Plaza Mayor, 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 this vast square awash with mime artists and circus performers. For ten minutes or so I could empty my mind and drink in the uncomplicated frivolity.
Buen Retiro Park, July 2013. This 350-acre public park on the edge of the city centre serves as the ultimate urban oasis. There are numerous 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 long healing process.
Press Room: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, July 2013. A tour around Real Madrid’s theatre of dreams is essential for anyone with even a passing interest in the beautiful game. Sure it’s all a bit touristy; just embrace it! You can marvel at the trophy cabinets, check out the changing rooms, resist the urge to punch the many images of Ronaldo and even go pitch side to pose on the home bench. Perhaps the best photo op comes from The Press Room. The look we went for was: Under pressure from bloodthirsty reporters after a 6-0 home defeat to Granada”.
Plaza Del Dos De Mayo, July 2013. This elegant little square 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, 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.
Casa De Campo, July 2013. Head west of Central Madrid for this massive urban park, a seven square mile complex home to the city zoo and an amusement park (Parque de Attraciones). Interested in visiting neither, we opted to 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 routes to choose from.