From Chicago Tribune:
Today's Madrid is modern sprawl surrounding an intact, easy-to-navigate historic core
Anyone can join the paseo. Even past midnight on a hot summer night, entire families with little kids are strolling, greeting neighbors and enjoying little beers and tapas in a series of bars. A favorite local snack is sauteed pig's ears.
Spain has a reputation for partying very late, not stopping until offices open in the morning. If you're people-watching early in the morning, it's hard to know who is finishing their day and who's just starting it
One reason people stay out late, especially in summer, is to escape the day's heat. During the summer, Rick Steves was assessing restaurants by the quality of their air-conditioning.
- Retiro Park is a 300-acre green-and-breezy escape. Once the private domain of royalty, this majestic park has been a favorite of Madrid's commoners since King Charles III decided to share it with his subjects in the late 18th century. In its center is a big lake (El Estanque), where you can rent a rowboat.
- Royal Botanical Garden (Real Jardin Botanico), just south of the Prado
- Parque de la Montana
Throughout Europe, energetic governments are renewing green space and turning formerly car-congested wastelands into public spaces.
Bit by bit, Madrid's new face emerges. Chicago Tribune.
Three Perfect Days: Madrid http://1.usa.gov/1NMyL3U