Postcard from... Madrid


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The Independent Online


The scrum of people in the centre of Madrid for the Constitution Day public holiday last weekend reached a point where the police temporarily closed one of the main underground stations, in Puerta del Sol, to relieve the pressure.

An announcement was made on the packed inbound train I was on that we would have to disembark at the station before, Sevilla, and we spilled out on to the platform. Aided by security guards, we had to squeeze past a massive line of people waiting to board.

Then shoppers, tourists and families going to see the Christmas lights milled about the city centre in the early evening, and it was hard to remember there was an economic crisis on.

As I chatted this week to Bernardo, the owner of a small business, he echoed a similar experience from the holiday weekend and sounded his approval. His business, selling outdoor furniture, has been reduced from a 10-employee outfit to just two over the past five years, but he said there were more inquiries coming in now.

“Last year people would have stayed at home,” he said. “This year, at least they are venturing out. They probably won’t have a meal but they might have a beer. That’s something. We need  people to start spending again.”