10 May, 2008

More about El Retiro and our friends

As many of you have read, we have really loved living so close to El Parque del Buen Retiro, or El Retiro. It's a huge blessing to have such easy access to a beautiful and well-used park practically next door.

Here two quick pictures that illustrate our links. In the past few months, Laura Macie has learned to ride a bike in the park. We don't have room to store a bike so we have rented one for the times she was learning. Amazing to watch her learn and now enjoy wheeling around El Retiro with Taylor or Becca.

A few weeks ago, we had an ideal day in the park. We rode bikes for a bit in the morning. For lunch, our friends the Boldens came down and they brought bikes for their girls. So all four of the bigger girls were out and around, allowing the grownups and the Bolden's two-year old to just hang out and talk. Delightful. Here's a picture of all the girls.

Lunch stretched out for quite a while and pretty soon, it was about 8:30pm and time to think about dinner. So we loaded up and went out for an impromptu dinner. The Boldens had just returned from a few weeks in Australia so the jet lag hit them and they decided to go home. But we had dinner out and rolled back home around 11pm. Just lovely.

08 May, 2008

A perfect day

Two weeks ago today, I had a nearly perfect day. I was on the 6am train to Cercedilla for a run. The weather looked terrific so I was very excited. I worked on the 90 min train ride, mostly in the dark, but the sun was up when I got off the train at the station. A few minutes of repacking and changing clothes and I was off.

After about five minutes of warm up, this was the view! What a total surprise. I hadn't noticed the snow on the peaks on the way up but as soon as I lifted my head...wow.

Spring is a bit slower to arrive in the mountains so it's that perfect mix of things just blooming and a few trees already in that fantastic fuzzy green. The part that I can't really hope to convey is the audio track to the day. It would have been a crime to listen to music as there must have been a dozen different types of birdsong. Sweet, innocent chirps from little ones hopping around in the brush, fantastically melodic tunes from birds I never saw and the raucous bark of the gigantic blackbirds here. And as much of the snow was melting, constantly changing sounds of water running and falling down the mountain. Positively amazing.

After about 30 min of moving pretty steadily, I reached the Calzada Romana http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_road (this is a crazy long article about the entire concept over the Roman empire but there's a better picture of the road that I ran on). This 2000+ year old road was in use until the mid 1800s and some of it is still in usable shape. But it's a steady 9.3% incline for about 5k so there wasn't much running for the next 45 minutes!

Then I reached La Puerta de la Fuenfria and this was the view. Just spectacular. I ran down the road for a few km, turned around after catching a glimpse of an old estate home built in the 17th century for Queen Ysabel to rest when she was pregnant, and then headed back to the train station as fast as my legs would carry me.

Back at the train station with 20 minutes to spare, worked on the laptop for an hour or so on the way home. After a quick bite to eat and a shower, I was ready to work a full day. Not too shabby at all.