Sunday, June 26, 2016


Arriving at Porto Airport, ready to board my TAP Portugal flight to Madrid excited to be upgraded from economy to business class, the check in desk told me to go through Express Security because “I am entitled”. Yes I am. The questions is, what was I entitled too?

Alfonso VII Monument
Express security had three staff and one passenger (me), right next to the standard security line in which the numbers were reversed so it only saved me about two minutes. I did get to board the plane first. I was the very first passenger on the plane, for the very first time in my life. The seats in business class and economy class were identical, with business class afforded an additional 15cm or so leg room. After the canyoning in Porto I was as grateful as I was entitled to this room. (For those playing along ay home I have almost regained full movement in my right leg) The inflight entertainment was non existent for any passengers. The catering reminded me just how entitled I really was. A pre-prepared roll that had a smear of something that may have been salmon and a couple of wilted roquette and a fruit salad consisting of two orange segments, four cubes of tart pineapple and two cubes of rock melon. To drink I was offered a warm can of Coke and a glass with an ice cube.

The napkin was fabric, the cutlery metal.

It was less than expected for business class, even on a 50 minute flight, but still more than offered to economy class. The surfs received two thirds cup of warm Coke served in a plastic cup with only one ice cube.

Catedral de la Almudena
It appears I am not however entitled to electricity. 24 hours after arriving my apartment lost all power for more than a day. I moved to a hotel room around the corner that although provided a kitchenette did not provide power to said kitchen – that is another €5 per day. If one did chose to pay the extra then it is extensively equipped with a wide range of cooking utensils…one ladle.

Madrid is much flatter than its western neighbour, and warmer. Unlike the Australian sun, which can feel like a BBQ hot plate on your face, in south western Europe it is more like being in a slow cooker. Nowhere is this more true than Madrid. Many of the alfresco cafes have fans with constant water misters attached. I am now well into my fourth bottle of sunscreen. Sadly Madrid let me down. I needed to put on a jumper, once, during the day even. Just for a couple of hours, but still!

Also the toothpaste and supply of take-with-you-tasty treats provided by Emirates first class has sadly run out, 18 days after they were first supplied.

Madrid loves vast royal and government buildings and galleries. The galleries often housing the original artwork that once hung proudly in the palace or parliament. A replica is often hanging in its place. As a tourist this does create a sense of déjà vu.

Templo de Debod
Adding to the confusion is Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple. An actual, real, original temple that was dismantled, shipped to Spain and rebuilt. Imagine the cost of postage. It was a gift to Spain after it came to the aid of Egypt when a great archaeological area was under threat of ruin with the Nile under flood.

It must be said it is a small temple as is the original art work carved into its interior wall. It is more like a temple that Egypt had put down in the back shed when it discovered other, better temples. Then years later, having a bit of a clean up rediscovered it, and instead of throwing it out simply put a pretty bow on it and gifted it.

Royal Palace
I did visit the royal palace, with plans to catch up with King Filipe VII and Queen Letizia. I was going to have churros and a hot choccy with Fil to celebrate the second anniversary to him ascending the throne, however they were called away to prepare Spain’s response to the Orlando massacre. Being very proud of being the third country in the world to legalise same sex marriage despite being staunchly catholic country the Spanish community are deeply upset by the event. Having discovered America I think they feel partially responsible. I did catch up with Hollywood royalty instead.

I awoke this morning to notice a larger than normal police presence in the main square, including riot police. It turns out that Thursday’s in Madrid appear to be protest days. Everyone who has anything to protest is there with a microphone and a sign. The biggest group forming was definitely to show solidarity with the people of Orlando. A much smaller, much, much smaller group was listening to a lady holding a large placard with a clearly labeled drawing of a rectangle and a circle. The labels were in both Spanish and English so must be very important.

She was either wanting change in Spanish architectural design or demanding a Tupperware Shape-O for every child born in Spain.

I rounded out my holiday with a night of Flamenco. As my mother would say, “it was a bit loud” even after turning off the hearing aid – there is a lot of clapping and stomping. The women were amazing and their feet so fast. The male dancer was a lot more prancey than he was dancey. He was very impressed with his own abilities despite how poorly he compared to his two female colleagues.

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