Sunday 8 March 2009: the other man's rail station is sometimes greener
Another day with no specific tourism-schedule but plenty of wandering about absorbing things, looking at others and avoiding some with a few stops to prey on the free and protected-but-look-at-any-receipt-for-the-key wi-fi to be found at the coffee shop whose name escapes me but which is located there. Towards the end of the day we ended up trundling past Atocha station and pottered in for a look as it was reputed to contain a small botanic garden. Inside, rather than the usual grey-pigeon grey-concrete grey-pigeon-shit with red-and-green-painted Victorian ironwork accents of the British train station there were indeed rather more plants than one usually sees in the train station inside the people-end of the shed along with a few ponds containing terrapins, weeds and those little floaty green things which float on top of ponds. Quite a pleasant effect despite the extremely orangey nature of the lighting though it's perhaps a little better during daylight though the fagsmoke is probably quite oppressive at any time of day. Despite being obviously a station it didn't quite have the atmosphere of a station, partly because of all the plants but also because all the trains were segregated in the other half of the building and couldn't be reached without a valid ticket for travel and a trip through the security scanner, perhaps a little excessive though perhaps not for Madrid. As well as containing plants the other side of the station was slightly unusual in that the cars were all on the top and the trains on various layers beneath with an exit ramp entirely filled with absolutely identical taxis going from the roof to the ground. Visits to various little nearishby traditional wallèd towns had been recommended but with three days left after this day and three large galleries to fit in it wasn't likely that we'd need to return to the station on this trip.