Crossing paths with Greta Thunberg in Madrid: Lorenzo Webster, December 2019

Crossing paths with Greta Thunberg in Madrid – My third month

November and early December is a time when everything begins to change in Sevilla. The orange trees bear fruit, the evenings get colder and the Christmas lights are mounted. At University there is a late scramble to hand in projects and presentations as the end of term deadlines loom.

In early December I broke out of my usual sevillano routine and went to Madrid for a weekend. My first decision which paid off was to go by train rather than slog out an uncomfortable 7 hours on the coach. The High speed Renfe train may have been pricey but the comfortable 3 hour journey was accompanied by a window seat view of the spectacular Spanish country side.

78767955_537826280131742_7992291627928387584_nBy late afternoon I arrived in Atocha, an impressive station markedly filled with huge trees. And the theme of trees, or rather tree huggers, was to continue throughout the day. Upon arrival at my friends’ house in Madrid, news of Greta Thunberg’s presence in the city quickly filtered through. Our game of cards was abruptly interrupted, and we all headed down to the demonstration that was taking place only 5 minutes away. The huge crowd, which I later learnt to be around 500,000 people, flowed well out of the park and onto the streets. The sounds of chanting and drumming gave incredible life to a dark winter evening. After witnessing and reading of the scenes and the general chaos caused by Extinction rebellion in London, I was somewhat surprised by the relaxed atmosphere of the demonstration. Many people had brought their children along to experience what they believed could be an historic event. I overheard a mother behind me comforting her crying child by explaining that very soon we were going to see Greta Thunberg. Or as she called her, the ‘magic girl with wings’. Large expectations to live up to for poor Greta! And all of a sudden, she did appear – without wings or even bodyguards for that matter. She was understandably overwhelmed and uncomfortable being the centre of attention of such a huge crowd. Once people caught sight of her, the crowd burst into an excited frenzy and I lost my friends. Home Time.

The next day I did a bit of the classic tourism, visiting el palacio real and a few other parks, the names of which I can’t remember. But what I certainly do still remember is the taste of the tacos I ate for lunch. While you will most likely have to cue for a fair bit (in a line which often extends out of the shop and down the high road), I would 100% recommend eating at Takos al pastor to anyone visiting Madrid.

In general, the city was absolutely packed! The Spanish bank holiday brought the domestic crowd while the COP 25 brought an extra influx of international tourism. Therefore, on Sunday it was nice to be able to escape from the centre. Me and my friends signed up for The World Climate summit – investment COP, a public side event to the main COP25 and we headed up to north Madrid. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting event, with the free finger food proving to be my personal highlight. Out of the various talks we attended, the one that stood out tackled the issue of the carbon emissions produced by the shipping industry. In attendance was one of the directors of Coca Cola, who claimed to be taking the issue seriously. He asked a fellow panel member and a pioneer of the greener shipping movement about what Coca Cola could do to help the situation to which he got the reply, “Invest!”.

My plans to then study on the train journey home to Sevilla were botched by the guy next to me who insisted on having a lengthy conversation lasting the entire duration of the three-hour trip. This is something I have learnt to expect in Spain and especially in Sevilla. Whether it be in a supermarket, the gym or on public transport, los sevillanos can not resist striking up a conversation.



Noviembre y los principios de diciembre es una época cuando todo empieza cambiar en Sevilla. Los naranjos dan fruto, hace mas por la noche y ponen en marcha las luces navideñas. En la universidad hay un esfuerzo de último momento para entregar los trabajos antes de que termine el semestre.

A principios de diciembre, me separé de mi rutina usual sevillana y fui a Madrid para un fin de semana. Mi primera decisión que resulto muy positiva fue tomar el tren en lugar de pasar 7 horas en un autobús. El RENFE puede haber sido caro pero el viaje de tres horas fue cómodo y acompañado por una vista del campo maravilloso de España.

Por la tarde había llegado en Atocha, una estación impresionante, llena de árboles. Y el tema de arboles o sea ‘abraza arboles’ continuaba a lo largo del día. Cuando llegue a la casa de mis amigos, la noticia de la llegada de Greta Thunberg en Madrid estaba comunicado por los medios sociales. Nuestro juego de cartas fue abruptamente interrumpido y todos nosotros nos pusimos en camino hacia el parque local. Una muchedumbre enorme se llenaba todo el parque y muchas de las calles cercanos. Mucha gente ha portado sus niños al evento y entonces, de lo que vi, había una atmosfera amigable. Una madre delante de me estaba intentando animar su niño para que deje de llorar. Ella dijo tranquilo, muy pronto vamos a ver la chica mágica que tiene alas. ¡Expectativas altas para la pobre Greta! ¡Y de repente la aprecio! pareció comprensiblemente ansiosa y abrumada por ser el foco de atención de una muchedumbre tan enorme.

El siguiente día hice un poco de turismo. Visite el palacio real y varios parques impresionantes. Pero la cosa mas memorable del día fue los tacos que comí en un restaurante de comida rápida mexicana. Si no te importas colas que extienden hasta la calle, ciertamente te recomendaría comprar unos tacos en Takis al Pastor.

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Outside El Palacio Real

En general, la ciudad estaba completamente llena de personas. Mientras la vacación nacional ha atraído el turismo doméstico, COP25 ha atraído un influjo adicional de turismo internacional. Entonces al domingo yo y mis amigos aprovechamos de ir fuera del centro. Registramos para el climate investment summate – un evento para complementar COP25, en el norte de Madrid. Fue un evento tan divertido como divertido. De todas las rondas de conversaciones, lo más interesante fue sobre el futuro del transporte marítimo y también presente era el director de Coca Cola.

Mis planes para estudiar durante el viaje de regreso fueron desbaratados por tío al lado mío que insistió de tener una conversación durante el entero viaje de tres horas. Pero esto es algo que he aprendido esperar en España y también mas en Sevilla. Ya sea en el supermercado, el gimnasio o en el transporte público, los sevillanos siempre están listo para comenzar una conversación.


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