Hello there and welcome to what should be the final post in the series about my short trip to Madrid in November 2013 but the way I rattle on it will probably go to three different posts! Only joking.
Usual advice here if you have landed on this page other than by reading the previous posts, it will make more sense if you read from the start of the trip which you can do here.
After the slightly lunatic antics of the previous evening (see the post before this for full details) I could really have done with a bit of a lie-in but that was not an option as I had to check out that morning. Ah well, self-inflicted injury I suppose so I have no sympathy for myself. Siobhan was long gone to work by the time I rose and was going straight to the airport after although by the time she was taking off I should already have been in London. No need for long goodbyes, which I don’t do well anyway, as we were meeting up a week later in my home city.
After checking out I took myself to a rather well-stocked local supermarket and loaded up with goodies. I had debated a full Iberian ham but it would have been silly with just me at home, it would have taken me a year to finish and would have required a second mortgage to purchase.
I did get some beautiful cheese, including a good amount of the beautiful Manchega I had enjoyed so much in Toledo a couple of days before and, indeed, in several tapas bars round Madrid. I bought the absolute centre of Spanish cooking – pimenton, which is basically paprika. I bought some infusions in flavours I cannot get at home like a passionfruit, lavender and honey concoction which was gorgeous and I also bought something else which I shall tell you about later in the post.
With my retail therapy completed it was time for a glass of breakfast and so I adjourned to the lovely little Aolmar café / bar Aolmar which I have already told you about. I was in no rush as my flight was not until late afternoon and I knew how long it would take me to get there for the two hour check-in and security routine.
I decided to make a move sooner rather than later and jumped onto the metro which is only round the corner from the bar. My kitbag was certainly heavier than when I had come with all my shopping but it was certainly not unmanageable. On the way I took the image above to show you the kind of area the hotel was in, tidy, a bit upmarket but definitely suburban.
From where I was, I had to change Metro lines at Mar de Cristal and the journey had been so hassle free I was still well ahead of time so why not. As I mentioned on the outward journey I object to being ripped off in airport bars, especially as they are so soulless. I would much rather sit in a locals bar somewhere. OK, it is a policy that has led to some near disasters but that is just the way I travel.
Don’t ask me what bar this was as I have no idea. If you are really interested check on a map and whatever the nearest bar to the exit from the Metro is, that was the one I was in. As well as the obligatory beer I had one last (complimentary) tapas of fried potatoes and chorizo, lovely. I was being sensible and so I didn’t stay too long, jumped back on the Metro and arrived at the airport in good time.
The formalities were quickly dealt with and I was on my Iberian code-share flight back to Heathrow. Heathrow? Yes, I know I had flown out of London City and rightly praised it highly but for reasons of scheduling I had to return through LHR. That is no problem although it is a lot less convenient for me as it is on the far side of London from where I live but so be it.
Even back in 2013 Iberian, a so-called “proper” national carrier i.e. not a cheapo like Wizzair, Ryanair, Easyjet et al had adopted the no frills business model which is the reason for the image above. €6 for a ham roll, you must be joking. I’d just spent a few days with barmen forcing free food on me. I thought that was why you paid the extra for airlines like this even if it is only a bag of peanuts and a drink on a short flight like this.
One good thing about flying into Heathrow was that it was a lovely clear night and our approach took us right round London in a holding pattern which gave a superb view of the city below. I was so taken with it I even had a go at a bit of videoing out the window and you can see it here if you like.
We arrived on time and everything was going swimmingly but I knew it was too good to last and the image above tells you exactly why. I don’t know what the problem with Border Force (our immigration lot) was this time but there seems to be one more often than not. If memory serves it took me about 90 minutes with a British passport to clear it. I have no idea what non-EU passport holders were going through. Still, annoying as it was, it was not going to dampen my spirits after what had been a brilliant few days.
I eventually got home and unpacked my foodstuffs. I rarely fully unpack my kiybag and still have one half-packed from a trip a couple of years ago. It makes it easier to pack next time! I get the laundry out and leave the rest. Thankfully I have enough T-shirts to be able to do this.
I have been teasing you about the strange thing I brought home and the left hand image above will tell you. The right hand one is just the herbal infusions I mentioned. Before you ask, don’t because I have no idea.
If you tried to pick a geographic location in Spain furthest from the sea you could do a lot worse than Madrid, so it was not like I had been by the sea and taken a mad notion for some fresh seafood to bring home. I had never cooked a lobster before and had only the most rudimentary idea of how to do it. I wasn’t inebriated when I bought it so I cannot blame the demon drink. I really am at a complete loss to understand this but these are the kind of crazy things I do.
So here ends my little outing to Madrid and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Normally I would add another post with technical information like useful websites etc. but it was so long ago that it is pretty pointless really and I have been linking websites as I go. So many of the places I visited are under new management there is not much point really.
I had come home with some simply wonderful produce (including the lobster) and I had become so enamoured of tapas and that whole style of eating that I even invited a friend round one evening for a bit of a tapas wine party (and some good Spanish wine obviously). As well as that I lived off tapas myself for quite a while after that and I realise that my presentation is pretty rubbish I have included a small selection of my efforts, more to give you a laugh than anything else.
I have not decided what trip I am going to write up next but whenever I do decide, you will all be the first to know so stay tuned and spread the word.