Madrid, Ready or Not

Oh, Madrid.  I liked you, until you took away my innocence.  Haha, just kidding. That was gone a long time ago.  But I did realize pretty quickly once my phone was stolen that there are a lot of people out to thieve you out of your things, even in places that seem safe.  And you worked hard for those things. So, Spain is definitely a place to be extremely protective of your belongings if you like your belongings and want to keep them.

I actually knew this before I went and had been warned, but decided to have a picnic out in the park and upon doing so I left my phone right next to myself on the blanket which turned out to be not okay in Spain.  Probably not okay in other places as well, but they have this scheme where they come around asking people to sign a petition for charity. They they act like they are trying to make you understand what they want you to sign for (because of the language barrier), and get really up in your business.  Don’t let anyone in your business even for a second.  That’s how long it took for my phone to disappear even though I was really persistent for him to get away and that I didn’t want to sign.  I was certainly glad that nothing else was stolen because I’m pretty sure he could have taken my whole bag although it would have definitely not been as inconspicuous.

People warned me about the trains and about walking in tourist areas but I guess I had a blind spot for the park, especially because there were people sitting all around me. None of them seemed any the wiser when it happened either.

Anyway, enough about el robo, I just had to post about it in case others decide to go to Spain and also think the park looks so safe and cozy.   Also, definitely if you have an iPhone, go back to your hotel and remotely erase it before making the police report. They didn’t do anything but give me a copy of the report for my records, so it was a waste of time to go find the police station before wiping my phone remotely. I don’t think they managed to get any information from it anyway (so far so good-fingers crossed), but in the case they did that extra two hours could have made a difference. The people at Orange were very helpful when I had to cancel my old Spanish number and had to buy a new SIM and got my new phone. I used google translate with them in the store (upon their suggestion) since it was a more complicated situation than I was able to resolve by having a complete conversation in Spanish. It definitely motivated me to learn more Spanish as well and practice more since it was frustrating knowing a little, but not really enough to explain things and receive information quickly in a pinch. And at least now I have a European phone for future European travel. 🙂

They did steal with my phone the pictures I had taken that morning of a 9-mile run that I did.  I’d highly recommend the route nonetheless and want to share with with you!    Better to explore when you have few belongings on you and are speeding along. 🙂  I’ll provide some links so you can see some of the sights instead. I only made it 9 miles before I had IT band pain, which is why it is not a full loop, but would have been about 12 miles total.

Running route in Madrid
Running route in Madrid

I went down the main street next to where I was staying, Calle de Alcalà.  I went into Parque de Retiro (the park where I got my phone stolen).  There were a lot of runners here, bikers, and rollerbladers. It was so big and beautiful I went back later to wander around and enjoy.

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Puerta de Alcalá

Then I went past the Plaza de la Independencia and saw the Puerta de Alcalá (above). I went from there through the Plaza de España. There are so many statues and beautiful buildings along this route and goes both through the city and through many parks.

I made my way across the river to run around Lago de la Casa de Campo (the lake around Casa de Campo), which is a really large park with a lot of hills. There were also tons of bicyclers, runners, and kayakers on the lake. It was small like Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis and reminded me of home. I guess it was a bit of foreshadowing for that day, but I also tried to go through the Sabatini Gardens around the Royal Palace of Madrid on my way home and had to apologize to the armed guards there for being where I shouldn’t since there was only one opening as the entrance and exit. Whoops.  Then I started to feel pain in my knee (probably from all the extra hills) and called it a day and took the train home!

This is really the majority of the sights and parks I saw in Madrid because the rest of the time I just enjoyed and relaxed. However, I did go to Plaza Mayor, which is a must-see if in Madrid.

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I also wandered to a few other notable places:

View from Puerta del Sol
View from Puerta del Sol
shops near Puerta del Sol
shops near Puerta del Sol
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas (where they conduct bull fights)
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas (where they conduct bull fights)

I was there on Palm Sunday as well and there were vendors out selling palm leaves and olive branches everywhere. I’ve actually been cautioned that some of these are a scam as well, and I could feel that some of them were unnecessarily pushy to get you to take the olive branches, but it was hard to say which were legitimate and which weren’t or if there may be a rule of thumb. There were a lot of locals walking around with said palms so I know they do sell them honestly to customers as well.

Palms for Palm Sunday
Palms and olive branches being sold

Overall, as long as you keep your belongings enclosed (zipped), close to you, and you don’t engage with people that come up to you and try to get close to you on the street, Madrid was another beautiful European city with a lot of culture and amazing parks, statues, and plazas.

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