We made it to Madrid with only a brief episode of drama at the Madrid airport when Tom’s luggage, that is to say his backpack, was temporarily lost, which subsequently caused us a brief episode of, well, not exactly panic, but of envisioning a nightmare’s worth of time-consuming bureaucratic procedure on top of the gargantuan ordeal of trying to somehow replace over here Tom’s backpack and everything that goes in it. But fortunately the helpful customer assistance folks helped us locate it – it had ended up on the wrong belt, or something – at which point we were two mighty relieved Americans.
But otherwise our flight from Columbus to JFK was fine and our flight from New York to Madrid was even finer as we flew Iberia Airlines, which is about as good as flying gets. They serve an awesome dinner in the evening, breakfast in the morning, and a great variety of as many free movies as you want to watch. I watched “Volver” to hear some Spanish and “San Andreas” to hear some Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Which begs the question: why don’t all airline companies offer the same to their passengers all the time? Aw well, in our dreams, right?
Anyway, when we disembarked Tom and I were both struck by what a different impression we both had of the Madrid airport this time compared to the first time we were there two years ago. At that time the interior of the airport, all glass and geometric columns and dark because of the night sky through the glass, and fairly empty of passengers, struck us as stark, futuristically high-techo and a little scary.
But, maybe because this time we arrived two weeks earlier in the season than last time, the airport was crowded with travelers, and maybe because we weren’t quite the strangers in a strange land that we were that first time, this time we found the architecture of the Madrid airport to be not intimidating but really cool.
In truth I’m glad we lost our luggage the second time around and not the first..
Anyway, though we lost about 45 minutes on the luggage false alarm we gained time from not having to wander ‘round and ‘round the airport (as we did last time) wondering where to go next, since this time knew where where the RENFRE (the Spanish railway system) office was located and we also knew how to purchase tickets for Pamplona. So we bought our tickets, one set to get us from the airport to Atocha train station in downtown Madrid and another set to get us from Atocha to the train station in Pamplona. At Atocha we did not mosey timidly around as we did last time, but strode right into a station café station café and up to the counter where I confidently ordered a coca light (diet coke), café Americano, jugo de naranja (orange juice), and a bouteille de agua ,(bottle of water), which liquids we used to wash down
Ne😇xt we took the train from Madrid to Pamplona.. How do I love the Spanish trains? I love them for the wide aisles and wide, comfy seats, the dining cars, the lady who walks down the aisles offing cups of coffee, the free movies, the clean, better-than-airplane bathrooms, and the overall convenience they offer.
We arrived at The Pamplona train station and from there took the #9 city bus to the main bus Pamplona bus station (which last time took us a finite to figure out but, again, this time we confidently strode right up to the stop outside the train station), meeting along the way a couple of young first-time pilgrims who were oh, so grateful to have someone to follow.
As I write we are waiting for the ticket counter to open so we can buy our tickets to St. Jean Pied-de-Port,our final destination for this day.
As I now recall, this first day of the trip, the day of just getting there, is the hardest.
May this day be a good one for you!
The Madrid airport
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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or in print:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library