Monday, February 6, 2012

There may not be snow, but Madrid still has basketball

After last night, I can now cross off another item from my Madrid Bucket List: Go to a basketball game.

  • Go to a basketball game
That's better.  And now for the visual proof:

Hermann, Hannah, Max, and I in the Palacio de Deportes

Winter just isn't winter without some basketball, and I never went to a game the last time I lived here.  In fact, I almost didn't go this winter either, due to the fun time we had buying tickets online.

I offered to buy the four tickets online so that we'd have seats together, sin duda.  Wednesday night after practice I grabbed my Spanish debit card out of my wallet as I pulled up Real Madrid's basketball team's website to purchase tickets.  After entering my personal and credit card information, the following screen asked for my card's pin.  Just below the space to enter the pin (in the same window), you have to select a piece of identification from a pull-down list (pasaporte, DNI, tarjeta residencia, etc.) and then enter that ID's number.

I entered my four-digit pin into the blank, and proceeded to select "pasaporte" then typed in my passport number.  When I clicked "next," I had an error message of some sort, and had to re-enter the information on the pin/identification screen.  I entered the same information, choosing passport again.  When I got another error, I assumed something was wrong with the identification document I selected. I decided to try using my TIE (foreign identity card) number instead, since that's the card I used to open my bank account in the fall.

I click next.

This time my error message is different from the first two times.  It says that since my pin was entered incorrectly three times, my card ha sido bloqueada (has been blocked) from this type of online purchasing until I call to have it unlocked or do something on my bank's website.  Grrr!

It was late, and since Thursdays are my early teaching days I just went to bed and figured I'd resolve this the next day.

After teaching Thursday morning, I figured I'd stop by the bank near that school to try and kill two birds with one stone: I'd ask about getting my SpanAir tickets refunded and how to get my card unblocked.

I started with the SpanAir question.  The man working at the mesa I went to was helpful.  Not particularly friendly or talkative, but helpful and patient.  I guess SpanAir must have notified banks of a reimbursement procedure, as he filled out some paperwork to mail to SpanAir.  He made a photocopy of my debit card and my TIE, and then he let me log in to my email on his computer to print my purchase confirmation from SpanAir.  He gave me copies of all the paperwork that he's sending to SpanAir.  So now it's just a waiting game.  Any bets on how many months until I get reimbursed?  The closest guess gets a postcard from Madrid!

With one bird down, the man asked me if my debit card was new since his computer system showed that it was blocked.  I told him that this was precisely my next question, and proceded to explain how it got blocked the night before while trying to make an online purchase.  He said that if I went outside to the caja (ATM) and inserted my credit card, that would unblock it.  I put in my card, entered my pin, then asked for an account balance; as I was instructed to do by another bank worker that I ran into outside near the ATM.

Then I headed to the metro, feeling quite productive and good about the purchase I'd make later that day.  When I got home I tried to buy the tickets again.  No luck.  Said my card was still blocked, and to either call this number or go to the website to unblock my card.

I went to the bank's website as the error message suggested, but discovered I needed to enter a username and password to get to where I needed to be on the site.  I was never given a username or password when I got my bank account, and I wasn't sure how to go about setting one up.

So I called the number, talked with a woman.  She explained that the pin this site was requesting was not the pin I normally enter in when I buy stuff in stores or use ATMs.  Rather, I needed to log in to the bank's website in order to get this special pin used for certain online purchases.  So she transfered me to another line in order to get me set up on the website.

I followed the directions and typed in all the info to make a new user on the website, assuming the username and password would be emailed to me, since I supplied my email address with all of my other info.  Later that day, still no email about the bank login information.  (In fact, to date I still haven't received an email about this...)

So I sent out an email to my dear friends and asked if someone else wanted to buy the tickets, as I didn't see my debit card issue getting resolved anytime soon.

My friend who has lived in Madrid for years knew what special pin you needed to buy the tickets, and said he could buy them from the website if needed.  I didn't know if he bought them or not, but we all had plans to hang out together Friday night, so I figured we'd discuss it then.

Friday night we gathered for a German night of fun, and I asked about the tickets.  Turns out said friend had bought them, phew.  They were already printed and sitting on the table.

And then we discovered they were for the wrong date; we had four tickets to a game on Thursday, February 23.  Alright, alright, we can just skip practice that Thursday night and go to the basketball game instead.  Problem solved.

Except then we realized that three of the four of us would be on a plane to Las Palmas, on our way to a tournament on the 23rd.  Oops.

In the end, we decided to buy four more tickets to go on Sunday.  I think we've already found two people who will go to the game on the 23rd, so we just need to find two more people to go, and then case closed.

That being said, if anyone is brave enough to interested in buying tickets online, you can do so here.  (Good luck!)  You can even change the page to English if you'd like, in the top right corner.  Just don't forget: If you get an error when you enter your pin, don't enter it three times!  Your card will be blocked!

So Sunday afternoon, we printed out the tickets just outside the Palacio de Deportes in Goya, then grabbed a few cañas at a nearby bar before the game.

In front of the Palacio de Deportes

The game we saw was part of the Liga Endesa.  I couldn't help but compare the whole experience to a Badger basketball game.  Here are my observations:

  • On Sunday I didn't have to unzip my coat when I walked through the front doors as my ticket was scanned.  Nor did anyone ask me to open my huge purse, which I was allowed to bring in.  And let it be known that had it been raining, I would have certainly entered with an umbrella in hand, no problem.
  • Under each seat there were two - uh, what do you call them - those tubes that you blow up and smack together.  I guess I'm going with tube-clapper things. 

Tube-clapper things
  • The refs were not in stripes, but rather in bright red/orange shirts.
No-stripe refs

  • Real Madrid has something that the Badgers absolutely need: a remote-control blimp!  It flew around the court and crowd during breaks, and was oh so very entertaining to watch.

  • Rather than having cheerleaders, poms, and a dance team; Real Madrid just had cheerleaders.  But they didn't do any cheers. Nor stunts.  There were only eight of them, and they just shook it "danced" 30 second bits during time outs and such.
They did this dance with the banners last night

Real Madrid baloncesto animadoras

Unfortunately Real Madrid lost 90-93, just as the Badgers recently lost to Ohio State, though the Badger game would have been undoubtedly more exciting to watch and attend.

Despite not being a Badger game, it was quite a fun Sunday afternoon.  It feels good to be making progress on my Madrid Bucket List while spending time with friends before the time pressure hits.

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