It was an ominous start to the journey. Blearily wandering the streets looking for my boutique hostel accommodation, I came to the street address and found... a building site. Confusion sets in. Perhaps I got the address wrong? Nope, it's definitely this street but all I can see is a building site and a convenience store. Fear sets in. I've been duped and I have nowhere to stay in Madrid!
I notice another couple with suitcases looking a little confused, and then them being approached by a man who seemed to maybe know what was going on. In broken english I find out, yes - it is indeed the right address, but unfortunately the new boutique hostel that was supposed to launch earlier in the month was not actually ready yet and that we should have received email notice notifying us. Man seems genuinely horrified that this has happened, calls on his business partners and asks them to mind me whilst he sorts out accommodation for the couple and then for myself. A mineral water and chat later (and a perhaps poorly timed joke centered around the movie "Hostel"), I was told they found me somewhere to stay that was just as nice as the room I had booked and graciously paid for my accommodation for my long weekend away. Take a big sigh of relief - let the holiday begin!
After having a brilliant time in Barcelona, I was keen to visit Spain again - the lure of fabulous food, great museums and warm hospitality was to enticing to resist. I certainly had my fill of food and culture. Note: Do check out the Thyssen-Bornemisza, I almost skipped it after checking out both the Prado and the Museo Reina Sofia - but I'm thankful I did go, I found it so much more my style than the latter two.
But the major surprise was that I had serendipitously booked my trip for the same weekend as the Champions League final, which was to be played by the two rival local teams - Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. The game itself was to be playing in Portugal(?) but that didn't mean the city wasn't pumped for a fiercely contested match. In the lead up to the match streams of white and red clad people celebrated and cheered in the streets, blowing horns and singing chants in support of their respective teams. During the match itself, the streets became a ghost town as people clamoured into bars or the massive local stadium to watch the game, the sighs and shouts as goals were attempted and made piercing the otherwise silent night.
In the end, Real Madrid were the champions of the year, and despite warnings that there may be a ruckus or brawls due to the result of the match - it seemed that all of Madrid were jubilant at being home of the best league in the world. It certainly seemed that way as thousands descended upon the centre of town chanting ¡Campeones! ¡Campeones! Olé! Olé! Olé! as they waited for the champions to make their Homecoming speeches. It was a brilliant night to be in Madrid!
¡Campeones! ¡Campeones! Olé! Olé! Olé!