After trying twice, the Madrid region (Comunidad de Madrid) has finally made it to Phase I of the three-phase easing (desescalada) of Spain’s rigorous COVID-19 lockdown. Three months of almost unrelenting confinement! And then, unbelievably, this Monday, 25 May 2020, Madrid folk are able to savor Spring in their favorite park, the Parque del Buen Retiro. At last!
Literally the Park of the Pleasant Retreat, the Retiro is a 1.4 sq. km. (350-acre) park in the heart of the nation’s capital. It dates back to the reign of King Philip II in the 16th century but it’s a vital part of today’s life in the city.
See the Retiro through the eyes of Catherine Petit, Guidepost’s writer from California, who couldn’t love Madrid more if she were a native Madrileña!
by Catherine Petit
Photos: C. Petit
Retiro Park is one of my favorite places to walk and free my mind. To relax, and to just enjoy the day. The sunlight plays on the ground as I walk, with the birds singing happy tunes everywhere. If I am lucky, I might be able to get a few pictures of the Magpies in the park. The beautiful black, white and teal birds that are everywhere.
There are too many places to list as my favorite, so I will say the whole park is magical. Trees of various varieties, gardens, lakes and fountains, and museums all hold a special place in my heart.
I love to see the children playing and watch the young couples walk hand in hand, or sitting on a blanket enjoying the sun and some quiet time together. Observing dogs attempting to lead their owners on an adventure down paths not taken, pulling on their leashes and looking so disappointed, as they are led down an “ordinary” path, possible taken many times before.
Light musical notes drift through the air as I meander down paths and follow the “roadways” deeper into the park. The Crystal Palace is my first destination, and is one of my favorite buildings in Retiro. There is usually an exhibit inside, placed there by the Reina Sofia Museum, but not today. Nothing inside, but I am not disappointed. The building itself is beautiful with its beveled glass turning sunlight inside into a rainbow of colors on the floor.
As I stand by the lake in front of the Crystal Palace the tall graceful cypress trees bending with the breezes, I watch the ducks and swans people watching. Patiently waiting for someone to descend the stairs to the water’s edge with bread crumbs. I laugh a little as I watch the race to get to the people to start gobbling up the morsels tossed into the water. It seems the turtles use the ducks for a sign that “dinner is being served”, because right after the birds head toward the steps, the turtles are right behind. Eagerly poking their heads out of the water in hopes of a morsel being tossed their way.
My next stop will be the Grand Lake to see the little row boats dotting the water’s surface. Watching children with their grandparents, some boats with giggling teenagers, and other boats with lovers enjoying the water and sun. Such a wonderful sight.
The traffic sounds do not permeate the park. Birds flutter, sunshine sparkles on the ground, and all is peaceful and calm.
A perfect place to think, plan, read a book or just day dream.
I think of how lucky I am to be here.
In my favorite park.
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