Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Travel plans went blooey again Madrid Sept 29
I have been noticing posters and news stories the past few weeks about a countrywide general worker's strike for Sept 29, today. I had not paid much attention. Yesterday, I was not able to print my boarding pass, an ominous sign. I was up early and at the Metro by 6:45 am. Good thing since the subway trains were running at half speed. I guess that is part of the slowdown. At the airport, there were noisy strikers, lots of police, and no seemingly no flights in or out, just lots of frustrated travellers, including me. It was a 2 1/2 hour wait in the United ticket counter line and there were only 8 parties ahead of me. It generally took a long time to try to make new connections as no one was going to leave the airport today. Some passengers were being flown tomorrow to Frankfurt or Vienna, then on to the US. Surprisingly, they gave me exactly the same flight that I would have had today, just leaving tomorrow instead. So all in all,except for losing a day, it could have been much worse.
The airline is also paying for this fancy hotel room, which included shuttles from and to the airport, lunch buffet, dinner buffet, and breakfast buffet. Now the bad news. It is funny to see my little back pack in this massive room. It is close to the airport with not much around besides industrial buildings. Too far from a Metro stop and who knows if there are buses, so I don't think I will do any sightseeing today. Just waste a day sitting here. At least they have wifi and I have plenty of reading material on my I touch. I will go out and do some walking around later, but really would rather be on the way home.
3:30 pm: This hotel is like a massive convention center next to the airport. I walked around outside. The freeway is on one side with the airport on the far side of the freeway. This side there is nothing but the hotel and an industrial area as far as I could see when I was walking. No mercados, one little cafe/ bar, that is it. There is a pedestrian overpass on the freeway and a bus stop that I know would go down Avenida de America to the center of Madrid and freedom for a few hours. Even if I did try to go there, I do not know howmuch would be affected by the strike. And I just finished the delightful almuerzo buffet with such things as tuna, asparagus, peppers, seafood, croquetas, and on and on. I did not even have dessert, but went back for more of the good stuff. And this is going to be repeated again for dinner tonight. And all at United Airlines expense. There are still many other stranded airport travellers checking in. This place feels like a damned jail with really good food and wine and no place to go. I had my lunch with an Israeli couple and some Americans on a tour group. The Americans of course wondered if Spain was safe to travel alone after I told them about my walk.
Anyway, I will try to enjoy it for today and hopefully everything will work out for tomorrow.