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Madrid, March 2012

The peasants’ charter, Easyjet flight 2102 from Luton took off at 10.55 and landed at Madrid Terminal 1 at 12.05pm. James had given me his flight number, BA 0436, but as I checked the arrivals board, I had a momentary heart flutter  when I could not see his flight displayed! Flight Information soon put me right! Madrid Aeropuerto has four terminals and British Airways use Terminal 4. So, I took a free bus from Terminal 1 to the majestic steel and glass splendour of the ultra modern Terminal 4 and was reminded yet again how the other half live! The other half – in the shape of Jim, Jonny and Mark – were due in at 16.40, but the flight was delayed until 17.25.  I waited at the arrivals gate for over an hour enduring the strangled cries and arm flinging going on from a million reunited travellers until they eventually appeared at 18.05 and we entrained on the Metro for central Madrid.

Jonny had worked wonders with the accommodation and after sounding out several hotels, decided to hire a flat for the weekend and it was a belter. Our flat was right at the top of the block with a patio landing and two floors. Mark used the lift and the rest of us used the stairs, but we always pushed the lift button on each floor, just to slow him down!

This is the view with the camera hanging over the edge of the patio

and yours truly doing his best not to look down!!!! Twas a  long way!

There was no match on the Friday (why not?), so in the evening we went out very locally to The Taberna De Conspiradores (very appropriate) and had a joint meal. We just ordered four dishes and shared them out between us! I had a bottle of house red to wash  it all  down but they all stuck to beers! If you speak Spanish, we had Tortilla Patatas, Chorizo Al Vino, Patatas Casa, Pimientos Rellenos, and Sollomillos a la Torreador.

After the meal we went on to another tabernas to watch Spanish football, but they had still not come in, when I went to bed!

A late Saturday morning riser!

Next morning looked promising and, in fact it turned into a beautiful day. I went for a long walk but couldn’t find an English language paper. Jonny had  been out on a much more mundane errand and came back loaded with bread, butter and milk. Why didn’t I think of that? James, naturally was still abed at ten o’clock!

We had a wander down to  The Reina Sofia Gallery. James was set against doing anything cultural and I think he was hopeful of enlisting my support against Mark and Jonny who were quite keen to go –  and so was I,  especially as they told me that Picasso’s “Guernica” was on display there! To be fair, I think James enjoyed the visit as much as we did. He was especially taken with the Dali collection, but I preferred the Picassos and the Miros, Dominguez, Man Rays and particularly some of the quite early cinematographic art on display. It was all very surrealist and cubist!

Reina Sofia









Below, a Salvadore Dali painting.

A Pablo Picasso painting:- Weeping Woman with Handkerchief


After the gallery visit (we only saw two floors but it was very well worthwhile), we walked down to Atocha Renfe, the mainline railway station in Madrid and booked some very expensive tickets for the journey to Zaragoza tomorrow morning


We had lunch in  an Irish pub where there was English football on the big screens (Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2)




Then we jumped on the Metro again and took a ride down to Portazgo and when we climbed out of the belly of the earth, there was the Estadio Del Rayo Vallecano (de Vallecas Teresa Rivero). Before that, mind you, James was the victim of an expert bit of pickpocketing when his wallet with all his money and credit cards was lifted from his bag! I think he had some inkling and he said that the thief had a boil on his neck and how he’d love to meet him  again, especially if he had a baseball bat in his hands at the time!

Estadio Rayo Vallecano (de Vallecas Teresa Rivero)Estadio Rayo Vallecano (de Vallecas Teresa Rivero)


Rayo Vallecano were playing Racing Santander and somehow we were perched in our thirty euro seats  right amongst the Racing band of supporters!


They (the Racing fans) had a terrible start! The Racing goalkeeper was dismissed in the third minute after a clash with the Vallecano  striker, Michu. I was, to say the very least, staggered and perplexed. I didn’t even think it was a foul, let alone a sending off offence!


Not to be put off, though, they raced into a two goal lead inside half an hour!


Estadio Rayo Vallecano (de Vallecas Teresa Rivero)

The Vallecano stadium is really quite small and behind one goal, there are hoardings, but no spectators. It holds around 15,500 people when full, but today it was perhaps three quarters full.

Sadly for Racing, who are flirting with relegation, Rayo Vallecano pulled a goal back just on half-time and we all knew that they would triumph in the second half.  And they did, scoring three more goals through the prolific Michu (who also scored the injury time first half goal) and one each for Raul Tamudo and Piti.

Quite contrary to England, where the tube trains in London would be crammed with queuing punters and police would be there to make matters worse, there was no queue, no rush and no polizei as we left the stadium and took the Metro to Anton Martin.

Atocha Renfe, Madrid



It rained on the Sunday, but only in Zaragoza, where it rained interminably! Eventually, when Jim got his arse into gear, we left around 8.40am for the mainline station and the train to  Zaragoza. Inside the station is a large pool with an amazing collection of terrapins of all shapes and sizes. I wouldn’t like to think what the damage would be if it was transferred to Paddington Station and the English Vandals got hold of it! Not only did we have tickets for our train, but the seats were reserved too (in tourista, mind you!).



The sleek, modern trains could reputedly travel at two hundred miles an hour! We had a table reservation and the train left promptly at 9.30am and drew into the modern steel and concrete jungle of Zaragoza Station precisely on time at 10.51. It is roughly two hundred miles from Madrid to Zaragoza and the train covered that distance in eighty one minutes at an average speed of one hundred and fifty miles an hour.

Atocha Renfe Station, Madrid




The first leg of the journey to Guadalajara was pretty slow through the Madrid suburbs, but then the landscape changed and the rolling scrub country took over with occasional villages, their church spires scrambling for heaven, washed white by the long hot summers, looking remote and cut off from reality.



The Estadio Romareda, home of Real Zaragoza, has a real macho ring about it, but in reality it is a tired old museum piece that has seen better days, like a faded beauty still trying to peddle her wares. There was some cover, but not where we had purchased our 30 euro seats, so we suffered the constant downpour throughout the game.

Estadio Romareda, Zaragoza

Today, Villareal were the visitors in a midday kick-off. Both these teams are struggling against relegation but Villareal sit one place above the dreaded trapdoor whilst Zaragoza are rooted firmly to the foot of the table, some nine points from safety. It showed in the first half where Villareal effortlessly took control and having opened the scoring after half an hour, then kept their opponents at bay like the boxing trainer holding his hand against the head of the boy who is trying to punch him! At thirty two minutes into each half (to mark the year the club was founded – 1932), the tired old stadium was filled with a minute of whistles, catcalls and hooters as the fans vented their derision at the owner who is trying to sell the ground and has already sold the team down the river, Real Zaragoza’s glory days are well  illustrated in the club museum (including Naim’s wonder goal against Arsenal), but these days they are staring relegation and possibly oblivion straight in the eye! Having said that they gradually improved in the second half. Maybe, Villareal took their foot off the gas, as this was certainly a game that was to all  intents and purposes “in the bag” by half time.

No cover at The Remarried


Then, amazingly, two goals in the last five minutes, the second one three minutes into added time at the end of the game,  brought the home crowd to its feet and a perplexed Villareal team left the stadium empty handed!


We had plenty of time before the return train journey and, lo and behold, we just happened to bump into another Irish pub where English football was showing (Newcastle United 1 Sunderland 1)! Ed left them to  it and went off in search of stamps for his fifteen postcards, but we all met up again on the station.


The 16.26 train from Zaragoza decanted us on time at 17.51 at Madrid Atocha Renfe Station and on the journey, the onboard screen showed speeds of up to 310kph! We hurried to The Irish pub to watch the second half of Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester United 3 and then took the metro to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

What a fabulous stadium! Well it was once we got inside.  I did have some trouble getting the tickets I had pre-booked and paid for because I hadn’t got the credit card I had paid for them with, on me, but they handed them over in the end! We were under impressed with the club shop which was an absolute rip-off and we came away empty handed. Once inside, however, we could not fail to be impressed.

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

We were at the very back of the top tier – vertigo inducing heights – but the view was simply magnificent and so was the football. Espanyol were the visitors and they contributed very well to a fast paced match of great skill and intricate passing, but it was Real Madrid who were the masters and their silky artistry provided goals for Ronaldo, Khedira and Kaka and two for Higuain who was taken off after just over an hour basking in huge applause from the adoring fans.

The metro back to Anton Martin was a little bit more difficult than the previous day at Rayo Vallecano, but not much, and once again, there were few, if any police in evidence. The game had kicked off at 9.30pm and we were back at the flat for midnight……………or I was, Jonny and Jim and Mark stayed out until long into the wee small hours, whilst I went back to a good bottle of red wine and bed around 1.30am.

And that was it, really. I said goodbye briefly to Jim at 8.00am (their flight was not until 2.15pm). After such an exciting weekend it felt so much like a furtive exit as I went to catch the Metro at Anton Martin to  Aeropuerto.                                                                                                                                It had been a brilliant weekend!


La Liga, Primera Division Saturday 3rd March 2012

Rayo Vallecano    4            Racing Santander     2

Michu 45, 64                          Torrejon 9

Raul Tamudo 67                    Colsa 28

Piti 72                                       Tono sent off 3

attendance:- 11,000


La Liga Primera Division Sunday 4th March 2012

Real Zaragoza           2               Villareal CF       1

Luis Garcia 85                               A. Martinuccio 16

Abraham 90+3

attendance:- 24,000                   referee:- Jose Luis Gonzales Gonzales


La Liga Primera Division Sunday 4th March 2012

Real Madrid             5                  Espanyol               0

Cristiano Ronaldo 23

S. Khedira 38                                  attendance:- 78,000

G. Higuain 41, 78

Kaka 66

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