Our longest travel day is behind us! Actually, I guess that’s relative because every day on a pilgrimage is a travel day in some way! Usually toward a destination, yet often to a realization internally or an emotional “Ah ha”.
We survived the nine hour American Airlines flight with great service, included food, continual mask wearing and “room to move about the cabin”! Then the six of us made our way through Madrid’s large and modern airport to go through customs. This turned out to be a total breeze given we were all required to create an account with the Spain Travel Health organization and received a personal QR code which we then shared from our phones when asked. This QR code also serves as proof of full vaccination from the COVID-19 virus and will be required often as we travel through Spain and when we establish our overnight accommodations. Since our passport information is also incorporated, this process created by the health ministry is very organized and convenient for everyone!
We six navigated our way on Renfe light rail out of the airport, to an intermediary stop where we had to figure out a continuing route and what platform to catch the train on and finally to the Happening Puerta del Sol Plaza. Truthfully- it was pretty tame! The throngs of people are WAAAY down! We had about another ten blocks to trudge in 95 degree heat with backpacks to our Airbnb, which will be our home base for a couple of days as we adjust to this time zone’s nine hour time difference.
Unfortunately housekeeping was still underway and we were unable to do what we all wanted to do – drop everything! And maybe grab a shower and/or nap! Thankfully we were able to temporarily ditch our backpacks before heading back out to the now 97 degree afternoon for some traipsing and “lunch” which still felt weird at noon Madrid time since we were all still on Pacific Standard Time (3:00 am). And we had a light meal on the plane only three hours earlier.
We rose to the occasion at a withered kind of pace – strolled through the massive Plaza Mayor and settled in for bocadillos, cervezas, agua, queso, patatas bravas and Padrón peppers in a shady courtyard! Our waiter was bedecked with pins on his vest which he proudly shared were from Many gastronomic events he has competed in over recent years!
We labored back to home base, and it sure felt great to freshen up! We hung out while the next group of three Wayfinding Academy students arrived after their three flight stint from Portland via San Francisco and Frankfurt and then a fourth a couple hours later flying in from Paris. Another tapas and cold beverage foray was undertaken, this time in a bit cooler temps – and by head on pillow time my “heart” app registered 8 1/2 miles! I am looking forward to going to the Prado Museum tomorrow!