Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: A Tale of Two Cities (2010)

To Spain (via Switzerland)

Perhaps over-cautiously (and therefore true to form!), I'd set my alarm clock for 0530 - well, you have to be prepared to make some kind of effort when undertaking a trip such as this!   I had a shower and enjoyed an early morning cuppa in my room, before checking out and retracing the previous evening's route back to Terminal 1. I had a trouble-free check-in and thankfully remembered to stop by the Travelex desk to pick up my pre-ordered Chinese currency before passing through Security and making my way to bmi's Great British Lounge. Occupying the upper floor of the former British Airways domestic lounge, this is an excellent facility, streets ahead of any other bmi lounge and, to my mind, preferable to the Star Alliance lounge at the other end of the terminal building. I installed myself on a lounger next to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the apron and the north runway. In BA days, frequent-flyer friend Greg used to refer to this part of the facility as 'prime real estate'; he will no doubt be pleased to know that it lives on. I passed the time snacking on a few breakfast items - I was saving myself for the flight! - and listening to some music. I enjoyed watching the various aircraft movements, although of course the airport was much quieter than usual as this was Day 1 of the BA cabin crew strike.

Boarding proved to be another blast from the past, as my Zurich flight was leaving from the Gate 5 area, the former hub of BA's domestic services and therefore thoroughly familiar territory.  

(Link to flight log in side panel)

Following a bus transfer to the main terminal at Zurich, I went through Passport Control to enter the Schengen Zone, of which Switzerland was now a member, walked the length of the terminal, sailed through Security, spotted the gate, thought to myself how this was going just swimmingly and ... saw that my Madrid flight had a technical delay. Curses! I debated whether to return landside and use the lounge, but decided against it, instead watching Airbus A320 HB-IJF being towed away in disgrace, to be replaced by sister aircraft HB-IJN.

(Link to flight log in side panel)

The luggage took a while to appear at Madrid, but the Aerocity transfer desk was easily located once landside. I was the only passenger in the minibus and the journey proceeded quickly. I had visited the Spanish capital on only one previous occasion, as far back as the 1990s - a short break that had been dogged by a bout of 'man flu'. As we arrived in the central area, I was delighted to realise that I recognised a few landmarks and that I knew exactly where we were! After checking in at the Westin Palace and settling into my comfortable room, I decided to go out for an introductory walk in the rather uninspiring grey conditions. I walked up the Paseo del Prado towards the Plaza de la Cibeles, along to the Puerto de Alcala and into Retiro Park. Strolling through more or less the full length of the park, I exited in the vicinity of Atocha Station and returned to base on the Paseo del Prado, walking right past the world-famous museum itself. Having already enjoyed two hot meals courtesy of SWISS, I bought some sandwiches to serve as a simple evening meal.