Happy All Saints Day to all of you saints, struggling to be the best you can be. We were out last night, Halloween, and had read that the day is not celebrated as much in Europe as it is in the US, and that was certainly borne out. We saw no costumed adults walking around, just one store clerk with a painted skull face. And, in 2-3 hours of walking, we saw a total of eight costumed children, all princesses and animals, none scary. It was very different from the frenzy we usually experience!
Madrid has too much to see in just five days. Period. We hit the wall yesterday and had to give up on several “must-sees.” We will just have to see them next time. It is a large, very interesting world capital, and there are many sites to visit in each area. So, here is what we saw in a few days.
First up is El Retiro Park, truly one of the great urban parks in the world. The first five photos are the outside and inside of the stunning 1887 Crystal Palace, where a small area was devoted to a modern art exhibition. It sits in the park as though it was meant to be there, all snuggled in next to a lake and fountain. Next are photos of the various gardens, fountains, and the Estanque Grande, the large lake in the park that draws people like a giant magnet, where you can rent boats and enjoy that view of the monument to Alfonso XII. So, quick: in the photo with the peacocks, how many peacocks can you count? If you see all nine, you have a sharp eye!
The second building you see, also in the park, dates from 1883 and is the Velazquez Palace. The gorgeous tile of a winged woman is matched on the opposite side, with just a few variations. The building is used as an exposition hall, this time with some modern art, and you can see a sample after the statue guarding the entrance.
The church is San Jeronimo el Real, up a staircase adjacent to the Prado Art Museum. We had visited the Prado on prior trips, and discovered that entry is free every evening from 6:00 pm to closing, so we went the other day. We spent an entire hour standing in front of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych. We had a print on our wall for many years, but it was at too small a resolution to notice all the details. So, we stood and pointed and exclaimed, as we saw so much we either had forgotten from the last times at the museum, or never noticed. It was an enjoyable evening. We also saw some neat paintings by Goya, Rubens, and El Greco.
There are some scenes from around the city, including the home of Miguel de Cervantes, which was on a small alley. We were walking to dinner and found a crowd taking photos of a small building, and it was here that he lived and died. Accordingly, the entire street had shops and restaurants named after Cervantes and Don Quixote. Following that is a photo of one of the buildings in Plaza Mayor and a charming arched portal leading out. Just outside this plaza is the Mercado San Miguel (St. Michael’s Market), dating from 1916 with a beautiful glass and ironwork structure. It is not a veggie and fruit market, but one serving tapas, ham, cheese, and drinks, as you can see in the following photo. After that is the Basilica San Miguel, but the church was not open to visitors.
The last photos, taken last night, are of the Plaza del Sol. Last time we were in Madrid, it was the site of a nurses’ protest demonstration. It seems to draw many more people than the other plazas we walked through (and there are a LOT!). The next-to-last photo is of some “interesting” clothing models. And the last photo is simply inexplicable. The top says, “Babies and Children,” implying it is a shop for little ones, but the model isn’t exactly wearing children’s clothing!