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A Love letter to Madrid,

I adore travel and often write travel articles for newspapers and magazines. If you find yourself in the Spanish capitol, try my five superlatives. And, always remember...Madrid is for Lovers.

Poets tell us Paris is for lovers. It's true--especially at night--when a jazz cruise down the Seine passes Notre Dame--along with scores of osculating youth along the river’s banks. But not even in Paris did I see so many kissing couples as I saw in Madrid.

In Spain, Cupid doesn’t wait for night--perhaps because summer sunsets don’t arrive until after ten in the evening. At all times of day, I saw pairs locked at the lips in outdoor cafes, in glass elevator cages at museums, under grape arbors at the botanical gardens and even in the bright lights of the Metro.

Still, one place outshines all others--Retiro Park--Madrid’s prime destination for lovers. In the city’s biggest park, sweethearts hide under an arch of rock to smooch unseen. Wistful pairs sit on benches cheek to cheek while they pretend to watch white ducks shimmering the surface of a pond. Couples cuddle under unneeded umbrellas in front of the Crystal Palace, a romantic little version of the glass and steel structure built by Queen Victoria’s Consort Prince Albert for the London exposition of 1851. Amorous senoritas sip sangria at sidewalk cafes while listening to the soft strains of gypsy guitars. Languid girls feed bread to orange-gold schools of fish as their sailor boys row them in blue-and-white boats on The Estanque, the original lake King Philip III used as the centerpiece for his Royal Gardens in the seventeenth century.

Even staid senors hold hands with their long-time esposas heedless of the rush of traffic on frenetic Alcala Street as they sit embraced by formal displays of tulips on the park’s north side. Or they stroll arm in arm by the observatory as they drink in lilac-scented air on the south side.

Parque del Buen Retiro might coax you and your special someone to join the kiss fest. After all, the “park of the good retreat” inspires romance in thousands of Madrilenos. No true Spaniard would raise an eyebrow if it touches off an amorous spark in turistas too.

The Retiro is a place so accomodating it even tolerates a tribute to the dark side. Where else can one see El Angel Caido, The Fallen Angel, Europe's only known statue of Satan? Madrid is for devotees of romance, history, art, health, wealth and even a bid of devilment.

Yes, Madrid is for lovers.






Debod Temple


Debod Temple

Madrid, Spain


1. Most user-friendly museum

Museo del Traje

Located on the fringe of the University of Madrid, the museum of apparel holds eye-popping displays of costume through the ages with explanations written in English as well as Spanish. This new museum provides state-of-the-art audioguides, dancing video images and interactive computer terminals. That’s for education. For just plain fun, the Traje indulges every guest in a fleeting fling with fame. Europop starts blaring and “flashbulbs” start popping the instant the visitor sets foot on the runway. Even in sensible shoes, who could keep from strutting like a supermodel while slinking down a fashion show catwalk?

Tulips in Retiro Park


2. Most cultural restaurant

Cafe de la Opera

Dine while serenaded by Carmen or the Barber of Seville.

3. Most exhilarating run

Up the hill to the Templo de Debod. Not only will the steep run get your heart pumping, a treat awaits at the summit. At the top, jog by a genuine 2200 year old temple to Amon removed stone by stone from Egypt to save it from the waters of the Aswan dam. Then jog past Debod temple to the edge of a plateau high above the city to see modern Madrid spread out below pulsing with life.


Crystal Palace

of Retiro Park

4. Cheapest way to feel rich

On Sundays, go to the Reina Sofia museum from 10.00 to 14.30 horas (10:00 AM until 2:30 PM) for free.

Revel in millions of dollars worth of Miros, Dalis and Picassos including the somber grays and blacks of Picasso’s famed condemnation of War which immortalized the 1937 destruction of the small Spanish town of Guernica.

5. Best treatment for insomnia.

Sip coffee Carajillo (black coffee laced with brandy) and people-watch at an outdoor cafe on the The Paseo de Recoletes, Madrid’s answer to the Champs Elysee.

Action abounds at any time of day or night. Traffic jams at 4 AM are commonplace. Although drinking coffee, even spiked coffee, is no cure for jet lag sleeplessness; a night on the Paseo offers stories aplenty to tell the folks back home.


Kissing Arch

Too bad my husband had to remain unkissed. I had to take the picture. He was so desperate he tried to kiss a rock.

Crystal Palace Kissing Rock
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