Christmas in July

Mom and dad pause for a photo in “Park of the Pleasant Retreat”

Although it was their third visit to Madrid, the ‘rents had never been to Parque del Buen Retiro, an expanse of green which was once a retreat reserved for Spanish royals. We had to remedy that, and a walk in the park was one of the first items on the trip itinerary.

Crystal Palace photo-op

The park spans approximately 350 acres, so we took in the highlights. One of those was the Palacio de Cristal, seen in the picture above. This building currently houses temporary exhibitions for the Reina Sofia art museum, but we arrived so early that it wasn’t even open yet.

Tú y yo / Me and you

After our stroll through the park, we headed south to a museum I had never visited before–Madrid’s Railway Museum! The Museo del Ferrocarril, which details the history of Spain’s railway, is an underrated gem with interactive exhibits for kids both big and small. Here you have some pics of big kids enjoying the displays:

Petticoat Junction (or so I’m told)

Just look at those wheels!

This retro train came into the world the same year as Pop!

A very cool dining car in which you can actually order a coffee and sit a while

The museum also had a hands-on playground for kids, as well as an entire room devoted to model railways. In the latter, a bearded conductor flipped the switch for each model train, gazing cheerfully out like Santa at the children who ran alongside the humming track. Indeed, if you’re visiting Madrid with kids, this is the place to bring them. (Likewise if your big kids love trains.)

Being silly is no sweet sorrow

Riding the (museum) rails

It was 1:30 p.m. when we left the museum, which meant lunch time. As I took them through some quiet streets sprinkled here and there with dusty construction projects, mom and dad were wondering where I was dragging them. A restaurant, out here? Yep! We were walking to García, a restaurant which changes its menu daily to reflect seasonal produce (and the chef’s mood). While Andres and I had only previously been there for dessert, I was eager to check out their well-priced menú del día (one dish, bread, drink, and dessert for 8 Euros /10.60 USD, or two dishes, bread, drink, and dessert for 11.50 Euros / 15.30 USD.)

The idea was spot-on! It was here that mom had her favorite meal of the trip–Paris included–after trying fresh grilled veggies and Catalan romesco sauce. Other food we tried included secreto ibérico (a choice cut of pork), swordfish tataki, a potato salad, and a rocket salad with oranges and sesame seeds. For dessert there was fresh melon and ice cream with chocolate sauce. Divine! It was a memorable meal, indeed.

The restaurant’s owner owes his cooking know-how to his family; their images and hand-written recipes hang on the wall in lovely homage. While the setting is arguably modern, this vintage touch lends a homey feel.

Behind-the-scenes shot of the trip’s chronicler

After lunch, I came home to wait for the promised luggage, which had now been lost at sea for four days. The checked luggage was mainly stuffed with gifts for the expat daughter, and she was particularly anxious to be reunited with them.

Christmas in July!

After a few hours of waiting by the doorbell, it eventually rang. I hauled both bags upstairs and cheered hip-hip-hooray! The ‘rents had stocked up on all my favorite American offerings: pecans, Ghiradelli chocolate chips, apricot face scrub, Orbit gum, Ziploc bags, gumbo filé, chocolate malt powder, and coffee roasted by a family friend! For Andres there were several bags of Skittles and beef jerky for him to try. They even brought several travel-size toothpaste containers via my hometown dentist, which will be very handy for keeping the cavities at bay while we consume all these treats. On top of this, the ‘rents also brought my flute and a bundle of sheet music. It was Christmas in July, indeed!

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  1. I suppose I am prejudiced, considering we are a part of the story and you are my “favorite daughter,” but you really are effective at recounting the events. Fun to relive it here.

  2. Cassandra

    Gracias! It has also been fun for me to relive it here. Each day flew by, so blogging it again brings back and preserves the memories.

  3. Donna Clark

    Casey, I have enjoyed reading this blog. I have added you to my bookmarks. I am so jealous of your mom and dad. What a great experience you must be having living there.

  4. Cassandra

    Thank you! I’m glad that you have been following along with our adventures. I love living in Europe and enjoy the opportunity of sharing that with mom and dad 🙂

  5. OMG, I am addicted to Orbit Sweet Mint gum!

    El Museo del Ferrocarril is really close to our apartment, maybe 15 minutes walking if we walking the back way. 🙂

  6. Cassandra

    Me too!! I love that stuff, it’ll be gone in no time.

    Speaking of no time, I didn’t realize that you guys lived so close to the Museo del Ferrocarril! Have you been yet?

  7. This was such a cute post. You got some really great shots of your parents! It looks like they had a blast.

  8. Cassandra

    Thanks! I think that they enjoyed having a personal photographer, and I was happy to snap away. We had a great time 🙂

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