Calle de la Ruda, Madrid

The traffic, the bustle, the sophisticated and beautiful people — tanned and rejuvenated after August in Cádiz or Valencia or Almería — marching and swaying, giggling arm in arm, drawn towards the dizzying lights of the Madrid night. A care-free, giddy human chain of mischievous excitement. Monday morning a million miles away.

While lugging two bulging and wobbly-wheeled suitcases up Gran Via on that stifling Saturday night in…