Bus Pamplona To Madrid
I was sad to leave Pamplona. The city offered so much more than I had imagined, and this without seeing bulls run. The atmosphere was one of great freedom. Especially evident in the cafes and wine shops where people sat out or stood at tables made of wine barrels to sample little sandwiches and chat. People were so friendly, like no other city I have visited.
Only three people waited for the Madrid bus in the station at Pamplona, the other bus having left with 25 people boarding. Could that nasty ticket seller have such an impact?
My bus to Madrid arrived and I entered but for a moment had trouble finding my seat. The numbers were above on the luggage space and I was looking below near the reading lights. A woman passenger approached and showed me where to look. It was another kind gesture from the people of Pamplona.
We left the station about 8:30 am for the bus trip to Madrid, driving through bland country side where the towns we passed appeared to have suffered from the Spanish economic crisis.
We reached Madrid after 1:00 pm and entered another cavernous bus station in the heart of the city. I headed to the Info booth and was directed towards the metro and a ride to my B&B at the Plaza Mayor.
I didn’t realize until later when an email from France reached me that there was a garbage collector’s strike underway in Madrid as I waded through trash filled streets. I couldn’t help thinking that regardless of what I had been told by several acquaintances in France, that Madrid was some pit that I should have avoided.
My mood changed as I entered the incredible Plaza Mayor. Trash in the alcoves, homeless sleeping in boxes, and three policemen on horseback gave the place the aura of desperation but the scale and beauty of the plaza dispelled the tarnish.
Sure I expected Spain to be desperate in certain quarters but the luxury shops and upscale prices along the route to the Plaza showed that the desperation might not be evenly spread. The Prado Museum the following day would put the myth of a shabby Madrid to rest as would my B&B overlooking the plaza.
Spain might be struggling but the cities seemed healthy and attractive to tourists. Only the poor were poor it seemed. Of course you find this true throughout Europe and in the US at the moment.
Walking the cobble streets around the Plaza Mayor I found some interesting restaurants and wine shops.