A Travellerspoint blog

Taxi driver: "I heard that...que?"

not THIS hotel.. THAT hotel!!

semi-overcast 32 °C

Wednesday 30th April: Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, IBERIA Lounge

Yes, the freshly renamed Madrid Airport has new signs going up everywhere. (Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Renamed in honour of the recently-deceased first PM post-Franco who was instrumental, with Juan Carlos, in establishing the current democracy/monarchy).

From the train, we were surprised to see that there was still snow on the mountains north of the capital:-

large_IMG_0007_640x480.jpg

We arrived early at Chamartin station. If you ever come to Madrid by train and don't need to make a particular connection at Atocha, Chamartin is much more tranquil and organised than Atocha which is big and chaotic with platforms and facilities scattered all over the shop. At Chamartin you come up the escalator from the platforms, which are all next to each other, and there there are shops restaurants and taxis. It is also possible to get a train direct to the airport.

There were at least 4 restaurants offering a Menu del Dia from 10€ to 12.50€. If you ever wondered what office/shop workers did with themselves during Siesta, it seems that many of them come to Chamartin for a Menu and spend the time sorting out the problems of the World, and Spain!

No rush, so we decided to have our lunch there and then. A good Menu for 12.50€ and Stan was excited to see we had a good view over the platforms while Arthur mispronounced the destinations. ("Burgess, Stan, Cordobermann, Stan, Mal-Lager, Stan..." etc).

large_IMG_1514_640x480.jpg

Continued 2/3 of the way to Miami:-

Outside the station, hoards of taxis were waiting and the one at the head of the queue had a nice large boot (we have suffered before from drivers slamming boot lids down on cases which won't fit). John wondered why a bevy of other taxi drivers were shouting what sounded like the wrong hotel name to our driver, so we told him "'ilton Barajas", several times, ensuring he understood with a nod, smile and big grin. We got concerned when we went sailing past the Hilton and down some side streets around the airport, eventually pulling up outside the Hotel Osso, or something like that. Aah... that's what those men were shouting at our driver. A lot more shouting ensued between us and our driver and we assumed he had got rather angry with us and our pronunciation.

After much more misunderstanding, he drove us to the Hilton and it was then that we realised that the poor guy was profoundly deaf and that was why they had all be shouting the wrong hotel name at him at the station. Far from ripping us off, this lovely man deducted 2€ from our fare.

It was good to be back at the Hilton here. A really nice, modern hotel but with old fashioned standards and generous policies. Bob's Hilton Diamond card had, as ever, expired just prior to our trip. Pleading to "Hilton Honors" for another Gold card fell on deaf ears. But we found a wrinkle whereby Bob got a year's Gold status by signing up for premium membership of some online frequent travellers site.

large_IMG_1528_640x480.jpg

The cost of getting Bob's card was $45 and we have already got that back from "freebies" on our first night here. The stay had been paid for anyway with Hilton points from our last trip (as will be our stay here on the way home), but with Bob's Gold card we got free Wifi (15€?), room upgrade to "Executive Floor" where the "Executive Lounge" provided free “Executive” drinks and food (saving us a few Euros in soft drinks), plus free breakfast, which has to rank as one of the best… to you 28€ (so our 2 free breakfasts more than covered the cost of getting the card). Smashing hotel, smashing staff, smashing food. Shame it's not nearer the centre of Madrid or at least nearer a Metro station.

Health warning: If all our food pictures make you nauseous or hungry, please skip through the rest of this! However, we can guarantee no flash photography.

large_IMG_1532_640x480.jpg

A painless trip on the hotel shuttle bus, check in and security in the priority lines then shuttle-train to the T4 Satellite terminal soon saw us in the enormous and truly great Iberia Velazquez Lounge.

Bob managed a celebratory glass of bubbly

large_IMG_1540_640x480.jpg

but the only food we could force down was a cooling tub of

large_IMG_1541_640x480.jpg

…a comfortable and enjoyable hour or so before the flight was being called.

We were amongst the first to “board” when business class was called, but we were sent down the left side of the airbridge and were waiting for a security door to be opened. Meanwhile, other passengers started to board down the right sight and straight on the plane. “Serves us right for travelling business class” some wag (called John) quipped. Which. surprisingly caused a smile from many trapped in the line!

Soon in our seats, though, and a "pre-departure beverage" (another fizzy for Bob, OJ for John) before we are over the mountains, which is the last of the ground or ocean we have seen as most of the Atlantic has thick cloud cover. (Just looked out of the window and it’s clearing). Hopefully the terrible tornados and storms in USA will not affect our flight to LA tomorrow.

large_IMG_1544_640x480.jpg

Though we have all of this space, the junk you get given soon fills it up and things start disappearing into the workings of the “lie flat” seats. We have quilt, pillow, noise-cancelling headphones, a Samsung tablet each for the films and other entertainment, which have to be handed back, I’m afraid, amenity bag (mask, moisturisers and other merry c..p), newspapers, magazines, bottles of water etc.

Meanwhile, John’s own tablet disappeared down the back of a slot and we feared it would never be seen again, though it was eventually retrieved by scrabbling on the floor and messing about with the seat controls. However, we then managed to crush John’s shoes under Bob’s motorised foot rest. The woes of “Executive” travel.

large_IMG_1549_640x480.jpg

large_IMG_1548_640x480.jpg

No idea what the young woman in front thought John was up to. She is about 25 and her companion about 75. He looks like an ex- Central American dictator with a comb-over that starts at the nape of his neck. Luckily cannot see it from here. It would have put us of our food.

We digress. Onto the more important matters in hand:-
large_IMG_1543_640x480.jpg

large_IMG_1553_640x480.jpg

Excellent smoked salmon with blinis, and leaves with fresh, non-chewy asparagus and mozzarella cheese balls. The mustard dressing was hhhot. One criticism, the butter was rock hard. Aaaaahh!

For those of you who chose the fish cakes, you made the right decision. Bob said they were delicious.

large_IMG_1555_640x480.jpg

John’s Chateaubriand was good but not great. Rather than the expected juicy steak it was more a couple of very tender pieces of beef. The potatoes au gratin were more like a tortilla.

large_IMG_1557_640x480.jpg

John was wrongly given the chicken at first but maybe he should have kept it rather than hand it back for the beef.

No complaints about the Ben and Jerry’s. This one is Bob’s with berry topping and chopped pecans

large_IMG_1560_640x480.jpg

Served by the equally delicious Jacqueline

large_IMG_1558_640x480.jpg

After a brief respite, during which John watched the excellent film “Nebraska”, we just had a mid-flight snack:-

large_IMG_1561_640x480.jpg

And on the horizon is the threat of our pre-landing light meal of pizza or chicken. Help! It may be a heavy landing at Miami!

Hangon, the trolley is out again. Here we go…

STOP PRESS from Room 426, Hilton, Miami Airport

We made it to South Beach! Great.. Loved it. Wonderful, outrageous, camp. Another early start for flight to Los Angeles in the morning. Night night.
More soon.

Posted by Johnash 17:08 Archived in USA Tagged miami roadtrip hilton

Table of contents

Comments

Now you are really on your way, I am amazed the plane was able to land without incident if all passengers had the same amount of food as you.
Hilton looked very modern, but very comfortable no doubt.

by Bren

Your adventure has kicked off in fine style! Glad you got to Miami on time - tracked your progress on www.flightaware.com (too much time on my hands, not!) - and made South Beach. Safe onward progress to LA. All good wishes from Don'n'me ...

by Ian

I was wondering why you had 3 "cojones" on your breakfast plate and then I realised they were mushrooms, I think!! Have a good flight today.

by Terry

You've arrived at last, is the USA ready for you? Let the fun begin, cant wait to see what you have for us on your future blogs.

by Antonia

So happy to be getting our "holiday fix". Pity we chose the chateaubriand. Knew we should have had the crab cakes!! Hope you've taken lots of pics in South Beach. Can't wait for the next episode. Travel safe.

by Sue and Gordy

Food Food and more food, even Oliver Twist would not ask for more.
Makes us envious.
Memories are flooding back of our trips to Miami.
Keep the standard of Blogs up so that we can reminisce when we travelled to America.

by Brien

Travelling business class sounds so complicated! Economy for me every time.....
Thank you for a great blog, looking forward to the next one x

by Louise

so pleased you are on your way.Bit disappointed you're not in Miami long enough to pose for a few pictures a la Crockett & Tubbs. Very surprised with your choice of the salmon nipples on blinis.

by Sarah, Rich & the brats

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint