December 8, 2010 - Posted by Erin in Madrid, Spain, Travel, Travels in Spain

I’m not going to lie, the idea of giving scuba diving another go while temperatures still remained under 90℉ sounded like a horrible, awful, terribly bad and dumb idea. Which was just lovely considering that my dear husband had booked a trip to Tenerife in the Canary Islands last weekend for us to go diving. I was certainly on board with warmer temperatures (70℉ is far better than 30℉), but might just have secretly been willing the whole scuba portion of the trip not to happen.

Oops. I willed too hard. Let me explain.

Last Friday we headed to the airport minus our boots and coats, and plus our bathing suits. We checked in, grabbed a bocadillo, and waited patiently at our gate. We boarded and buckled our seat belts. The child in front of me on the plane was crying like someone stole her candy, because, you know, I was in the vicinity. Then the captain got on the intercom to tell us to turn off our electronic devices…..

Wait, no, that’s not actually what he said. He just said that everyone needed to get off the plane because all flights in Spain were being cancelled indefinitely. Excuse me? Confused, we all disembarked the plane and entered the mass chaos that was the Madrid-Barajas airport when thousands of passengers are left without their bags, straight answers, or a vacation on FIVE-DAY holiday weekend! Everyone was of course in a stellar mood, talking calmly, and organizing themselves to figure everything out….in my imagination, but no, that’s not really what happened.

It was three long hours of people pushing each other to get through the crowds, and Spanish curse words being thrown around even more than usual. (You’ve got to love it when an old grandpa belts out “me cago en su puta madre.” Translate it, if you wish.) Once we had finally reclaimed our suitcases, we headed to downtown Madrid to have a very un-Spanish sushi dinner. This is required after just finding out that a tiff between the Spanish government and Spanish Air Traffic Control has resulted in a surprise strike during one of Spain’s biggest holiday weekends – bravo guys! During dinner, Jacobo sulked, and I pretended to sulk, insisting that we should come up with something else adventurous to do to cure our scuba-blues.

To fill the island-sized hole in our hearts, we decided on a road trip to Peñafiel, a pueblo about and hour and a half north of Madrid, in Ribera del Duero wine country. We spent the weekend sleeping in a castle, romping around in the snow, and pretending like we loved gloomy weather and wine tasting more than we could ever possibly love a beachfront hotel.

The highlight of our little journey was most certainly our stop at Restaurante Maria Eugenia. After finishing our meal, the owner plopped himself down at our table, declared he was a “Latin Lover” (in English!) and proceeded to give us his cell phone number should we need anything while in town. Following this, he generously gave us a tour of the kitchen and its wood oven, even insisting on lighting it, then wedging himself inside in an attempt to get pictures. The food was amazing, but clearly the service was even more noteworthy!

All in all, it was a delightful weekend, particularly because it never involved me being immersed in frigid waters. I do, however, apologize to the rest of Spain, for having wished so hard not to go scuba diving that the country’s flight infrastructure collapsed. I’ll try to put my powers to more productive use next time around.

Caught up in the frenzy at the airport, I didn’t get any shots of the chaos. You can, however, see more pictures from our trip to Peñafiel on the La Tortuga Viajera Facebook page.