Madrid, Spain – Thursday, October 17, 2019
[Read this travel series here]
Our final full day in Madrid! First, since we have an early morning departure on Friday we packed our bags and cleaned up the apartment. Then, it was lunch with our dear missionary friends Gloria and Roland (who we spent time with on Sunday). We officially introduced them to VivaBurger! Ohhhh … how I’m going to miss eating that delicious homemade “Burger Queen” and that AMAZING creamy homemade ice cream that no one could ever tell was vegan … ahhhh …. (someone PLEASE bring this magical place to Utah!)
Lots of hugs goodbye to our dear friends. Then off we walked to visit the largest city park in Madrid. On our way, we enjoyed looking at all the STUNNING architecture in the banking and embassy district, including the famous V-shaped Metropolis building and the Palace of Cibeles.
We also enjoyed seeing the Puerta de Alcalá – the historic Triumphal Arch dating from 1778 – (so famous, it even has its own pop song)
Buen Retiro Parque (“The Pleasant Retreat”), aka “El Retiro” is arguably the most beautiful and refreshing 350 acres in the world. Every inch has been carefully crafted and is meticulously manicured. There are multiple parks within a park here, and plenty of little hideaway areas to read a book or just people watch. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it was donated as a public park.
We walked and walked and walked here, breathing in all the fresh oxygen from its 15,000+ trees. We meandered. We sat and communed with all its nature-goodness!
A Glass Palace, a Grotto, a Lake with people boating, dozens of fountains, hundreds of statues, thousands of trees, and a huge rose garden! It seemed that every time we blinked we experienced something more lovely than the last!
We also found a fascinating little garden area filled with peacocks freely wandering among checkerboard tiles, romantic archways and towering Cedar trees. The birds all seem to know that this is the one and only spot where they are supposed to reside because we saw no peacocks anywhere else in the park!
One of the highlights was finding the Fuente Del Angel Caido “The Fallen Angel” Fountain – depicting the Devil atop a magnificent fountain surrounded with demons and serpents.
This fascinating and powerful creation is the only monument in the world dedicated solely to the prince of darkness. It captures the moment Lucifer – Son of the Morning – was cast out of heaven forever. Sculptor Ricardo Bellver was inspired by John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. The subject of the fountain was very controversial in 1878 when it was first unveiled, but soon became the talk of the town and won prestigious awards. It’s now a crowd favorite. Oh, and one more spine-chilling fact… The statue stands exactly 666 meters above sea level! 😉
Watch this little devil-icious video with extra images!
We honestly didn’t plan to see the whole park but once we entered, we didn’t ever want to leave. Even after 4 hours, it was hard to tear ourselves away. It truly felt like a sanctuary – not only from the city but also from the world.
As far as I’m concerned, one can not be a TRUE Madrileño unless they visit this beautiful park every. single. day.
Eventually, it got dark and our bellies began to rumble, so we finally were forced to depart.
At the north gate, we were mesmerized by the lights reflecting from a gorgeous Christian church built in a neo-byzantine architectural style.
We were also enchanted seeing Puerta de Alcalá by night!
And now began our hunt for a new top-rated vegan restaurant that was only supposed to be a 20-minute walk from here. Side note: no one eats dinner in Spain before 8 PM. The City really starts ramping up at about 9 PM – and seriously, these people stay up LATE! I even saw nail and hair salons open and going full speed at 10 PM! Most restaurants and many shops do not close until midnight or later.
Well, our “Googley Map” went all googley-eyed bonkers again (what’s new) leading us an extra 40 minutes astray. But, of course, that only meant we discovered a completely different amazing place as a happy accident! Falafeleria was the perfect impromptu “last supper” for our perfectly impromptu Madrid Adventure.
We took a final leisurely walk home to our sweet apartment, saying farewell to all the city spaces we’ve come to love, buying a few souvenirs, enjoying the clear night sky and scrumptious 62 degrees. [Knowing we are headed home to freezing temperatures in Utah! Boo!]
🎶Our bags are packed, we’re ready to go 🎶
Until We Meet Again!
[But hopefully, no more typhoons, so we can visit Japan first!]
Love, Holly and Jeff