Public Transportation Love-Hate: Madrid Plays The Map
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In most cities the public transit system is like a skeleton: It's always there, and more noticed in its absence than in regular operation. Perhaps the city of Madrid was hoping to save its cheap, clean subway system from such a fate when the local Telemadrid television station created "Metro a Metro," a game show that makes the metro system its playing board.
The game starts with four players racing to get to one pre-determined metro stop by answering trivia questions. The furthest away is eliminated, and then the map changes and they're racing to a different stop. In the finale, participants go head-to-head to answer 15 trivia questions in a minute. "Metro a Metro" loved to ask about the often obscure names of the subway stops; it's from there that I learned my own stop, Islas Filipinas, was named in honor of an ambassadorial visit. Sometimes co-host Carla Hidalgo would shoot live footage around Madrid for the questions.
When I lived in Madrid I used to come home every day after class and watch "Metro a Metro" with my host dad, a guy who knew pretty much all the answers. My only chance was with the pop culture questions, and then only when I could translate them fast enough. I used the Metro constantly, even though it closed during the all-important party hours between 2 and 6 a.m.; it had just been spiffed up for the city's bid to host the 2010 Olympics (it lost, sadly). You can even take it directly to the airport -- hear that, New York? Too bad no cunning producer has picked it up for an American version (say, "Subway to Subway" on NY1?) yet. Watch "Metro a Metro" five days a week at 7:30 p.m. in Madrid and the suburbs.