MADRID
Madrid welcomed us with warm arms after departing Istanbul on the heals of a blizzard.  Although a direct flight from
Istanbul to Madrid is less than 4 hours, we spent nearly the whole day packing our luggage, riding our shuttle
through the snow to the airport.  Worrying that our flight to Spain had been cancelled because of the snow.  Waiting
an extra several hours for our plane to Madrid.  We were told that the gate for our flight would be announced about
half an hour before departure.  In Spanish and Turkish.  Neither a strong language for us.  Luckily, our wanderings
around Istanbul Airport had us bump into our departure gate.  More waiting.  We showed our tickets and passports
for the 20th time.  Again.  Eventually boarding the plane to Madrid via Barcelona.  After the freezing weather of
Istanbul, we seriously discussed disembarking in Barcelona instead of Madrid, then catching up with our luggage
after a few days. Guess our risk tolerance was too low.  Uncertainties about our luggage influenced our decision to
keep our plans with Madrid.  A cold and rainy city when we arrived, but with weather that would clear after a few days.


Although a seemingly easy trip, we were probably still carrying a little jet lag from Istanbul.  Our only goal upon
arrival in Madrid was to check into our Hostel and get some sleep.  Needless to say, nothing ever easy as planned.  
We arrived at our Hostel, found the front doors locked, and rang to bell to be let into the building.  Although we
arrived at 11:30pm, this was Madrid, home of the late night Gatos.  Needless to say, we were surprised when asking
for entry were told that the Hostel was full (Completo!). How do we talk with anyone and explain our situation when
we couldn´t  get through locked doors?  I had a deposit debited against my credit card to show that we had a
reservation!

Luckily, another couple were entering the building and allowed me access.  First, I climbed the stairs until the third
floor (I learned my lesson at the Hotel Poem, and left my luggage on the ground floor).  Note: third floor in Spain
translates to fourth floor in America.  On the third floor, I was able to get another person to open another set of
locked doors, and explained that I had a reservation.  She agreed that I had a reservation, but unfortunately, their
Hostel was completely booked.  She did walk me down to the second floor, where they had held open a room for
someone whose first name was Alan, but with a Sir name completely different than Fawcett.  After another 5 minutes
of discussion, the gal on the second floor let me have the room.

Within 10 minutes, we had quickly moved our  luggage into clean but very small room, unpacked, and were sound
asleep.

During our rush to move luggage and ourselves into the room, we had not given any thought to the television.  
Televisions were a luxury in Istanbul, and we guessed that we would receive the standard 10 cable channels found
in most hotels.  The next evening when we had a few extra minutes to relax before going to sleep, I turned on the TV
to find advertisements on virtually every channel.  Most advertisements were for card readings or clairvoyants.  So
many channels carried these New Age Advertisements, I thought that I was redisplaying the same channels.  Not so,
over a dozen channels were dedicated to these adverts.  I kept surfing, hoping for a real channel, since Evelyn
takes what seems to me a very long time to ready for sleep.  I suspect that most men would share this same
perspective of their wives, too.  What truly surprised me was that some of the channels were displaying hard core
pornography.  One couple were having sex with a couple other men waiting in the wings.  I called Evelyn over to see
the TV program. Not understanding why I was so excited, she tried viewing the commercial without her glasses, and
couldn´t understand my interest.  "You really have to see this", I said.  Quickly, she put on her glasses, and had the
same reaction that I had.  After a bit more channel surfing, we counted ten more channels like the first porno
channel.  Different people, different acts and positions.  If this was the basic cable subscription, what was pay TV
like?

The next day, we both agreed that the room was too small and somewhat hot and stuffy (the TV in no way
influenced our decision to move, really).  We were able to move into a more modern hotel (not hostel), just a short
walk down the street.  Hotel Europa.  Large rooms, great view of Puerta del Sol (the center of Madrid), and with real
cable TV stations like CNN and BBC.  Guess adapting to local living standards was more difficult that we thought.
Allan at our hotel room


TALL WORLD TALES