Friday, October 7, 2016

Parque El Capricho

This past Saturday, I walked from Pueblo Nuevo to Parque El Capricho, a park I'd surprisingly never been to before. 

It's very close to Parque Juan Carlos I and the airport, but it had somehow escaped my presence both years I lived in Madrid.

They count people as you enter, since there's a cap at 1,000 people. When I entered, the woman asked me if I had any food in my bag ("¿Lleva algo de comer?") , and I said no. (I did have a snack, but it was for later, post-park!) You can't eat food in the park—no picnics here—so just be aware that they may ask you the same thing.

I brought along my kindle, notebook, and watercolors, and thus passed several peaceful hours either sitting on benches beside the gardens, walking through the park, or reading in the grass.


What: Parque El Capricho
Where: Paseo Alameda de Osuna, 25; Madrid 28042
Metro: El Capricho (Line 5)
Hours (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays):
  • October 1 - March 31: 9:00-18:30
  • April 1 - September 30: 9:00-21:00
Map: Click here for PDF of park
Price: Free!
Tips: Below are a few park rules that are helpful to know ahead of time.
  • Animals are not permitted in the park.
  • Riding bikes and rollerblades/skateboards are also not permitted.
  • You can't eat in the park.
  • You can't play ball in the park.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Last Friday Gregorio and I went to Chinchón, which is a small town just southeast of Madrid.

Our first stop was at the castle, which is closed to visitors.

It was neat that while looking out to the fields northwest of the castle, we could see the four towers of Madrid, as pictured below:

On our way to find lunch, we happened upon this cool shop, La Ruta Natural, where the guy working was cooking his lunch out front with a solar oven.

Lunch was a delicious 3-course menu del día for 10 euros.

First course:

Second course:

(By the way, it's been so long since I've lived in Spain, that I was surprised when our waitress opened and left an entire bottle of wine on the table for me, the one who'd picked wine. I'd totally forgotten that some places do that!)


The restaurant was just off of the plaza de toros, which was being used as a parking lot since there weren't any bull fights that week.

Lunch gave me a total food coma, so I rested on a bench for about 40 minutes until I could walk again.

Gregorio, of course, captured the scene.

Then we headed higher up near the cathedral (closed), which offered a nice view of the town and plaza de toros.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I'm back again! (for a limited time)

Yup, I'm in Madrid! My last visit had been just over a year go, last July (that's when I'd had that unbelievable surprise from one of the gas & electric companies here...)

Lunch in Chinchón last Friday

After-lunch tea in Pueblo Nuevo yesterday

And I'll be seeing two more madrileño friends (from 2009) on Thursday!

Is anyone in Madrid still reading and want to meet up? I have Wednesday and potentially the whole weekend free—pending Gregorio's plans.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What I Learned Walking the Camino de Santiago

This past fall I walked the Camino de Santiago for a month across Spain. (Interested in seeing my packing list + tips? Let me know in the comments, and a post will result sooner!)

While there was no huge life-changing moment, I did take away small bits of advice from my experiences on the Camino that I've been able to apply to my life post-Camino. I'd like to share these with you, because I think they can have a positive effect on your life as well.

Here it is: What I Learned Walking 500 Miles on the Camino de Santiago

I wrote the post on Medium for a more beautiful and smooth reading experience. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Decathlon: Sporting goods in Spain

In preparation for walking the Camino de Santiago, I took a trip to Decathlon in Madrid back in September to pick up a few items I'd need for the trek.

Image Source

Decathlon: Sporting Goods Store in Spain

Decathlon is a sporting goods store of French origin, whose chains are found around Europe and in a few other areas of the globe. Think of it as your Spanish equivalent to Dick's Sporting Goods.

The prices are affordable, so these aren't top-of-the-line super expensive sporting goods, but the quality is good enough to warrant purchases.

Decathlon Departments

So what can you find at a Decathlon in Spain? Tons!

Here are the sporting departments listed on their website, with handy photos in case you're unfamiliar with a word:

Decathlon departments - in Spain

For those who can't see the image, here are some of the included departments:

  • Gimnasio, Yoga (Gymnastics, Yoga)
  • Ropa de Fitness-Danza (Dance/Fitness Clothing)
  • Ciclismo (Biking)
  • Running, Atletismo
  • Natación (Swimming)
  • Kayak-Surf-Deportes Agua (Water sports)
  • Buceo, Submarinismo (Diving)
  • Esquí y Snowboard (Ski and Snowboard)
  • Deportes Montaña, Camping (Mountain sports, Camping)
  • Tenis, Ping poing, Bádminton
  • Andar, Caminar (Walking, Hiking)
  • Golf
  • Fútbol (Soccer)
  • Caza, Pesca (Hunting, Fishing)

Basically any sport/outdoors/athletic thing you're looking for, chances are they've got it at Decathlon. You can browse their website to have a look (if your Spanish isn't great, you can still browse by looking at the pictures and prices of items).

Decathlon Stores in Spain

With 99 stores in the country, Spain currently comes in second to France for the most Decathlon stores per country (France has 260).

Here's a Google map of all of the Decathlon stores in Spain.

Map of Decathlon stores in Spain

Decathlon in Madrid

Most of the Madrid region Decathlon stores are in suburbs, outside of the city.

Map of Decathlon stores in Madrid

The one you see in the center of the map (right near the words "Ciudad Lineal"), is in Nuevos Ministeros. It's actually called Decathlon Golf Castellana, and specializes in golf, running, and fitness. So they only have a tiny selection of the departments I listed above.

That being said, you'll probably have to venture to one of the bigger Decathlons for a worthwhile trip.

When I've shopped at Decathlon in Madrid, both this fall for the Camino and years ago for some athletic clothing for frisbee, I've gone to the branch in Usera, which is on the south side of Madrid.

The first time I went via public transportation, and the second I was lucky enough to be driven by a Spanish friend. If you're taking public transportation, the nearest station is actually a Cercanías station, Orcasitas. You can also check for buses from your location, using this Google map (click "Cómo llegar" and then type in your address as the starting point).

If You Go...

What: Decathlon (Usera branch)
Address: Avenida Rafaela Ybarra SN, 28041 (294) Madrid (SN = sin número, meaning there's no "house" number)
Cercanías: Orcasitas
Hours: 9:00 - 22:00 Monday through Saturday, 10:00 - 22:00 Sundays
Phone: 913.410.080

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back in Madrid: Spain is no Korea

I'm back in Madrid and it feels so great!

After a year teaching English in South Korea, I had to pop back over to Madrid for a visit before I return to the states to see my family. I'm actually going to walk the Camino de Santiago for about a month while I'm here in Spain - we'll see how long it takes.

As my first day back in the +34 goes on, I keep remembering those tiny differences that were once second nature. They still feel natural, but did take a second for me to recognize these Spanish life basics before putting them back into action.

Some of the thoughts I've had today include:

"Oh right, I must leave my shoes on in the apartment." - In Korea, shoes always come off at the door - and that's at home, at school, and often in many restaurants too.

"Ah, I can't use my card for tiny purchases!" - I didn't have cash yet and wanted to pay for Gregorio's coffee after lunch, but he was not keen on the idea of me paying with a card for just a few euros. Paying with some sort of card is done in Korea for everything, no matter the amount. Two dollars at the convenience store? No problem. I really got used to doing that, but quickly remembered that people will take the time to count out exact change here in Spain - especially at grocery stores.

"Is this where I need an ID to use my debit or credit card?" - I had left the house without it when we were heading to Decathlon this afternoon, but asked Gregorio in the stairway if this was the country where you needed to show an ID. Bingo. After two years without needing to do so, and taking on the Korean habits of a quick line for an electronic signature, that detail was a bit fuzzy.

And of course, "Yikes, I'd better be careful with my purse/phone/wallet!" At a Starbucks in Seoul I actually left my laptop out at a table while I went to the bathroom. That type of crime just isn't an issue in Korea, but pickpocketing and petty theft is huge in Madrid.

It's also been super refreshing to understand what people are saying around me, and to be able communicate with others! I ordered my own lunch without a second thought. I didn't need time to slowly read and translate the menu, nor practice what I was going to say. And it was such a relief when I put in a load of laundry tonight because I could actually read the washing machine! It's the little things.

Now I'm sitting here eating some simple jamón serrano with pan, and it never tasted so good.

Thanks for welcoming me back with open arms, Madrid.