Hello from Madrid

I’ve done so much and had so much happen to me in the last few days I´m not even sure where to begin.

I guess I’ll start with our last night in Zurich – we shopped until the stores closed and managed to spend all our Swiss francs. The next morning we woke up early, checked out of Goldenes Schwertz and waited for the airport shuttle to arrive (we had booked through the hotel and already paid so we didn’t need any cash).

The shuttle didn’t come. I suppose I’ll save the details for my review of the Goldenes Schwertz hotel, but for now let me just say that the front desk did nothing to help us solve the problem. We had only planned on arriving in the airport an hour in advance (this was actually based on advice from the hotel front desk as well though I did know better and should have insisted on an earlier shuttle). So after 20 minutes of waiting for the shuttle we were pretty stressed out about possibly missing the flight.

The shuttle service itself was another experience as the driver backed the luggage trailer into a building, droppped us off at the wrong building, and sent us in the wrong direction.

When we did eventually find the SpanAir checkin (it was actually Swiss Air) we didn’t have much time. My wife got on line while I tried my luck with the machines. I wasn’t making much progress and then they all crashed. Every check in machine went down.

So we waited on line – they sent us to a special line which we later learned was the wrong one. Then we found that Span Air hadn’t sent us an eticket number – I thought that my reservation number was all I needed since that was the only number in the only email I got from them.

So check in took a while and then the guy said he couldn’t give us the tickets and told us to run to a Lufthansa counter at the other end of the building to get the actual borading pass. So we’re flying SpanAir, checking in at SwissAir, and getting our tickets from Lufthansa. We get there and there is another line. At this point we have a little less than 30 minutes until the flight departs.

As we were waiting they called out our names and gave us the boarding passes. We ran to passport control, got through and then faced a problem. My wife really wanted her tax refund from all the shopping we did but we didn’t have much time. We still had to go through security. We found a refund counter but they said you have to go to customs first to get some stamp or something.

My wife was getting directions to wherever the office was upstairs while I tried to convince her it wasn’t worth the stress. We must have looked pretty funny with my wife running to the escalator and me chasing her begging her to come through security with me and forget about the tax refund.

Eventually I convinced my wife (or maybe she was just tired of running) and we went through security. We got to the gate just as they were boarding. Then we waited on the plane for half an hour thinking we should have just spent that time getting our tax refund…

But we did get to Madrid. Today was our second day here. I won’t go into details yet, but let me say that our hotel Francisco I, will probably get a pretty bad review and certainly no recommendation. It is by far the noisiest hotel I’ve ever experienced.

We also haven’t had great luck with Spanish food, although we did get some excellent Italian tonight.

We continue to shop and spend money at an alarming rate but we think we’re buying clothes that we want and that we would have to pay much more for in Korea or America.

Well let me save Madrid for another blog entry. I’m fairly tired and probably will be the rest of the trip considering how much noise we have to endure at the hotel…

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Comments (4)

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  1. Nan Signorelli says:

    In Madrid, you have probably found out by now that the only good food will be paella and sangria if you consider that food and tapas,of course, which you can make a meal with the good wine.

  2. Sharon says:

    Although you didn’t get the tax refund, am wondering what sort of tax refund you get for shopping in Zurich? Is that true everywhere in Europe? I hope that things improve in Madrid, especially since you are going to be there a while. Travel guides mention the Botin restaurant, as being very historic and interesting, but probably expensive too. The Prado museum is worth visiting, and if you like flamenco, should find some of the best in Madrid. Shopping again…leather, lace, etc. Am sure things are less expensive for the most part, but will take some looking around. If there’s a concierge, even the desk clerk, at the hotel, ask him; they usually have some great suggestions on places to see, where to go, etc. Have fun!

  3. J. Barrett says:

    We travelled to Madrid on business fairly often

    finding the Castellana Intercontinental Hotel and the Miguel Angel quiet though the neighborhoods of

    both were well attended by prostitutes late at night. Not threatening really. There is good food in Madrid, roast lamb is exquisite. El Olivo is fun and the food really good too.

  4. H. Ushky says:

    I had good experience with “Menu del Dia” for lunch but you better be basic Spanish speaker. Even with few Spanish words you can manage. The prices are reasonable 8 to 15 EUR. They include primera- entree or soup or salad, segunda- main dish and postre- desert plus drink water/beer/wine and all included. Even for basic speakers the Spanish menu is not allways understandable and is full of surprises. In Barcelona it is much more surprising as all written in Catalan. The main course generally comes with french fries but not allways. It is worth trying dont be afraid. For some help try http://www.gomadrid.com Spanish Food Dictionary and Glossary. If you are looking for a good hotel quiet location next to underground try Rafael Piramides.

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