MADRID – A group of elderly Spaniards got a long-awaited treat Monday: a trip out of their care homes for the first time in many months amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The surprise destination for their outing left them gaping at breath-taking views over Madrid from a glass bridge 100 meters (330 feet) above the city street.
Recent vaccinations against the virus meant the group of 20 could finally leave the confines of their care homes, though they were under supervision and had to disinfect their hands and check their temperature before setting off. All wore masks.
The residents from several homes in the Madrid region run by the religious organization Messengers for Peace knew they were going for a trip. They just didn’t know where, and their excitement was palpable.
Benedict Garcia, 85, said that when he left the home, “my legs were shaking because it’s been so long.”
More than 29,000 elderly care home residents in Spain have died from COVID-19 over the last year. Repeated lockdowns have also taken a toll on people's mental health.
“I have haven’t been out in over a year,” said 80-year-old Segundo Llorente.
Angel Moreno, 70, added: “I haven’t seen my family in a year and a bit.”
When they arrived at the newly refurbished 5-star RIU Plaza de España hotel, the group rode elevators to the terrace on the 27th floor. The terrace has some of the best panoramic views of the Spanish capital.
There is also a glass bridge jutting out over the street below which the group approached with trepidation before thrilling to the novelty.
To cap the visit, the group sang happy birthday to Garcia, who turned 85.
“Good, very good. Stupendous,” Garcia said of his day out.