Madre mía, Madrid!

There’s something rather special about being the first person out and about in a city like Madrid on a Saturday morning. 

IMG_5789The sidestreets are virtually empty, other than workers getting ready to open shop, and the occasional madrileño out for a solitary stroll, sometimes in the company of a partner or a perro.

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This was the first part of my walk to the Biblioteca Nacional this morning. What a difference from even just the morning before.

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I couldn’t help myself; I smiled stupidly at a couple shop-owners, the leaf-blower guy just before the plaza that intersects with the tree-lined Paseo del Prado. I can’t even begin to express just how much I enjoy feeling like I have a city to myself, if only for a moment.

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And then of course once I actually hit the Paseo del Prado, that sense of solitude slowly gave way to the increasingly tangible energy of Madrid’s museum hub.

Suffice it to say, I felt much more sophisticated entering the BNE this morning, seeing as I knew how the whole process of entry, desk assignment, and book request went. Technically you aren’t to take pictures inside, but if that didn’t stop me in the Sistine Chapel six years ago, it certainly wouldn’t stop me now.

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IMG_5797Of course, a shot of one Spain’s many literary legends out front is most certainly acceptable.

IMG_5798I had originally planned to go back to the Museo del Prado that afternoon, but by the time I got there after the BNE closed, it was looking mighty busy. I chose instead to go for a paseo in el Parque de Retiro, one of my favorite public parks in the world.
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It’s such a great escape from the noise and sensory overload of the city. I just love how green it is.

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On this particular visit to the Retiro I decided to make my way to the Palacio de Cristal, inspired by a recent post by one of my favorite travel bloggers.

There was a free, seasonal exhibition going on inside as well, so I’m glad I was able to check it out.

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Much like yesterday afternoon, I continued in a haphazard loop through the busy centro of Madrid, this time making my way down Gran Vía, whose architecture after multiple visits I just can’t get enough of.

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To round out another full day in Spain’s capital, I’m going out to watch the Champions League final (viva Barça!).

And tomorrow, I’m setting off to Alcalá de Henares for the day, which will be a major nerding-out moment…after all, it is the author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s birthplace.

As I’m here first and foremost to work on my thesis (which is on his magnum opus, El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha), I’m considering this a most-worthy field trip. 

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