Monday, June 25, 2012

Casa de Campo and the Teleferrico

Casa de Campo (a blog post in English, Spanish) is the largest park in Madrid and one of the largest in Europe. Apparently it used to be the hunting grounds for the royal family. Now it is a piece of the countryside (along with a zoo, an aquarium, and an amusement park) nestled into the city. Last Sunday DH and I saw a very small part of it. We took the metro to Lago and walked up to the Teleférico's (English link) hill. It was very hot and very dry, but definitely filled with a desert-like beauty.

As some of you may know, I grew up in a desert, and they have always had a special place in my heart. This desert was not very simular to my desert. For some reason it reminded me of Africa, which is strange because I have never been.

Below you can see a view I took from a hill to the city beyond. (Click to enlarge.)


These umbrella pines are very striking against the deserty background.

Here is the occasional view we saw of the Teleférico, and we used it's lines as a landmark to guide us up the hill.

Views from the Teleférico on the way down. This part goes from the top of Casa de Campo to the Parque del Osete. 

That is the palace in the distance (domed buildings).

We then visited the huge rose garden in the Parque del Oeste.

It was really hard to get good pictures, as the sun was so high over head. It was also hard to be out and smelling the roses, as it was really hot. The peak rose time seemed to be the end of May this year.


While I was there I finished a sock for my MIL. I took some silly sock pictures that I might include in the package when I give them to her this Christmas.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Campo de Moro

Campo de Moro, (English small link) was apparently named after the places were the Moors set up their camp to lay seige to Madrid in the 12th century. These gardens are located behind the palace of Madrid. They are also only about 200 hundred years old. I love European gardens, some of the reportedly 170 species of trees are 200 years old! 
I have heard that since the palace used to be on a hill they brought in dirt from the construction of Puerta de Sol to level of the ground.
Image from Wikipedia (first link in Post)
I went to the gardens on the 10th of June and Spring was still in full bloom, as you can see.

I love these little box hedges they are only about 20cm (8 inches) high. Inside there are the most perfect little miniature roses.

I heard the peacocks about 5 minutes after into walking into the garden.  They remind me of going to the Denver Zoo as a child. It was such a comforting homy noise.

They have a tiny little, not so well kept, Rose garden, it was still beautiful. (Showen here was the well-kept side.)

Proof of spring, baby peacocks with their mother.

The variety of trees here was very impressive.

Chalé del Corcho, a charming little building with stain glass windows, sadly fallen into disrepair. 

Fuente de las Conchas and a view of the palace itself in the distance.

If you look closely at the picture above (as always click to enlarge) you can see either side of the pathway is lined with an abundance of while lacy roses.

Baby ducklings!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Madrid River Walk - Parque Lineal de Manzanares

There is a new park that opened sometime last year in Madrid that runs along the river Manzanares. We wanted to walk, so we went down to check it out. Now any of you that read the last post, knows that my favorite part (of what we walked that day) was the Palacio Cristal, but the river walk is a good destination for walking or bike riding and deserves a small post of it's own. We wanted to walk so we took the metro to Principe Pío and walked down river from there.

The river walk includes the oldest bridge in Madrid, Punte de Segovia (Spanish link) built in 1582.

The next bridge is by far prettier "Puente de Toledo" which is surrounded by geometric gardens, included a lot of roses.

 There is an area known as the "Madrid Beach". When people talk about the Madrid beach they are either talking this area, where there are a lot of places to sunbathe and play in the water, or a beach in Valencia about 4 hours away.

This bridge was one of the coolest I have ever seen. Useful too, not only is it well shaded without obstructing the views, but there are benches running down the length, and separate sides for bikes and pedestrians.

This mural was dead cool. (click to enlarge.) Notice that the leave is made of humans, the tree is full of stars, and the third "panel" is out of a fairy tail.

Aww the sphinxes of Madrid. There are so many here in the city. However this one is very unusually modest.

Ok that is better.

And finally a brillant plan carried out by a mother of two. What you see here is her two young kids peddling furiously while she enjoys the view from the front of the "bike", brilliant!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Palacio de Cristal de Arganzuela

Here is another"best kept secrets of Madrid". The Palacio de Cristal de Arganzuela (utilitarian English link, and more helpful Spanish link). It is a huge, very well kept, greenhouse on the Madrid River (Manzanares) walk in the Paseo de la Chopera part of town.
A "Copera" building where they used to butcher the cows.
You can see the cows head decorating the greenhouse.

I say that it is a "best kept secret" because one of the first questions we asked when we got to Madrid was "where are the botanical gardens?" (My love for European gardens is big and all consuming.) We got a lot of information, but we were never told about this place. In fact, the only reason we know about it is that it was on the River Walk map. Now this could be because we were asking the wrong people, but just in case, I am spreading the word of this wonderful find.

This place is old, built between 1908 and 1924, there has been enough time to grow a sizable collection of impressive sized plants. Renovated in 1992 it is now open to the public, and free to all. This has to be the most impressive and well cared for display greenhouse I have ever visited. Sure there is paint peeling in some areas, and there could always be more species of plants, but the plants that are there are well cared for and the walkways and "exhibits" are cleared of debris.

These banana leaves are the size of me!

The building is divided into four life zones: Desert, Sub-Tropical, and Tropical I and II.
We were able to visit all but Tropical I, which I am sure we will be going back to see soon.
As you can see from the following picture there are pathways that take you up to the second story. Not only can you get an eye level view of the bigger trees, but there are well marked flower boxes along the railings. 

Most of the plants are well marked including the region, country of origin, family name, common Spanish name (all signs are in Spanish) and Latin names. There are over 9000 species housed here.

The dessert section was particularly spectacular.

I will post the river walk photos in a different post. This find was so special I felt it deserved a post of it's own. You can find hours and location in both links at the top of the post. Warning, this is closed on Mondays.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Real Fábrica de Tapices

Guess what I finally did to day?
I have been trying to go to the Museo de Real Fábrica de Tapices for over a year now. It is one of the things that made me excited to come to Madrid. This museum has very limited hours (10-2 M-F) and they are not open the month of August so it is sometimes hard to find the time to go. They only allow guided tours on the half hour, so you also run the risk of showing up and having all of the tours sold out. Luck was with us this morning as we arrived just 15 minutes before the tour started, and there was only one other person on the tour besides DH and I.
You walk in on a hand-knotted merino wool rug.

First let me say the tour was in fast Spanish, and I understood about 85-90% of it. (Does a little happy dance.) Which means that I got the more than the gist of it. I understand that their are tours in English as well.

I so wish that I could have taken photos, it was small but amazing! This is a working Museum, which means they actually are making hand knotted rugs and complicated tapestries as you go through the tour. They are making these using traditional techniques and traditional tools. The loom structures are at least 100 years old! That are so massive that the top tensioning bar is a de-barked and painted tree trunk!

These colors are truer, and you can see the initials of the creator of the design.
They founded this museum in the late 15th century in order to ensure that the art of making the rugs and tapestries were not lost.

OK The type of rugs they make are hand-knotted rugs. I found this video that kind of explains/shows how to make the hand knotted rugs in English. The wool that they use is Merino (of course,Spanish Merino) and spun and dyed in Toledo (that was not part of the tour, I just had to know the breed of the sheep and where it was processed). The sheer amount of yarn that they had would put any yarn store to shame. You have to go to the website I linked to about (first link) to click through to the photos. you can navigate the site in English. They have the biggest bobbin winder ever!

So the Tapestries (and the need for the bobbins) are made after "cartoons" like this Goya cartoon. Here is a link to more information on that.

The sheer time, six months for a square meter is just astounding. The tapestry we saw them working on was destined for Chicago.

This museum s a must see for Madrid, even of you are now as into fiber-arts as I am.