The Hole in the Plan

Upon arriving at Milano Centrale, the train station, my transfer to the airport was easy. There I grabbed a breakfast of frittata and yogurt before the flight.

The flight itself was uneventful. We ate again – chicken breast with some mash up of potatoes and green beans in a mustard mayonnaise sauce, and a dry chocolate coconut cake.

Arrival in Madrid was easy – this is much better airport than CDG. And this is where I had a moment of absolute brilliance. I only had one night, and a total duration of about 18 hours, in Madrid. Why did I want to haul two heavy suitcases all across town with me? Just the notion is painful. So I walked to T1, from which I would be departing for JFK, and I checked the bags. Everything stayed in a locker at the airport except for the electronics, soap, and a toothbrush.

Brilliant! Presuming, of course, that nothing gets stolen.

I navigate the Metro and eventually find my hotel. It becomes clear that the Spanish aren’t like Italians. Many Italians speak English, but I can’t say the same is true of the people I have encountered here. I try my Italian, but it gets me nothing but confused looks. The confusion is frustrating. Frankly, I think they should learn to speak English or Italian like the rest of the world.

For this brief visit I am planning to rely on the TripAdvisor City Guides app, which pre-downloads guides and maps to the phone then uses the GPS to point you the right direction. It worked brilliantly when I was in Rome.

In my limited time here I had initially planned to visit the Prado, but the city is vibrant and I don’t want to be inside, so that plan is scrapped. I really just want to chill and eat. I hear the destination for this is Mercado de San Miguel, so I quickly grab a frozen yogurt (I think that’s what it was) and am on my way. The guide is performing brilliantly! 2100 feet forward? That seems like a lot, so I hop on the metro.

I exit the metro station a mere 600 feet away. The phone points the direction and I follow assiduously. It takes me to the center of a plaza. I see no market. Still the area is beautiful. I’m confident that I’ll find the market momentarily so just enjoy the excursion.

Where is that market? I keep trying to reorient the phone, but can find no market. I consults other maps. I am at the correct place via the GPS but the guide seems confused. Eventually I give up and ask for directions at an information booth. Yup. Way off. Not a little bit off, but way off.

I eventually navigate to the market where I find many stalls of beautiful food. I try some sausages, some local croquettes, and some chicharonnes. But something isn’t right. Something hasn’t agreed with me, so I head back to the hotel.

I blame the airplane food. The timeline is right for a pre-made staph aureus toxin. My money is on those beans. Ugh. Fortunately, I travel prepared for this sort of thing. I have a virtual pharmacopoeia … In my bags at the airport.

So now I’m hotel-bound. I pull up the Big Ten network app for my breaks between … “restroom duty.” I thought that at least I could stream the Michigan game – which I did, albeit erratically. The game was crappy and did absolutely nothing to settle my stomach.

About 9 in the evening I thought things might be settling down so decided again to visit the city, which was growing ever more energetic. I thought perhaps I was starting to feel hungry, but once up and moving decided that I, in fact, was definitely not hungry, although bead might do.

It quickly became clear that I should return to the hotel, so I made a quick purchase of a sports drink (blood orange flavor – a cross between orange and tropical punch – yum!) and made my way back to my room where I hunkered down for the night.

I was awake well into the evening, the sound of diners and drinkers drifting up from the street and in through the window.

Eventually I slept.

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