Madrid – Parque de El Retiro and National Museum of Archaeology

We had a sleep in this morning and it was marvellous.  We are getting close to the end of our trip now and are in full relax mode so we didn’t feel the need to get up and rush out the door. Happily though, the weather had recovered and there was actual sunshine again, so we decided to head out into it and check out the city.

We weren’t particularly hungry this morning so we decided against having a full breakfast and grabbed some coffee at Zero Point Coffee.

We then headed directly to the Parque de El Retiro, one of the largest parks in Madrid. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. It is filled with beautiful sculptures and monuments, galleries, a lake, and lovely buildings. Before we got to the park, we saw a really huge pre-owned book market which was fun to browse through.

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We took our time strolling around and taking in the sights.  We tried to visit the main attractions, these being the fountain of the fallen angel (Fuente del Ángel Caído), the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal) a structure made with a beautiful glass frame (you wouldn’t want to be throwing stones if you lived there!), the Palacio de Velázquez which was exhibiting some artwork from a German artist and also the Monumento a Alfonso XII.  We also stopped to check out the large lake but we didn’t hire a row boat to go out onto it.  The line was absolutely ridiculous and it didn’t look exciting enough for my professional rower to check it out.

We were feeling peckish at this point, so decided to find some lunch. We decided on a place called Matilda where they served a drink, starter, main and coffee for 14€ – not bad! And the food proved to be delicious as well.

I had a lentil soup for my starter and Nick had a chickpea salad with fennel.  The mains were two traditional Spanish dishes, mine was a potato and chorizo dish while Nick had baked iberian ham with potato slices and paprika.  While the lentil soup didn’t look appetising, it was really tasty and we both enjoyed all the dishes.  They also served up a fresh, crusty bread with a delicious doughy centre.  We finished the first serve of bread with my soup so they brought us some more to have with our mains.  My kind of service!

After lunch, we decided to get some culture and headed to the National Museum of Archaeology. At first, we got it confused with the National Library which is in the same building facility, just on the opposite side, but we persevered and eventually found the right place.

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Amazingly, we also got entry for free today (not sure why, but not about to question it) and were able to stroll into the museum.

There were so many interesting exhibits, from prehistoric man, to modern day. The ground floor was mostly exhibits on Prehistory and Archaeology and Heritage. The second floor had Protohistory, Roman Hispania and the Medieval World: Al-Andalus.  The next sub-floor had a small exhibit on Late Antiquity and Coins and the final floor had The Medieval World: Christian Kingdoms, The Modern Era, History of the Museum, The Near East, The Nile: Egypt and Nubia and the final section was on Greece.

The museum was exceedingly well laid out, with lots of interactive displays (even a few VR stations which we tried) besides normal exhibits and lots of information.  Importantly for us, the majority of the exhibits had English translations so we could tell what we were looking at.

Nick really enjoyed the Prehistory section while I really enjoyed the section on Greece and how much their ancient philosophers and scientists actually contributed to modern day science.  I also really loved the exhibit on Astrolabes which was in the Christian Kingdoms exhibit (not sure how they were linked, but they were interesting to look at!).

When we finally exited the museum, feet aching, we decided to head on back to home base to relax before finding some dinner.  It had started to rain (mostly lightly) and we noticed a rather large protest on the way back.  It seemed peaceful enough and I think it was a pro-transsexual rights rally but we still kept our distance, just in case.

There were chemical flares being set off and all sorts of noise and the whole thing was being shepherded by the police. Nick took a few pictures of the mayhem and we made it back to the apartment before it really started to rain.

We were honestly too tired to go out and have an actual meal, so we decided to just skip a meal and turn in.  We weren’t too hungry anyway, and we already had plans to have a large brunch before our flight tomorrow.

Km’s walked: 18.2 (and today was supposed to be my day for not walking around!!)

Flights complete: 7/10

Tomorrow: Heading back to Dubai

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