Saturday, 25 August 2012

Madrid and the US visa

Hi this is for the benefit of anyone finding themselves in the same position as me. Mind you it will give you some idea of the trip I took around Madrid.

Our trip planned includes the US so we both need a US visa, Don applied in the UK as he is "resident" in the UK. As I am resident in Spain it meant a trip to Madrid.
The procedure leaves you without a passport so flying there is an option but returning without one is not possible, so I travelled both ways by train which takes roughly 5.5 hours. On board there were drinks and a meal included in the better ticket, I spent the hours listening to music and reading, engrossed in 50 Shades of Grey.

I arrived in Madrid and took a 10 minute taxi ride to the hotel Petit Palace which is on Calle Serrano, the same as the US embassy. It is a very old hotel but had a decent room with a great bathroom, full bath with a power shower which I took advantage of immediately to cool off.
Huge bed, a bit hard but I was so tired I hardly noticed

Lots of bubbles, luxury!

I then walked to the embassy which took around 15 minutes
comfortable walking, it had to be in that heat, even at 7.30 it was around 38 deg C.

My appointment was at 10.15 the following morning, I guessed it would be very busy so I arrived at 9.45 expecting them to say you are too early but no I was admitted into the security checkin. I'd forgotten I was wearing my belt which set of the alarm, great fun. So I stood in a que for a number, 10 minutes I was number A115. Right ok now fill in the delivery envelope, no problem there, then sat for 35 mins ish for the first bit when they take the paperwork, photos and passport away and was asked what was the reason for entering the US with the B1 B2 visa so thats where the boat bit came into play. Normally travelling to the US by plane the airline and the Esta visa solves this so thats why the B1 B2 is needed, it lasts 10 years as opposed to a 2 year Esta. Then another sit for 40 minutes and wait to be called again to have my fingerprints of both hands done. Followed by another 45 minute wait  for the interview which was not a problem, my interviewer a very pleasant guy saw Don as my travelling buddy and tried desperately to pronounce Braendekilde without success, I can say it but never remember how to spell it, so glad he didn't ask me, he did giggle a bit trying to keep a straight face. Then he checked the boat registration papers which thankfully I took with me. When you go to things like this its good to be loaded with every bit of paper you can find that they may ask for but a gas inspection for the house was useless, well you never know!
Not much more asked but he said your visa application is approved which left me smiling but I thought a big YES was inappropriate inside the embassy so I saved it until I went outside. So roughly 2 and a bit hours well spent, those guys can teach the Spanish Correos a thing or two about queuing, I should say maybe with over 100 people in there.

So I returned to the hotel dumped all the paperwork in the safe and walked my legs off around Madrid. I think I must have walked for miles it was only when I sat down to eat and stood up I realised I had done way too much. Thankfully it was only a 10 minute walk to the hotel.

Madrid the trip:
Walking to the main area I passed the majestic National Library building on Plaza de Colón Square, very impressive as are most of the buildings.
Plaza de Colón is home to the main Barclays bank in Spain. 
The library

Some shady walkways, essential when its 40 deg C.

I did go by most of the museums but not inside like the Prado, the lack of time, queues and the price put me off and there was no one I fancied looking at anyway. There are a few statues outside one of which is Goya.
Goya Looks like he was a handsome chap.

The Mad Hatter, all alone

What is it with the Spanish, naked people lying about just where they fancy!

I did visit Plaza de Cibales which houses the city hall a huge building which has 8 levels, looked around looking at photographs of the building many years ago, it was nice and cool in there.

They look like original tiles from Jerez

Next to that building is the Correos I had to post a letter, I'm impressed no queues, very bright and airy.

The Bear in the strawberry tree.
"El Oso y El Madroño"
Madrids emblem they used to be in great numbers many years ago

I was really thinking of joining him to cool off!

Browsed El Cortes Ingles and bought a new collapsable case with wheels in the sale a massive 60% off, maybe they couldn't sell it as it's bright orange, at least if it goes into the hold I will see it on the belt when it comes out.

Had a smashing steak at "The Block House" they specialise in steaks.

The following day I packed my new case then a taxi to the other train station Chamartin via taxi, it has a shopping center inside which was great fun, I did manage to restrain myself.

Return journey back was uneventful, the countryside is so dry and dusty I saw a couple of "dust tornados" so did more reading and music.

Conclusion: A successful trip, and I LOVE MADRID, mind you to go when its not the height of summer would be a much better idea.
Sorry its a bit long winded but I have so many memories and photographs.
Bye for now


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