The Qatar Airways flight 🛬 approach into Madrid-Barajas Airport was long and gradual. I got to admire the scenery with only a few isolated clouds around.
Passport control 🛂 As the border agent scans my passport (by eye), while surveying me up and down, I’m thinking … Oh FFS! Mr.Francis, he says in better English than would’ve been my Spanish 🇪🇸 equivalent, “what are you doing here”? I’m thinking … Oh FFS! My innocent heart sunk! It carefully took a good ten minutes and another agent to press the matter, I’d indeed flown from Australia 🇦🇺 and not from the dirty UK 🇬🇧 ! Eventually I got, “welcome to Spain Mr.Francis”. I’m thinking … Oh TF!
I now possess a Spanish passport stamp. That would’ve not happened pre-stupid-Brexit! So I’m just going to tell everyone else I’m an Australian! Problem solved!
With that palaver out of the way, I wasn’t wasting anytime staying in the terminal. Incase they promptly changed their minds!
Next, bio-immigration. I’d completed all the appropriate forms online in Australia and was in the possession of a QR 🆘 code from the Spanish health authorities and the downloadable app. I flashed the code from my phone 📱 and I was through before I knew it. No post-PCR test from Australia was required. It took some research back in Perth to ensure my research was correct, otherwise … !
I had considered cycling 🚴♂️ to my pre-booked accommodation, but soon put paid to that idea! I always think of doing this, but it never happens! Tired, hungry and putting the bike together in a terminal, then facing a new cities traffic … sod that! Airport taxi 🚕 booked at the kiosk and I was on my way with Speedy Gonzalez in 15 minutes. But, then, every driver drove like Speedy Gonzalez!
I could’ve taken a bus. which supposedly had bike racks for 5 euro. But the 30 euro for a taxi straight to the hostels door was a no brainer 🧠
30 minutes later I arrive at Hostal Montaloya. It fitted the bill. Clean, quiet and safe! I’d stay there again.
The next few days were invariably spent putting the bike back together, again, and stocking up on supplies, with some tourist plodding around Madrid!
One of my initial plans (there were many, including: Slovenia, Greece and a few more.) was to fly into Barcelona. Key reasons I didn’t: Catalunya (province) had tighter Covid restrictions than Madrid. I’d been to Barcelona before. Madrid is classed as less touristy (not sure that applies presently!). Accommodation cheaper. But most importantly, I’d meticulously researched an El Camino route that started out in Valencia and headed north to Santander via not too far east of Madrid. I couldn’t find a suitable route from Barcelona that I could load straight onto my Garmin eTrex 30 GPS. If you can merely follow a line on a GPS, one devotes less time faffing over a map, usually in the driving rain!
So, food stocked up for a few days, bike back together, and ready for the big off-ski.
As ever, though, the profound feeling of apprehension the night before as one heads out into the big unknown! As much as the unknown can be on a fully loaded bike in a new city!
The hardest part of any adventure is just getting to the start line!
Photos generally shot with a Fujifilm X100T. Click on photos for expanded viewing.