The Road to Santiago.
Journal.
September 23, 2002
Monday
Puerta del Sol.
This view of the Puerta del Sol was taken from the balcony of my hotel. It is considered to be the center of Spain and all distances to other places are measured from here.

Frankfurt, Germany

Left Boston's Logan International Airport about 10:00 p.m.Sunday for the 7-hour flight to Frankfort on the way to Madrid. Had no trouble getting my backpack and seven-foot walking stick checked through the ticket counter or later security checkpoint with my syringes and insulin packages.

Now it's noon in Frankfort (6:00 a.m. Boston time) where I have a layover. Waiting for my 1:30 flight to Madrid. I'm tired. Couldn't sleep on the seven-hour flight from the U.S. No wonder they call it an airbus. I felt like I was on a bus. No leg room and the seats were very narrow. My back hurt if I tried to lean back. My right leg was jammed under the seat in front of me and my left leg was stretched out in the isle where the flight attendants kept bashing it with their carts.

Last night I ate in the airport around 8:30 before boarding. Had to eat without my friends and family because the only open food court was beyond the security checkpoint. So, they all went to an East Boston Italian restaurant while I ate at a McDonald's stand. I chose McDonalds over a fast food Chinese and a sub shop because I had my trusty little McDonalds' nutrition guide and could count the carbohydrates and calculate my Humalog dosage easily. Okay, so occasionally I cheat a little.

The flight from Boston to Frankfurt was uneventful even boring. Tried to sleep but it was impossible the seats were so narrow and the person next to me kept bumping into me. The movie was some chick flick. Besides I planned to sleep. By the time I realized that I wasn't going to be able to, The movie was a third over and who wants watch only part of a bad movie. It reminded me of the Woody Allen story about the nursing home residents complaining about the bad food — and "such small portions!"

 

Madrid, Spain

Arrived here around 4:00 p.m. (10:30 a.m. Boston). The two-hour flight from Frankfurt to Madrid was in a smaller jet but the seats were much better. Besides, I didn't have anybody sitting next to me fighting over the armrest. The lunch smelled good but I couldn't eat it — too many carbohydrates. So, I settled for a small (and I mean small) package of peanuts. But at least I was able to have two glasses of wine, gratis. What but a Spanish airline would serve fine Rioja wine with its meal?
Had to wait a while at the airport for the luggage. I was reminded of Mr. Murphy's axiom — if anything can go wrong it will. I forgot to plan for some burly baggage handler throwing the backpack around. The short straps with the grommets by which the pack is attached to the aluminum frame were broken off. I was mad at them and upset with myself that I failed to anticipate the problem and mad since it was a borrowed pack. So, with a broken backpack, a seven-foot walking stick, a carry-on bag, and a supply bag (the latter two will be left in Madrid at the hotel for the return trip), I struggled to find a cart and then headed for the street to hail a cab.

The ride to Madrid was nice. The driver was friendly and talkative, and when I told him that I was walking el camino de Santiago he said that he had done it this year in Agosto and it was mucho calor. The temperature in Madrid today is 20 degrees C (68 F) — very nice. It had been raining a little earlier, but was clearing up &— lucky for me.

Hostel Residencia Americano.
My room in the Hostel Residencia Americano is on the third floor of this beautiful building which was built in the last part of the 18th C. The statue is of Carlos III who was king during the time of the famous Spanish painter Francisco Goya.

Reached the hotel lobby around 5:00 p.m., exhausted but exhilarated that I was finally in Spain and on my way. When the hotelkeeper read my name on my passport, he went into a back room and came out with a package from Germany. In it were three packages of glucose test strips from the Roche Corporation. They produce the glucose monitor meter and test strips that I use on a daily basis. I had been negotiating with them for a sponsorship, but like the other major corporations, time and bureaucracy prevented it. However, they were kind enough to provide me with their product, which saved me about a $100.

After a long hot shower and a change of clothes (whew!), I was refreshed and rearing to go. I got out my trusty laptop, its power cord, and 110/220 adapter that the U.S. salesman assured me would work-but didn't. Murphy again! I ran up to the department store, el Corte Ingles, [they have everything] to buy an adapter. It seems that my U.S. salesman sold me something that was okay for Great Britain. But, unfortunately I was in Spain! Eventually I found the correct plug. While I was in a department store I decided to buy a data cable for the cell phone that I was renting. They didn't have one! (But they have everything!) When I asked where I could buy one, they did not know. Later I called my "cell phone connection" and asked him where I could buy one, he said he didn't know. He usually got his cables on line. And he couldn't rent me one because all his cables were being used at this time by the U.S. equestrian team in Jerez de Frontera. [They rented 80 of his phones.] He said that most people use a landline. I said that I doubted if the refugios had phone connections and he agreed with me. I started to panic, after all, my purpose was to put a daily record on the internet. So I apologize, dear friends, because I may have to update it every few days instead of daily when on the road, whenever I can find a kind soul who will let me hook up to his phone.

After all that work to get the computer up and running I was so tired by 8:30 p.m. that I could hardly keep my eyes open. I just wanted to have dinner but the Spanish dinner time doesn't start until around 10:00p.m. Thus the restaurants don't open until nine. When I got to the restaurant at 9:00, I was the only one there. I almost fell asleep waiting for my food. I had been "awake" for virtually 32 hours. So, dear amigos, I'm a little foggy and will have to add more later. Hasta Luego.

 

Puerta del Sol.
Additional views of the Puerta del Sol taken from my balcony.
Puerta del Sol.
El oso y el madroño, the symbol of Madrid. Oso means bear, but I'm trying to find someone who can tell me what type of tree is a madroño. El oso y el madrono.
El reloj
This clock is the most famous one in Spain. It counts down the minutes on New Years' Eve like the one in Times Square in New York. People come here to Puerta del Sol to celebrate El Año Nuevo.
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