Friday, June 29, 2007

A walk through Retiro (Part I)

I like to think of the Retiro as Madrid's backyard. Living just a block or so away I go for a walk there most mornings. It's always full of people enjoying the open spaces - kids on the playgrounds, cyclists and roller bladers, readers lounging in the sun, people strolling through the various gardens. It's the place where Madrileños can get away from the streetlife they typically live. Earlier this week I took my camera with me to document some of my favorite places in the park.

One of my favorite walks through the park takes me first to the southern end that is covered in winding paths through overgrown hillsides and then to the western edge with its manicured garden. I most enjoy this path because of the stark contrast between the two settings.

Just after climbing up from the southern "hills" I find myself at the rose garden. Roses have never been my favorite flowers - but a garden full of them at the height of their bloom is a welcome assault on my senses. The beds are divided by rose type, color, and age of species - antiguas and modernas.
Along the way from the rose garden to the western entrance I pass two of my favorite trees - two trees that have probably been in the park for decades. The first will surely end up back on the ground at some point in the future as it impresses us with its flexibility.
The other is an absolutely PERFECT climbing tree. I haven't climbed it, yet, as it's only about 20 feet inside one of the main park entrances. But each time I pass I have to fight the temptation.

On the east side of the park there are a number of little buildings that were once residences for the park's gardeners. It must have been a special job - one of the City's gardeners. The little "homes" now serve as storage areas for the modernday gardeners and they remind me of Elton John's Empty Garden (sung in my mind by Speak of the Devil), "He must have been a gardener who cared a lot, who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop."

One other item of interest to me is the little stand just inside "my" entrance to the park. It is an outdoor bookshelf with the sign "Public Library of Madrid," that usually holds only a handful of weather-torn paperback books. Each time I pass I wonder if it was ever full of books. And who leaves the books there? Do people use it? Maybe I should bring some used ones over and see how long they last there...


JustMe said...

What a great walk through the garden!

Anonymous said...

I remember when I was a young boy and used to spend hours at the Retiro Park. I must go back.

Anonymous said...

I've often been tempted to do the same with the "public library" in the park. The books there always look so sad... they could use some company. and some weather proofing.