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The Barajas International Airport, Madrid


Excerpts from the original book
Adventures in Spain/Catherine Petit
This five-part series includes
Introduction and Parts I to IV


Photos by C. Petit unless stated otherwise


The Purloined Suitcase

My fifth trip to Spain started out wonderfully, and after a very long day of airports and flying I was finally in Madrid. I raced along with the other passengers to customs and then on to the luggage carousel to retrieve my suitcase that was packed with everything I thought I needed for my next three months in Spain.

Reaching the carousel, I think there were at least three or four rows of people in front of me. [But] slowly the crowd diminished [and] still no suitcase. Where, oh where was my dark blue suitcase with the large bright pink bow???

“The carousel had stopped and there weren’t anymore suitcases”

The carousel had stopped, and there weren’t any more suitcases.

I was told my luggage was on a plane about to land, and I should have [it] in about two hours or so.

Returning [to my hotel] later after dinner and a short walk, I found a note. It stated that my luggage was on the next plane to land, and I would have my suitcase delivered tonight or first thing in the morning. Yay! My luggage will be here soon.

[The next day,] after a few hours of really enjoying myself, I headed back to the hotel. I asked if my suitcase had arrived from the airport. It wasn’t at the hotel yet. Maybe in the morning when I would arise it would be there.

Yes, yes, they had found my suitcase. It was on the next plane to land in Madrid and it would be delivered later that day, or at the latest, first thing in the morning.

This message would be repeated to me many times.

“Eleven days after I landed in Spain, I was told my luggage was in my hotel. To see is to believe!”

Eleven days after I landed, while we were sightseeing Seville, I was told my luggage was at the front desk of the apartment hotel we were staying in. [But] I will believe it when I see it.

When we finally got back to our apartments, my suitcase was indeed waiting for me. I took [it] upstairs and opened it. It looked like everything was still there.

In the morning, I went to my suitcase and began to search an outside pocket for a pair of scissors I had packed at the last minute. When I put my hand in the pocket I found someone had packed a box of very nice cookies and wrapped it with a sweet personal note. It was from a very nice man in Madrid that assisted me in trying to locate my suitcase at the airport.

Frustrated with the situation himself, he finally succeeded in getting my suitcase to me – by doing the deed himself.

Eleven days after I arrived in Spain.




The Sneeze and the March

One of my bus trips around Madrid, I was sneezed on. A few days later, I was finishing a day walking and exploring around Toledo when I realized I might be catching a cold.

I awakened the next day and knew I needed to make a decision. Rest in my hotel room for a day, so I would recover faster, or head out exploring more of Madrid. I decided to rest, so I turned the TV on, grabbed a book, and sat near the window to just read and relax.

The sneeze & the march

As I was reading, the TV sounded too loud, so I lowered the volume. This continued off and on for about half an hour, until I had lowered the volume almost entirely – and it was still too loud.

It suddenly dawned on me [that] the sound was coming from outside. There were protesters marching on the street below.

I have never seen so many people in one place – ever. Looking right and left outside my window I could not see the beginning or the end of the people.

Think about it, eight lanes for cars to drive on, and an island of about twenty-feet in between, all filled with people.

There were many marchers wearing Guy Fawkes masks. There were people carrying banners and flags. There were bands of drummers and whistlers, and people whose role it was to direct them.

After the protestors were gone and the police allowed traffic back on the street, do you know what I found? Extremely clean streets and sidewalks! There wasn’t any trash at all. No cigarette butts, no paper cups, or paper cones from potato chips, no straw papers. No trash at all to be found. All of those people and no trash left behind. Amazing!




. . .The Bank

I headed to the bank. I inserted my card [in the ATM]. No response. I pulled it out, double checked that it was inserted correctly and tried again. Again, the machine refused to acknowledge me. I pulled my card out, turned it around and inserted it. This time the machine ate my card.

Pushing all the buttons I still had no response, and no card.

I went back to my hotel and told the marvellous clerk what happened and she and I called my bank and cancelled my card. Relief at last.

Monday morning, I decided to go back to the bank and attempt to retrieve my card. Even if it were cancelled, I knew I would feel so much better with the card in my hand.

There was a young lady behind glass asking what she could do to help me. “Necesito una persona que hable ingles por favor.” She spoke some English and told me I was in the wrong area. I needed to exit the bank, turn right, go down the sidewalk and enter the first door on the right, that was where I needed to be.

I thanked her, and followed her instructions.

When I looked to my right, I was so surprised to see the same girl in the same glass room. She was in the glass room that was in both buildings.

This time I went to the teller’s window. I was instructed in broken English to go through the archway on my right and go to the last desk and ask for a gentleman who could help me.

I explained what had happened, and told him [that the] ATM ate my card. He asked me to sit while he checked the machine for my card.

He returned with my card in his hand [but] explained that he could not give me my card, because he did not see my name embossed on [it]. I gently turned the card to the opposite side where he could see my name, printed not embossed.

He smiled and handed me my card and offered any services I may need of his bank.





I wanted a Spanish hot chocolate and churros. It seemed like a simple thing to want…..almost.

I love the hot chocolate of Spain. It is nothing like the hot chocolate I grew up with.

The best ever: San Gines’ hot cholate with the inseparable churros (Spanish sweet fritters)

The Spanish really know how to enjoy this delicious beverage. It is thick, hot, and delicious. So thick, a spoon will almost stand alone in a cup, and so good. It is almost like drinking (hot) chocolate pudding in the states, but so much better.

I headed to the world-famous San Ginés Chocolatería. It seemed a simple walk from the hotel with lots to see on the way. I had been there before, so silly me, I just headed out to Puerta del Sol and El Corte Inglés, planned to take a side street and I would be there, except for one thing. I took the wrong side street.

My walk took me past several street performers. Everyone stops to admire them, take pictures, and drop a few coins. I did the same.

The small bookseller, a landmark for the author

I was still looking for San Ginés Chocolatería. Up and down, back and forth and still no luck. I finally gave up and went into a hotel and asked for directions. Per se it was right around the corner.

Back to the street. . .This time, I took the left fork. Looked for a small bookseller and the church, turned left and at the end of the street and there it was – the chocolatería.

Best hot chocolate ever!


Featured image (Barajas Airport)/David Klein, Unsplash
Empty carousel/frankieleon, CC BY2.0
Chocolate con churros/Tim Lucas, CC BY2.0
Bookseller near San Gines/Ash Chuna, CC BY-SA2.0


PART II coming up!