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Diary of a travel writer: Madrid among the beautiful people

Thursday

Waking up to the sound of the Indian Ocean, I seem to recall dreaming I have missed the ferry to somewhere. Today is definitely not a ferry day. Instead, I have to get Flight TG202 from Phuket to Bangkok to connect with flight EY408 to Abu Dhabi to connect with EY45 to Dublin.

The Bangkok airport transfer is complex enough, but clean and within the same terminal, and standing in front of me in the queue is a Dublin tour operator, Con Murphy. He came to Bangkok to investigate medical tourism. Once airborne, the New Zealand Roaring Meg pinot noir is flowing. The hostess comes from Palestine and by touchdown in Abu Dhabi, we have solved the Middle East problem.

Friday

Airborne again, on Flight IB3183 to Madrid. Iberia made a strange decision to move its outbound flight to the afternoon last year — which means it is useless for the South American connections, for which Madrid is the best hub. I am here for a whirl through the city’s trends with some young fashion writers. My life is more The Devil Drives Lada than The Devil Wears Prada, but any opportunity to come to Madrid cannot be spurned.

Saturday

I am watching 12 stick-insect-thin models catwalking at Madrid Fashion Week to the icy sound of trance music. I know nothing about fashion, but this is a feast. Forty designers gave us the best they had over the period of a day, sending in ranks of models, up to 16 at a time, while the most overdressed audience I have ever seen grew higher on the excitement and theatricality of it all. I sat in the back row, the beat in my ears, the intensity and emotion growing.

I am now determined to abandon my intercontinental Giordano short-sleeved shirt and get a makeover. Madrid for a midlife crisis. Now there’s a slogan.

Saturday night

It was midnight before we arrived at Casa Patas to listen to a lonesome sean-nos Flamenco ballad. We found it in a small studio space — it could have been an Irish music session at Matt Molloy’s in Westport or Friel’s in Miltown Malbay. Juan Herrero, from the tourist board, thinks Madrid should be “the city that never sleeps” — only New York got it first.

It is time to put his theory to the test, and the bars of Barrio Chueca, the gay quarter, were calling. The mojitos were three for a tenner and the sun was lighting the horizon before the night finished.

Sunday

Took the IB3184 back to Dublin to see Cork bludgeon Down into submission in the second half and collect their overdue All-Ireland.

Monday

A new US route for Dublin is finally announced publicly, and I look forward to revisiting Charlotte when it starts in May. It will open up the beaches and the golf of South Carolina.

Tuesday

Belfast is in town to promote the festival at Queen’s, an annual artistic extravaganza.

Wednesday

There is a grinding noise from my laptop. Not a good sign.

Savvy Traveller, How the Travel Industry Works and How to Make it Work for You, by Eoghan Corry, is priced at ¤15


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