Sunday, 14 August 2011

City strolling

My boyfriend and I love a good city break, but we are not fans of meticulous organisation - we prefer to walk out of the front door and just start strolling, hopefully with a vague idea of where we will end up, but largely following our instincts. Sometimes this can lead to complete dead-ends (i.e. a seemingly deserted residential area, having to employ the 'confused tourist' act in order to convince the ticket lady to let us back on the metro for free), but generally allows you the freedom to relax and enjoy your surroundings, stumbing across things you would otherwise never have found. On one such wander, for example, we found a little cafe with a comically grumpy owner and the best tinto de verano I have had to date, nestled in a cute, leafy courtyard. Nevertheless, when instincts fail and you fancy a bit of direction, I put my trust in the good old Lonely Planet - even if you do not want to follow all of the tips or guides, it always helps to make you feel a little more in tune with your location.

Reina Sofia Gallery

Madrid has certainly been all I had hoped for so far, with a huge range of things to see, do and taste, and without breaking the bank as well - yesterday we had a great time on a budget of absolutely nothing, by sunbathing in the morning, eating a picnic of home-made sandwiches, checking out the Reina Sofia modern art gallery (free on Saturdays 2.30pm - 9pm), then the Prado museum (free from 6pm - 8pm, with an extremely efficient queue system), then having a romantic walk through the gorgeous Parque del Retiro, finishing off the day at home grazing on the leftovers of our cheese-and-meat-counter-raid of a few days before. Ambling around the streets of Madrid, with its juxtaposing city buzz and sleepy summer haze, undoubtedly puts a smile on your face. Well, what do you expect from a city that, on a single metro line (number 4), takes you from Hope (Esperanza) to Prosperity (Prosperidad)?? That's symbolism for you.

The lake in Parque del Retiro

TG xx

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