Eight different stadia to visit in Madrid was my plan. Sod the boring musea and time to express my visit for what gives me most passion - football. If they would let me into the stands then even better. If not, then a walk around the ground to sample the community where the clubs were based would suffice. No spending all day in an Irish Pub for me - and being a solo traveller meant things could be done at my own pace.
Spain uses a different system when it comes to building their squads. Their reserve sides are allowed to play in professional leagues and first stop with backpack still on from the airport was where Real Madrid "B" (or Castilla) play at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium. They play in their second division. It is right next door to where the first team train and despite heaving my lugs off to get there for some reason the security guards armed with guns would not let a sweaty man with a rather large, black rucksack into the area. No, "death to infidels" chanting from me either! It was amazing to see how close the stadium was to Madrid Airport - only a stop away with beautiful mountains in the background.
Now I do not wish to bite my nose to spite my already ugly face, but we seem to be quite lax with the away end at Stamford Bridge. Personally, I like the away fans to bring some atmosphere and colour to the ground and especially during the group stages their antics can be more entertaining than the football itself. It does take away some of the positive feeling you have from trips following Chelsea abroad and with no roof on our end and wind blowing... plus being sober... meant that my posterior was freezing by the night's end.
Chin up for next week chaps and let's stay positive - noone likes us and we don't care!