Welcome to Madrid. Where the people are pretty and the collars are popped.
I've never been to Spain. To be honest, I had no desire to ever go to Spain. I don't speak the language, I don't know that much about the country, and Spanish, as a language, has always been associated with Mexico. But when DonkeyGrooming was hell bent on hitting up Spain, and I was hell bent on getting my ass into Europe with no preference as to where, next thing I knew I had a ticket booked for Madrid.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I was only able to get all up inside Caja Majica for one day. Who knows, if I stayed longer, I might have actually ended up hating the tournament. After all, Ion Tiriac is involved. The man behind using models as ballgirls, blue clay, and just general tennis insanity. There's no way I was going to like this tournament, right?
Wrong. Sigh. You win this round, Crazy. You win this round.
So understand something from the get-go: I really loved the city of Madrid. All my friends were telling me it sucked and that Barcelona was way better. I'm not ready to say one was better than the other. I thoroughly enjoyed both. But what blew me away about Madrid was it's effortless class. Everyone, young and old, were dressed to the nines and gorgeous. They just looked so classy, but in a “Oh, this? I just threw this one because it was clean” kind of way.
That same classiness extended to the tournament. At least, that was my take from one day.
The Caja Majica is outside of the city center, obviously, and a 20 minute walk from the metro stop. It's an easy walk but kind of a pain in the ass. I've been spoiled so I personal prefer to be dropped off within 100 meters of the site. So sue me.
Once inside, the actual building is massive. It houses the three show courts but thankfully things are spread out. You don't feel cramped or feel overrun with people. Of course, that might be due to the fact that we were there on a Monday. But as one who HATES crowds, I liked how sparse it was inside. Sure, when you first walk in it feels a bit "sales conventiony" but I think in the end it's a good thing.
As for the practice courts, they're all tucked in tightly behind the facility. While the access was great (one open side for each court), it was kind of a hassle to get to that open side. If a player you like is practicing on one of the outer courts, you have to walk all the way around to get to the open side where you can sit and watch. A bit of a pain, but in the big scheme of things, no biggie.
All in all, I would not hesitate to come back to Madrid for a vacation that revolved around seeing tennis at the tournament. That's the C-Note stamp of approval.
That said, a few quibbles:
- The lower boxes for Center Court are, much like the US Open, reserved for VIPs and sponsors. Kind of a bummer if you've flown all the way to Spain in hopes of seeing Rafa up close and personal. The views from the "plebe" seats are still fantastic, though.
- The food on site kinda blows.
- I really really can't stand the whole "Choose which show court you want" method of selling tickets. You don't have that Indian Wells or Miami. If you buy a Center Court ticket, you can get in to all the courts. But in Madrid and Rome (and Paris), you have to choose which court you want. This might be fine to casual tennis fans who just want to see some tennis, but for those of us who follow specific players, it's absolute cock. Petko losing to Parra Santonja? Didn't see it because it was on Sanchez-Vicario and I had Center Court tickets. Just wait until you hear me rant about this in Rome. It made every day stressful.
So that's my Madrid round-up. Has anyone else ever been? What were your thoughts?
Oh, and I met long-time beloved FDer Tasio. He is lovely, delicious, and a pleasure to spend the day with. Even if he is a JJ fan.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)