Last Friday, 31st May, I decided to flee Madrid and go off to the España Vacia – the Empty Spain, as the uninhabitated areas of Spain are known. And Grado del Pico, my adopted village, certainly falls into that category as it has a population of twelve people registered on the census.
The reason for getting out of Madrid was to avoid the hustle and bustle that the final of the Champions was going to bring with it. A rather uneventful, boring match, as it turned out to be, between Tottenham Spurs and Liverpool which was won by the latter as soon as it started!
The build up to the match was quite the contrary, as when it comes to fiestas, Spain ranks ten.
In La Plaza Mayor in Madrid, football matches were organised by Banco Santander. The Spanish bank did not stop there. Three bus tours were put on to take the fans to the most emblematic parts of Madrid; Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, and the fountains of Neptune and Cibeles, all of which make the city the most football-mad in the world. For those who preferred to visit the city on foot, walking tours also took place.
So foreseeing the centre milling with lost Liverpool and Spurs fans, I left for a quiet weekend in the country, away from the maddening crowd. The España Vacia, would be left untouched by the celebrations. And as I drove further away from the hot city with its threatening high temperatures, the car radio announced the exhorbitant number of flights that were to land and the even more exhorbitant prices of accomodation.
I took the A1 and soon left the traffic jams, heat, and fans behind. Or so I thought! Much to my surprise, as I was approaching Riaza, Segovia, a camper van did not respect a stop and drove out in front of me, causing the first jerk of the weekend. It was to be the first of many. As I approached the van, I noticed that it had Spurs written on the front and sides of it. So, here I was over a hundred kilometers from the capital, running away from traffic and noisy fans, only to almost collide with some Spurs supporters.
My surprise, or shall I say, shock did not end there. For the Spurs supporters’ camper van was not the only one approaching the campsite in Riaza. It seemed that a good number of English football fans had the same idea of spending the night before the match in the España Vacía. I soon discovered that a total of 200 Brits had decided to fill the Empty Spain.
But I was not to say goodbye to them so quickly and so easily. As I left Riaza taking the narrow road that wound its way through the mountains, I was forced to stop while the passengers of another camper van realised that they had left their destination behind. While trying to slowly manouvre the awkward vehicle on the precariously narrow road took advantage to do what all football fans seem to do everywhere – urinate for all to see, flooding the Empty Spain!