How NOT to travel to Madrid
It makes perfect sense to go to Madrid via London, doesn’t it? Well, that was what we thought. My BFF had a return ticket to London that she had to use by the end of the year. So, while we were planning our New Year’s trip to Madrid (2009/2010) we decided to spend a day in London and then fly from there to Madrid. A piece of cake, right? We are both crazy about London so the plan sounded awesome. I bought my ticket for London and we met there since I flew in from Trieste and she had a ticket from another city. My flight was delayed then I didn’t meet someone who I was supposed to see and then I had problems with buying a tube ticket. At that point I was getting really frustrated but when I saw my BFF waiting for me at our tube station I was happy.
We were in London again. She has already checked-in in our hotel in Bayswater so when I came I just left my suitcase in the room and we were off to wander around our favourite part of London. Bayswater may be a tad touristy with its abundance of souvenir shops but it has some cool pubs and it’s really near the Notting Hill and the Kensington gardens. We had a drink in our favorite pub Prince Alfred and then went clubbing. We returned by night bus but of course missed our stop so we had to walk at 3.30 am through some unknown streets.
The next day after breakfast in a nearby French café we left our bags at the hotel and went for a stroll around Covent garden & Leicester square to take in the festive decorations. I wanted to find the Somerset House too because I had seen it in a movie so we went there as well. There was an ice-rink and a huge Christmas tree. We had to hurry back to our hotel to pick up our bags and to go to Victoria bus station to get our bus for Gatwick Airport. Due to poor time management on my side and a slight confusion with the bus terminals we were late and missed our bus. We couldn’t get our money back so we had to buy another ticket. This time we bought a train ticket and managed to arrive on time to the airport for our flight to Madrid. This was our first time at Gatwick. I regularly fly to Stansted and I flew a couple of times to Luton but I’ve never been to Gatwick before or after this Madrid trip.
As usually, we did a bit of airport shopping and then we heard an alarm. It said that everyone must head to the nearest emergency exit. While we were deliberating what was happening the alarm stopped and we were able to get back in the terminal after we had spent roughly half an hour in the cold. But then another shock came. Our flight to Madrid was cancelled. Just like that. No explanations given. So, everyone had to pick up their checked-in bags and go and wait in a queue to ask about possible other flights or to get a flight back home. To say that I wasn’t happy would be an understatement of the century. So, we discussed our options, whether to go back home or to stay in London and try to find a hotel without a reservation ( it was 29.12.). There was one other option but that fell through quickly which resulted in my yelling at the phone and with lots of questioning looks in my direction.
We asked at the airline counter when was the next available flight to Madrid. It was only on 1 January. But then the airline woman offered us a possibility to fly to Madrid the next day from Bristol. They would pay us the hotel at the airport for the night and give us a new flight ticket for tomorrow so we only had to get to Bristol somehow. Of course we jumped at the chance and took her up on the offer.
We had a huge complimentary dinner at the hotel and we called the property in Madrid to explain our situation and say that we won’t be coming tonight but tomorrow evening. The next day we bought our train tickets to Bristol. We passed through Bath on the way to Bristol which was nice because I spent previously a couple of days in beautiful Bath. We had some free time before our airport shuttle but I didn’t want to take any chances like in London and miss another bus and therefore possibly also our flight to Madrid so we stayed at the Bristol train station. But we saw a bit of the city through the bus windows on the way to the airport. I was really apprehensive about our tickets and whether we would have to pay something but everything was okay even though our flight was delayed.
So, we finally boarded our plane to Madrid, one day later. We didn’t have any more problems on this trip. We had the best of times in Madrid and we had a wonderful New Year celebrating on the streets of Madrid with some newfound friends. In the end , all this confusion with the cancelled flight became just another amusing travel memory 🙂 So who says that everything has to go according to a plan?