What a Day in Madrid!

NOTHING GOES RIGHT                                                                  
Oh my goodness, what a day!  I still can’t believe how bad a day it was.  We started the day by buying two, 2-day metro passes good for the subway and the buses, with the idea, that we would go into central Madrid for a bit and then head out to a church potluck we had been invited to in a Madrid suburb.  First, I lost the paper I had written down the phone numbers I would need for the potluck and had to return to our room to look for it.  I never found it, so I looked the numbers up and wrote them down again and put them into the electronic translator case. 

We got back to the metro station and discovered we were missing the translator.  Went BACK to the room and searched the room for the translator–no sign of it.  I don’t know if we dropped it, set it down somewhere (we only went to the bedroom to change Jon’s shirt because of a stain and walked to the front desk in between times).  I don’t know if we are getting senile or losing our hearing (wouldn’t we have heard it, if we dropped it?) or what…we wasted the whole day losing and hunting down those phone numbers and the translator, and didn’t find them–it should have been a warning of how the day was going.

MADRID METRO EXPERIENCE 11-08

We finally go to the metro & head towards the meeting place for the potluck (about 1 hr. away by metro).  We had to switch lines and Jon was walking ahead of me as he got into the next ‘train’.  As I step in I see he is surrounded by three guys and they have a hold of his pant legs and are shaking them like mad!  I look at what is going on and notice a metro ticket & coin on the floor, and think, “Their trying to steal his ticket!”  They run off the train and Jon reaches back to discover his wallet is gone–they had stolen his wallet!  He yells, “They got my wallet!” and runs out after them.  I realize that I don’t want to be on this train without my husband and try to follow as the door closes on me, squishing my foot.  I didn’t know how to open the door and it is squeezing my foot and I think, “The train is going to leave with my husband out there chasing these guys and me with my foot stuck in the door”, so I start hollering, “I need to get out!  I need to get out!” 

In the meantime, Jon had caught up with the guys (he had been yelling–“They got my wallet!  They got my wallet!”)   The guy with the wallet had removed the money from the wallet as they tried to blend in with the crowd, but as Jon continued yelling for his wallet, the one with the wallet handed Jon his wallet AND the money!  So, after checking to verify that his credit cards were still there, Jon comes running back to the train and pushes the button to open the door, releasing my foot and he jumps back on.  The door then closes and the train leaves. 

All this time there was a train full of people who just sat in their seats, not saying nor doing anything.  Even as the train started moving, I looked around and everyone just sat there like nothing had just happened, with the exception of one man, who watched Jon start to put his wallet back into his back pocket and without saying a word, tapped on his own front pocket to indicate that Jon should put it in his front pocket.  He nodded as Jon moved it to his front pocket.  We were both in such shock we weren’t even sure how to react.  I told Jon my heart was racing and he said, he was just in shock.  It all happened so fast, yet seemed to be in slow motion. 

By this point Jon wasn’t sure he even wanted to continue to the potluck, but I told him, the people from the church were expecting us at the end of the route.  As we continued riding towards our destination, I chuckled and told Jon, “It’s a good thing you had your belt on tight, otherwise your pants would have fallen down!” (Those pants are too big for him now, since losing 50 lbs.)

After getting to the meeting place, and telling them what happened, the people meeting us referred to him as a hero, because he saved his wallet.  Later another lady at the potluck said, “Welcome to Madrid”, like that was just normal.  Well, if that is normal, we are NOT impressed with Madrid!  First thing upon arriving to Madrid, the ATM eats his American Express card and now this! 

I think the thing that really got to us, is the fact that nobody did or said a thing, even though this was broad daylight with the seats all full!  I still can’t believe that they did it in such a way that brought such attention to what was happening and even so, nobody did or said anything.   Besides that, the people here don’t even seem to try to help you understand things.  It’s like they are thinking, “If you don’t know the language, what are you doing here.  Don’t bother me with your problems.”  I know sometimes people accuse Oregonians of having that attitude, but I think our attitude is–“If you are a tourist–I will help all I can, but if you LIVE here…then you need to learn our language.  Don’t expect us to learn yours.”  As long as they are TRYING, I think our people are pretty understanding towards those who don’t speak English real well.  We are also totally unimpressed with the graffiti everywhere in this city. 

I guess you could say, we are NOT impressed with Madrid and will be very happy to return home in time for the holidays.  And we don’t have much interest in returning here anytime too soon.  We do have a nice hotel room with a separate bedroom from a living room area (making it feel like we have our own little apartment).  We even have a door buzzer!  Some people warned that people in France might be rather rude to Americans, but we found that they were far more helpful and friendly than here.

MADRID ON SUNDAY 

After such a crazy day Saturday, we stayed up late and then slept in really late on Sunday.  But we did venture out on the metro again (we had a 2-day pass) after going thru Jon’s wallet and taking out extra credit cards he wasn’t using and making sure his wallet was in his FRONT pocket.  We went to Plaza Mayor which is a busy place in central Madrid.  There were lots of shops and restaurants.  We bought a few small things and split a Suckling Pig dinner, which was very good.  Later that night I was looking at a flyer for the oldest restaurant in Madrid, where we are going when Jon’s manager gets into town and saw a picture of their Suckling Pig.  EWW!  It still had the head…I don’t know if I can eat one that has a head looking at me…  In general though, the food has been good.  The people we came in contact with on Sunday were polite and gave us a much better picture of Madrid.Again, sorry for the long message—there was just so much to tell…

Looking forward to spending the holidays at home,

Vicki  (& Jon too!)

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