Madrid: With Bill

I bolted upright. How long has Bill been waiting for me? I panicked, leapt out of bed, jiggled on my jeans, and ran downstairs. Something was wrong. The lobby didn’t look like it did yesterday at 8:30am, with the television playing a strange mix of spanish ballads, 10-year-old rock songs, and today’s Top 40. And why was the sun so dark?

I went back to bed and slept for another 4 hours.

The next time, I opened my eyes amidst a haze of shuffling bodies. Downstairs, Bill had already eaten breakfast. He couldn’t check in for a few hours, so we went to el Parque del Buen Retiro.

First, we found the Crystal Palace.

The front face of the Crystal Palace in Madrid, with columns reaching up to a bright blue sky.

An austere building...

Bill slides down a giant slide inside the Crystal Palace.

... with a giant slide inside!

Perhaps the giant slide was an integral part of the overall art exhibition including the voices of a man and a woman singing lines from different political mantras and videos of hundreds of people interpreting major historical events by standing in lines and grids and stomping their feet — or maybe it was just a way to get down from a vista.

Across from the Crystal Palace is a man-made pond filled with ducks and geese and swans and other avian creatures. The next day, we would come back to this spot with an old baguette. See the difference?

A view of an urn-shaped sculpture with a lake and trees in the background.

Before the baguette, the pond is serene.

A picture of an urn-shaped sculpture with a lake and trees in the background, covered in birds.

After the baguette, the pond teems with life. Even the sky is bluer!

Notice the bird in the lower-right corner, above what may be my finger over the lens.

We continued to explore more of the park, stopping sometimes to rest and sometimes to play. We weren’t allowed to leave until I saw a cat.

The lake of Buen Retiro, lined with colorful trees and covered in rowboats.

We watch the men huff and puff to push the ladies all around the lake.

A choppy image of me enjoying the swingset.

A playground isn't a playground if no one is playing.

Finally, I saw a cat. We ate in a delicious cafetería called Neila, which has the best tortilla that I have ever had, and then returned to the hostel where it was time for Bill to check in.

That evening, we explored the terrazas, which are the outdoor seating areas of the cafés in the plazas. As soon as we sat down, a man came by to play some spanish guitar for tips. At the next terraza, entire bands came by to play jazz, complete with bass, accordions, clarinets, and saxophones.

We watch a man play spanish guitar on the other side of the terraza.

There are terrazas like this in every plaza in the area.

After the terrazas, we went for one last stop to watch the end of the Valencia vs. Barcelona game in an Irish pub.

Painted tiles depict Oscar Wilde.

This is why we chose this bar.

It was a beautiful and full day. I had a lovely time, and felt that Madrid was definitely my favorite place in the whole world.

The next day we would adventure to the lovely Segovia.

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