Monday, November 22, 2010

Hola Madrid!

It's been a bizarre day. I'm here in Spain to help publicise the launch of El Imperturbable Hans, the Spanish translation of The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, having missed (by a whisker) the email that arrived telling me the plans.
At Madrid airport there was a taxi driver waiting with a placard with my name on it. I had spent the two hour flight from Brussels frantically reading Living Spanish and trying to remember irregular verbs, however, my Spanish vocabulary has more holes in it than a lace mantilla, and if the taxi driver spoke any English he wasn't telling. I managed to ask him whether we were going to the publisher's or the hotel and established that it was the hotel, but that was about it.
Arrived at the hotel, went up to the desk and said "Tengo una reserva", after which the staff took pity on me and switched to English. They had my reservation all right; so far so good. I left my mobile phone number with Reception in case anyone called wanting me for anything, and then went out on foot to look at Madrid.
There wasn't time to take in a museum etc so instead I just wandered about for a bit soaking up the atmosphere as dusk fell. I've only ever been in Madrid once before, for a single day, and didn't manage to see anything then either. My main impression is of staggering buildings. Quite a lot of them have turrets and statues on top. I particularly liked a statue of someone driving a chariot, outlined against the evening sky.
Browsed in a fabulous shop called Lala; done out all in white and mirrors, it was a paradise of Gothic jewellery - purple or black diamante spiders on chains, huge dangly earrings and gorgeous scarlet and black pendants. Restrained myself with difficulty - I really don't have any occasion on which I could wear a tarantula on a string - but bought some black and turquoise glass and foil earrings in another boutique.
When I got back to the hotel, there was an envelope waiting for me. It contained the schedule for tomorrow, and a train ticket to Barcelona for tomorrow night. I am starting to feel like the girl in Beauty and the Beast, who kept waking up to find stuff had been done in the night by invisible servants. Will an actual person appear at some point, or shall I follow a trail of clues and notes...?
No idea whether I will be able to get at a Wifi connection in Barcelona; the train doesn't even arrive there until 21.43 so I may be too tired even if there is Wifi on every street corner. If I can get online, I'll be back to relate how I got on.

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