– Mountain Deep River High (or scary places to take photos from)
– Don’t drink whisky with Tibu’s mate
– What happened to Saturday?
– Unidentified meat in the Paella Area
– How it actually feels not to the tightest person in the bar
– Never play cards with Spanish Grannies
Anyway, Bogarra is now well behind us and we have travelled several hundred kilometres (and several decades) and are now in Madrid. The big worry has always been the weather. You know the old adage “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”, well Madrid is on a plain and it all appears to be falling here.
Like the good British tourists we are, we just made the most of it. Today we bought our tickets for the open bus tour (which funnily enough they closed up) and headed out to be educated. I do love a good open bus tour. There is nothing like sitting on a plastic chair with a cheap orange pair of headphones stuck in your ears, playing “Commentary Roulette” (or, who will get the duff headphone socket. FYI it will be Karen. It’s always Karen). But they do help you get a good bearing of a city.
It took us a while to actually get upstairs (we had to wait a couple of stops, boot off a family or two); but eventually we were on the top deck, with the sun on our faces and a piercing wind making my nipples stand out like football studs. Now I have been on a lot of bus tours and generally am familiar with my touristic friends. Everyone (myself included) takes loads of pictures. Without wanting to sound stereotypical, the Japanese and Korean tourists do take a lot of pictures. We had one lady on this bus however who took her photography to a whole new level. She was like a spider. She was up and down the bus like a woman possessed. Standing up, standing on people, at one point she used Nikki as a camera support. She was amazing. This woman had no idea of the words “self aware”.
After lunch Nikki, Tibu and I (note correct use of the word I again) headed off to the Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid (which isn’t like on Twitter when you see @realinsertcelebname. This Real means Royal. So the football team is called Royal Madrid (Pub quiz question. Name an English football league club with Royal in their title. I think there is one, but I can’t bring it to mind at the moment)). Tibu is a big Real Madrid fan and had never been to the stadium. Nik had been to see a game a few years ago at the stadium. I had heard of the stadium. Reason enough then for a trip to the stadium.
We left Karen and Rachel shopping and we headed off to “The Theatre of Dreams” (hold on, no, that’s somewhere else). As we approached (on the tour bus, front seats this time) and we saw the twin towers looming (nope, that’s Wembley isn’t it) the excitement was palpable (whatever that means. In my case I knew I needed a wee, but I had a beer with my lunch and that always goes through me). We entered via two security checks and ended up right at the top of the stadium. The pitch did look spectacular, if a long way away. As we made our way down into the various parts of the tour I commented that with Middlesbrough being in the Premier League next year, soon we would have a tour to rival this at the Riverside. Real and Boro are similar in many ways:
1. Middlesbrough were formed in 1879, Real in 1902, so we had a head start on them, but being British decided not to take advantage of that fact.
2. Neither team have played in the Unibond League.
3. They both play with 11 players on the pitch at one time.
See, we are like two peas in a pod. As we walked through the endless rooms of trophies, I did find myself thinking “have they never heard that less is more?”. In the Boro tour you would experience 4 League Champions (old 2nd division and below); 1 League Cup (the most underrated of all the domestic cups) and a UEFA Cup runners’ up medal (the ultimate European accolade, other than actually winning the UEFA Cup). A small collection; but stylish. I think bringing out the FA Amateur Cup winners’ trophy from 1895 and 1898 may seem a bit desperate, but I bet Real would. I mean come on, FIFA Best Club of the Century isn’t even a real competition; but they had no qualms about showing that off!
Still, the tour had all the bells and whistles; have your photo taken with the real Champions’ League trophy (have you ever heard of that tournament? No, me neither. If it was any good it would be on terrestrial TV, or ITV at a push); virtual pictures with Ronaldo or as a player in the team; visit the changing rooms; sit in the dug out; exit via the shop. Yep. This was the Alton Towers of the footballing world. Still, Tibu seemed happy and I wish his team well. I don’t think that they ever won the Anglo Scottish Cup as Boro did in 1976, but I’m sure they have a healthy future ahead of them, even if it is just as stop 7 on Route 2 of the Madrid City Tour. Bless.