A Little Treasure of Madrid, the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales

When Kris and I lived in Madrid thirty-two years ago we worked at a language school that was about eight blocks from our apartment. One of the routes we often took to work took us past a nondescript building with two large oak doors and a small sign beside one of them which identified it as a convent. (Here’s the Google map.)

The same sign offered tours during limited hours, but in all the time we lived here, and in our many subsequent visits to Madrid, we never got around to seeing what was inside the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales. We remedied that this time.

A Sunday Walk in Madrid

Madrid, first of all, is a great walking city. If you are staying anywhere near the Puerta del Sol. you’ll perhaps first notice that Madrid got smart several years ago and banned all car traffic in the Puerta itself as well as all streets leading out of it for a distance of several blocks. Usually the only vehicle you’ll ever have to contend with is the occasional taxi that has received dispensation to come into the center to drop passengers at the hotels.

Spaniards love to walk. They do it all the time, but particularly in the early evenings and Sundays when they habitually dar un paseo with their girlfriends, or their extended families, or whomever. They don’t necessarily have any destination in mind, except perhaps a restaurant or bar. They just like to walk.

On Journalism and Bullfights in Madrid

Ernest Hemingway

Madrileños, unlike most denizens of big cities, are genuinely friendly and eager to talk about their city, Spain, and almost anything else you want to discuss. Our first night here, we had a discussion about journalism and its position as a profession in Spanish society over beers and a plate of olives at an outdoor cafe in the Plaza Mayor with a young man named José Angel. José Angel’s girlfriend is a journalist and he’s a carpenter, so he allowed as there was some friction with her parents over his “station” in life. I assured him that their positions would probably be reversed if he came to the United States and he’d be welcome to visit us anytime the in-laws got to be too much.