Spain: Day Two: Finding the Crystal Palace

Embarrassing blogger confession: I spent the entire first half of this day on one of those free guided walking tours and ended up taking no pictures at all. In my defense, the tour went pretty fast and was mostly focused on the history of Spain anyways, but here are the notes I took:

-medieval village. chosen as capital bc small and unimportant. might be hope for me yet
-revolution –> 5 year republic, good job spain
-king curse?? a king became a monk??? no monarch ends their life ruling spain
-one guy wanted to rule france but nope

As you can probably tell, I have attention  and it’s a miracle I graduated high school at all.

Anyway, after the tour, I headed over to the other side of the city to explore Madrid’s Buen Retiro Park. Its grounds are huge and perfect for a stroll… or a siesta in the grass. Also, while I make it sound like I managed to find my way around efficiently and with confidence, it took me approximately three hours to take this twenty minute walk and I drank way too much sangria on the way. #travelpro


Knowing my love for sleep, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I opted for the latter. When in Spain, right? Still, I managed to pick myself up and keep wandering through the park, which is absolutely a must—it’s got enough zany architecture and vibrant greenery to keep anyone’s attention. In fact, at times, it almost feels like an amusement park.


Sunny days yield plenty of tourist-laden boats on the lake. The ratio of boats to lake surface area is pretty hilarious. On one hand, I don’t actually want people to crash into each other, but on the other hand, it would be incredible if they did??


Anyway, while all of these sights were stunning, what I was really after was the Palacio de Cristal, the park’s famous former greenhouse. It’s now used to host exhibits, although it’s also left empty a lot of the time, which is how it was when I visited.


Even with nothing inside it’s a pretty magnificent structure, and made especially impressive when you consider the fact that it was built way back in 1887. Seriously, architecture is wild. Although I did find it a little underwhelming after all of the hype and my mental image of that ice castle from Frozen, at least it turned out to be hella photogenic.


Warning: this former greenhouse gets warm and stuffy fast under direct sunlight.


More mindless wandering through Buen Retiro resulted in a few more fun finds: most notably, these weird-looking trees that look like they birthed themselves from the mind of a surrealist painter. Why is the word that comes to mind ‘lipid?’


Does art imitate life or does life imitate art

At this point, I was good on parks and ready to move on. The next point of interest on my agenda was the Atocha Railway Station’s botanical garden.


Atocha’s botanical garden is less a proper garden and more a small oasis in the center of this bustling transportation hub with plenty of leafy greens and strategically placed misters to cool you down after a long day in the sun….


…And more turtles than you’ve ever seen in your life. So, basically, it was exactly what I was looking for while hot, sweaty, and exhausted.


Are they plotting world domination? Who knows.

After cooling off a bit, I headed back to my hostel, drank a liter of sangria, and partied it up for the rest of the night. NOTHING TO TELL THERE.

What are some of your favorite green places in Madrid?

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5 thoughts on “Spain: Day Two: Finding the Crystal Palace

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