Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mad...Mad...Madrid

Before I post about the various places in Spain, I think I should list the funny/interesting/bizarre experiences we had in Madrid.

- Baggage belt: We landed in Madrid and were patiently waiting at the ''From Munich'' baggage belt for our luggage and when we were getting slightly impatient we noticed some hulchul at another baggage belt. There was our luggage in the ''from Valencia'' baggage belt ! Apparently, our luggage is from Valencia even though we are from Munich :D !

- Metro numbers: Metro is the tram network in Madrid. It is a maze and neither the directions nor the train numbers help too much. Train lines are numbered 1-11. You would assume that when waiting for Line 11, there will be a train with the same number....well, you assume too much....train (numbered) 15 arrives and I am frantically looking at the signs, map everything and there is no train 15. The same thing happens when I wait for Line 4 and train 11 shows up and finally I understood that they number the trains either for the fun of it or based on its age or whatever but definitely not according to the route ! enna kodumai Saravanan ?! What I found even funnier were the maps inside the trains. I entered Line 4 and right in front of me is the route for Line 5, I am completely confused, I turn around and find maps for Lines 9 and 10 too and then it finally dawns on me that all trains have maps of all routes besides the one huge metro map that shows the whole network ! Can you spot the number in the pic ? Thats actually line 1!

- Metro temperatures: It was 9 deg C outside and as soon as we entered the metro, we realized that the heater was running at full strength and removed our jackets. It was getting hotter by the minute until we almost started sweating ! The next day, it was -4 deg C outside and we were relieved to step into the metro and lo, they chose that day to run the air conditioner at full strength....kadavule....we were literally freezing !

- ATM: Inserted the card, amount required and waited. Out came the card, the receipt that said ''cash withdrawn'' but unfortunately no cash !! Neither was there a contact number, nor was there anyone who could explain what happened. So hoping that the transaction was somehow not carried out (and that the ''non''withdrawn money was not debited from the account), we moved on to trying a different card. We later called the bank from the hotel room (since we did not have all info with us to check our account online) and were informed that if the details of transaction were given to the bank, they would ''try'' and get the money back if the amount was debited from the account...aha.....Later, after coming home, we checked the account and thankfully the amount debited had already been recredited...phew!

- Snacks Vending Machine: You know the routine right ? put in money, press the number and out pops the snack. We needed a water bottle (in counter 47). after inserting the money, everytime we pressed 47, a new number will appear - first it was 44 (I accused Ashok of pressing the wrong keys), then it was 46, then 48 and then back to 45 !! All these counters were luckily empty, otherwise God knows how many drinks we would have bought for one water bottle. You see the fateful machine in the pic !

- Green tea: Noone seems to have heard of green tea. The closest one was mint tea and that was avaliable in just one cafe. Since I was on a break from coffee, green tea was my only option. I went around ordering hot water and adding the dip green tea to it :D !

- Gym: We were in a 4-star hotel and the gym was in a dark alley away from the hotel and had one tread mill (that dint work), one rowing machine, one elliptical and 2 exercise bikes. Spaniards clearly are not fond of the Gym.

- Food: You ask for a vegetarian sandwich and you will get one with lettuce, tomatoes and lotsa egg and that is nearly the only vegetarian option you have, leaving out the pastries! And if you are a die-hard vegetarian who shys away from eggs, oh...well, you can forget about meals and live like a spartan ! Photo shows Ashok's breakfast :D ! To be fair, we did find one vegetarian place on the last day and I liked it so much (maybe because I was starved :D) that I have to dedicate a separate post for that life saviour !

Disclaimer: Those from Spain or Madrid, no offence meant. I totally loved Spain and you should wait a little longer for me to post about those experiences as well.
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