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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Madrid, Spain: Day 1 of 5

I’ve recently just been back from a holiday in Madrid, Spain and in summary had a mixed bag experience. Before going to Madrid I’ve heard that it’s a beautiful place with loads of culture, great food and overall great place to go to for a holiday. So after some careful planning I decided to take a 5 day trip to see the sights and as well as plan to take a day trip to Seville.

When I got there I didn’t think the weather would be a problem but as soon as I stepped outside the airport it was very very hot! I think it was peaking around 38 °C for the entire time that I was there. Maybe even higher… I was literally perspiring the minute I walked out of the metro station and while walking around always felt parched.

Anyway on the first day there while commuting on the Metro I had two incidents. First one was a failed pick-pocketing attempt. I was being targeted by pick-pocketers when I got to the Metro station. It all happened when I got into the train when basically got cornered and being pushed around. Luckily someone yelled and they stopped. This is the first time it has ever happened in my travels so was abit concerned about it. So then I got off at the next stop noticing they got off as well so just ran for it and got away. Went for dinner and was still shaken up by it. After dinner decided to head back to the hotel to have an early night and try to forget about the incident but then again when I got into the Metro, without even noticing was again targeted by pick-pockets.

This time round I was targeted by a family. Needless to say it didn’t even occur to me that a family would all come out together to target tourists like me. It all happened so quick that again I was being pushed to a corner. I didn’t notice it because the train was actually quite full. But yeah it all happened within 1 stop and when I got out at my destination, hand went into the pocket then only discovered wallet has been stolen. Not a very good experience considering it happened twice in a day and as well as losing the money and cards that I had. The only thing is that I do feel sorry for the family that had to go down to this level to survive. In this economic climate it is hard for everyone, but there are many ways of staying afloat rather than descending to this level.

Now I’m having all the hassles of filing a claim with insurances and all that and it is just a real big pain in the end where the sun don’t shine!

My tip is if you are heading to Madrid and are commuting via public transports, always keep your daypack/backpack in front of you. That is a given. If you have a secured area in your bag, I would keep all your important belongings there, including your wallet. Having a multi layer protection will just make it harder for the pick-pocketers if they slash your bag. As well as however inconvenient it is for you to always open your bag to get money etc, it will also make it inconvenient for them.

Also another thing, when you goto the police station to get a police report, they won't help you catch the people responsible. When I was there they were so slack and unhelpful. Told me to go into a telephone booth to give my statement and that was it. Was told to sign the statements (which was in Spanish!) and was not given any translations so you don't know exactly what you're signing. The police basically don't care because it seems that this type of incidents are a normal part of local lives and so they just give you your statement and tell you to be on your way. What is the point of having a law enforcing system when the people who runs them don't bother?! Reminds me of the Malaysian police system. You just have to pay them a small sum to get things done.

Anyway this is day 1 of my trip to Madrid, Spain. Stay tuned for the rest of my trip when I can find something good to blog about.

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