Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lost in the Retiro

I've been spending a lot of time at the Retiro lately. Madrid is so hot in July and August (though the last few days haven't been too bad), so I always try to find places with good air conditioning or lots of shade. For me, that means alternating between seeing movies (when it's el dia del espectador -- you get in for a reduced price), browsing for hours on end at El Corte Ingles, or finding shady spots in the Retiro.

The other day a couple of friends convinced me to try rowing in the lake at the Retiro. I've always seen people do this and thought it looked incredibly boring, given how small the "lake" is. But I was pleasantly surprised. It was a little bit like bumper cars at time, since most people (like us) were pretty bad at navigating their boats, but that just added to the fun in some ways. The lake is full of colorful fish (there are tons of them in the southeast corner), and you can do some good people watching from inside the boats. I think it was about 4,5 euros for 45 minutes, which goes by quickly.

The boats are also a good place to hear the bongo players. We used to go watch them play every Sunday, but so far this summer we haven't made a special trip to see them. They play just behind the lake (follow the sound of drums), creating a sort of impromptu party in the evenings. People dance, juggle, drink (and sell) beer, and practice all sorts of strange talents. It's a great atmosphere, and a lot cheaper than going to see live music at a bar!

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