Monday, June 24, 2013

Eurocco Day 9, 10, 11: To, in, and from Madrid

After we finished our train ride into Madrid with a lovely breakfast in the dining car (in which I've never been before) we began our stay of nearly three full days and two nights in Madrid. Our time there was mainly spent trying to find something child friendly to do with the kids besides go to playgrounds, but we found it difficult with most of the entertainment here geared toward wealthy adults, except for the playgrounds, which were everywhere and were often very nice. So, while we did get to see some nice things, we mostly got pulled in by the playgrounds, but that's the way our trip seems to want to go, so that's fine.

Still sleepy

After our train ride ended, we took another train into downtown (riding next to the six or seven members of the staff of the sleeper train,y who appeared to be best friends) and got off at Puerta del Sol, one of the main plazas of Madrid. After a little searching, we found our Hostel, Hostel Oliver, just off the square. The lady at the desk was nice enough to give us a room for four that was empty at the same price as our room for two was supposed to be. The room was nice, and blurred the line between hotel and hostel more than the other places we stayed.

We then made our way to the Parque de Retiro, where we would end up spending most of our time in Madrid. It is a large and beautiful park with many varied playgrounds. Cait played with the kids at the park while I went in search of food. I brought back empanadas and pastries and we had a nice picnic in the park. We explored the park a little bit and then went to a museum near the park, but it was not really kid friendly. We tried one more, but they needed our passports, which we didn't have. So we found another playground and played there until we thought it was late enough to go home. However, we made the mistake of buying Atticus ice cream too late in the day, and he was hard to get to sleep, but a walk around town eventually got him, but not Tallulah, who took even longer. Oh well, a trip like this is expected to disrupt sleep schedules pretty regularly.

Roar of joy 1
Lulah's backwards wave
Roar of joy 2

The next day, we saw the royal palace (although the royalty no longer lives there) and the national cathedral, both impressive but leading to the inevitable question of what could have been done with all the resources that went into constructing and maintaining such buildings. Oh well. Atticus and I had a good time playing pretend tennis (one of his new favorite activities) in the big court between the palace and the cathedral.

On our way back to Parque del Retiro to meet Cait's friend for lunch, we stopped in at an Egyptian temple that had been moved from Egypt when the Aswan Dam caused its original sight to flood. It was a little odd to see an Egyptian temple in the middle of a Spanish park, but it was interesting seeing some of the practical results if the dam that I read so much about in my undergrad studies and heard so much about in Egypt.

Then a long walk to the park, with a fruitless search for public restrooms (we ended up buying €2 of Burger King so we could use theirs). We grabbed some food at a Carrefore and met Cait's friend Kari at the park for a picnic. Cait and Kari were on the same cheerleader squad all through high school (that Cait cheered in high school is a little known and often startling tidbit, even less known and more startling is that she was the captain of the squad and dated football team captain. I know, right?). They also went to Sonic every day before dance in middle school and have known each other since the first grade. So she's known Cait about five times as long as me. Anyway, we had a good lunch while the kids played.

After that, we tried some museums again, but no go again, because all the ones we went to seemed too pricey for the fifteen minutes our kids would be good there. So, we went to the same park we went to the day before and had an overall exactly identical day to the one before, but both were still nice. We fit the kids to bed a bit earlier and watched a movie together on the iPad and then tried to sleep.

The third day, we made a concerted effort to go to a museum (anthropology this time) an it failed miserably. The kids wouldn't stop touching everything and the guards were all super strict especially since we were the only ones there. We maybe should have just sprung for the more expensive ticket and the longer trip out o the aquarium or other kid oriented place, but who knows how that would have gone either.

So we made one last trek into Parque del Retiro, and even on our third straight day there we saw a whole new part of the park, and, in the end, we left a good portion of the park and even it's playgrounds unexplored.

I went out to get lunch and we played at a new playground until rain threatened and we decided to head to the nearby train station to prep for our trip to Algeciras in the southern part of Spain. It was a long train ride, the longest one where Atticus didn't nap, but it went okay considering. We've learned a lot about how manage our kids, even while trying to limit iPad time. A rotation between kids, any handy distraction for Tallulah and a lot of made-up stories and art projects with whatever is available for Atticus can really go a long way.

Creepy baby statue outside of train station
Come on train let's go
Atticus's and my favorite iPad game: Blockheads (a free and easier version of Minecraft)
He doesn't only play iPad

Still, we got into Algeciras pretty late, we stayed out long enough to get yet more subpar takeout food and then we all collapsed into bed and slept pretty well.

Summary: Three days of our Europe travels in the parks of Madrid.


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