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1 September 2012

On the move ... Hello Madrid

Another trip, another plane, another airport treat.  Normally, my first stop at the airport is at Starbucks to pick up a White Cafe Mocha (with whipped cream and cinnamon), but today my choice was not as much motivated by taste as by the nutritive value of the different drinks. As a result I ventured out of my comfort zone, and gave this Light Caramel Frappucino a try.  Nothing will ever beat a full fat & full sugar drink, but I think this one might become a regular.  At least on non-winter day. If we're travelling in freezing temperatures, I think I'll pass on iced drinks. :o)  

As I did an online check-in, we weren't in a hurry to get in and while the other half enjoying a smoke break, we ended up conversing with a young French guy from Marseille, who was doing a stopover in Brussels on his way to Nanking, China, where he would be teaching French at the local faculty for a period of 5 months (at first).  We spent about an hour talking with him before having to get back into the terminal to drop of the luggage.

Pedalling travellers
Once that was taken care of we did a pitstop at the bookstore where I bought two more novels (even if I already had packed one from home to read on the plane).  Bookaholic in action, I guess.  After a little hold up at the security check (guess who made the alarm go off, again?), we made it to the gate where the following contraptions caught my eye.  It was a stand by Electrabel, one of the mayor players on the Belgian energy market, were you could charge your laptop's or phone's battery.  But energy comes at a price : instead of just handing you the juice for free, Electrabel decided to make us work for it.  With a dynamo type setup, you have to get up on one of those bikes and pedal !  I thought it was a very cool idea and depending on the building costs, it would be very useful to have these types of charging stations scattered around town. After all, who hasn't found herself with a dead phone just when you need to make a phonecall?

Because the flight was late in arrival at Brussels, boarding started half an hour later than scheduled and subsequently the flight took off later as well.  However thanks to prevailing tail winds, our 2h15 journey ended up becoming a 1h40 trip.  Lucky for us, because the person sharing our row was rather rude and obnoxious.  First of all, even though she was obese but felt it was OK to make comments on our weight.  Things like "Oh, well, if I can't lower the table, you most definitely won't be able to".  I looked her dead in the eye, lowered the table to its normal horizontal position and told her "Look at that. "I" have no problems at all".  That shut her up for about 5 minutes.  Then she kept looking at the menu and because neither of our seats had one, we asked if we could take a look at the menu as well.  Her reaction? "Maybe you didn't get any menu, because they knew you had already eaten". WTF?  The nerve of some people. Really.

After the flight, luggage collection was a breeze.  Our flower power suitcase attracted the usual amount of attention. :o)  I had organised an express transfer to the flat with Aerocity and although everything went smoothly at the counter, we waited for half an hour before the counter lady came to enquire about our destination again.  Turns out, someone else took our taxi.  They had approached another couple, asked if they were the Ingrid party (to which they had responded yes) and send them off to our address. Hmmm, what are the odds that there would be a second Ingrid at the same place in a large airport as Barajas.  Anyway, they put us on a shuttle bus at a lower price and we still made it to Calle Pez, where our friendly landlord Sandra was waiting for us.

The attic studio is exactly as announced on the Desig website and I am convinced we'll have a great stay over here.  This studio flat was our second choice in a way, as our first booking got cancelled because the owner had to sell the flat due to the dire economic circumstances in Spain right now.  Finding another place to stay which responded to our criteria (not too expensive, linen included, terrace, wifi, TV and elevator if over 2nd floor) took a while but I am happy to have found this little gem in the heart of Madrid. Definitely a recommended stay in Spain's capital for a couple.

Malasaña seems to be a very colourful barrio.  I knew it was a neighbourhood of bars and nightlife, but I didn't t expect to see that many Asians (Chinese?). Every little foodstore I encountered was being held by them, and there are quite a few in this barrio.  After a drink at the Zombie Bar (what's in a name?) below, I set off in search of a supermarket to buy some groceries.  I boldly decided that I wouldn't be needing a map and obviously got lost along the way.  Fortunately I could call my "backup GPS person", who stayed at the flat and guided me back to more familiar surroundings :o)

We ended the day with an improvised tapeo on our terrace ... the perfect ending of a first day of holiday. Tomorrow, we'll be exploring Malasaña and Chueco before meeting up with our cousin Isabel for dinner.

Thanks for reading my little blog  :o)


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