Thursday 24 December 2009

I’m dreaming of a whi... wet Christmas!

The day after I wrote the last post, where I predicted that although it was cold we would not have any snow, we had snow. That will teach me to believe Google weather forecasts. We had so much snow Madrid was in chaos. There were stranded cars, jack-knifed trucks, buses delayed, schools closed and people totally unable to get to work. How much snow does Madrid need to cause all that trouble? About two centimetres, it seems!

I repeat – TWO Centimetres. About four fifths of an inch!

Ok, it made the roads a little slippy, but it was slush. The temperature had finally risen above freezing. There was no ice. Compared with what fell in the UK and the US around the same time this was nothing. But it almost brought Madrid to a standstill.

But that was not the fault of the weather. What caused the catastrophic chaos were drivers that hadn’t got a clue how to drive in such conditions. I saw drivers perplexed because no matter how fast they spun their wheels, they made no progress. I saw drivers approach traffic lights at normal dry condition speed, apply brakes and wonder why they kept on going. I saw corners taken too fast and watched as the rear of the car attempted to overtake the front. And this was, of course, the fault of the weather, not the lack of skills or awareness needed for such conditions. The sanest drivers were those who kept their cars in the garage.

But in a matter of hours most of the snow had disappeared, or had been swept up into neat little piles which will now take days to melt.

But when the snow melted where did all that water go? Well, judging by all the buckets standing in puddles in ticket halls and along platforms, most of it has seeped into the Metro. The world’s best Metro is not waterproof. Hmm! Slight oversight there, chaps. It’s fortunate that the power to the trains is via overhead centenary rather than a third rail like on the London underground. This meant that the metro employee with the squeegee could just sweep it all on to the tracks.

It didn’t snow on Tuesday. Instead our lives were made miserable by a continuous, all pervading fall of icy sleet, which in the early evening became a serious downpour. I was meeting a friend at the Goya El Corte Inglés. By the time I arrived the streets were running torrents which divers did not even try to avoid. Pavement bound pedestrians were not happy. Hmm! Madrid drivers again. There seems to be a thread here.

However, in avoiding the rain I made a new discovery. My friend told me of a pub I had not heard of. The Geographic Club. It’s a wonderful place devoted to the joy of travel and exploration. Outside the front is a wonderful montage of stained glass. Inside the walls are lined with souvenirs from all over the world. There’s a definite feeling of the Jules Verne about the place. There’s a model of Thor Heyerdahl’s papyrus boat Ra, African assegais, ebony carvings, which might have been shrunken heads, but I didn’t look too closely, and the basket of a hot air balloon sitting among all the tables. Non smokers will be pleased to note it is a non-smoking pub, one of the few in Madrid. My friend had the largest Irish coffee I have ever seen. I had a beer which at first I thought had also been watered down, but then realised it was Heineken. Still, you can’t have everything, I suppose. But the place seemed very popular. It’s worth a visit for the atmosphere, if not the beer!

The Geographic Club is located at 141 Calle de Alcalá.

Wednesday saw some last minute Christmas shopping only to find on the return home that there will have to be some last second shopping on Christmas eve. But the temperature has climbed sixteen degrees since the weekend, meaning it now up to a maximum of eight, which is a little better. Met a friend for lunch which was fun, but she was the last friend still here. Everyone else seems to have departed Madrid for Grandma’s village. I hope they all have a good time.

Those of us left here certainly plan to. Oh, and the reason I write I am think we will have a wet Christmas: If my prediction was as good as last weekend, it should ensure a dry one. I had better go and check the sea-weed.


  1. Unintended pun, I assume: "By the time I arrived the streets were running torrents which divers did not even try to avoid."

    I'm feeling very sorry for the single Metro employee with his squeegee!

    And if everyone in Madrid has gone to my grandma's village, it's going to be a damn tight squeeze!

    So I hope you didn't drown on Xmas Day. Nice to know it's not just the Brits that can't deal with a tiny amount of snow!

  2. My Voodoo worked. Christmas Day stayed dry and even sunny for a while. I hope everyone had a good day.