July 2013. I’ll never forget my trip to Madrid. I had just separated from my wife and the choppy waters leading to Divorce Island loomed ahead. Escaping to Spain’s vibrant capital for a short break was exactly what I’d needed. Happily I found the city in high spirits, particularly on the vast Plaza Mayor square awash with mime artists and circus performers. For ten minutes or so I could empty my mind and drink in the uncomplicated frivolity.
July 2013. The 350-acre Buen Retiro Park on the edge of the city centre serves as the ultimate urban oasis. There are sculptures, monuments and galleries, a large lake and an impressive rose garden and art exhibition house known as The Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal). An admittedly reflective place for someone in my state of mind, I’ve always thought of my afternoon here as the beginning of a very long healing process.
July 2013. There are a host of stunning churches to be found in Madrid, but the 16th century San Jerónimo el Real Church was the one that really caught my eye. Hidden away behind Museo del Prado, this Roman Catholic church has a rich royal history and served as the site of King Juan Carlos the 1st’s coronation in 1975 following the death of Franco.
July 2013. This elegant little square (Plaza Del Dos De Mayo) is perfect for kicking back and watching everyday Madrid do its thing. Located in the Malasaña neighbourhood, there are wonderful little tapas joints and cafes where locals and tourists alike sit out on the terraces nursing coffees, knocking back beers and sipping from wine glasses. When we strolled through there were second hand bookstalls, people napping on benches and a cluster of old men shooting the shit over a round of San Miguels. Amazingly, the place is completely transformed at night when it serves as the gateway to one of Madrid’s liveliest nightlife districts.
July 2013. Head west of Central Madrid for an afternoon at Casa de Campo, a massive urban park home to the city zoo and an amusement park (Parque de Attraciones). We opted to simply jump on the cable car (Teleférico) for fine views over the area. Passing over The Manzanares River, not even the naff educational recording (“What is Casa De Campo daddy?” “Well, son…”) could spoil the trip. The two and a half kilometer journey takes a swift ten minutes. On the other side there are a variety of walking trails to choose from.
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