El Palacio Real
I happen to live a stones throw away from El Palacio Real, where Spanish Royalty resided for about 100 years. Here is a big chunk of our program in front of the building!
The same day we went to Palacio Real, we got lunch at a nearby restaurant. We scored an awesome seat by the window, perfect for people watching. The food was being served buffet style, and as I was walking back to my seat, I saw two young kids burst through the doors of the restaurant and approach our table without looking at anyone else there. The girl, who couldn’t have been more than 16, showed those sitting at the table a flyer and was whispering something or the other about a deal. When we said no, we’re not interested, the two kids left as quickly as they had entered.
Almost immediately after they left, Colleen looks down at the table with a horrified look on her face- they took my phone. We asked her, are you sure? Are you sure it’s not just in your purse?? No, it was on the table. Liza, Colleen and I jump up and immediately run after them. The two kids have split up, and after running a bit, we’re able to catch up with the girl. We’re just so shocked and pissed, we’re yelling at her in Spanglish, “we know you have her phone!!! Give it back!” She just keeps saying she doesn’t have it, go ask the guy. She shows us the inside of her coat, which is so puffy, it’s clearly packed with so many things on inside and outside pockets. She has to have it. We were so close to her, and yet we didn’t touch her, we didn’t grab her to be a little more forceful to see if she had it. In hindsight, that could have been dangerous. But when she kept claiming she didn’t have the phone, we just all looked at each other, out of breath, not knowing what we should do. We let up on the girl just a little bit, and she immediately turned away from us and started speed walking down the hill. When she got far enough away from us, she looked in her pocket and looked back at us. SHE HAS IT. We actually chased her, running up and down hilly streets, trying to catch up with her. Liza is like an Amazonian woman with legs the same height as my body. She’s leading the pack in a light jog and she keeps looking back at me and Colleen like, are we doing this? Are we actually doing this? And we yelled back YES! We pick up the pace. Now we’re full on sprinting trying to find this girl. People in the streets were yelling and pointing, “That way! She went that way!!!” But before we knew it, she was gone. Colleen’s phone was gone.
You’re warned about pickpocketing when you come to Europe, but it doesn’t really hit you that it happens and how it happens, until you see it before your very own eyes. My things are glued to my hands now. No one is taking my 5s baby.
One of my favorite things about walking through Madrid is seeing the street performers. There are people dressed up in costume, people who play classical music in the metro, mariachi bands in Puerta del Sol. But my favorite street performers have been performing in Madrid for years. In fact, I remember being enchanted by their music when I came to Madrid as a sophomore in high school. Now my heart leaps every time I see them performing in one of their spots around the city. Watch and see for yourself-
I’ve been seeing musicals, plays, dances, and ballets my entire life. But there is something so special about an impromptu performance in the middle of the day, when and where you’re least expecting it.
Casa de Campo
Right behind El Palacio Real is Casa de Campo, a huge park that used to be a royal hunting ground. There are unique trees, a lake and fountain, beautiful views and even an amusement park. When people talk about doing things in Madrid, Casa de Campo never really came up. Usually people go to the more heavily populated Retiro Park for a lazy afternoon. But my friend Victoria and I decided to rent bikes and bike through Casa de Campo for an hour. We probably didn’t even see a quarter of what the park has to offer and we were just blown away by the quiet and the scenery. So now, 1-2 times a week I go back and explore more. This has by far been one of my favorite activities in Madrid.
Manzanares el Real
Last Friday, a group of us took a metro and then a 45 minute bus ride outside of the city to go to Manzanares el Real, a beautiful little pueblo up near the mountains. We walked and had the most beautiful day. I’ll let the pictures do the talking here.