Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Friday, April 15, 2016

Madrid Day 1

I arrived at the Madrid airport after a really nice flight.
 It was first time in years I didn't have to wear a mask the entire time. 
Once we were in the air, the filtration system really did a great job 
and I was able to fly without all the Darth Vader gear I used on the flight to Dallas. 

Standing in line for my flight I met a couple who run a school in Madrid. 
The wife was excited to hear I was going to be walking the Camino -
 they had walked from Sarria to Santiago two years ago and loved it. 

I need to let people know that if you have checked baggage, 
getting through customs and picking up my trekking poles took more time than usual. 
We were the only flight so the waiting lines were short 
but the walk to customs and baggage was especially long. 
It feels like they've changed the route since last trip. 
Our plane landed at 9:38 and I finally was out the airport door at 11:15. 
So give yourself a good two hours if you plan on making a connection to bus or train. 

Though long the way is clearly marked in English. 

People movers help you get there quicker. 

You will go down, down, down multiple stairs and/or elevators 
and find yourself at a glass doored train platform. 
Wait for the next train and ride it to the baggage stop.
 Just follow everyone else. 

In case your poles aren't on the carousel, be sure to check the signage.
 They may come out on a different belt. 

After you get through customs and bags, you will either go outside the terminal to get on one of the many buses to Pamplona or other destinations, or you will go even further downstairs to catch the metro or train to town. Both are clearly marked and there are machines for buying tickets for each. 

I chose to take the Cercanius train. It goes in a circle from the airport to Chamartin Station to Atocha Station and back to the airport. If the Metro seems confusing just go to Atocha where you connect with all other metro lines. From Atocha I connected to the line going to Plaza De Sol, near my Hostal. The Cercanius ticket covering the entire ride was under 3 Euros. 

Keep your ticket in hand for the entire ride. When you get to the turnstile you put your ticket into the slot to make the gate to the train platform open. Don't forget to retrieve your ticket!  You will need it to exit the train platform at the end of your ride. 

I checked into Hostal Alonso and at first was a little put off. It certainly didn't look like the photos on the website. It's very old, the floor feels like I'm going to fall through in places. The beds sag a bit. But for the price of 22 Euros per night I'm not complaining. For me it is better than staying in a noisy hostel room. I have privacy and the place is very clean. Sort of like an old jacket that you love. It's a bit beaten up but warm and cozy. The lady of the house is very kind and I would say if you want a cheap but clean place and you aren't finicky, it's pretty good. 

The room is not ensuite but there are three bathrooms 
and so far I have been the only one using it. 
Shared bathrooms are common in Spain and I don't mind. 
I do have my own sink
And linens were included. 

I'm posting these photos to give you a good idea of what you can expect for a 20-30 euro room in Madrid. The buildings are old but charming. Clean but certainly not the Ritz. My room is fragrance free by request. However, people do smoke a lot here and if I go down the hall to where the third bathroom is, I can smell cigarette smoke, even though the lady says no smoking. So at this price don't expect much more than a clean bed, a hot shower, and a smile. That's all a pilgrim needs, right?

There is free wifi here and this is the common sign you will see

And even though I described this place harshly as 'seedy' it is certainly secure!  
These main doors would keep out an army!

Once I got settled in I ran up the street to the mercado for food. Here is my list with prices in euros. 

2 plain yogurt. 1,50
Little individual cheeses. 1,45
Tuna in water. .98
Juice. 1.00
1 orange and 1 tangerine
Olives. .65
Bread. .60
Aquarius .85

So for about 7 Euros I have breakfast and lunch for two days. 
I'll have yogurt and fruit for breakfast. 
I'll have bread and tuna and olives for lunch.
 I'll snack on the rest of the bread and cheese. 
There was plenty of inexpensive sandwich meat
but tuna sounded better today. 

Dinner tonight was a HUGE burrito for 6 euros. 

I went to Vodafone in Plaza Sol and bought a SIM for my iPhone for calls within Spain. 20 euros for the largest one. 

I also picked up a case for my iPad for 20 euros at a small store I passed. 

I looked at knives because I need one for sandwiches but haven't found the right one yet. 

Tomorrow I will meet my neighbor from Portland for coffee, check on my ticket to Malaga and then just enjoy the city. 

I'm shocked at the number of tourists. The place is crawling with them. Who opened the gates?  I've never seen it so crowded this early in the season. 

I just went out on the terrace to see if my socks were dry and it is raining. I think going to Malaga was a good decision!

Ok. That's my report for the day. 

Over and out!

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