A Stroll en el Parque

Day 6: Madrid

MRH had another early work day which meant CMH had another late sleep-in day. I was actually disappointed to find that I had slept until 1pm, AGAIN! I quickly got up and got ready for the day. Because I had the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, housekeeping did not come by. I called the front desk to request our room be cleaned and they were all sorts of confused. The first lady thought I needed dry cleaning, so she transferred me to another someone else. That person was even more confused so I said “gracias” and hung up. To my surprise, I came back later that day to a cleaned room!

I looked at my “To Explore” list (I tried to only go see things that I thought MRH would be OK with missing) and saw El Parque Retiro. Lucky for me, it was very close to our hotel and I was pleasantly surprised to find el parque on my first try and within only a 5 minute walk. I purchased un botella de aqua at the entrance and set out to explore.

I had no idea how expansive the park was going into it. I found the first bench I could find and sat down to read some of my Spain travel book. There were a lot of birds and squirrels that kept getting close to me (I have an irrational fear of birds) so I decided I would get up and explore. Little did I know that I would be exploring for the next three hours. El Parque Retiro is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. It’s over 350 acres of lush green gardens, fitness clubs, bike trails, lake, boat rentals, rose gardens and museums. The park is a wildly sprawling, lush peaceful paradise completely surrounded by the chaos and noise of Madrid.  You could get lost in the parque forever.  I can’t imagine having a place like this in the middle of Charlotte. It made Freedom Park look like amateur hour! It was surprising to me to see how many people were there during the workday; people reading books on blankets under the canopy of trees, free concerts, friends jogging, and explorers like me. I spent the last hour at the park posted up on a bench catching up on my journaling of our prior adventures.

I headed back to the hotel just in time to meet MRH as he was getting off of work. We showered and headed out to grab dinner. Our approach to finding a restaurant was “if it looks busy, it’s probably good” and landed on a place called 10 Tapas. It was in the middle of a busy square/plaza with many other restaurants. We were bombarded the entire duration of dinner by people trying to sell us anything and everything. It was quite annoying to be hounded all throughout our meal. After dinner, Matt’s coworker Ryan, headed back to the hotel as he was heading back to the states the next morning.

Our first stop was a bull  fighting bar called Torre del Oro Bar Andalú. The interior of the Torre del Oro bar is a temple to bullfighting, festooned with gory decor. Look under the stuffed head of Barbero the bull. At eye level you’ll see a puntilla, the knife used to put a bull out of his misery at the arena. This was the knife used to kill Barbero. Pretty intense, and not a good place to visit if you’re an animal activist!

Next we hit up El Mercado San Miguel again. It was quickly becoming our favorite after-dinner spot. We found a bodega with nice servers and cheap wine. I got a few too many classes of rose cava and MRH had red wine. What ensued was a photo shoot of selfies in the middle of the market. We walked home around 2am which was when all the club-goers were hitting the streets. Nothing like seeing a few drunk girls puking in the streets to remind your old stomping grounds….Columbia, SC.


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