I arrived initially in London, specifically Heathrow airport before 7 am. Ah, felt good to stand up and actually walk around, stretch everything out a bit. I again had to go through security cause so much can happen on an airplane, I mean really? I found a pub and ordered a Guinness. It was quite a shock, but I’m pretty sure a pint in Heathrow was cheaper than at Molly McGuire’s in Dallas. The thing is in Heathrow they use the pound, not euro so it’s hard to know how much it converts to in dollars. Still though that Guinness was pretty sweet and worth it after that long, painful flight. Heathrow is a huge airport and I can see how people get lost or frantic running changing planes. I had to first walk around this huge lobby like area, the duty-free shops, then walk about a quarter-mile to our gate. The gate turned out to just be a shuttle which took us through back ways and finally an airplane. It was the old style, where the ladder is brought out by the airlines.
Madrid was great. I arrived around 5 so dinner time was in order. I sadly wasn’t around anything other than hotel restaurants and I wanted to get out and know the cities and people. I wanted to eat and have a beer in a local pub or cantina. The area around the hotel was actually populated which gave me hope. I must have been off the main drag as I walked a good 20 minutes around the streets before finally seeing a place.
What made this place cool is they had locals smoking and watching American TV, cartoons dubbed in Spanish. American Dad, or papi they called it was on. Everyone was laughing, the workers had beer, and the couples had wine. Most everyone smoked which was new; for sure more people smoke in Europe than US it seems. They didn’t seem to have ashtrays but they did have small cans around the bar. That’s where you tossed trash, napkins and things, ashes seemed to go on the floor or occasionally the direction of the cans. I got a Cruzcampo and some sausages. They seem to include a snack with anything you buy so you a night out is pretty cheap. Beer is 2€ so that isn’t bad.
I first tried chorizo in small Vienna wiener style. They were pretty good and you got a small plate of them. After a few beers I think perhaps I should tip this guy or order more food. I elect to the tried and true, just point; ‘Quanto?’ It was a Spanish style eggroll thing with cabbage and pork. Pretty good, but it was room temp so that was a bit strange. Good though. Asking for another beer one says, ‘otra,’ again. That is pretty simple, clever.
After a few I realized it would soon be dark and there were a few unknowns about my return trip. I recalled a small grocery store so I decided to stop in and pick up a bev. I walk in and head to the back. I get up to the front, a few things when this lady screams, “Ay es caballero !’ turns out the place is closed and they have all the money from registers and counting it down. I was escorted out of the building. A close call, my first night in town and I could’ve had the policia called on me.
Made it back to my place, tried to use internet, but it was always a pay type situation. I could go to a couple free places only for short periods of time. I had to negotiate the lights in the rooms. They do it where you must have a card to turn the light on. I guess that’s how you monitor electricity and people sneaking into rooms. It didn’t click and I had to do a few things in the dark which is always a good change of pace. The elevators, well everything as it turns out, but the first thing I notice that is different all over Europe is how much smaller or more compact things have to be. I’ll bet you can only fit 4 people in the elevator at this place. Europeans have a much better grasp on maximizing space and really cutting down on unnecessary items. For instance I saw standard restaurant facilities as each own room, but the doors opened and the sink was in the middle. Not a sink in each room, it was shared, cold water only. It’s like they said, you know what, we don’t need hot water to wash our hands, just regular room temp water will do. I just wonder how much work/time/$ they save when they build. Actually they don’t build new things, they have to remodel so perhaps it was all due to the available space.