More from Madrid
Trip Start May 26, 2011
33Trip End Jul 19, 2011
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Madrid is actually a very walkable city with pedestrian friendly traffic and crossings, parks everywhere and something interesting to look at around every corner. The architecture of Madrid was not what I expected - it's much more refined and classic 1920s and 30s. It's also a very clean city - streets swept, buildings in great shape and very little graffiti especially compared to other European cities we've visited.
Spain has been particularly hit hard with world-wide economic crisis
As a strong contrast to the tent city, we walked through a huge park called the Parque del Buen Retiro (Park of the Pleasant Retreat). It is the former formal gardens and grounds of a palace that no longer exists. The landscaping is amazing for it's enormous size and was being enjoyed by all kinds of people. There are even wild Peacocks running around and strutting their stuff
Although we did continue the tradition of seeking out and eating at the local Hard Rock Cafe, we haven't tried a typical Spanish tapas restaurant yet, but that is on the agenda before we leave. Spain is famous for their ham and Paul is a HUGE ham fan so we'll be taking that in too. They have a chain of deli's called the Museo de Jamon (Museum of Ham) where you order sandwiches or just plates of ham, stand at the counter and eat and socialize. One of the elite styles of ham (and VERY expensive) is called Iberico and it comes from the black Iberian pigs that are fed a diet almost entirely of acorns. I can't imagine those pigs have very good teeth after chomping on a few of those, but the diet makes the meat much darker than you would otherwise see in ham. I'm looking forward to trying it.
Tomorrow afternoon we're leaving Madrid for a half-day to tour a UNESECO (www.unesco.org ) protected World Heritage site that dates back to almost 200 B.C. Should be interesting to see.