King For A Day


This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, July 07, 2004 was originally posted on July 15, 2004.

DAY 263:  “If this gets anymore romantic,” I said as the two flautists and solo guitarist serenaded us and the handful of other outdoor cafe patrons, “I may have to ask you to marry me.”

Jack took my joke only semi-lightly.  “Alright, cut the music, that’s enough!”

We were sitting in the Plaza Mayor, a huge plaza in the center of Madrid flanked by beautiful classical architecture.  The sides of the inner rim of the plaza were populated with cafe tables and parasols as they were in the perfect place to just sit out with a loved one and people watch.  In lieu of a beautiful Spanish loved one, I had my Uruguayan buddy Jack.

WE HAD ARRIVED after a three and a half hour train ride from Pamplona to Spain’s capital — and home of newlywed King Philip VI — and went looking for a hotel.  We found one fairly easily — tourism in Madrid is down because of the 2003 bombings — the Hostal Portugal on the ground floor of a building near the town center.  We got a room from the motherly Ecuadorian woman running the place, complete with two beds, a television and private bathroom.  After settling in, we went out to explore the city.

Whenever we’d get lost in Madrid’s web of diagonal streets, Jack would ask for directions — but only to attractive women.  “The way I see it, if you’re gonna ask for directions, you might as well ask a hot chick.  I mean, what’s the point of asking some fat bald guy?”

After our “romantic” serenaded lunch, we went off into to the town information office to see just what we could do in the city.  Ahead of us in line was a Spanish-speaking girl with skinny legs and a hairstyle from 1984.  Jack brought out his Uruguayan charisma and asked for directions.  Her name was Selima and she was a 25-year-old girl from Argentina who didn’t know much English.  She had scrapped up all her savings for her big trip to Spain, the trip she was currently on. 

Pretty soon Selima was tagging along with us to see the sights on the west end of the city center, from the Casa de La Villa to the Cathedral de Almudena to Iglesia San Francisco.  Although she was tagging along us, the entire walking tour was merely an afternoon of flirtation between her and Jack, and it was not-fast-speaking-Spanish me that was the Third Wheel.  Jack did his magic with his fellow South American and walked the extra mile (literally) — even up a tremendous set of stairs up to a lookout point. 

“I can lose her if you want,” Jack said to me.

“Nah, it’s cool,” I said.

“Cool.  ‘Cuz I figure why lose a good thing?”

Selima was temporarily “lost” when she decided to save her Euros and wait outside when Jack and I visited the Royal Palace (picture above), home of King Philip VI (where I managed to get a pocket knife passed security that I forgot I had on me).  While the king and his new queen were nowhere to be seen, the rooms of his house were, including the all important throne room where the king sits in a chair all royal-like.

“This is where the king does his new wife,” I said in the massive dining hall with a 100-seat banquet table fit for a king.  Some other young Spanish guys had similar theories, particularly in the billiard room.

“[This is where the king plays pool and smokes joints with all his friends.]”

“Funny thing is,” Jack said, “it’s probably true.”

After a visit to the royal armory, full of the swords, shields and suits of armor of Spain’s medieval past, we walked over to the grand observation platform with a king’s eye view of the kingdom of Spain.

“This is where the king looks out to his kingdom and says, ‘I declare tomorrow is Crazy Hat Day.’”

Funny I said that because right after, we noticed that the royals guards did in fact, where crazy-looking hats.

SELIMA REJOINED US for the continuation of our sightseeing stroll.  Passing by the Jardin de Sabatini and a string orchestra playing in the Plaza de Oriente, we made it to the Plaza España where police officers were investigating an abandoned bag on a park bench that they suspected might be a bomb.  Nothing blew up though and so we walked over to the north to the Temple of Debod, Spain’s Egyptian acquisition during the antiquity rescue mission in the 1960s and 70s, as a result of the construction of the High Aswan Dam.

“Hey ‘Rik, you mind if you give me like half an hour with this chick?  I want to see what I can get out of her.”

“Sure.”  I had some business on the internet to attend to anyway concerning my upcoming Trans-Siberian Railway trek.  I sent made some calls and sent some e-mail messages while Jack sent messages of a different sort to Selima.

“I DID IT MAN!” Jack exclaimed with joy when we regrouped back at the hotel room.  He felt like a king.  “I made out with her!  I French kissed her!  French kissin’ in Madrid!”  Knowing the two of them would probably never see each other, Jack slammed her up against a wall in a busy plaza and stuck his tongue down her throat.  She reciprocated and they caused quite a scene to the people nearby. 

“Alright!” I said.  Not bad for a guy whose pick up strategy was to jokingly call her a prostitute over and over. 

“She wasn’t even that hot, but it’s just that feeling of conquering.”  Jack the king had completed his conquest of the day.

THE KING IN ME CAME OUT later that night when Jack and I went to a local Galician tapas restaurant just off the tourist strip where one restaurant used the marketing tagline, “Hemingway never ate here.”  I had the morcillo (blood sausage) and callos (tripe) and washed it down with sangria.  The alcoholic beverage slowly transformed me into a slurring buffoon claiming to be the king of Spain and I babbled on with Jack, continually adding to a speech that went something like this:

“Attencion, attencion…  Yo soy tu rey Philip sexto…  ¿Que tal?  Tengo dos cosas de decir…  Numero Uno…  Number Uno tienne dos partes…  Uno A…  Soy un hombre…  Uno B…  Vengo in my wife’s FACE!  Numero Dos…  Yo digo… que hoy… es Craaazy Hat Day...  Si tu tiennes un crazy hat… wear it today!”  (The English parts are to be annunciated like comedian Dave Chappelle.)

The two wannabe kings of Spain concluded the night at another bar and at the Tablao Flamenco, a flamenco bar more authentic (and far less expensive) than the bigger, 70-euro dinner shows geared for tourists.  For just a two drink minimum, we watched a flamenco dance recital of seven amateur dancers whose entire audience seemed to just be family and friends cheering them on.  All the dancers seemed pretty professional to me — they danced for the love of the dance — moving their bodies to the rhythm of the music through the speakers and the fast rhythmic clapping of hands. 

As great it was to watch the centuries-old traditional dance performed in front of me, with that two drink cover, I was less concerned with the dancing and more concerned with Crazy Hat Day.  I suppose it didn’t matter; when you think you’re the king of Spain, you can think whatever you want — it’s good to be the king.

Next entry: An Invitation For Trouble

Previous entry: Run Erik Run

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “King For A Day”

  • First! And only about two seconds after it was posted wink  How’s that for timing!  Get home check the blog, do a refresh, and tada, a new entry!

    Posted by Liz  on  07/15  at  02:18 PM

  • LIZ:  Wow, you even beat me!  I was just about to write a comment and you popped up… 

    ALL:  Here’s another for you… sorry it’s a slow process these days… but I’ve spent most of my time in Paris on the lines of embassies—totaling 16 hours.  Not to mention the line I just spent getting my train ticket to Avignon…

    I’ll be writing on the train and hopefully catching up tonight!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  02:21 PM

  • Erik,

    Watch out for the border crossing between Spain and France. When I made the crossing in 2002 we had to disembark at the first town in France to take a French train to Nice. I don’t know if they still do it but the town wasn’t great and there was nothing to do. Much like Avignon in fact. Seat of the second pope during the great Schism, it has a lot of armaments and little else. The Irish pub is nice though.

    Enjoy France. Nice is great.


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  04:02 PM

  • You made my morning when I came to work and saw a new blog.  Brings back memories from my backpacking trip last summer!  Can’t wait to read more.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  05:07 PM

  • vengo in my wife’s FACE!!!  i love it….


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  05:25 PM

  • That castle looks a ton like the Hermitage and surrounding buildings in St. Petersburg. You’re not going there are you? You should, but that’s just me thinking out loud. smile
    You rock - I hope your embassy luck starts changing!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  06:12 PM

  • ERIK: If you make it to switzerland and you’re looking for a cool out of the way Alps hostel check out Chalet Martian in Gryon near Lausanne. It’s wicked!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  06:13 PM

  • Hey Mr. E. As usual i have been hopping between two or three cities, working my aXXXX off and you have traversed over continents. Cool. It was fun reading ur blog after ages.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  06:33 PM

  • Erik - I think I ate at that same restaurant in Madrid that says “Hemingway never ate here”.  That’s cool you got to see some flamenco.  Damn, I want to go back to Spain!

    I wanted to see a picture of the 1984 hairstyle.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  06:53 PM

  • FYI: Martha Stewart is going to jail for 5 months in a federal prison.  Its a shame that they can put this woman in jail. I think i’ll re-subscribe to Living afterall. Damn this cruel world.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  07:06 PM

  • Erik

    Your running of the bulls story was crazy. Glad to hear you’re having such a great time.  Are you going to be heading through Prague on the way up to Russia?  We’ll be there in about 2 weeks.  Maybe we can catch up.
    Otherwise, come see us in Vancouver.  We’d love to see you.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  08:27 PM

  • Great pics, as usual. That palace looks even bigger than Buckingham Palace. Cool armory collection—that stuff’s so neat.

    I’m starting to think Jack’s bad for your image, dude. Soon he’s going to get lost just so he can ask for directions again! That dog.

    Crazy Hat Day?! You think your the King of Spain and that’s the best you could come up with? At least you didn’t think you were the Piss Boy. hehe

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  09:30 PM

  • LP-
    that is what she gets for breaking the law.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  11:43 PM

  • wow jack is a pimp.  i have to try that strategy!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  01:14 AM

  • Is anyone else thinking of the Moxy Fruvous song “Once I was the King of Spain”?  Don’t know how popular this group is out of Canada though.  Fun, funky band.

    Posted by Liz  on  07/16  at  05:57 AM

  • By the way - Felipe XI isn’t the king yet, he’s still a prince - not until his father dies

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/17  at  12:33 AM

  • JENNY:  Thanks for the correct information!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/17  at  01:27 AM

back to top of page


Follow The Global Trip on Twitter
Follow The Global Trip in Instagram
Become a TGT Fan on Facebook
Subscribe to the RSS Feed

This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
An Invitation For Trouble

Previous entry:
Run Erik Run


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

Spelling or grammar error? A picture not loading properly? Help keep this blog as good as it can be by reporting bugs.

The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
All written and photographic content is copyright 2002-2014 by Erik R. Trinidad (unless otherwise noted). "The Global Trip" and "swirl ball" logos are service marks of Erik R. Trinidad. v.3.7 is powered by Expression Engine v3.5.5.