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2:30pm – time to get moving again.

Quite fankly, folks – we should have waited another hour or so, as the heat had become almost unbearable. While we are somewhat used to it, it certainly was a burden on M. and B.

We walked towards “Puerta del Sol” to take the Metro Line 2 which calls at “Retiro”, actually the most important area of green in the city. Madrid’s green lung so to say. It spreads from the “Puerta de Alcalá” to the “Atocha” train station.

Given the heat and the distance we took the Madrid Metro from “Puerta del Sol” to the Metro station “Retiro” – travelling as a group it is always a good call to take one of the 10 rides bundle (12 EUR).

I just love the Retiro Park – it gets crowded on week ends but during the week it breathes all tranquility and calmness. Madrilenos, not having to work that day, occupying their little kingdom of recreation, reading books, taking a nap or having a picnic with their families.

Others – despite the heat – running either alone or with friends (brave heroes they are).

Others floating motionless in the little colourful boats on the little pond – as it seemed overseen by Alfonso XII.

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Moving along the pond protected by the shadow of the trees forming an alley, we headed towards the “Palacio Velázquez”, praying that there currently is an art exhibition, helping us to escape from the heat.

We seemed to be in look – there was one, featuring a Swiss painter / sculpture.

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Quite frankly not our cup of tea – however inside the Palacio it was pleasantly cool, I suppose the artifacts are delicate.

Well, maybe there is something more to our liking in the nearby “Palacio de Crystal” – indeed there was one by an American designer, interesting artifacts, however the heat inside the Palacio was even more unbearable than outside… I guess you cannot have it all.

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Definately it is cooler outside than inside the “Palacio de Cristal” – we take a little walk in the shadows of the trees around the Palacio, along the small pond in front of it – admire the population of turtles we see in the water.

Following the small paths that lead through the trees and bushes like in a maze we moved towards the exit of the Park this time on the other side of the pond with the boats as we wanted to introduce Alfonso XII to our friends.

Quite impressing a monument, the result of a national contest in honour to one of the Spanish kings (Alfonso XII), who died at a quite age (27) of dysenteria.

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We passed by the “Teatro de Casa de Vacas” on our way out and headed towards “Plaza de Colón” commemorating Christopher Columbus. Impressive because of the mix of modern architecture, the Christobal Colón statue, the fountain – and of course the giant version of the  Spanish flag.

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As the temperature was still sweltering we decided to give the new “Mercado Platea” a try – formerly a movie cinema, now transformed into a rather upscale food court with two dozens of chi-chi tapas and finger food restaurants. Quite honestly I like the more down-to-earth look-and-feel of “Mercado San Miguel” better.

So, not quite what we were looking for and as we were leaving the “Mercado” we stumple upon “Mamá Framboise” an equally upscale-ish pastry shop / tea / coffee place. The right thing to get something to drink and to get sugar back into our systems.

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Being responsible guides we do not expect our friends to walk back from “Plaza de Colón” to Sol – the bus stop Serrano is nearby and the bus line #51 took us via Calle de Serrano, Calle de Alcalá to Puerta del Sol in 10 minutes.

It is 5:30pm and crossing “Sol” we returned to the hotel, to take a rest, to freshen up and to get ready for the last and if you ask me, most important stage of the day: Dinner.