After another good night’s sleep, I was ready to tackle today! The kids were meeting at Parque Retiro today for a social event and I was looking forward to seeing them with their host siblings after the first couple of days. Sra. Perry and I decided we would walk to the parque rather than taking a bus or metro to better appreciate our surroundings. The weather has been perfect the entire trip and today was no different. I have seen a maximum of five total clouds while in Spain this year, it’s amazing! It was about a 25-minute walk that led us to a cafe to purchase a cafe and nepolitana pastry (I could eat these 5x a day) and also took us by the Ayuntamiento building with a “refugees welcome” banner proudly displayed. Pablo told us that it was a political gesture due to the elections happening in Madrid this week.
We arrived at Parque Retiro and saw all of the kids smiling! What a great feeling. I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive to get back into boats in the park lake this year after last year’s event turned into a water battle. When in Spain! I hopped in a boat with an American student and two Spaniard girls. It was funny to see the Spaniard girls argue about who was going to row and talk about who had rowed last time they were together. It made me think, when was the last time I have rowed?! Had I ever rowed?! I honestly could not remember. These two young ladies assumed the rowing position for most of the excursion, and despite my undeniable athletic ability, I have concluded I have an inability to row. It seems as though my head and arms are unable to work together, haha. We spent about an hour on the lake where my motion sickness began to set in and my shoulders began to burn but it was a great time. I loved talked to the girls in my boat and hearing about teenage life in Spain. They said for boyfriends and girlfriends they never go to each other’s houses because they never want their family to know about it. They also said they rarely go to the movies. They always go out around the city by themselves or to the park for social gatherings. Seems crazy to think it’s the exact opposite here!
After lunch, the kids sat in the park and visited with one another while eating their bocadillas (sandwiches) that their Spanish parents had sent with them. The park was so beautiful Sra. Perry and I went for a walk and stopped at a bench to sit and take in the sights and sounds. It was so relaxing. The parks are well maintained and busy with tourists and locals. I wish we had parks of this magnitude and beauty back in Ohio near home.
We ate lunch at Harina, again a caesar salad, before continuing on with our day. We stopped at the Ayuntamiento (government) building to visit the top for one of the best views of Madrid and for cheap! It only costs 2 euros to visit and offers some breathtaking scenery! We took the elevator to the 7th floor but had to climb the final two on see through glass stairs. I have never felt my legs so uneasy in my life as when I was on these stairs! Again, similar to the church climb in Sevilla, and the steep hill in Granada, it was completely worth it.
On our trek back towards our hotel, we stopped by the Real Madrid Official store to see what items they had to offer and to see my favorite player of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo! I joke with my students and say he is my ex-boyfriend. 🙂 We also grabbed a quick drink at Starbucks to refresh us from the heat and walked around other various shops like Zara, where I picked up a cute pink dress, on Gran Via.
We went back to the hotel for quick siesta before heading out on the metro to meet Pablo for dinner at one of his favorite local restaurants, Bar Mual. I met two Antonio’s while waiting on Pablo and we talked about the work they did in Madrid and how their families arrived to the city. I love being able to practice my Spanish with native speakers and test myself on my comprehension when they speak. I wish I had more opportunities to practice back home! Three of our group dined on a tomato salad (I’m anti-tomato), we all enjoyed some calamari (probably the best I have ever had) and I was so excited…Pablo surprised me by ordering Alitas de Pollo…Chicken wings! These wings also may have been the tastiest I have ever had. Well that, or I was just dying for some chicken wings in my life. For those that know me, it is my primary food group. 🙂
It’s about 2am and we are heading to bed after a fun day around Madrid. Tomorrow, I’m checking another to-do off of my list for this trip, visiting the Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu stadium!