Bueno Dia! - Madrid - Day 3

Trip Start Apr 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 13, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hostel One Centro

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  ,
Monday, April 13, 2009

Today, I woke up a little late because of the late night the day before! It was an absolutely beautiful day, so I decided to stay outside as much as I could. I got a great recommendation from the hostel staff to take a walk down the Grande Via, which is a wide boulevard just up the road from my hostel, to the massive Parque de El Retiro.

My 20 minute stroll took me down much of Gran Via. Gran Via is a very large commercial center that was modeled after roads in New York City. Though very impressive, much of its beauty has been swallowed up by American fast food restaurants and shops. I passed by the grand Banco de Espana and through the arches of Puerta de Alcala.

Parque de El Retiro is a 300 acre park that was transformed from the hunting grounds of Felipe IV in the 1630's to a park for the public. The park houses a beautiful man made lake, Estanque Grande and the spectacular Palacio Cristal. See the pictures. After strolling around the park for 3 or so hours, I headed to the Prado Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately, the gardens were a little disappointing because many of the flowers were not in bloom, but, yes, I did stop to smell the flowers that were in bloom! The sun was starting to set and I was getting hungry, so, once again, I headed to the now famous Museo del Jamón for another Bocadillo de Jamon! A Bocadillo de Jamon has never let me down!

After filling up, I headed to the huge department store, El Corte Ingles, to buy some soap. The 9 story shopping center is so large, I couldn't find the elevator to go down to the supermarket floor. After wandering around for 10 or so minutes, I finally found the elevator, which was right by one of the many entrances to the department store. As I was turning a corner, I caught out of the corner of my eye, a tall blonde haired man quickly walking to the elevators. Sure enough, it was the man, the myth and the legend of travel writing! Rick Steves! Rick and I chatted for a few minutes and it turned out that he was in Madrid to update his Spain travel book. See the picture. His travel book is over my right shoulder! I thought it was pretty cool when he asked me what I was doing in Madrid and I told him I was traveling for 103 days. He responded with a big WOW! Rick, if you read this and need any help on your next travel book, just let me know! I will make myself available! After another great highlight to my trip, I headed back to my hostel to crash! Great day!!
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