A Quick Stop to Smell the Roses in Madrid

After a standout week in Seville, we hit the road to Madrid, about a 5.5 hr drive. Along the way, we passed Trujillo in Extremadura, where hundreds of the conquistadors hailed, including some of Tree’s  ancestors. 

We had a week planned in Madrid, but upon arrival to our AirBnB, we were stunned to find it half the size the pictures make it look. God damn wide-angle lenses make a closet–and that’s what this place was–look comfortable. Tree couldn’t stand up in the kitchen, and only Soleil could stand in the “loft,” which was really a half-story addition built above the kitchen with ladder-access and a mattress thrown on the floor. It was a bad situation in general, but worse for Tree’s work.

Fortunately, we’re seasoned nomads and know how to re-engineer  plans in a nanosecond–wine and pintxos (tapas) on the beach in San Sebastian instead, family?–but we had to eat the cost of the Madrid place to make that problem go away. Ouch.

With our new plan to go to Donostia in place (Donostia is the Basque name of San Sebastian), Soleil and Ari and I were left with only one day to see Madrid. Tree had to work and, frankly, he isn’t interested in churches, museums, cityscapes or walking brutal distances–and that’s what Madrid is all about–so we left him at home while we hit the streets.

When we got to my top-pick destination, however, the famous Sofia Reina museum was closed. I discovered that my one day in Madrid happened to be Labor day in Spain, which meant all the museums were closed. No Picasso’s Guernica. No Dali. No Miro. I was a little crushed.

But with no time to mope, we again re-engineered the plan and decided to walk from La Latina to El Retiro park and explore the whole damn thing in one big 10k day.  

So here you have it, a quick stop to smell the roses in Madrid. 

“But he who dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose.”
― Anne Brontë

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

The Lover Tells of the Rose in His Heart

All things uncomely and broken, all things worn out and old,
The cry of a child by the roadway, the creak of a lumbering cart,
The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the wintry mould,
Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.

The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told;
I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart,
With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made, like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.

— W.B. Yeats

I don’t know what it is about you that closes and opens;
only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all the roses.” —e.e.cummings

I call the next three photos my snapshot love poems.  

This little guy kept circling the violinist, listening and watching from every angle. 

The Crystal Castle was underwhelming. I suspect it’s more exciting when there’s an exhibit happening inside. 

But the duck and turtle pond in front of it was a big hit. 

So was Yesterday’s Hero. Rats. They’re everywhere. When I’m old, I want to be a face painter. While we were waiting in line, we must’ve watched expressions of total glee spread across at least 3 kid’s faces when they first saw themselves transformed in the mirror. My favorite was a little yellow minion who burst into giggles and couldn’t stop. If you can make a kid do that, you’ve succeeded in life. 
Swing time, baby!

Soleil and I dance if we hear music we like. The coffeeshop. The grocery store. The park in Madrid. We’re shameless. 

On the way back to La Latina, we passed by La Reina Sofia again and happened upon a music concert, a free event to show solidarity with workers’ rights. It wasn’t quite the leftist, anarcho-syndicalist protest rally Spain can do like no other country, but it was a taste of revolution, enough to make me smile on the inside.

My favorite protest rally:

“It’s not a crisis, I just don’t love you anymore”

Next up, San Sebastian, Basque Country. A slice, or rather a pinxto, of heaven on earth 🙂

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  1. I grew up going to Disneyland on a lifetime pass given to my grandmother when they sold their house with small orange grove to Walt Disney to build the Disneyland Park

  2. We are totally in for the Disneyland trip!!

  3. Abuelita Cyndi would. No doubt.

  4. Michele & I lived in Madrid in the early 70’s – those darn national holidays were always catching us out !! Sol is adorable btw 🙂

  5. I was a surf kayaker at the time, and the only way I could get my fix was to rent an open canoe at the Retiro – it’s hardly the same *grins*

  6. Meeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Hopefully Charlie will be old enough to like it. It’s crazy expensive.

  7. You could get a press pass, and discount? Summers now in S. Cali are hot and sticky, and after an hour of that over grown place, I just imagine that you will want to get back to exploring some of the art museums, and mountain retreats.

  8. We want to go too!

  9. Get a press pass!!!!

  10. I wanna go. Ya, Stephen and Peter grew up there.

  11. Would be well worth it to go to FL to Disneyworld!

  12. Disney isn’t the worst thing out there!

  13. Meeeeeee

  14. Yo tambien!

  15. We will go to Disneyland with you! I’m sure the boys would love to show Soleil around!

  16. Did you make it to the Prado?

  17. Her curls are awesome!

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is a delightful post, Stevie! Love the video snippet of yall dancing. I am happy to know you guys are out there in the world, enjoying it to the fullest!
    Liz in west LA

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