CRacking Retirement El Retiro Madrid

Amazing Fantastic Madrid

I admit that I am not the most objective audience, but we have just spent our first four days in Madrid. It has been great. Another thirty to go. I am just sad, we are here for such a short time. Thirty four days in a city sounds like heaven, but as time goes by, I am reviewing my aspirations – 1 or 2 months each year in a different European city is maybe not long enough! As we sat in a square having a coffee in the sun this morning, my husband was to be heard to say – I could live here! There is no doubt about it, the weather helps. Sitting in a square when it is 20c or sitting at home where it is 10c. No comparison really.

We live in Edinburgh. We are really lazy about going to see our city, maybe one or two times a year I take the time to act like a Tourist in my own town. In Madrid everything is new and interesting, so we have hardly stopped. Our daily walking average is 20,000 steps! We are staying on the 6th floor, and while there is a lift, it is tiny, so we have taken to climbing the stairs quite often. At this rate we will go home fitter than we left, which is great news.

So what have we done with our first few days? We booked a free walking tour for our first day. It took 2.5 hours, but it was a really good way to orientate us. Not to mention taking hundreds of photographs which all now need cataloguing.

Cracking Retirement - Palacio Real Madrid
Palacio Real Madrid

Sunday morning took us to the most amazing market, El Rastro. It is huge. It takes over all the surrounding streets. As tourists we are told to hold tight to our possessions because of the pickpockets, but it seemed fine. There are all sorts of things on sale, from old furniture and tools, to modern paintings, and just about everything in between. I saw a father buying a new school backpack for his son, a noisy negotiation over the price of some clothes – a lot of good humoured arm waving. A lot of locals evidently buy there. There were hundreds, if not thousands of people there, all smiling and chatting. Not the tourist trap I was expecting.

Cracking Retirement El Rastro Madrid
The masses of people on just one street of the El Rastro Sunday market

We also wandered by the stamp and coin market in Plaza Mayor. It would appear that the art of collecting coins, notes, postcards, stamps is pretty much a male pastime. Just about everyone selling and/or buying was male. I only saw one or two women. It was pretty much the same at the Sunday coin and stamp market in Barcelona last year.

The afternoon we copied the locals and went for a walk in Parque de El Retiro, where there is even a boating lake.

CRacking Retirement El Retiro Madrid
Boating on El Retiro lake, Madrid

When we are away, our challenge is to find nice places to have lunch. The ‘menu del dia’ is usually very reasonably priced. Though, given my spanish skills, my translation is not always great, so we frequently get interesting surprises. We had a real treat on Saturday night. We had a friend staying with us for a few days, and she treated us to our evening meal. We ate early (8:30pm!). It’s speciality is small suckling pig, but I am not really a fan of seeing an animal cooked whole, head and tail included….

Cracking Retirement - Suckling Pig Madrid
Madrid Speciality – Suckling Pig

Unfortunately both my husband and I have come down with colds, so yesterday found me in a Farmacia, trying to acquire some cold medicine with very basic spanish. They don’t seem to have the same selection of ‘help yourself’ products in supermarkets, as we do at home, not even paracetamol.

Anyway, it is far too nice to be sitting inside documenting our travels. I am off out to do some more exploring…. Plenty more pictures to come.

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