Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29th: The Royal Vegetable Collection

It took us three attempts to get to the Royal Botanic Gardens today. This was the first bad day of weather on the trip, bad in the sense that it was cold, windy and raining pretty hard. Our first time out, we made it as far as the Corte Ingles on Calle Arenal (~.5 miles) before it just became too wet. So we browsed their bookstore and stopped for coffee before returning home.

After sitting around for a bit and looking out the window, it seemed like it might be letting up little bit so we left again, this time heading across and out of Plaza Mayor (~.5 miles) before the wind and rain really kicked in and we called the journey due to weather a second time. Three-fourths of the way back to the house we decided to wait out the weather over lunch and stopped by one of the places that had relegated us to their basement last year for being too early for dinner. We were seated in a pretty fancy dining room, one way more deserving that the bocadillos we wanted so when it came time to order we were told that bocadillos are only offered in the bar. The 8x10’ bar that luckily had two stools available. We sat and ate and were entertained by a large tour group that managed to cram itself into the bar with us. I asked the bartender if this was typical and she told me that they handle three large tours every afternoon, with each allowed one hour to eat. The bar improved when the group was kicked downstairs to the basement.

The sun came out just as we were polishing off a slice of Ponche at the Mercado so we made our third attempt and actually made it to the gardens before the rain started again. In for a penny as we always say, we paid and went in and spent an hour roaming around in the drizzle looking at the myriad plants and trees. One of the guidebooks called it a “tree museum” and they were right. There was even a stand of Sequoia, but the highlight was the vegetable garden. Imagine spending a year practicing another language and then flying a quarter of the way around the world, walking for an hour in unsettled weather and then being wowed by a great collection of Cabbage, Beets, Carrots, Artichokes, Broccoli and Lettuce. Next door to the Prado no less. I had my iPhone out to do on the spot translations as we circled the beds oooing and aahing and taking pictures of the incredible specimens.

By now though it was really starting to come down, we had the umbrellas out and it was time to go. We crossed the Paseo del Prado and picked a street that headed up the hill through the Las Huertas neighborhood, one of our favorites. By the time we were home, the sun was out again and the showers had stopped.

Today’s Travel Lesson of the Day – excitement and wonder are often just where you never expected to find them.

Center Lane, Royal Botanic Garden.

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Rhododendron

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Camelia

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Weeping miniature Rose Tree

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Rhododendrons

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Lettuce and Kale

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Cabbage

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Artichoke

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Test your Spanish on this useful guide

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Pink flowering something or other

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My Lovely Wife and the Wisteria she will never have

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Did you see a guy run out of here with a bag?

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