I saw two persons in the office of Casa de Vacas who amazingly worked right through the siesta. (Madrid, except for the restaurants, tends to close between about 1pm and 3pm each day.) Then we talked. The man told me he was from Valladolid (city north of Madrid) which is the place in Spain (according to him) where they speak the best Castilian.
The Spanish call their language Castilian because there are three other "Spanish" languages that are spoken in large regions of the country: Catalán (Spanish & French combination) in Barcelona and Catalonia; Gallego (Spanish & Portuguese combination) in Galicia to the north of Portugal; and Basque (like no other language known to man) in the Basque country (the area around San Sebastián in the North).In Valladolid the double l is not pronounced eye but elye. He told me something about the b and the v, but I didn't understand his point very well. I talked with the two a long time and understood almost everything. It was one of my best moments in Madrid.
After leaving the Casa de Vacas, I strolled along the path on the north side of the estanque until I found a fountain:
Fuente de los Galapagos (Galapagos Fountain). I waited an interminable time until a pair appeared to make my photo (12. left, 48K) more agreeable.
At a stand near the Fuente de los Galapagos, I tried to buy a beef and tomato sandwich. The counterman advised me that he didn't have one but would be able to sell me one of tomato and beef. That was one of my worst moments in Madrid.
I ate up the sandwich under the trees seated on a red chair with a cool breeze in my face. Click on the photo (13. right, 40K) that another lady took of me.
Continuing around the estanque, I was able to take this photo (14. left, 40K)
of the entire monument commemorating Alfonso XII (1857-1885). In 1868, he passed into exile when his mother, Isabel II, was dethroned.
Then in December of 1874 he was proclaimed King of Spain by General Martínez Campos whose equestrian statue you have already seen. The young king, after the death of his first wife María de las Mercedes de Orléans, married María Cristina de Habsburgo-Lorena, who was named regent upon his death. And if you click on the plaque (No Number. right, 28K), you can read the inscription (in English translation) relating the history of the monument.
I walked to the south along the same walkway (15. left, 60K) on the east side of the estanque. I was thinking about a dessert to complete lunch. When you are in Retiro Park, one of the most characteristic delights is the GOFRE that is a thick waffle, about 4 inches square, slathered on top with chocolate syrup and/or other fruit syrups (possibly there are more). Since they are (in effect) waffles (barquillos in Spanish), the vendors are called barquilleros (waffle sellers).
At the intersection of walks by the southeast corner of the estanque,
I found a stall selling all types of desserts. I don't remember whether I bought a GOFRE that day, but, for certain, I bought a GOFRE in 2000 and am able to give you my photo (16. right, 32K) of the GOFRES ready for the topping.
The GOFRE (or other dessert) now eaten, I decided to walk west toward the Prado Museum. Before beginning to walk along this pretty path, I waited several minutes so that the lady walking was sufficiently close for your pleasure (17. right, 32K)
At the end of this path, I asked for directions to the Prado Museum from people resting on benches along a raised walkway. Afterward I walked a short distance before turning around to take a picture (18. left) of that raised walkway.
My last photo in the park (19. right, 28K) shows an important building just outside of the park. Later I found out that the building in this photo is the Casón del Buen Retiro, a part of the Prado Museum.
After questioning more people as is my custom, I soon found myself unexpectedly in front of the Real Academia Española de la Lengua (Royal Spanish Academy of the Language) (20. left, 48K).
But because I was no longer in the park, this is