Friday, September 6th

Finally, the Sixth is here, the day that's been burning itself into my brain since before I left LePuy. The day I go to Madrid, and tomorrow, to meet Chris at the airport.

And there's music, to wake the pilgrims.

Asked the hospitalero "Que le musique ?" and he leads me upstairs, and shows me the cassette box. It's Jose A Buelta, all kind of New Age and Moody. It's good though.
Outside, killing time, chatting with other pilgrims. Another Belgian, who's already walked 2000kms but reaching Compostelle is no longer important as he's already discovered the answers he was after, he'll keep going though. Another pilgrim from Southampton, England, who has cousins in Perth. Then another English guy, a bikie pilgrim, to whom Australia "doesn't really count", but who complained a lot about the hills, "bugger, bugger, bugger".

Packing up this morning, passing Danishpilgrims who are having breakfast in the hallway, maybe they don't know abut the Comedor. Oh well, they were late.

I still don't know the name of this bar, although it's the fourth time I've been in here. Cafe Grande por favor, the morning usual. The TV is off, amazingly, but the Tetris machine is on, but I'm refraining.
On the way here, passing the first cafe, dumped the old black, now grey, shirt. Not into any old rubbish bin, nothing ordinary for the shirt I've worn every day on The Way, but only the best. The bin nearest the Cathedral. It was more like a funeral. One last check of the pocket, the last rites, and in it went.

The bus doesn't leave until 10:30, but I'm nervous as hell.

Bus Station. Two and a half hours to wait. Reading.

Still here, obviously. Less than an hour now.
Bus Stations, almost by definition, are depressing places. People waiting, and all wanting to be someplace else. No fond farewells here, no tears, no one waving goodbye to anybody else. Hell, I haven't even seen so much as a suitcase among the entirety of all who have come and gone. I'm the only one with luggage. The backpack.

Fifteen minutes, maybe ten. The busses tend to roll in, wait a few minutes, then roll out again.

On the bus. Seat 28. Ticket checked, yes, and the luggage goes underneath. There was at least one teary farewell, but it wasn't for me.

Backing out. On the way, another kind of way. Even the Way itself will be different when I'm on it again.

Have no idea about the names of the towns were passing through. but the Spanish music piped over the bus system has stopped, and the movie has begun. The Harrison Ford one about the mismatched couple on a island, who foil smugglers, whatever it's called.

13:56 (according to the bus clock)
End of the movie, and even in Spanish it was crap. And you can see Madrid from here.

And now we're in it. Moving slowly, through traffic.

Arrived. Bus Terminal. Everybody seemed to be going up the escalator. Followed suit. Found a plan of the Terminal, have to go back down to the 'trens', found the 'M' Metro signs, followed them. Get a Metro Map, then to the Billet machine. Rejected my coin, don't know why, another accepted it, but I couldn't see the ticket, until some young spunk showed me where it was. First random act of kindness.

I have to take the Grey Line to the Red Line. Counting stations, off at Sol, the train crowded by then. Through an exit, the one to Calle Major, taking a guess as there's several. It's the right one.

Stopped. Have to find the Hotel.
Stay calm, breathe deep. See it. Yep, right there, could hardly believe I was reading the words 'Hotel Paris'. On the other side of the Calle Major. So many people. Walking across a pedestrian crossing, I'm tapped on the shoulder, and some guy handing me the outer band that's fallen from my hat. Second random act of kindness.

Hotel Paris. I'm here.
What's with all the African guys selling bootleg CDs and sunglasses?

Now, just how good does life get? Found the hotel, easily, by staying calm. Had a shower, and there's a freebie comb, changed into the sandals. On a food mission, I'm starving, and there's a Pans across the road.

Wanders, and got a little lost, not though it matters, the Hotel Paris has a habit a reappearing anyway. Down streets, theatres, restaurants, CD shops which I spent a fair amount of time in, but didn't buy any. Found a great bookshop though, Casa Del Libro, with what amounted to a room full of books in English, double-rowed, and you had to slide the first shelves aside to get to the second row behind. Bought Nick Caves 'And the Ass Saw the Angel', seems appropriate.
Further, this street, that street, passing a museum somewhere,the Sevilla Metro station, found an Internet place, with what seemed like hundreds of flat screens. Checked the hotmails, writing longish letters back. Finding an 'alimentation', guess I'm still in pilgrim mode.

Ended up back at Pans.

Another walk, another longish one, and basically in search of an ice-cream. Walked passed a theatre with two white horses out the front, with uniformed riders, but one of the horsies was frothing disturbingly. Then passing gardens, monuments and monumental buildings, more CD shops, cafes, bars, with thousands of other people out strolling, seemingly in every street, perfumeries, a Macdonalds, working girls, the black guys on the street still with CDs and sunnies. Then heading in the direction I thought was right, in Puenta del Sol, feeling utterly lost. Somehow just happening across Sol again, I have no idea how. And ice-cream shops a-plenty.