A walk in the park

Our first real full day in Madrid… What to do? What to do? We had some tours planned and wanted to try and avoid going over the same ground, so today we decided to have a little look at the Park Retiro.

But first – brekky at the lovely hotel dining room with its magnificent dome…. even the silverware had an arty flair about it…

Then it was out into another glorious day…

The park was only a few blocks over from our hotel, so the walk was lovely in the shade of the buildings, and then we had these lovely long pathways full of statues of past kings and notable people… this bloke is “Sancho – the Brave” – I reckon he might have commissioned this one himself.

The Spanish (especially the Madridians claim that this is the most beautiful park in the world and they could be right!) The park covers 125 hectares and is beautifully kept. A little like New York’s Central Park where tourists and locals come to participate in all sorts of activities. Rollerblading, sport, group activities, you can hire a boat on the lake, take a stroll or just sit with a beer and watch the world go by…

This is the monument of Alfonso the XII opened by his son Alfonso XIII.

And this is the spot where you take your selfies. There were people getting up on the pillars to do their ‘Insta-worthy, – just being natural – just sitting here and somebody took my photo – look away poses’, but Me Jenny wouldn’t be in it!

We strolled right around to the monument to get a closer look… She’s pretty big.

Then we sat on the steps and watched the boats and the ducks and the occasional fish jump out of the water.

This duck was doing a bit of ghosting….

And this one was hightailing it to get in on the boat action. “Susan! I said I DID want to come on the boat!! Wait for me!”

There is this barge boat that does a round of the lake each hour (I think) regardless of whether it has passengers…. these three people had it all to themselves.

In another section of the park there is the Crystal Palace – inspired by the one in London. It was apparently built for exhibitions and not, as you probably first thought, for people who don’t throw stones…

This was a lovely spot to sit and watch…. there was so much action. In the pond there are ducks, geese, swans and turtles then across the pond – on the path you can see in the photo below – there was a. constant parade of action – police on horses, people rollerblading, people stretching and lunging, walking groups, etc…. that’s right, I said lunging.

We also witnessed an attack on a turtle which was despicable…

The turtles were just sitting there, minding their own business in the sun when these two menacing pigeons flew in and eyed them off…

Then one pigeon just flew in and landed on the turtle’s shell! He quickly slipped right off, but still, his intentions were clear.

One final look at this tiny paradise in the middle of one of Europe’s busiest cities.

There are buskers all around the park – most of them very pleasant to listen to, except maybe one chap who was practicing a particular section of one song and he wasn’t going to move on until he got that bit right! These guys were good though.

All that walking lead us to a fairly quiet cafe overlooking the lake where we could partake in a cold beverage…

And have a chat with a local…

Just outside the park and in fact all over the city there are these statues…

The artworks (which come from a 1656 painting by Diego Veláquez called Las Meninas that hangs in the Prado Museum) is the brainchild of Spanish sculptor Antonio Azzato, who designed the sculpture and recruited a group of artists, fashion designers and singers to help decorate the Meninas, which he delivered to them white, like a blank canvas.

Here’s the original painting… Les Meninas means “Ladies in Waiting”

Everything in Spain is the oldest or the biggest or the first…. this fortress gateway is apparently older than the Arc de Triumph in Paris and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin…. probably put together!

This is Madrid’s Town Hall! It used to be housed in a fairly ‘towny hally’ looking building up the street a bit, but they clearly needed a few more rooms.

I tell you what the Spanish do well and that’s outside spaces. This walkway is the median strip between two directions of a Main Street. It’s lovely with places to sit, fountains, trees for plenty of shade…. and more importantly our hotel was just at the other end of it.

Categories: Madrid, Spain, Travel

1 comment

  1. Madrid looks so beautiful… green and shady… what a fab tour guide you r Shell…always happy to stop and sit and “people watch”… with an icy cold beer in hand… love it xx


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