Madrid, Madrid, Madrid
Updated: May 12
My existence lies between two worlds, the city and the woods.
A city girl true and true, a country girl in spirit.
A flash trip to Madrid for under 72 hours in the belly of a city junction, the Royal Opera hub. Plaza Mayor and Sol to the South, medical specialist and the American Embassy in Barrio de Salamanca to the north. I was caught in a tug of war this time around of what I travelled down to do and what I wanted to do but somehow managed both.
The Great Wall
As with any of my last minute trips sometimes some things just have to happen because it is out of my control with little or poor planning from me, but truly, out of control. Like confusing days, not taking traffic into consideration when I overlook one of many three to five day holiday stretches in any given month or sudden dangerous weather patterns that most travel companies dub as an act of god to not have refunds available.
I organized my girls supervision for when away and ventured off.
This time I did not think of a dark moonless morning where the surroundings suddenly become unfamiliar. The roads appear like dead ends, curbs take shape out of nowhere and in late April, all kinds of beasts emerge from wooded areas.
It is that eerie darkness where I feel I do not know where I am going. Small signs half covered with greenery appearing just a few meters of exits when headlights beamed upon them and turns that would suddenly take form slowed my velocity on the road. My usual hour and ten minute drive down to the big city surpassed an hour forty-five.
Then there is something about, what I have labeled, The Great Wall of Lugo. The sight of it makes me cringe when trying to leave these Galician lands when pressed for time. An imposing Roman structure interferes with any attempts made when trying to catch a bus out of the province. It hinders my ability of getting to the bus station on time. I have to circulate around it, all 85 towers, three kilometres in the round, enclosing 85 acres. Not to mention all the traffic lights and zebra crosswalks that people jump onto right when trying to drive through, to then look for and be fortunate enough to find the unmarked narrow street that leads me to the bus station.
I missed my bus.
Damn you Lucus Agusti!
Lugo capital, 8:15 am and the next bus was not until 1pm, UGH!
Whassap messages start beeping; my girl´s "morning mum", message from my BFF here in Spain, "have a good trip don't worry about anything" and my crew wishing me well all whilst trying to make alternative arrangements and not have to wait five hours for a bus. I was to be in Madrid within five hours, that was the original plan.
Trains booked solid. A six hundred euro cab ride out of the question. I had to think.
I suddenly remembered the infamous carpool service available here in Spain and looked through profiles and trips available on my travelling laptop. This carpool service is like playing Russian Roulette some profile photos seem like mugshots, others appear shady but in turn are nice people. Some vehicles are really clean, modern and comfortable. Others are just one ride away from the junkyard but what truly matters are the ratings given by passengers and their safety records. Two trips were offered, I chose the one with one passenger seat available, in total 4 of us.
I like talking to strangers, four strangers embarked on the great escape from the Great Wall of Lugo was alright by me. One catch, meeting point was three kilometres away and I had no idea where it was. After GPS location I arrived at the meeting point, a one bar and gas station strip. A girl is sitting at a table sipping coffee, an overnight bag on the floor next to her. I introduce myself, she was one of the passengers with a story similar to mine. Sadly, Galicia isn't the best connected province to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and we confirmed the fact once exchanging similarities of our morning adventures.
A series IV BMW pulls up, the third passenger accompanying the driver. Polite introductions, bags in the trunk, let's hit the road is what the driver said with a smile.
Music playing, luxury ride and easy flowing conversations and before we knew it we were in Madrid, near one hour ahead the scheduled arrival of the bus I missed.
What are the chances of four strangers, a semi retired Admiral of the Spanish Armada who shared his adventures and details of his living conditions when stationed in a submarine off the Spanish coast. A Spanish journalist currently living in Jerusalem covering topics on foreign affairs and a young bright eyed girl about to embark on her journey with Doctors Without Boarders getting on and making dinner plans before fate leads us far away to different corners of the world. All four of us from somewhere else, not native to Galicia but The Great Wall of Lugo made sure we cross paths.
My stay, an art deco building with its decorative steel encased elevator, spiral marble staircase leading up to my temporary home. A stained-glass dome at top floor echoing the same stain glass motifs guiding me along a curved wall as I swish up on the cold marble stairs in gold and green tones.
Stepping into the building I time travelled. Stepping out from behind heavy wrought iron doors the Royal Opera House, in full view, helped me ignore the modern day corporate chains and tourist traps set for those who are visiting for the first time in group tours.
With excitement, I rode the lift up and down several times despite my flat being on the first curved landing.