An Afternoon in el Parque del Retiro

Man, oh man…is jetlag a bitch, or what? Spent a good 18 hours in bed from Friday night to Saturday afternoon–obviously going from zero sleep to all of the sleep–and each time I woke up, I found myself struck with wave after wave of nausea. Not exactly how I thought I’d be spending my weekend, that’s for sure. Thankfully, I am blessed with a wonderful woman as mi madre, who made sure I ate stomach-settling foods while getting a lot of rest. By mid- to late-evening, I was feeling tip-top once again, and though I considered going out and exploring Madrid’s nightlife, I thought better of it and stayed in like a sickly homebody, watching a marathon of Supernatural until the wee hours.

This afternoon, I made it my goal to explore el Parque del Retiro for a few hours. From the moment I stepped foot off of the metro and began making my way toward Retiro, I could feel the excitement bubbling up within me…oh wait, that was the rhythm of the drums resonating through the hallway leading from the metro to the park. Regardless, I stepped foot into Retiro with excitement for what beautiful Madrid had in store for me, and I was not disappointed.

My senses were completely overwhelmed by my surroundings. Street performers. Venders. Fountains. Trees. Statues. Lakes. Columns. Pathways. I really had no idea where to start, so I strolled down random pathway after random pathway, getting my fill of the natural beauty that surrounded me. I can only imagine how much more beautiful this area is in the spring and summer! Eventually, I stumbled upon el Palacio de Cristal, a glass building which was erected in the late 1800s, originally to exhibit tropical plants from the Philippines (today, it often houses a variety of art exhibits).

El Palacio de Cristal
El Palacio de Cristal

More exploring brought me through el Palacio de Velázquez, which was originally built to celebrate a variety of industries, including, but not limited to: mining, ceramics, and glass-making (today, like el Palacio de Cristal, this building houses art exhibits). Unfortunately, I wasn’t permitted to take photos inside due to an art exhibit which featured works by contemporary European artist Heimo Zobernig; however, as I walked through the exhibit, I was fairly certain that I am not meant to understand the “depth” that may be contained within his work (it wasn’t the least bit impressive, in my not-so-humble opinion). On the bright side, I did find the building itself to be quite lovely!

El Palacio de Velázquez
El Palacio de Velázquez

My stroll through el Parque del Retiro was made full circle when I reached el Monumento de Alfonso XII, a beautiful edifice overlooking a man-made lake, complete with boats you can rent!

Monumento de Alfonso XII
Monumento de Alfonso XII

Even though I had walked through the park for hours, I know full well that I haven’t seen everything within it–come now, the park is 350 acres…there’s no way I can see the entirety of a park that is more than twice the size of Disneyland in just one afternoon. I definitely will be spending a lot of time there in the future, though. The area was far too beautiful and peaceful to avoid!!

Thankfully, I’m quite exhausted at the moment, which means that my sleep schedule might finally be on track for Madrid’s time zone. Just in time too, since classes begin tomorrow! I’ll be taking 12 units of español (helloooo, super-intensive language learning!), a conversational and oral skills class, and a Dances of Spain class. Since all of my classes are taught in Spanish, and mi madre y su hijo will be talking in Spanish with me at home, I should be improving my language skills in no time!

On that note, it’s bedtime for this little girl…buenas noches y dulces sueños, mi audiencia.


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