Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Madrid Travel Guide: A broke-down bus ride

Hola Bloggy Friends,

Are we there yet?
Our journey from Granada to Madrid was marred with another bout of travelers misfortune. On the recommendation of several guidebooks, we decided to take a bus to Spain's capital city. It was supposedly cheaper and quicker than the one slow-moving train that goes there. Sounds like a win-win, right?

Well, everything was going swimmingly until we stopped at a halfway point for lunch. When we loaded back onto the bus something went wrong and it wouldn't start again. Being the only English speakers among the group of travelers, we had trouble figuring out what we were supposed to do next. Our circumstances began to look rosier when someone told us that another bus was taking some of the passengers to "something, something America." Embarrassingly, our first instinct was, "Oh, it's a bus for Americans!" Come to find out, it was going to Madrid's Intercambiador de Avenida de América — a station we didn't have tickets to. I told Alan that it's just like a bunch of Americans to think a magical bus appeared across the parking lot just for us.

We ended up squatting at the rest area for an hour before another bus came to pick us up. After stopping several times along the way for a passenger who either had a bladder problem or explosive diarrhea, we finally made it to Madrid after a seven-hour trip. I have to say, though, that it didn't feel like it took that long. We made the most of our time by people watching, reading up on Madrid and playing mind-numbing games on our iPhones. In all honesty, with all the running around we've done, it's been one of the most restful days yet. There's a positive side to everything ...

Paella de Arroz Negro
Because it was much later than we anticipated arriving, we decided to put off our orientation tour until the next day. Instead we had a filling dinner at Museo del Vino that consisted of ensalada del casa (salad of the house), paella de arroz negro (black rice paella with clams, shrimp and squid) and a nice bottle of Tempranillo.

Stuffed, we took an after-dinner stroll around Puerta del Sol, the neighborhood we're staying in. Our first impression of Madrid is that it's a lively, more modern city — with full sidewalks even on a Tuesday night and newer facades compared to the historic ones we've grown accustomed to seeing. We noted that we didn't even pass one church, which is bizarre coming from towns with a basilica on every corner. There's still a lot to see, though. And we're looking forward to taking as much of it in as possible. Our first-day itinerary includes an orientation walk and a tour of the Museo del Prado, one of Europe's finest collections of art dating from the twelfth to nineteenth centuries. We're most excited to see what's considered to be one of the greatest paintings in the world — one that I mentioned earlier — Velázquez's Los Meninas.

Hasta luego,


Our much-needed Tempranillo

1 comment:

Bill Fogle said...

Oh my Gawd! People talk about laughing out loud, but I was a hyena reading about your harrowing bus trip! I love that you can be snarky and funny and bitchy in your writing! Even though you're a big ol' Pollyanna.

My ex- Jose and I took a big old bus from southern Argentina back into Buenos Aires. We were running out of money flying back and forth. Usually, it is a good plan (especially if you've never seen the countryside).

That black rice and shellfish paella looks delicious!!! Sorta. I mean, I' need to get used to the ... blackness. Kinda tarry. But I have no doubt it was good.

Thanks for the close-up of the Tempranillo, sweetie! I enjoyed the shot. Poor Alan looks beat!