Madrid 2003 - Swings and Roundabouts

Gin, Kim and Gaz on holiday for a couple of days—out of season

With only a September-November 1999 'What's-On' guide for Madrid and Kims folder which contained 4 photocopied Yahoo maps of Madrid, we left the flat for the airport. Arriving at Gatwick, before we knew it, we were on our way to Madrid! We arrived and went to our hotel. The hotel was 3 star, didn't look much from the outside, but the room was clean and was good enough. The early morning drilling and hammering (Kim - "Nothing requires hammering that much") was annoying but our definition of early morning wasmidday. Our first night in the European city and we desperately needed to eat some American cuisine. So we walked (and walking was a big part of the holiday) to Planet Hollywood and had the biggest burgers you have ever seen and some wine/beer.

Turbine Thompson— The empty glass explains it all

Tuesday and we were up and out; still merely with our 1999 guide to Madrid we had no idea what to do, so we walked to Salamanca and had a look around the shops. Madrid seems to have two scales of shopping 'Zara' which is the Burtons of Spain and Coco Channel/Cartier/Yves Saint Laurent, which is the high end of world fashion. These are the two extremes of shopping - nothing in-between. At last we found a 2003 guide to Madrid, we were on a role. We also found out that Wednesday night was 'International Party Ya!' night at Chesterfields. So we had a night out planned. We retired to Ginos the restaurant (you can imagine the laughs we had that Gin was in Ginos drinking Vino). Kim had the best pizza he'd had in his life. I didn't think mine was that good.

Gino— On the Metro for the 1st time

Wednesday was stadium day. We had already walked about 10 miles on Monday so we couldn't see that doing it again would hurt. We walked to Athletico Madrid's stadium and used stealth to enter the grounds (via a slightly opened door). We got in, took some photos and we were off. Some joker had shut the door to the stadium behind us and there was a point where we were very concerned we would not be able to get out! But we were ok. We then walked for another 2 miles looking for the Metro. When we found it we zoomed up to Real Madrid's stadium. This had a guided tour and was spectacular. It's amazing how many medals Real have won, they literally have thousands in there! We then walked back to our hotel (about 6 miles) and collapsed in exhaustion. I started to feel a bit ill and later, found out it was drinking wine that was making me ill. I went to a nice restaurant with Gin and Kim but then couldn't face it and walked home. 2 hours later and 6 glasses of milk, I was back out and we were in Chesterfields, where i was drinking water, Turbine Thompson and Gino were drinking Lemonade Vodkas at €4 a pop!

Gary— Inside Real Madrid’s Stadium—magnificent,

Thursday was museum day. We went to El Prado and Rena Sofia - they were both really exciting but mentally and physically draining. Las Meninas and Guernica were my two particular favorite pictures that we saw. Kim 'found his calling' for modern art while Kim decided that Gin (who went on an art course) was very jaded by it all, most probably born out of jealousy for the masterpieces that surrounded us for the day. Again, American diners were calling and we headed for Hard Rock Cafe. We ended up spending €111 in the restaurant on various cocktails, food and beer. We actually got last orders in the Irish bar on the way home as well!!

Friday was loose end day. We walked to the park on the east of Madrid. Having thought that Madrid was the safest city in the world it soon became apparent that this might not be the case. We got followed by drug dealers and shouted at constantly. It was very scary. What was more worrying, everyone else weren't getting sold drugs and seemed to be enjoying it). We left the park and used the urban jungle of Salamanca to shake any tails we may have gained. Friday night was a big disappointment for Gin, we didn't drink that much by the time last orders were called (about 3am) (only about 6 pints) but we went to a great Argentinean restaurant.

Kim and Myself outside Reina Sofia

Saturday there was a lot of waiting around and it started raining which was no bad thing as this was our last few hours in Spain. We said Adios to the hotel and got on the Metro for the flight home.

That was our holiday. Other memorable moments were the prostitutes shouting HOLA!!! at us from the other side of the street where we quickly ran off. My alarm clock waking us up after about 2 hours sleep gin - "I thought I told you to switch that off". Kim not knowing which switch to press to turn the bathroom lights on and consequently turning off all the lights in the room. The phrase "lets push on" after having already walked about 12 miles even though there was a perfectly reliable Metro system. Gin - "think of all the money we'll save" (The Metro was €1.10 a go). The intense personal thankfulness for life after getting out of that park. "Turbine Thompson" - once he gets going on the booze, there's no stopping him. The 'heated' debates about international politics and music appreciation, one of which ended up our neighbors banging on our door at 5am, probably wanting to tell us to shut up - although we just ignored them scared for our lives so just went to sleep. Our humiliation at not learning a single word in Spanish and just smiling at people when they asked us questions in Spanish. gin - "English" waiter - "¿qué usted tiene gusto de beber?" gin - (in a louder voice) "ENGLISH". Kim - "Oh how the tables have turned/oh how the mighty have fallen" on my wine drinking issue. The constant praise for the 'brain wave generator' and the book 'waking the giant within' from Kim. Ray Mears SAS training that kept us alive in the urban jungle.

British yobbo booze based culture at its best
Gary Brewer

Gary Brewer