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Thursday 19 July 2012

Sun, beer, culture, and disorder.

madrid riot

Mrs FE and myself touched down safely in Madrid early on Monday morning. having looked at all the options of getting to our hotel (Westin Palace), we decided to catch a ride on the Metro. On emerging from the final stop with blinking eyes from the bright sunlight we were met with a strange but worrying sight. There were Police and Police vans everywhere you looked. (In the UK you are lucky to see one let alone hundreds). After a few seconds we realised why. There were thousands of Spaniards coming down the road behind us. At first I thought that somehow my Spanish readers had got word of my trip and were coming to meet me. However one look at the signs they were carrying made me think that a lynching of this blogger might be their real aim. The placards all had one word on them. NO.

Anyhow Mrs FE and myself, decided we’d best scuttle off (Best describes the action of a person with a small wheelie case) in the direction of our hotel. Worryingly it soon became apparent that where we went, the mob seemed to follow. As we approached the road in which our hotel was situated we noticed that the police presence was increasing by leaps and bounds and we redoubled our efforts to obtain sanctuary in our monastery Hotel.

This was not to be. With a baying mob on our heels we arrived at the hotel’s road to be confronted with metal barriers and three lines of police in riot gear blocking the thoroughfare. Ooh err. Unfortunately my Spanish is only good for Hallo (Hola), Two beers please (Dos cervesa pour favor), and thankyou (Gracias), so needless to say the police didn’t want to lets us through. (Did they think we were some activist fifth column? You tell me?).

Of course Mrs FE, being fairly organised, managed to produce from her Portmanteau handbag, a map of the area, and we found a back route which would take us to the entrance of the hotel. Luck was now on our side as the back was only lightly defended by the police and we managed to blag our way through the barricades and finally checked into the hotel.

After we checked in we nipped outside to see what was going on. The demonstrators were doing their best to pull down the barriers but were dissuaded from doing so by the occasional baton strike from the odd annoyed member of the Policia.

Anyway we got bored with this and decided to head of into various areas to see what the city was like.

One thing we never found out that day was why had that street been targeted?

Do you want to know why? Do you want to know what happened on day two?

You tell me, and I’ll tell you the cost of cigarettes and how much, two gin and tonics and two large whiskeys cost me in the hotel bar.


  1. Not that street specifically but part of an organised march by the Spanish miners. These guys had marched close on 400 Kms from the northern Spain mining areas in protest at government plans which will ultimately lead to the total demise of the industry in exactly the same way that Thatcher killed the UK mining Industry.
    What we have here in Spain now is a virtual totalitarian government led by Rajoy and his cronies in the PP. Their exact feelings towards the electorate were summed summed up by a senior member of the government who, whlist Rajoy was announcing even more austerity and cuts in unemployment benefit, started clapping and yelled 'Yeah... screw em all'.

    People here are becoming totally disillusioned with Government...

    To be honest, The Working class Spanish people are doing what the Brit working class should be doing; letting Government know, in no uncertain terms that Enough is Enough...

  2. Not so long back, everyone used to go to Spain for their cigarettes. Alas the Spanish Gov in it's 'wisdom' totally destroyed that trade with massive price increases ... and more due shortly.

    The former Eastern Bloc countries were very happy to take that trade ... and keep it.

  3. You asked the question why that particular street had been selected... more or less opposite your hotel is the building of the Congress of Deputies which equates to the Houses of Parliament in London; it is therefore a much sought after destination for all the protests that are ongoing in Madrid and elsewhere.

    Cigarettes; should be around 4.60€ per pack of 20 for Marlboro 100s when we first arrived here in 2007 they where under 3€ per pack...

  4. Just as well that you and your good lady did not encounter the Madrid version of PC Simon Harwood who might then have not manslaughtered the pair of you as innocent passer by.

    Thank you for reminding me of three Spanish phrases that I used to know, could you also remind me of "where is the railway station please?"

  5. Smoking Hot.

    I bought Pall Mall for under 4 euros a pack. Better than the UK at over 7 pounds.


    Donde esta la estacion de ferrocarril por favor?

    (from my Android App)


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