Thursday, 15 May 2014

Madrid Day 1: Parque Del Retiro

Rose Garden in the Retiro
We had a painless flight from Gatwick to Madrid last Saturday. Madrid airport was surprisingly quiet when we arrived with absolutely no queue for passport control. After a wait for our bags and a long walk to the metro station we were off into town. Neither of us could believe how quiet the metro was for a Saturday afternoon, even as we got closer into town. Where were all the people we wondered? Perhaps they didn't use the metro much as we saw some posters encouraging people to use 'their metro' more.

We found our apartment without too many issues. When we arrived the couple we were renting from were there to show us into the apartment and they gave us a map which they drew on highlighting some of their favourite things to do, see and eat in Madrid. As we arrived in Madrid with little idea of what to do while we were there, the map proved an invaluable guide.

Becks in the rose garden
After settling into the apartment we decided to head out for a walk and drifted across the city towards the Parque del Retiro. As we learnt during our few days in Madrid, Madrillians do parks very well and the Retiro was stunning.

We arrived via a formerly laid out entrance closest to the Prado Museum and then drifted via less formally laid out wooded sections that reminded me a little bit of the gardens we saw at Ham House. There were plenty of locals out promenading or relaxing between the trees.

After buying an ice cream - it would be fair to say my first crack at Spanish wasn't perfect with the lady in the ice cream booth making me point at the menu - we headed into the rosaled or rose garden. It was stunning with lots of different roses coming out to bloom in formally laid out beds. It is obviously popular with the locals too as the place was heaving.

Crystal Palace - Madrid not London
After sitting for a while in the rose garden we continued our walk round more of the rose garden passing the 'Crystal Palace' and also a boating lake near the northern end of the gardens. In addition to being able to hire rowing boats there seemed to be a small ferry which was taking passengers round the lake too. I couldn't quite work out the ferry when you could hire a rowing boat or promenade round the lake in about ten minutes.

Leaving the lake we slowly drifted our way out of the park and back across the city to our apartment.

Boating lake in the Retiro
We didn't head out for dinner until nearly 10pm quickly settling into the local vibe of eating late. We headed to El Lacon which was just round the corner from our flat and  had been recommended on a Spanish food blog I'd been following for a couple of months before our arrival.

Still clueless on how to order Spanish food we went for four raciones or portions. It was great to get some variety, but the servings were probably a little too big for four people to compare comfortably. We also noticed that the Madrillians don't seem to do vegetables unless they are fried and then not many of them either...

Heading home close to midnight it had been an excellent first afternoon and evening easing ourselves into Spain.

Croquetas caseras de jamon Iberico
Pimentos de Padron
Black pudding with rice


  1. Ahh, one day I will get to Spain. I know I will love it possible to not??

    1. I think you'd have to be pretty mean not to like it. Certainly the bits we saw anyway