Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Weekend trip to Madrid

Part One - Getting there 

Matthew bought us tickets to Madrid for Valentines day ( so sweet). We had loved Barcelona and wanted to visit some more cities in Spain, so Madrid seemed like a good choice. We were leaving on Friday (27th) and coming back on Sunday (29th). I had bought a little guide book, but the plan was to go to the Prado and just have a look around. 

Friday- Matthew and I are leaving from the London Bridge station, taking the train to Gatwick. Matthew had bought the train tickets online and I was supposed to get there early and pick them up. I was supposed to be there by 5 p.m. to collect the tickets and the train was leaving at 5:20 p.m. I left the house with plenty of time to get there. I can either walk 15 minutes down the street to the tube station or I can jump on a bus. Since a bus was just approaching I thought great, what luck and hopped on. 

There was a huge amount of traffic on the road and what should have taken about 8 minutes took almost 20 and you can just get off the bus. The driver wouldn't open the door for those of us who wanted to get off, so I was behind schedule and feeling a bit nervous about the time. I got on the Central line, which was held up at Notting Hill and Queensway. I changed at Bond Street for the Jubilee line and by this time it was five minutes to 5 p.m. I was very nervous, but tried to stay calm. 

The train finally pulled in at London Bridge and then I had to figure out where to go to the get the tickets. London Bridge is both an underground and train station and I've never taken a train from there. I managed to quickly find where I needed to go and then I had to figure out where to collect the tickets from. I was expecting it to be like Paddington or Victoria, where there are ticket kiosks everywhere and you just go up to one and get the tickets. 

At London Bridge, there was a ticket office and in that same area there were three ticket machines. Now to be fair maybe there were more kiosks elsewhere, but I didn't have time to try and find them. So there was a queue for the kiosks and a queue for the human ticket sellers. I was afraid that for some crazy reason that I wouldn't be able to pick up the tickets from the kiosk, but I couldn't get out of line to ask anyone. The few people around me didn't know. 

With the seconds ticking by I decided to stay in the queue and hope for the best. It was finally my turn and thankfully it worked. By now Matthew had caught up with me and we had to then run to catch the train. So we are running and we get to the train it's still there! BUT all the coaches are full up. We keep running down the length of the train in hopes of being able to get on a coach and finally we just have to literally force ourselves on, must to the dismay of a very large Scottish woman. We made it with a second to spare. Squashed up against the door and the Scottish woman, we can't move an inch, but we made it. 

Thankfully a bunch of people got out a one of the stops 20 minutes later and we had some room. It wasn't the nicest journey to the airport, but we made it. 

Then we had to wait a long time to find out where our gate was. Once it was announced people just started running to the gate. I didn't understand why they did this because you they have a designated boarding order. Anyways, we finally got on the plane after another long queue and took off to Madrid. 

Once we arrived we needed to get some money out of the cashpoint. The first five cash points wouldn't give us any money, which was a bit annoying. So we continued walking down to where you can catch the metro into the city. The funny thing was that it was a super long walk and it just seemed that on this trip that it was just the way it was going to be. It was a 20 minute walk through the airport which maybe isn't that long, but when the airport is near empty it seems longer.

We found some more cash points near the entrance to the metro, took out some money and then tried to buy the metro ticket. After getting our tickets we headed down and got on the metro and made the journey to our hostel. The Madrid metro is pretty nice and clean. You do get a few people singing and carrying on, but that's like free entertainment!

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