Saturday 28 July 2012

Day 13 ~ To Madrid

Today we were up early packed and ready to leave Santiago for Madrid via train. We went down to the lobby to eat, then order a taxi.
First let me share...the train station is really about a two minute walk but once you get to the end of the street there are about fifty or more stone steps to walk down (I may have shared this in an earlier blog too) and then it's an parking area about the size of a six lane hwy to cross before you actually reach the station. Elena and I agreed as silly as it may seem it was worth the fee to pay for a taxi to take us because the alternate route would take the better part of a half hour to walk with our luggage and such. Anyway.....
So we ask the guy at the desk to order us a cab - omg.... He spent about five minutes trying to convince us we "needed" to walk to the station. I mean "needed". It wasn't a translation thing, as if he was trying to save us money or anything and I was getting a bit ticked. He finally got the point when we said too heavy luggage. Taxi now please". Almost immediately the taxi was there. He was just as ticked to learn where we were going. But I'm thinking, what do you care where we're going you're charging us and its. A short run???? So we get to the station and I'm sure he's telling his taxi buddies as they look as us laughing and shaking there heads. Again I think to my self...laugh all you want but you just schnooked us out of 7e. The bus ride which was almost three times the ride cost the same amount. Oh and... We were ok with that because for us it would have been worth 10 - so hahaha.
I know I'm not being kind here but I just don't get it. Why would these guys care? We are paying customers. Your job is to help us whether it's to call a cab or drive one. With that contract understood we all should be happy.
We arrived comfortably early for the train, by our standards, (some might say way too early) and waited for our train to arrive. We waited outside but man was it "chilly" - almost down right cold. Finally our train arrived and we boarded. First class!
Whoopy - I think they saw us coming again or maybe my expectations are too high. I didn't know what to expect particularly but on Via 1 you get fed and beverages. Not here! Except to punch our ticket, give out heads phones or offer a paper all before you sat didn't see any staff. Elena's suit case we managed to put on the small overhead shelf and mine we places on the floor in front of my seat. It would have been nice to put our luggage in the luggage space but the bazzillion backpacks were piled there. As it turned out my suit case worked as a good place to rest my legs/feet like recliner as well as double as a table for cards and the treats we happen to bring.
Trying to see the scenery was a bit challenging since the child in front of me closed the blind and my window seat was actually a "pillar" view seat. And then....I slept when I could no longer stand listening to the horrible noise coming from someone's iPod.
Six hoursish later we arrive in Madrid. We walk out the station doors to get a taxi. Now there has to 30 taxis waiting and this one driver waves us over as we're walking over to him the lady in front of us starts freaking out -in Spanish- my taxi my taxi. I looked at her as if she had two heads and said chill out we're not take it we're going to the other one. REALLY like there were a ton of taxis and only her, Elena and I. It's not like taxis were in great demand at that moment. And so we all get in "our" proper cab. Man I hate the city!!!
And so now we get in 'our' taxi. Get this - he doesn't know where to go. Never heard of the place or the area. Now in my head I'm freaking out. We picked this hotel because it claimed to be 'in the heart of Madrid". Kind of makes you think a cabbie should at least be aware of the area huh?! In London, it would be like a cabbie not know Victoria park.
So he gets out his GPS and starts driving. I'm thinking $$$$$$. Awhile into the ride he says "no cars can go there". Say what?!!!!!! Apparently the area where the hotel is, is closed off to non-essential vehicles. Now he wants to drive us this other way when Elena says, "There's our hotel" and sure enough there is was. I'm trying to get out ASAP because the fee went from 14 e to 17 in the time it took him to stop (a train station supplement of 3e for going from the train station to the hotel on top of the regular fee. Whatever ---- at this point I'm losing it. Then as I get out of the car with the luggage waiting for Elena this big man runs up to me screaming something in Spanish and trying to grab our luggage. Standing like a deer in the headlights, I'm holding the luggage for dear life. Preciado Preciado he's hollering. Finally Elena says, that's the name of our hotel. He's helping with the luggages. Here I think he's call me 'precious'. Ok maybe not really but sounds good huh?!
Finally - service, English and more what I'm use to from hotel staff. We're checked in in no time and our luggage is brought up for us. An explanation of things included meals, mini bar and others of interest. Finally we are able to rest. Later we shower, scouted out the area and had a bite to eat. In bed my 11:00 and no alarm required to wakes in the morning.
All is finally well in the world again....

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