We walked through the streets of Madrid at the end of our 14 hour layover. We were tired from jet lag and from walking all day; we’d tried to make the most of the short time we had – our first in the country, and as we simply traveled through on our way to South Africa – by going on a walking tour and spending a couple hours at the Prado.
We hadn’t stopped by an ATM, as everywhere we’d been so far took credit cards (with the exception of our walking tour guide, but he was American and happily accepted USD). Plus, since we were flying to Johannesburg that evening, we didn’t want to be left with extra Euros.
We finished up our dinner, which consisted almost entirely of patatas bravas for me, as even a vegetarian paella proved elusive. Still, we loved our cozy little spot tucked into a corner of a restaurant amongst a few other native Spanish speakers. We stayed later than we anticipated, drinking in the vibrant “early” dinner scene (at 8:30pm). We were pushing time to get back for our flight, but we knew it was an easy and quick Metro ride to the airport, so we decided we’d try to quickly grab some chocolate con churros before heading off.
We stepped into a sweet little shop with just enough time to spare and started to order…until we saw a sign that said cash only. We stopped mid order and explained that we were so sorry, but we only had a card and is there any chance they had a machine? They explained that no, they really didn’t have one. We asked if they’d accept USD by chance and the kind man responded, don’t worry, just pay next time. We explained that we were headed straight to the airport and while we were so grateful for the offer, to not worry about it.
He could’ve left it at that, but instead, he insisted we take it with us and that we couldn’t come to Madrid and not have some. He simply said to return the next time we were in the country. It wasn’t an enormous gesture; it probably cost 5 Euros total. But it wasn’t required of him, and he showed kindness and generosity to perfect strangers he was unlikely to ever meet again.