Madrid welcomes visitors.

My idea to travel from Geneva to Madrid during the first week of November 2020 was not encouraged by any of my friends or family because Spain was perceived by them as one of the most risky European countries for COVID-19

infection. On the day that I had to travel, all of the restaurants in Switzerland were closed and Geneva had already been “closed” due to the dramatically rising number of cases there. I understood what it meant to close all of the restaurants, but I was not sure about the impact on my travel that the closure of Geneva might have. In any case, I took a train to Geneva airport several hours in advance to ensure that I had spare time for any unexpected delays along the way. To my disappointment, nothing dramatic happened and everything was working as always, with the exception of all the closed restaurants and bars. I arrived at an absolutely empty airport and passed all of the controls alone without any waiting time in the lines, quite different than was the case prior to the pandemic. I have never seen Geneva airport so empty. None of the shops were open and there was not a soul walking around. I was literally alone. The screens showed only the very few flights that were scheduled for that day instead of the long lists as before. After about an hour, approaching the boarding time, my gate was filled with people and the flight turned out to be completely full. So, I was not the only one crazy enough to travel to Spain during this peak of infections!

Upon arrival at the Madrid airport, I passed through to the exit while observing only a few people on my way out. The driver of the taxi that I had pre-booked along with my hotel was already waiting with name displayed on his board at the exit door. I was quite worried to use this service for the very first time because I was provided with a suspiciously low rate for this service and charged the full amount in advance. Contrary to my concerns, this taxi service worked very well and took me directly to my hotel without any delays or verbal exchanges with the driver.

My budget hotel in the center of Madrid pleasantly surprised me as well. At the reception, I was greeted by a very friendly hotel employee who quickly checked me in and then accompanied to the elevator disinfecting all of the surfaces that I might touch along the way. When elevator doors opened, he even cleaned and disinfected all of the buttons inside before I got in. Entering my low cost room, I could not believe that such an inexpensive hotel would provide so many amenities. In the bathroom there were sets for two people of everything that you might expect in a good five-star hotel. In the closet there was and iron and ironing board, and there was fully stocked minibar and coffee machine. The room was spotless and everything in it was perfectly functional, almost as new.

I did not have much in the way of expectations from the low-price breakfast included with my room rate, but it literally made my day. Protected by transparent shields and served only by the staff, there was a selection of meals with everything from my favorite Spanish ham and sheep cheese to absolutely delicious fruits and coffee with fresh croissants. The waiters were incredibly fast and professional while paying close attention to every guest and providing service literally within seconds.

I was happy that I had finally arrived in Madrid and look forward to getting spoiled here by Spanish hospitality.

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