At least 173 killed in Madrid train bombings

30, 40, 173… the death toll rises. I heard this on the morning news as I got ready to leave for work. I texted Cachu in Madrid and she and her friends are fine, but they were watching it on tv. She couldn’t describe the horror of it.
Last November, I visited one of the train stations in Madrid with Cachu so I’m wondering now if that was one of the stations attacked.
The BBC has more coverage as does elpais if you speak Spanish.
Later.. More people have died. What a day. Yahoo has more, and photos.
Later Still.. I rang Cachu. She and her immediate friends are fine, thank God, but they’re all very upset and distressed. College was canceled early as parents were ringing all the time asking about their children. Some didn’t show up today. She told me that we met Carlos in one of the train stations that had been targeted. The train was late this morning and the bomb went off outside the station, but I remember the place well and I’ll post some photos of the indoor garden there later tonight.


Back from Madrid

Ya know that feeling after a really great holiday? Yup, depression! Despite that, my stay in Madrid was just the tonic I needed for the ill effects of my life and I’m feeling much better.
I had a blast while I was over there. I got really good news from home (Get well soon Sharon!), and we celebrated ’till closing in an Irish pub on the last night. My head was a bit sore the next morning unfortunately. hehe.
The trip back was mostly uneventful. My shoes set off the security alarm in Madrid again, but at Stansted where they seem to be a lot more serious about security (or maybe it’s because I understood the security announcements..) I took them off and walked through without a hitch.
The fun started on the Ryanair flight home. The captain informed us that the weather in Cork was bad, that visibility was at about 500m, where 1500m is required, that equipment had failed in Cork Airport and we might have to go onwards to Shannon. This raised a chorus of groans and questions from my fellow passengers but there was nothing we could do. Shortly afterwards however the “Fasten Seatbelts” sign came on in preperation for landing in Cork. You should re-read the first line of this paragraph – those are the things that were going through my head as we descended. Clouds flashed by my window, the plane was buffeted by strong winds and everyone went quiet. Suddenly a “beep beep, beep beep” came from the back of the plane! Someone left their phone on! FFS! The steward came on the speaker system asking that all phones be turned off. I was thinking, “ok, the pilot has to do a difficult instrument landing, and some idiot has a phone on.. argh!”
We came lower, and lower. The fog disappated, and I spotted a few house lights from my window seat. The plane was still being rocked by winds however. I kept a lookout, and watched below for any sign when I spotted the blue lights of the runway. We were home! Yyyeeeesssss! Only a few more feet to go!
Suddenly the engines roared as the pilot piled on the power, the nose of the plane lifted again and the welcoming blue lights disappeared far behind. Everyone was silent for several moments until the captain informed us that the tail winds were too strong and were “outside operating parameters”. Because of the equipment failure at the airport they couldn’t make a landing in the other direction. We were headed toward Shannon Airport.
3 hours later I got home, after a trip in a bus with alcohol soaked seats and a bus driver who took his time driving..

Madrid’s a great city. There’s lots to see and do there. The nightlife is great! I visited El Prado on my last day and was awe-struck by some of the paintings. I’ve a “couple” of photos I want to put online here. Hopefully at the weekend, so make sure you come back next week!
Thank you Cachu, Meme, Alex, Andrea, Kristina, Sascha, My and everyone else – truelly an international group for a short while!