Yesterday I left sunny San Diego quite early and am on my last train now at about 8pm Central European time on my last leg to La Manga, Spain. Sometimes all your plans go well and other times you miss your train by 15 minutes and are left with a 7 1/2 hour delay. My flights were on time…in fact my flight from Chicago to Madrid left early and I had to run to catch the plane since I was working on something and rushing to get it uploaded before I left. They literally closed the gate behind me. The flight to Madrid arrived early, at 7:30 not 7:50. But I had a 9am train…not from the airport, but from one about 10 minutes train ride from the airport. Baggage took a looooong time (it was a rainy Saturday morning); and the train from the airport to Charmartin station only left every 30 minutes. I missed the 8:27 train, and well…you can do the math. Every other day of the week the 9am train leaves at 9:22..anyway, it left and the next train was at 4:29. So I put my bags into a locker and went into Madrid for a few hours. The Charmartin train station was not that interesting. It was only 2 stops to central Madrid and there were lots of tourists there, and as the day went on it was increasingly crowded. It was also in the 40s and raining, but not too hard and this time I wore my poncho and took an umbrella and stayed dry. Below, leaving San Diego, Chicago Airport, Madrid Airport and the train from the city center to the Charmartin train station.
Madrid, or what I saw of it, has beautiful old buildings and is built on some hills. Also, there is an Iberio ham shop about every 10 steps and a restaurant or sweet shop about every 5 steps! The Spanish must love to eat. I saw two different “Museo de Jamon” shops and I must say they were packed to the gills with hams and people eating ham sandwiches. Plus it was warmer in any restaurant and drier, than being out on the streets.
I decided to got see the church that was next to the Royal Palace. It wasn’t too far and it was not a nice day for taking photos really. This church was lovely, it had the most beautiful ceiling and organ. A service was going on and there was singing and a lot of energy. And speaking of energy, mine ran out or my lack of sleep caught up to me. I wandered back, got a “bocadello” (sandwich) with of course Iberio ham sliced very thinly (great bread too) and returned to the train station.
In Spain, like inFrance, the platforms are not scheduled far in advance. Passengers wait around the big board showing destinations and departure times, then about 20 minutes or so before the train leaves, the platform is announced.
So what I learned today:
- Allow 2-3 hours to catch a train that leaves only twice a day!
- Buy a refundable ticket if you think you might not make your train
- Trains leave from the airport to the two main train stations in Madrid only twice an hour.
- Do not expect Madrid drivers to stop (I came inches from getting run over in front of the church today!); the light was red!
- If you miss your train, go to plan B quickly and see or eat something new.
- Not new, but do check your luggage in a locker if you have a delay and go explore!
Also, not something I learned today but anyway, make sure you can text overseas from your US phone or get a sim for the country in which you arrive card when you arrive. I didn’t find much wifi today and without it Jenny would have been wondering where I was.
Tomorrow there’s an 80% chance of rain then I play Monday at 9:30! No time to worry. I haven’t seen the draw but am meeting up tomorrow with Jenny Klitch who has been
Photos are uploading to here. https://goo.gl/photos/23Sna6iCf4GTVbpX8
Update Sunday: Jenny Klitch and I beat the rain and had a good hit today. Courts are nice, slow; using Babolat balls which are pretty light.
More after my match tomorrow.