Don’t tell Manhattan, but I fell head over heels for Madrid. I’d been to Spain’s capital city before and knew how amazing it was, but on second look, the feeling of being smitten with a city came rushing back and I fell all over again.
One of the reasons is simple: Retiro Park. My Aunt lives in Barrio de Salamanca, one of the most beautiful parts of Madrid and just a few blocks north of Retiro Park, Madrid’s version of Central Park — I’m showing my New York bias I know.
It doesn’t feel quite like the oasis that Manhattan’s sprawling midtown park does, but that’s only because the surrounding areas in Madrid aren’t nearly as busy nor are they filled with skyscrapers, media companies, and hotels.
Madrid’s old world feel is encapsulated in Retiro Park, which used to be the massive private garden of the monarchs in the time of Spain’s golden age. The park feels distinctly European, although I couldn’t shake the familiar feel of my own beloved Central Park. It even has a lake where you can rent boats, which of course Peter and I did (he rowed, I posed).
It was a welcome break from the culture-filled tour of Europe we had been doing. Don’t get me wrong, art and eating and drinking are what makes European vacations great, but being able to unplug, unwind, and relax in a beautiful setting on a magnificent day with the boy you love is pretty hard to beat no matter where you are. It was one of the only times on the trip where it was just Peter and I, and you can bet I cherished every moment.