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Posts tagged “Metro

Spain General Strike, March 2012

flag, anarchy, spain, red, blue

29m, Huelga General.

I’m taking a politics of Spain class, and when my professor mentioned a nationwide strike, I got excited. He explained in his broken English that it had happened a couple times before with varying levels of effectiveness. As an adrenaline-seeking photojournalist, I was hoping for big things.

As most of my friends were prepping for their departures from Madrid and Spain for Semana Santa (Spring Break), I was planning how I was going to get downtown to cover the biggest protest Madrid has seen in years. Public transport was putting out notices of reduced services, flights in and out of the country were being canceled, countless businesses were closed, and at least one television station was not broadcasting regular programming.

As clocks struck midnight in downtown Madrid, there were already reports of protesters taking to the street to kick off the 24-hour strike. There were some reports of minor damage and fires, but people were definitely getting rowdy. Twitter was lighting up with hashtags of #29m and #huelgageneral.

metro, herrera oria, huelga general, commuter, passenger, madrid

A man walks through the turnstiles of the Herrera Oria Metro station.

Plaza de Castilla, Huelga General, Spain

Left: A flyer announcing a general strike throughout Madrid is displayed on a bulletin board inside the Herrera Oria Metro station around 9 a.m. Right: Afternoon commuters wait at the platform at the Plaza de Castilla Metro station. Passengers there faced some of the longest between-train wait times in the Madrid Metro system.

Classes were still on at Comillas, but I figured that I’d have an alternate day of learning. I came to learn about Spain, Madrid, culture, and people not just in the classroom but in the streets too. I was just hoping the trains were running so I could to downtown. Madrid Metro said about 30% of the trains would be running.

Police tape covers a smashed car window

Police tape covers a smashed car window on a side street off of Gran Via.

This busted window was the most destruction I saw the whole day. It was a much quieter here than in Barcelona where riots and fires broke out amid the protests.

protest, Spain, huelga, Madrid

Protesters young and old took over the streets.

The protesters went where ever they wanted. There were police officers surrounding the group. Wherever the protesters went, the police just shut down the streets or intersection. Traffic was forced to turn around and try to find another route through the city. Regarding the police, they were very well behaved. They let the protesters do their thing with minimal interference. I was glad to see them keep their cool.

Cibelles, Madrid, Spain, UGT, Protest, Huelga

Protesters gather in front of Plaza de Cibelles and the Madrid City Hall.

Young protesters march arm-in-arm to protest education cuts.

Huelga, Madrid, Spain,

Police officers line up in front of a store to protect it from protesters.

sticker, huelga, madrid, spain

Protesters walk through a street toward Puerta del Sol.

Protesters plastered what seemed to be every window and wall in the city with stickers regarding the Strike.

flag, anarchy, spain, red, blue

Protesters fly the Spanish flag and an anarchy flag in Puerta del Sol.

protest, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Huelga, 29m

A protester pauses in Puerta del Sol in the early afternoon.

Puerta del Sol, protest, huelga, Madrid, Spain

Protesters yell at a store in Puerta del Sol that remained open during the Strike. The protesters marched throughout downtown chanting and aggressively pressuring store owners to close down their stores. With few exceptions, it worked (at least temporarily).

Left: A protester applies a sticker to the front door of a business in Puerta del Sol that told the public that the business was closed due to the Strike. Right: After pressure from the dozens of protesters chanting outside his door, a store worker pulls down the grate and closes the doors. Minutes after the crowd left his doorstep, he re-opened.

bus, autobus, Madrid, Puerta del Sol

Police talk to a bus driver whose route is blocked by a crowd of protesters outside Puerta del Sol.

tourists, Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Huelga, Argument, eating

Two tourists eating at a restaurant in Plaza Mayor are interrupted and confronted by protesters that disrupted restaurants all over downtown by stacking up chairs and tables in a mob-like fashion.

After a few hours of essentially taking a walking tour of downtown Madrid while photographing thousands of my closest friends, I went back home to unload cards, grab some food, and sit down until I head back out for the evening portion of the protests.

After I got a couple calories in me, I stumbled upon a website that had a safety advisory for Americans in Madrid. It said to stay clear of downtown because  there were going to be an estimated 250,000 protesting around 6 p.m. Wow! It was maybe 5:30 p.m. and it takes a good 45 minutes by Metro to get to the heart of downtown (and that’s with all the trains running). Needless to say, I hurriedly packed up and started for downtown.

metro, madrid, Plaza de Castilla

Commuters pack in a Metro car at the Plaza de Castilla station due to a reduced number of trains in service.

I’ve never seen more people stuff into one car than I did during the Strike. At Plaza de Castilla, wait times of 16 minutes weren’t uncommon. Normally, trains come every 4 minutes. This was the train I wanted to get on, but obviously, that wasn’t going to happen. It took me just under 1 hr and 30 mins to get downtown.

Madrid, Gran Via, Spain, Protest, Huelga

Hundreds of thousands of protesters fill Gran Via in support of the General Strike.

For people who know Madrid, this was taken in front of the Metropolis building. The crowd stretched all the way past Cibeles and started partially up the hill toward Puerta de Alcalá.

protesters, kids, ninos, Madrid, Gran Via, huelga, protest

Two young Spaniards show off their “justice” sign during the march to Puerta del Sol.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters pack into Puerta del Sol and the surrounding streets to hear speeches by union leaders.

The unions that backed the nationwide strike said approximately 900,000 people participated in the evening rally that concluded with the speeches. The media reported numbers significantly less. Regardless, trust me when I say that there were a ton of people. This was the biggest crowd I have ever witnessed or been a part of. Those people all the way down this street had no chance of getting into the main area of Puerta del Sol as it was already completely filled. At left is the famous Madrid bear and tree being used as a platform by resourceful photogs. (One of those guys is from AFP. He had a nice frame from there.) Here’s a shot from AFP that’s one of the only pictures I’ve seen of me from the day. I’m right between the A and F wearing plaid with a red backpack.

Puerta del sol, sunset

The sun set over Puerta del Sol as the union representatives were speaking to the crowd.

protesters, sign, Madrid, huelga, Spain, 29m

Eleven hours of shooting, numerous kilometers walked, half a million people or so, and over 2,600 frames later, I was done. I had a blast covering my first large-scale protest.

I emailed one of my professors the next day. He told me that out of the four groups he teaches on Thursdays, only 5 students made it (less than 1%) to class. I guess it was a good thing I didn’t go after all.

Lessons learned & keys to success for next time: 1. Bring twice the water you think you need. 2. Bring a monopod for the Hail Marys over the crowd. 3. Two camera bodies are a huge time saver. 4. Don’t forget to have someone take a picture of you in the sea of people. 5. Earplugs. Enough said. 6. If you know this is going to be history in the making, for a couple hours, rent a room in the hotel that surrounds the area to get a shot from this perspective. 7. Line up an editorial client beforehand so you can have a blast and get paid/published!

If you happen to be seeing this and want to license any of these photos or hire me in Madrid or the States, my contact info is at the top of the page.

Thanks for reading and looking! If you have comments or questions, feel free to leave them below.


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Monochrome Madrid

I got out of class last week and saw some light I couldn’t resist. Peter, my roommate, must have already left our downtown school so I figured I’d go out and get some sightseeing done. The temperature was pleasant, and I (of course) had my camera and a 17-35 with me. Winning combination. After asking a few of my classmates where they recommended, I got on the Metro a block or two away from school and headed toward the Puerta del Sol station.

Having no guide except for my offline map app on my iPhone, which is less than great aside from looking up Metro stops, I walked and wandered and chased the light. No time-consuming extra-currics to go to. No homework thanks to syllabus week. Freedom.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments

Since I was just walking wherever I saw things that looked interesting (and the light was right), I don’t know the name most of the things I saw. Feel free to help me out by leaving a comment at the bottom, and I’ll add them in.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Plaza de Espana, Cervantes, Don Quixote

Why did I go black and white? I’m not sure. The light was changing a bit and B&W made things a bit more unified. Now that I think of it, it was probably the other way around. I put one shot in B&W and it only looked good that way, therefore everything needed to go B&W. I don’t hate it.Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Plaza de Espana, Cervantes, Don Quixote, fuente, fountain

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Egypt,

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Palacio Real, Royal Palace

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, trees, park

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, cars, traffic

I’m always carrying at least one camera with me. More shots and stories to come.

Welcome to España

Just one week ago, I had just gotten my visa approved, picked it up from Chicago, packed my life into three suitcases weighing a grand total of 121 lbs, said goodbye to my friends and family, and made the jump across the Atlantic. After a long flight through the night, I safely arrived in Madrid, España. The last time I posted, I was still needing to pack and waiting for my visa to be returned to the States. A lot has happened since then. Not only have I changed zip codes, but I’ve moved into a new country with an unfamiliar language with new friends. Here’s what I’ve been seeing and doing.

Chicago O'Hare Airport

I got to wander around Chicago O'Hare for 4+ hours while Brenda and I waited for our flight to Madrid.

Chicago O'Hare Airport, Ibera, plane, airplane, jet, boeing

After a brief delay and much anticipation, our plane arrived at our gate. Needless to say, I was pumped.

Airplane, sleeping, comfort, jet, transatlantic

These folks had seats in the middle section. Fortunately for them, the flight wasn't full so they got to take a row for themselves. They didn't waste any time converting their three seats into a bed for the eight hour trip.

Airplane, city, lights, flyover

As we descended into Spain's Madrid Barajas Airport, we got a nice view of some city lights. Which city? Not sure.

"Brenda La"

This is my friend, seatmate, and housemate, Brenda. It was around 8:00 a.m. Madrid time, we'd been flying all night, gotten less than restful sleep, but we were excited to be on the ground. Side note: About Brenda's Hollister, she read on a Spanish fashion blog that Madrilenos love Hollister so she dug out her things from grade/high school. I have yet to see anyone wear any Hollister since we've been here.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Barajas Aeropuerto, Airport, Architecture, yellow, symmetry

Madrid's airport is a traveling photographer's dream. It has fantastic architecture around every corner. I snapped a few shots while we were waiting for our bags to come through the carousel. I hope to take more time to capture its lines and shapes when I come in and out over the next few months.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Barajas Aeropuerto, Airport, Architecture, yellow, symmetry

Spanish food, restaurant, pasta

After a long and unsuccessful day of searching for an apartment in Madrid, my four new friends and I had our first meal. I had pasta with a meat sauce and a Budweiser. It was delicious. I'm glad I went for something not so adventurous this meal, because I needed the energy for our apartment hunt.

Vodafone, Madrid, Spain, Espana

Brenda, Peter and Audrey at the Vodafone store. || With light fading and our energy levels dwindling, we decided to cut our losses with the apartment search for the day. We figured if we got cell phones, we could have one positive mark for the day. The language barrier has proven to be a challenge, especially when more than a few of us know less than conversational Spanish.

Calle de Santiago de Compostela, Madrid, Spain, Espana

Long exposure from down our street, Calle de Santiago de Compostela. || After we got tired of feeling pretty hopeless about finding a place to live, we contacted a housing broker that my friend, Joe, had used when he studied in Madrid. We contacted her on Friday night and by Saturday morning she had responded and was ready to set up a visit to a place that could house all five of us and was near a Metro station. Within minutes of seeing the place, we were sold. Our 15 story building is the first building (darker brick) in the right third of this frame.

Circo mundial, Madrid, Spain, circus, sunset, lights, tent, booth

During our walk around our new barrio at sunset, we stumbled upon the circus' setup.

Circo mundial, Madrid, Spain, circus, sunset, lights, tent, booth

There were hundreds of families with small children flocking to the event.

Madrid Metro, subway, train, tren, anden, Plaza de Castilla

We ride the Metro almost every day. More than a couple times we have spent numerous hours riding it going various places. It's incredibly easy to use. It's so easy that I've seen two blind people using it. If they can do it, anyone can.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Fuencarral, shopping, urban, people

On our first Saturday in Spain and the last night we were still living in a hotel, we went out walking and found a great area that had a lot of people shopping and walking around.

After Peter, Brenda, and I lugged our bags up and down stairs through the Metro and the other girls taking the quick route via taxi (probably wiser) we moved into our fully-furnished five bedroom, 2.5 bath, two balcony, 10th story, soon-to-be wi-fi equipped apartment on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately all the stores were closed so grocery shopping was not possible. We managed to find pasta, spaghetti sauce and bread at a convenience store. Peter whipped it up and we had our first meal in our new home.

Alcampo, Madrid Spain, shopping, grocery, supermercado, la vaguada

Our new place is in a great location. We have a four story mall within a four or five minute walk. On the bottom two floors is a Meijer-like store called Alcampo. They sell everything from shaving cream to fresh meat to sheet sets to produce. It's overwhelming going to a new store that uses a different language on all the packages. Not only do I not have any brands to remain loyal to, but finding food I can make and trying to figure out what everything is presents a challenge. On top of all that, there is no logical flow to the traffic. Want to go all the way down to the other end of the store on the left side? Sure. Want to cut across everyone? By all means.

Peter, Tess, Audrey, and Brenda walking to the Metro. || Our nearest station is Herrera Oria. It's a quick four or five minute walk from our building. The Metro can take us nearly anywhere in the city. It's fantastic. Our neighborhood is full old people but also families with young children. In the evenings, there are dozens of people taking strolls to the many small parks that surround us.

Madrid, Spain, Mirasierra, mountains, view, high rise apartments

The view of the mountains from my bedroom window. || We don't live in the city per se. We technically still live in Madrid, but we're the second to last stop on the purple Metro line. One of the perks of that is that housing is much cheaper, things are quiet, and we can see the mountains from 10th story flat. Sunsets here are beautiful.

This is a panorama of what I see outside my bedroom window. The mountains from shot above are between the buildings just left of center of the frame. There are countless high-rise apartment buildings in the neighborhood. We live in a complex of around 8 or 10 buildings that share a pool and tennis and basketball courts. I'm really looking forward to when the weather gets a little warmer. Sure we've had average highs of 57F and lows around 32F, but I'm excited for 65 and 70F.

I’ve lived in Madrid for a week, and this is what I’ve been doing and seeing. I’ve gone through both the main campus downtown and my campus in Cantoblanco. I’ve survived a week of intensive Spanish classes. I’ve met people from all around the world like Ethiopia, Iran, Italy, Greece, France, Canada, Germany, Sweden, and more. Talking with people from so many different backgrounds and lifestyles is incredible. This is already a fantastic experience. I get to be here for five more months? Awesome!

I’ll have more photos and stories to share in the days and weeks to come. My apologies for this post’s length. I want to get y’all caught up about Madrid things.