Monday, July 12, 2010

On the move again

I'm back in Madrid, but for less than 24 hours. Using this city as a staging post for a while, I arrived from Frankfurt last night and leave for Lisbon tonight. I'll return to Madrid for the weekend, then go to Britain to see my parents.

I have to say that Frankfurt airport is not the most efficient. Long queues for passport and security checking, then sitting for ages waiting to board the plane. That was probably down to the airline rather than the airport. The plane was there; I could see it through the window. The boarding time came and went with no explanation. Boarding did eventually begin just before the scheduled departure time. An hour later we began to taxi to the runway, and it wasn't until the captain's announcement during the flight that we got an apology and a vague excuse that European air traffic was heavy. Hmm.

Now to Madrid Barajas airport. Let me see. The plane arrived at 11pm (late), and the bags began emerging onto the luggage belt at midnight. Can it really take one hour ? I know it can at London Heathrow, but British inefficiency is to be expected.

Fortunately, the Madrid metro runs until 1am. I suspect it was running a little later last night anyhow, because the new world football champions had just flown back from South Africa and the party was continuing. I saw a lot of tired but happy fans making their way home by underground train after midnight.

A little more about the past couple of days in Germany. I was glad to meet up with another two friends. First, Cord from Cologne. We met back in 2005 while we were both on holiday in Istanbul. He was good enough to drive for a couple of hours and share lunch and an afternoon with me. I also met a friend from Wellington, who happened to be staying about an hour from Frankfurt in a place called Bad Kreuznach. Raeef, who has been home to the Middle East and is now spending some time in Europe. Our paths might cross again later during my journey, possibly in Bulgaria if he can get a cheap flight there.

On Sunday, the shops don't open in Germany (well, most of them). What a peaceful, sleepy atmosphere that creates in the city centre. I sat again among the trees and benches in the Zeil, where I spotted two rats picking their way through piles of building materials in a construction area. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I started thinking about what "they" say about London... you're never more than xyz feet / metres from a rat in the British capital. I should look up how far it is, and let you know !

OK... an internet search came up with the answer of 10 feet.

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