After one night in Madrid:

  • There are two kinds of coffee, each of them worse than the other.
  • WiFi signal is weaker than an anemic kid.
  • Entertainment is provided by two of my roommates: Spanish chicks who party until morning then scatter their clothes around the room and throw up in the bathroom.
  • What looked like a cold is in fact a full-fledged flu. This won’t stop me from attending the museums, but man, I feel so weak right now.

Choose Your Own Adventure

For those not playing video games: Fallout series is located in a post-apocalyptic world, many years after the nuclear war. The last two releases were located in the bombed-down versions of Washington and Las Vegas. This is how the world looks in-game:

I played Fallout 4: Madrid today. In real life.

It started innocently enough. After visiting the Railway Museum I took the metro towards the local university campus: both because I like visiting universities – they are guaranteed tourist-free – and because it was a potential source of cheap food. Except that when I arrived there, something seemed… odd.

The Ciudad Universitaria metro station was empty. Not empty in the “no passengers” sense – it was ghosttownesque. Stores closed, rubbish bins not emptied for days, gates half open and swinging in the wind. Not discouraged, I made my way toward the nearest institute.


Next one: the same. And so on. At some point I realized there must have been some student vacation – and Spanish do treat vacations seriously. To the point that I walked across the campus for miles and didn’t encounter a single human being.

I bet you never saw a university campus that empty. I was mesmerized.

In one of the previous posts I mentioned that Spanish navigate by observing other people. Since there was no one there – and hardly any directions – I was free to wander in whatever direction I wanted. My instinct never fails when I set it loose; I crossed a little forest area and soon found myself atop one of the highest hills in town. I wish I could tell you the view was beautiful, but it was what it was – a view of a huge city, stretching to the horizon in almost all directions.

At the foot of that hill I encountered an old man feeding pigeons. He wanted me to photograph him, but I didn’t manage to get his address so that I could send the prints.

It was reminiscent of Fallout on so many levels. Without the students, the campus looked haunted – the institutes which used to host so much knowledge were now just old, boarded-up buildings full of desks, blackboards and strange devices. Roads and signs made no sense any more – they used to lead to arbitrary locations, and now all I was interested in was getting from A to B without getting killed by the raiders and drug fiends. Of course, there were no real bandits in my adventure – but at some point I inadvertently crossed the homeless territory. They eyed and ignored me, thankfully, but in my mind I was preparing an escape plan.

No self-respecting Wastelander would start his adventure without a Pip-Boy. Mine featured a color screen and was made by HTC – and it kept losing coverage just like the original. It also shared the same questionable map quality.

Upon returning to the more civilized areas I came upon two buildings which could have as well been standing in the Wasteland as-is: Museo de Am̩rica and Faro de Moncloa. I just wish I could have continued this exploration experiment further, but at that point the second part of my quest Рfinding food Рtook over, so I shelled out some bottle caps euros and ate a hearty meal at McDonalds.

It sucks to be brought back to reality from such a fantastic daydream. I liked the post-apocapolyptic version of Madrid much more.

As usual, I suspected this would happen – and yet it still surprised me. I tend to see the world around me as potential photographs; and today I realized that I also have a little voice in my head which tells the stories I repeat here. I don’t just sit down and invent something – these posts keep growing in my head and at some point I have to write them down.