11:00 p.m.: Well, I'm finally out of Madrid, but it wasn't easy.
I got up around 7:30 to discover that I was still alive. I was a little
wobbly but feeling a lot better. Thursday was a lost day. After a good
shower and clean clothes I felt daring enough to venture out into the
city. Hadn't eaten more than a glass of orange juice in 24 hours, I
needed something to eat. (The good thing about my insulin regime is
that I take Humalog when I eat and the dose is related to the amount
of carbohydrates in the meal. The long-acting Lantus insulin accounts
for my baseline metabolism. Thus, I can skip a meal without fear of
becoming hypoglycemic. Although, to be on the safe side, I test my blood
every 2 or 3 hours when I'm sick.)
Most Spaniards eat a pastry roll and a café con leche for breakfast.
Obviously, I try to avoid such a meal. So, I found a little place which
served eggs. I ordered huevos revoltos con tocina (scrambled
eggs with bacon) and a café con leche. Normally this would
agree with me. But today it didn't! One bite was all I could take. So
I ordered a zomo de naranja (orange juice-fresh squeezed!!) Because
orange juice has so much sugar in it, I generally avoid it, but this
morning I couldn't help it. To compensate, I had to take an additional
shot of Humalog.
It was 9:00 a.m. and I wanted to buy a couple of things before I left
Madrid. But the stores don't open until 10:00 a.m. so I wandered the
streets. I found I cyber café and decided to check my email.
Boy, do they have fast connections. I wish my computer with its modem
worked as fast. I also wished that the cyber cafés would allow
me to hook up my computer and up load my journal entries and photos.
They don't! I've been told it's because they are afraid of viruses getting
into their network. Saw a message from my web guru and answered
it. Read a note from my brother and answered that. Then I saw another
note from the web master. It was a response to my response. This surprised
me because 9:00 a.m. in Madrid is 3:00 a.m. back home. The man must
Went to the super mercado to buy some food to have available
if I can't find a restaurant during the trip. Bought a couple of pears
and oranges and a package of boiled ham. The full-sized super market
with fresh fish, live shell fish, and fresh-cut meats is in the bottom
level of El Corte Ingles, one of Madrid's largest department stores.
Talk about one-stop shopping!
Got back to the room and stowed my things into the backpack. Boy, it
seemed a lot easier than I had anticipated yesterday when I was sick.
Left my other bag with extra clothes for the return trip with the hotel
concierge who will store it until I return. Called home at 1:30 p.m.
(7:30 a.m. Boston time) to say that I felt good enough to head out.
After a quick lunch of a fresh pear, I donned my pack, hung my scallop
shell around my neck, put on my hat, grabbed my pilgrim's walking stick
and headed to the train station — first leg of my trip. The first
step on my trek was - to the metro.
The metro in Madrid is excellent — one of the best I've ever been
on. It's well laid out with clear instructions and friendly helpful
workers. So, I thought the trip to el Chamartin train station would
be a breeze. Well, it was until I got to the point where I had to change
lines for the last two stops before the train station. That line was
in repair, so I had to ascend to the street and take a special shuttle
bus. Talk about crowded! And I'm trying to get in with a bulky backpack
and a 7 foot walking stick. It was so crowded I started to get nervous.
I was reminded of the time when I was pick-pocketed on a subway train
in Mexico City. I immediately became suspicious of the little guy next
to me. So I rode the whole way with my hands over my pockets while trying
to maintain my balance as the bus lurched around the corners.
I got to the bus station about 3:15 p.m., in order to take a 6:00 p.m.
train. Once inside the station I had to wait in line for 45 minutes
to buy my ticket. When the ticket clerk asked me if I wanted smoking
or non-smoking, I said I didn't care. So she asked again, "smoking?"
I shrugged okay. She took my credit card and swiped the strip though
the machine. It didn't take so she entered the numbers manually. Then
she said the fatal words, "completo." How could my
credit card be full, it was only the beginning of my trip. So I pulled
out my ATM card and asked her if there was a machine nearby. She said
that she didn't mean that my card was full, she meant that the train
was full. She then told me the next train was 7:00 a.m. mañana.
I started to panic. I checked my Frommer's guide to find that the only
nearby hotel listed the cost at $100 per night. So I went outside to
ask a cabbie where there were some cheap hotels. He said "centro
de ciudad" (center of the city) Great — that's where
I had just come from. Well, I never like to backtrack so I decided to
try a different tack. I went to a lady in the information booth and
asked her if there was any other way to Pamplona. She said I could take
a 10:00 p.m. train to Zaragoza, arriving there around 1:30 a.m. and
transfer to a 2:15 a.m. train to Pamplona arriving at 5:45 a.m. It was
a little longer than the 4-hour trip I had anticipated. But I felt that
I had no alternative. Besides, perhaps I could sleep on the train.
So I had to wait in line again for a ticket — this time only about
20 minutes. When I showed the ticket man the itinerary that the information
lady had printed out for me, he raised an eyebrow. "¿Porque
Zaragoza?" when you could take a train at 6:00 p.m. directly
to Pamplona? I said "¿Pero, completo no?" and
he said "¡No!" When the first ticket clerk said,
"Completo!" she must have meant that the "smoking"
section was full — language barriers are sometimes trying!!!
Well, I boarded the 6:00 p.m. train to Pamplona. It was the cleanest,
brightest, and roomiest train I had ever been on. And the ride was so
smooth that I didn't realize we were moving until I saw the station
slipping by. Before long I was fast asleep.
I awoke about 9:30 p.m. at a stop before Pamplona. Fear started to set
in again. It will be about 10:15 when I get there. I'll be too tired
to walk far from the train station. Train stations tend to be in the
outskirts of town. Hotels near the train station will be expensive.
I could take a taxi to the center of town but then it would take some
time to find a hotel no es completo (with a vacancy). To hell
with it; I'm too tired to care. Que sera, sera. What will be,
will be! I'll take what comes. What came was a beautiful new hotel with
a nice spacious room and a great big shower only 200 meters (that's
the length of two football field) from the station — for 36 bucks
a night. What a way to end the day!!!