After our week on the coast we drove up to Madrid via Granada (where we visited the Alhambra, but the number of pictures is too intimidating to me right now to post about it). Madrid is where Chris lived for a year before we met (and what encouraged him to sign up for French 101, thank you, Spain). He had a great time showing me and Sawyer around, and it was nice for me to relax and be led about without having to make any decisions.
One of our first stops on the walking tour was a square where he often came to eat with a nice statue of Lorca, but of course Sawyer only saw the playground, so we had to stop and frolic a little.
While playing there this huge toddler went cruising by on his own little ATV. I asked the father how old he was, and he was the same age as Sawyer—birthdays within a few days of each other. But I couldn’t believe this kid’s driving skills! He was weaving in and out of the different toys on the very cramped playground, doing circles around the adults, without any narrow misses even. The dad said, “He’s had lots of practice.” Then he asked if Sawyer wanted to give it a try. Why not? He’s never going to have a shameless toy like that, I’ll see to it, so he might as well go wild for 5 minutes. Turns out he was a little too small to go wild; his foot couldn’t reach the pedal.
This is Spain’s rival to the Galleries Lafayette, called El Corte Ingles. Their holiday installation was bigger--but not necessarily better--than the cone boob bears in Paris.
El Plaza Mayor
…with its Christmas market
And the restaurant on the plaza where we had lunch: The Museum of Ham.
I’m not kidding; here’s the menu. Smoked meats galore!
That night Chris took me to a mysterious urban monument called El Templo Dibod.
Artisan market! December is such a great time to travel!
And who was lurking behind the artisan market? My two Spanish heroes, Don Quixote and the faithful Sancho Panza.
Rendering homage up close.
And now: the Palacio Real. Not just beautifully illuminated by night, but a gathering spot for rollerblade tricksters and skaters.
And a quick tour of the holiday lights…
The Plaza de Espana by night….
The next day we took a walk through Madrid’s giant park, Retiro…
…where we saw many of the standard cabbage-like plants used for landscaping.
The Crystal Palace! Normally it houses art exhibitions, but was closed due to the rain (I guess the roof isn’t rain proof)
There’s an adorable little grotto right by the Crystal Palace…but mostly this picture is great because of that Weekend at Burney’s corpse I’m carrying around on my back…
Before leaving Madrid we had to indulge in the number one native pleasure: churros y chocolate. The churros were greasy and the chocolate thick as oatmeal!