 1 toward Valdecross which was useful but now my ticket wouldn't let me back through the gates. Luckily the official came over and let me through.

The Metro carriage became more crowded as we approached the centre of the city but thinned again to Atocha. At Puerta Atocha we managed to exit onto a street and orient ourselves to walk to our hotel. In fact it was just the other side of a very large roundabout so it was a long walk to get there.

Once we checked in and settled ourselves into our room we went out to do a Big Red Bus tour. Easy really as the stop was right outside our hotel and we could but tickets at the hotel reception desk. Once on board and on the top deck I promptly fell asleep in the sunshine and woke up when we were most of the way round the loop. We had just passed Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol when our bus could no longer go anywhere. From the Plaza de Canelajas the road was blocked and the bus had to reverse into a spot behind another Big Red Bus to wait for the road to be opened again. The cause was a gathering over the Catalonian right to their Referendum and in support of Spanish Unity. This really could be a problem.

We had to leave the bus there and walk south to Calle de Atocha and follow that back to the vicinity of Atocha Railway Station and our hotel. We looked at a few places where we might eat but ended up having beers and Mojitos (you guess who had which) and some Tapas plates. While we ate the noise outside increased with whistles and chanting, horns and yelling and the Rally had moved to the Atocha Roundabout area.

After we had eaten we had a bit of a look at the crowd which was very small and contained by the Police, possibly because they were preaching to the converted here in Madrid. The locals think the Catalonians are being silly and dismiss it with a shrug. The Government action in declaring a Catalonian Referendum illegal and placing many, many police in Barcelona to enforce that can only inflame a situation that could be dealt with politically.

After a look at the rally crowd and realising how peaceful they seemed we took a walk along the stalls and fairground rides nearby. There were many families with children at the carousel that obviously did not feel threatened so we were relatively comfortable to be there.

What we didn't expect was the sight on the television news of people filling the plaza outside the Ayuntamiento de Madrid (City Hall Offices) and waving their protest banners.


Ayuntamiento de Madrid
Plaza de Canelajas

1 Comment

October 5, 2017
Would you please have a mojito for me Margie?
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