Rising Through The Haze, Armada Sur Head Home Via Avila And Madrid

There was no early church service for the Armada Sur, honest we would have, it was mid morning as we emerged from our after celebration slumbers, you can’t let a 2-1 away win in Salamanca go unmarked. First shock of the day, if you ignore the horrendous hangovers, was finding that Gordon (AKA The Moron) had fallen over (damm unsteady those local streets) the night before and had paid a visit to the hospital for 4 stitches above his eye. That was in the second group across town, myself and Andy did a zombie walk down the road from the hotel for a coffee at a service station but both found a chocolate pastry too much to stomach and left them part chewed. At least we managed a chuckle as we found a bizarre statue to pose with, clearly someone had more warped minds than us.

The General turned up in reception looking like Keith Richards on a bad day and we headed into town to meet the others, obviosly we didn’t mock our injured comrade Gordon in any way at all, even if he looked like Rocky 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. All safely gathered aboard the trusty mini bus we set off for Madrid with a half way stop at Avila penciled in. There had been some suggestion of taking in a Tercera Division game in the small historic town but with an eye on seeing the Chelsea v Liverpool game in Madrid we just took a meal break.

Avila is stunning, a medieval fortress wall embraces the town and after food we drove inside the battlements and had a quick poke around the plaza (above) and cathedral. One of the big pluses of popping over to CD Tenerife away games is the chance to taste some of Spain’s history, the cathedral was built in 1095 and is surrounded by a pride of stone lions. Looking up to the buttress’s I could see and hear large storks that had nested on the turrets, they were huge, no use offering them a bag of crumbs and a bit of bacon fat, they looked capable of swooping down and stealing a small child – we kept a close eye on The General.

The wheels of the bus were soon going round and round again as we neared Madrid close to kick off on the TV game, The General headed to the hotel after dropping us off near a Metro (underground) station. It just happened to be by Real Madrid’s impressive Bernabeu Stadium, DJ Johnny looked a little conspicuous in a CD Tenerife track suit top but it was several hours before Madrid’s home game with Real Sociedad – and no I wasn’t even tempted to go. Madrid is a great city and the Metro is just one euro for any journey, we had to change at Tribunal and Johnny our resident scouser peeled off to watch the match with the Madrid Reds at their Cavern look alike, The Tavern. The rest of us emerged at Sol, the city centre Metro stop and took the side street to our regular haunt the O Connell Street Bar, a big popular sports bar where the order of the day is a bucket of Coranita beers packed in ice and large baskets of crisps to tuck into.

Liverpool’s win merged into another victory for the local white menace, then with a ridiculously early wake up in mind and Johnny back with a contented look on his face, we adjourned to the local kebab house for a suitably greasy nosh up. This is another part of the Madrid ritual in a food house that features a large painting of a horse on the wall – they didn’t did they? Time for a bus back to our Hotel Torre Laguna, and like the Metro the bus was also just one euro. I grabbed a couple of late beers at the bar before kipping down for just over 3 hours only to rise like a zombie for our return trip to the airport to return the minibus and pile onto the plane. A gorgeously sunny Tenerife morning welcomed our return to the island blinking in the light like pit ponies that hadn’t gone to Specsavers. Good company, good fun and good grief a win, now for the rest of the season.