The center of Madrid, a hotbed where patience can be forged: “You can’t even have a coffee… Everything is collapsed”


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This enclave has become almost “impassable” after the massive influx of people who ‘pilgrimage’ to see the Christmas decorations

Thousands of people crowd Puerta del Sol.
Thousands of people crowd Puerta del Sol.JAVI MARTINEZ

The center of Madrid has become a Mecca to which, at this time, pilgrimage tens of thousands of citizens to test your patience. A baptism of fire for tourists or visitors who came to the capital for the first time “to see the lights”, like José Enrique, an Extremaduran not used to dealing with crowds. “You can’t even have a coffee… Everything is collapsed.”“, he said yesterday, while walking like a Nazarene along Calle del Carmen, totally saturated, with the desire to see the tree illuminated by the Sun up close. “I’m losing my desire“, he added with each step.

Queues to ride the merry-go-round in front of the Royal Palace or to buy cotton candy at one of the street stalls; crowds to get the best selfie next to the facade of the Four Seasons hotel or Cortylandia… And what about the human rows that formed next to the Plaza de España skating rink or in front of the doors of the San Gins or Doa Manolita chocolate factory, where those lines reached well into the Gran Vía.

“He takes it with patience… Everything so that these two can enjoy,” Vernica said, pointing to her two offspring, who were eager to slide on the ice rink of a crowded Plaza de España. Its Metro mouths presented an incessant stream of people, who were either coming or going, and among whom it was more than common to see faces of astonishment and the occasional snort at the panorama. “It is totally impassable, what a burden“, noted María, who had met a friend for a drink, a task that was not easy for them: “We met in Callao. In the first five places we looked they told us there was no room. Finally we ended up at a Chinese restaurant, near the Temple of Debod… Everything was impossible“.

Some people didn’t have a good time either. artists street people, those who dress up to be photographed with children in exchange for their will. “Pick up and leave”, said a couple of municipal police officers to a man who, without a license, was hiding inside a gigantic gorilla suit. The man, of South American origin, got out of his work uniform as best he could and nodded at every word of the authorities. “We have been quite benevolent, We have already warned you several times…“, they remarked to him. After this last warning, and while he collected all his brochures, he commented to this newspaper: “I don’t understand why they only tell me and not the rest (pointing to a polar bear, a dinosaur and a Mario Bros that were wandering around). near to). I’m going to see if I can find another place to settle.“.

A police couple
A couple of police officers ‘throw out’ a ‘gorilla’ without a license.D.S.

The Municipal Police was very much on top of this type of activities, as well as the street vendors. In front of Cortyland, an enclave frequently visited by parents with their children, a veteran agent made a short sprint to hunt down a young man who was making a killing selling balloons with lights. ““I told you I didn’t want to see you here anymore,” the uniformed man snapped. After confiscating his merchandise (specifically two of these balloons that he put in a patrol car, whose back was full of these products), I let him go without problems.

All on a Constitution Bridge in which the City Council has had to activate an unknown black level. Something that has translated into a greater presence on the streets of police to ensure the safety of all those present before the forecast of a large number of visitors to the capital.

“Let’s look for a side street and we better go home“We’ll come and see it more calmly during the week,” said a young woman who, along with her partner, was throwing in the towel with no signs of being able to move forward while trying to advance along Arenal Street. “I’m getting very nervous, I didn’t imagine that everyone “The streets were going to be like this.”

Although what for many was overwhelming, from the Community of Madrid, in the mouth of its Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports, Mariano de Paco, They call it a “success”. The official numbers of attendees will not be known until the long weekend is over, but for De Paco these holidays are “one of the most important moments for tourism in the capital”, with more and more support from international visitors.

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