Sunday, February 25, 2007


I dreamt vividly of winter last night. Real snowy, cold winter.

The day dawned gray here in Madrid, with the same 40-50 degree F weather we've had all month. I had arranged to meet a friend in La Latina for the post-Rastro bar-hopping scene. Right before I left the house, it started pouring. By the time I surfaced at the La Latina metro station, the sun was shining hot--perfect for meandering among the crowds along the Cava Baja, to Calle Almendro, stopping in a few bars for cañas along the way. And at the end of Almendro, we found ourselves in the Plaza de San Andrés. Beginning to warm up to its springtime role, it was full of 20 and 30-somethings, sitting and soaking up the sun (when it didn't disappear behind the clouds), drinking liter bottles of Mahou, smoking...We grabbed a bocadillo from a nearby bar and joined them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tale of a bus

I have never been so happy to return to Madrid as I was this morning at 7.

I left the country this weekend--bussed it up to Bordeaux to see some friends. And almost didn't make it back.

I never intended to blog about this trip--it being to France and all. But the Spaniards managed to screw things up in another country.

The gist is this: a group of five (including me) got left behind in Bordeaux on Sunday night when our bus never showed up at the stop. I couldn't understand it: my ticket clearly said that the departure point for the bus at 22.15 hours Sunday was the exact place we waited in vain for two hours.

Turned out that the bus, which arrives from Paris, had gone to another stop in Bordeaux. The stop changed three weeks earlier due to works in the area around the old stop.

(A note: some of us think that Madrid is always en obras, but Bordeaux makes Madrid look good. Granted, they're putting in a new tram line, but wow. At left see just a glimpse of the works and rain that is Bordeaux.)

Regardless, Alsa, the Spanish bus company, neglected to advise us of the change in stops. Indeed, in their Madrid offices they didn't even know the stop had changed, which explains why my ticket said what it did. Perhaps the fault of the drivers?

What boggles my mind is that on Sunday night the bus may have picked up some passengers better informed than my posse and me, but they were missing FIVE, which is no small number! Wouldn't it have crossed their minds to at least check at the old stop?

At any rate, my newfound friends and I finally boarded the bus to Madrid last night, a day late. The trip was uneventful except for 1.30 a.m. at the Spanish border, when the Basque police boarded to check our passports and promptly removed two people who we could only assume didn't have the sufficient papers to enter España.

But we arrived safe and sound. I went straight to the Alsa office in the bus station (what luck that it opens at 7!) and was received by an extremely nice woman who handed me complaint forms to fill out and assured me that the higher-ups will get back to me within twenty days, with what I hope will be willingness to reimburse me for their neglect.