Madrid’s airport is huge. After taking seven moving sidewalk rides, we arrived at three escalators to take us to baggage claim. From there it was well marked to reach the metro. Buying a pass is easy as there is an office that looks more like a tourism agency than a ticket counter. Our all inclusive transportation passes for 3 days inclusive of the inner city, was 19 Euros each. We were given better instructions for a less tedious trip to our hotel than what we had originally thought. One metro ride to the end and then a train one stop; voila, we were there. However in order to get to the metro, it took 3 long steep escalators and then some walking. The metros are half way down to China or whatever is directly across the earth from Spain.
As we were emerging from the metro, mobs of people were pushing their way in. For moment’s it was uncertain whether we should risk leaving the metro for fear that this crowd was escaping some natural disaster or Godzilla was outside waiting for his next meal. As unfathomable as it seemed, outside the metro was even worse. The crowd was so thick with people, my first impression was that they were giving away tickets to see Lady Gaga accompanied by Pope Ben as a sideline performance. This is a crowd the Million Man March would have admired.
Fortunately, our hotel was only a stone’s throw away from the metro exit. Our room is clean and plain, which is fine, because the location is excellent. Right down the street are the Christmas Markets, which are a major disappointment. Booth after booth after booth are loaded to the stable rafters with objects for a crèche. There are hundreds of versions of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The three wise men come in more wardrobe choices than Barbie. There are more animal choices than any zoo in the world. Just naming them all would have given Jesus a vocabulary to be admired by a college admissions board. There are different stables from poor down and out to luxury condo style. Why let tradition dictate how you can out do your neighbors? The best part is the moving figures. You can get Joseph hammering wood, women washing clothes, a man shoeing a horse, and Mary changing diapers amongst other things.