Friday, May 17, 2013

Madrid II: El Parque Buen Retiro

After the Dartmouth-sponsored trip ended, we spent a lot of our time in the gorgeous Buen Retiro Park. We bought delicious sandwiches and grabbed some croissants from the free hostel breakfast and picnicked in the grass beneath the trees in the park. Naps (with one of us on the watch for thieves of course), massage trains, and hair braiding were involved (throwback to 5th grade sleepovers). After picnicking we traversed the paths of the vast park and took pictures in the beautiful rose gardens. A lot of locals roller blade around the park, and I desperately wanted to join in as I’ve never roller-bladed before! Next time for sure. The park also includes a large pond with boats that you can rent and paddle around in. Of course we took advantage of that, and even raced some other boaters (having two basketball players rowing, of course we won☺). It turns out that one of the girls in the other boat was a student at Stanford studying Spanish in Madrid! Our victory obviously proves that Dartmouth>Stanford. We also visited a palace, saw yet ANOTHER cathedral, and walked around the streets of Madrid visiting shops and eating delicious meals. Thank goodness Spain loves smoked salmon and goat cheese (sadly along with loads and loads of olive oil on EVERYTHING...). Mmm. I have been trying to decide which city I like better, Barcelona or Madrid. The people in Madrid seemed friendlier and more open, but the city itself was busier, more crowded, and dirtier. It reminds me of the Boston-New York difference, Boston being Barcelona and Madrid being New York. I think the closed-off people in Barcelona has to do with the whole Catalonian independence idea. If the people in Barcelona were more open, and if Barcelona had a giant park like Madrid, it would be the perfect city. Even without those things, Barcelona beats Madrid in my book.

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