Circa 2007, another Christmas holiday was fast approaching while I was working in Denmark and as usual I was busy preparing for my next vacation. This time it was going to be Spain. Hola! A day before the eve of Christmas, we left for Madrid via Billund. Billund, if you remember was the airport we chose when flying to Pisa. Though very far away from Copenhagen, it was worth flying from there just because of the almost free air ticket prices! Yes, low-cost airline Ryanair used that terminal. The trade-off was flying really late in the night but that really didn’t matter for us bachelors. It was an adventure.
We arrived at Vejle in the afternoon from Copenhagen after a 2.5 Hour journey by train. Since we had enough time to spare, we decided to explore the small town of Vejle. A nice little charming town it was. We walked about in the town, although the weather didn’t play nice. It was a gloomy and wet day throughout. In the evening we took a bus to Billund airport and still had a lot of time to spare before our flight left. Billund Airport was a further 45 minute journey by bus from Vejle. We roamed the airport, rested for quite some time, ate dinner, took a couple of random shots around the Billund Airport and it was finally time to board the aircraft!
A few hours later we were standing outside the Madrid Airport Barajas waiting for our hotel shuttle to pick us up! Almost every hotel in Madrid or at least the ones close to the airport offer a free shuttle service to their hotel and also to the Madrid city centre! The Hotel Tryp Alameda Aeropuerto was impressive I must say. I had booked a family room, since we were 4 guys. At a price of EUR 276 for 2 nights, it was worth every cent. This hotel is definitely one of the best hotel I have stayed at during my European vacations. The room was Spiderman themed!
After a long night, It was not easy to wake up early next morning and get ready. We only had one day to explore Madrid before leaving for Barcelona, so no matter what, we had to get up and get ready. We did manage to leave our hotel at 9 A.M. Our hotel shuttle dropped us near the city centre and we were ready to walk and explore. It is my policy to walk as much as possible when exploring a city and avoid any kind of transport for as long as possible! Walking through the city and getting lost is the best way to explore any new place. Madrid is very well designed and extremely well maintained. Wide roads with grand and majestic buildings on both sides is a view to remember. Each building was unique in itself but somehow gelled well with other adjacent buildings. Walking through those streets, we reached the famous Bear and the Madroño Tree Statue.A little further away was the Plaza Mayor. When we reached there the square was abuzz with celebrations all around. It had had been converted into a one big Christmas market. People were dancing, hooting, buying fancy hats and what not. It was fun! We had decided not to rush things and certainly did not plan on what we would cover in Madrid. With no plans in mind and not knowing where to go, we just kept walking where ever our heart took us. Trust me, at the end of the day we were not disappointed at all. Throughout the day, we had been to some amazing locations and walked through some of the prettiest streets.
Here is what we did after the Christmas market. We went to Plaza de Espana, where we had our lunch. We then saw a unicorn :), went to Palacio Real, prayed in a beautiful church, did an evening walk at The Buen Retiro Park (simply divine!), saw the Madrid City Hall at the Plaza de Cibeles and walked on the extremely beautiful decorated streets at night! After all this, we finally retired to our stunning hotel room. Next morning at 7 A.M. we were all set to leave for Barcelona. The hotel shuttle dropped us at the airport and at 8 A.M we were too early for our flight. Madrid airport is BIG!, I realised this because believe it or not I had almost missed my flight. Yes! even after reaching “too early”. This is what had happened: After clearing the security check well ahead of the departure time, I got busy taking pictures of the amazing airport architecture. The Bajaras airport is one of the best designed airports that I have seen in Europe. Anyways, just 20 minutes before the departure, I decided to walk back to the boarding gate. While queuing at the boarding gate I realised that my boarding pass was missing. It was time to hit the panic button, I started running around to all the places where I had been to but the boarding pass was nowhere to be found. I found a help desk and the lady called up the security to check whether I had left my boarding card at the security check point. It was not there as well. I was losing time and she finally suggested me to go to the airline counter and get a duplicate boarding pass issued. The airline counter was, ahem, a good 10 minutes walk from there (tht’s what was printed on the signage). I just ran as fast as I could and upon reaching the airline counter explained them the situation. Although suspicious, they checked my passport and issued a duplicate boarding pass. I thanked them and darted back to the boarding gate. With 2 minutes to spare before the gate closed, I was the last and a heavily panting person to board the flight!
It was finally time to hit Barcelona…