Day 2: A bit more exploring Madrid
Today I did a bit of training to get to various places, I found the metro very easy to use (and a tourist ticket is the way to go for a visitor). There are 12 different lines, so you can get anywhere within the city relatively easily. My line was No. 5.
On my way to visit the museum I was intending to visit, I passed the Banco de España, a beautiful example of 19th century Spanish architecture:
In the end I didn’t make it to any museum (perhaps I had my fill while I was in Italy, I just couldn’t get motivated – and it was such a beautiful day); instead I visited a park – Parque del Retiro.
The Parque del Retiro was originally part of the royal grounds and in 1767 the aristocracy were permitted entry. It was another hundred years before the gates were opened to the general public.
The park is huge (at 125 hectares, one of the largest in the city) and very relaxing, even if there are plenty of other people around, you can find somewhere to sit, ponder, have a picnic, snooze, play with the kids, whatever.
I found myself having lunch here, by the lake that once was used to perform mock naval battles. It dates from 1631. Today you can hire a row boat and cruise the lake.
After my late lunch (it was after 4 before I left the park), I explored a little more and did a little shopping (couldn’t resist a pair of Spanish sandals – it was so hot, I needed them! Don’t tell my husband) around Porta del Sol (“Gateway of the Sun”).
This square is actually oval shaped and has 10 streets radiating from it. I found some interesting things within the square: the statue of Carlos III (above), the bear climbing the arbutus tree (the symbol of the city):and a Spanish mariachi band performing:
On the way home I walked part way along the Gran Via (a Parisian style boulevard 1315m long) which was begun in 1910, but not completed until 1940.
300 buildings were demolished and 14 streets disappeared to make it happen. There are still some architecturally fabulous buildings along this street.
At the end of the Gran Via is the impressive Metropolis building.
As I have wandered around Madrid, I have found these Spanish Ladies throughout the city. All are different and after doing some research I discovered there are 90 of these Meninas, created by artist Antonio Azzato in fibreglass. I thought they were pretty cool, so here is a selection.