I feel like i’m cheating on morocco with madrid.
I have this deep set love for Morocco, and it’s no secret. Since I’ve been here, I’ve not been shy about proclaiming it as my favorite country to my parents, to my friends, to the stranger on the train.. and the list goes on. So you can imagine my distress upon discovering I have a strikingly similar love for Spain. Except now I feel like it has to be a secret love because, you know, I’m in a very open and public relationship with Morocco. Ugh, commitments..
In all seriousness, Spain felt like a dream. I spent five days in this european heaven, and I think that was about a year too short. Even though I only explored Madrid, I felt I saw so much of the country and culture. My explorations certainly only scratched the surface of all the treasure that is to be found within the country’s borders.
As a temporary resident ( because tourist is too basic, ha), I feel like I did a pretty A+ job. I learned my way around the city without maps, and I picked up some new local slang. I even succumbed to the Spanish football (soccer) culture and bought a shirt, and if that’s not proof enough of living like a local in Spain, I don’t know what is.
We spent our Monday as posers, pretending to be highly educated art connoisseurs at Reina Sofia. While I’m sure my occasional “my 6 year old cousin could have literally drawn this better” comments gave me away as an arts' plebeian, it was fun pretending. The majority of the displays probably (definitely) went under-appreciated on my behalf, although I did thoroughly enjoy taking pictures of other people enjoying the art. Hey, at least someone understood the stitched up, spackled, 3-D butchered man canvass that was creepily titled something like “fallen figure”.
The museum might not have been my cup of tea, but I saw some pretty incredible stuff. Picasso’s Guernica was housed there, and I think the number of times I have studied that in Spanish class almost outdoes the hours spent studying the language itself. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but seeing it in person was such an awesome experience.
I transitioned into my real element at Parque Retiro, the most luscious park I’ve ever laid eyes on. This place is so unbelievably stunning - I think it might be top on the list of places I’d travel to for my wedding. And I don’t throw that title around loosely. The park itself is massive. We had to spend two separate days seeing the park, and we still didn’t get to explore all of it. The park itself is similar to Central Park in that its expansive flora is situated in the center of the bustling city. The problem (or the perk) of Retiro is that it's made accessible by many entrances, and interconnected by hundreds of pathways. I’d be willing to bet many of the regular Parque Retiro runners have yet to tread all the pathways.
In Retiro, there’s two main points of interest: the center pond and the building they refer to as the ‘crystal palace’. The pond is a hub of activity, as there’s so much to see and do. A grandiose statue overlooks the pond full of blue row boats, and a little cafe and several artists cover the perimeter. We decided against the row boats, figuring we preferred avoiding getting sun scorched; however, we did enjoy the views and good food at the restaurant.
The crystal palace, which was across the park, felt like a scene straight from a fairytale. I even felt like I had quite the royal treatment upon arrival due to the Spanish quartet band providing the background music. The palace itself was made of purely glass, and when the sun shone on it, it was like a million diamonds sparkling. It was situated in a majestic bare patch of land amongst the trees and landscaped with a pond and fountain, to which the ducks and turtles had made home.
In terms of food, we spent one night eating dinner on the oldest street in Spain. In fact, one restaurant on the street is the world record holder for the oldest restaurant in the world. Talk about an impressive record to hold. We also taste-tested our way through Mercado de San Miguel, which is basically a hip hub for people to get bite sized samples of food across fifty or so stands. I stuffed myself silly, which tended to be a trend during my time in Spain.
Breakfast was consistently a high point during our trip. I would say that with a tinge of shame except, holy crap, spain does breakfast well. Specifically, waffles. And bread with eggs. And bread with tomato soup. And pretty much all carbs in general. Breakfast for us (and the rest of Spain) didn’t usually commence until 10:00ish, but when it did, we played no games. We’d also have to withstand our temptation to order from the brunch menu all day long because freaking Spaniards are immune to calories and serve brunch from 10:00 to 4:00. I’ve decided that in addition to the clothes I’m bringing back from Spain, I think I’ll also bring back the “brunch ‘till 4” concept. I’m a massive fan. My pants, on the other hand…. maybe not so much.