So, we’d arrived in Madrid the previous night, a fair few hours later than anticipated. Our cases were stuck in Barcelona so most of our first morning in the city was spent tracking down stores to buy replacement clothing and cosmetics to wear to the match that evening.
Ah, yes, the match. Well, that was the whole reason we were in Madrid in the first place. Hubby has been a fan of La Liga (Spanish football) for as long as I’ve known him. When we took our first mini-break seven years ago to Barcelona a tour of Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s home ground) was top of his list of sights to see. We’d always said we’d head over to Madrid to take in a Real Madrid match for his 40th birthday. But as our first wedding anniversary approached last year and I decided that tickets would be a good interpretation of the paper theme. Well, there was only one event to get tickets for, right?
I scoped it out. Lot’s of subtle questions along the lines of… If you could see any European football team play at home, who would you go to see? Real Madrid came out top. So far so good. But who would be good to see them play? El Classico for sure – but I didn’t fancy making myself go (even more) grey in the process of trying to secure tickets. What are the good mid-table Spanish teams? I casually asked Hubby one Sunday morning. Fortunately he didn’t suspect a thing, which is a bit weird really, as talking about European football pre-breakfast isn’t something I ordinarily did… back then.
With a list of possible teams I logged onto the website, which confusingly kept switching between English and Spanish, with the odd bit of Spanglish thrown in for good measure. The only way to secure tickets in advance was to go VIP, but even that was confusing with the different levels (and costs) of VIP-ness and then the different areas. Just to add an extra level of confusion to the ticket buying process the seats are all oddly numbered so, after I’d booked some tres-expensive – but so worth it – tickets for hubby and I, I was then paranoid for a good time that we wouldn’t actually be sitting next to each other.
Hubby and I went away for a spa break for our anniversary. I purposefully down played the gift that I’d bought for him. He had elaborately wrapped my fabulous gifts. An adoption of a panda through WWF (I love pandas), a subscription to Red magazine, a selection of glossy magazines (this man knows me well) and a love letter. Sweet. I tried to keep a smile at bay as I announced that I felt a bit guilty because his gift was just this…
I handed him a boring DL envelope. Inside was a short note declaring that the first anniversary said we should give paper and that this was paper. The note then went onto explain that this bit of paper would be exchanged for another bit of paper which would then be exchanged for tickets to the Real Madrid Vs Real Betis match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. His face was a picture.
We booked our flights and chose a hotel near to the stadium. We had it all planned out. We would arrive in Madrid mid-afternoon, ditch our bags at the hotel and then head to the stadium to pick up our tickets. We’d then get our bearings and have a scrummy dinner. The following day we would do the stadium tour and then head to the match. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. We didn’t pick up our tickets until after we’d been shopping and by that stage I was convinced that it was going to be one of those holidays where everything goes wrong. I inserted my credit card into the ticket machine and waited… and waited… Eventually the ticket machine whirred into action and printed out our tickets. We picked up the most delicious Starbucks Vanilla Latte and headed back to the hotel for the nicest shower ever. Not that the shower was particularly luxurious or anything – it just felt amazing to wash away over 24-hours of traveling grime. And that’s when things started to look up…