The Gran Plaza 2 is a concrete shopping mall in the outskirts of Madrid, in some place called Majadahonda. If I had power over linguistics, I think I’d make that word translate to “middle of nowhere,” ’cause that sure as heck is what it felt like.
Let me backtrack: Today, Julia and I decided to go with Kelsey to the Apple store, as she wanted to get her Macbook fixed. (It had sort of conked out on her a few days ago, and reporting’s been twice the challenge for her since.)
Off the bat, signs of trouble: The old cabbie taking us there seemed not at all certain about the way. He typed a few words into his GPS, waited a while, typed some more, said something to us in Spanish that I, of all people, tried to translate (with minimal success), and started driving only when I said, “Si!”
Now, I thought I’d misheard the cabbie when he told us, “…veintiblahblah kilometros.” Twenty-something kilmoters? That could’t be right, we said. But whatever. We decided to trust him, and went on our merry way.
By the time we realized just how far we were going, the city had been replaced by rolling meadows and the occasional apartment complex. In the distance, mountains. Ahead, more highway. Our meter was ticking. We couldn’t exactly tell him to stop and turn around in the middle of the freeway, so we stuck with it, praying that he was taking us to the right place.
Twenty minutes and 31 euro (!!!) later: The Gran Plaza 2. And surrounding it was… nothing.
The next part of this afternoon adventure involves frozen treats and guys in highlighter sneakers, but I’ll let Julia and Kelsey talk about that. (Call it our Random Friday Blog Package.)
The crucial part, to me, was getting back to the city center: As in, we had no clue how to do it.
Outside the mall, a bright red bus stop.
O.K., we thought. Seems legit. We stood around waiting for some time until a big green bus showed up. It had an electric sign that read: 652 Majadahonda-Moncloa.
All right! Moncloa, I know where that is, I said. But just as we were preparing to board, the bus drove away.
It drove away and sort of parked itself two streets over. Everyone else at the stop seemed unperturbed by this, but after a few minutes Julia made the executive decision to march over and see what the holdup was. We jogged across one street, up a small hill, down said hill and across another little street. We got to the bus and… it drove away.
I’m not even kidding.
It drove away and circled back to the bus stop we had just left. What could we do? We hauled our asses back across the street, while those who’d waited at the stop giggled and stared.
Of course it took us 10 years to gather the fare we needed, and had to make the other passengers wait while we counted our coins like the American tourists we are.
Of course “Eye of the Tiger” started playing as the bus made its merry way toward central Madrid past what felt like miles of countryside.
And of course I took a secret of photo this guy, Sam (it was on his name tag; he’s a manager), who looked like he was getting some much-needed shut-eye.
Because, you know, life.
Oh, and Kelsey’s Macbook is still dead, because they couldn’t fix it in one day and there was no way she was leaving her laptop in Majada-wherever.