Just Strolling Around

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Like many people, I love to travel. But when I say travel I don’t mean that my focus is on seeing the ‘important’ sites. To me, travel is not a checklist of things that I must see, but the action of strolling around, meeting people, learning about life in another country, and soaking in the culture. My favorite way to do this is just to walk, take pictures and see where my whim takes me.

My wife and I are in Madrid for an extended stay and by happy circumstance we rented a flat close to the center that is about a 30 minute very pleasant walk from our school. The very large ‘Parque de El Retiro‘ is between us and the school. It is an amazing park – 125 hectares – and I’ve taken a different route through it each time. Most surprising to me was a Monday night walk at 9:30 when I expected to be the only one there. But I didn’t yet know that Madrileño’s late night habits extended to outdoor activities. The park was very busy even at that hour – runners, dog walkers, cyclists, and others just strolling.

Entrance to the park on a weekday

It’s only a week that I’ve been here so maybe my impressions will change but it is a wonderful city to visit and the people are usually warm and not rushed even with a beginning Spanish speaker. Following are some of my favorite pictures from this first week.

On the way to Plaza Mayor on a busy Saturday I caught these 2 taking a quiet break from a busy day

Like a lot of cities escaped parrots have adapted and add a color and chatter to the usual flocks of pigeons

Of course, the architecture is interesting and varied but I was surprised to see several building-sized murals that transformed flat, dull walls into interesting scenes

And the botanical garden next door to the Museo Del Prado was fantastic on a warm Autumn day. Visit the Real Jardin Botanico if you can

And for shear crowd density and bargains galore visit the Rastro Madrid open-air market but only on Sundays – and only if you can deal with being packed in like a sardine in a can!

My Pearl Izumi Jacket Will Not Die

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As mountain bikers we get excited about new bikes, wheels, suspension, and all the other shiny bits. But most of us don’t pay too much attention to the clothes we wear until they let us down. On a recent chilly day up at 8500 feet in Park City, I realized I had owned my Pearl Izumi softshell jacket for 11 years. It’s been through cold and rainy bike rides, snowshoe trips, ski trips, travel to a number of countries, and it barely looks worn. It’s been saturated with mud and still came out clean in the wash. It has 3 back pockets and the 2 outer pockets are zippered for security. No more than I need and no less.

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I can’t come up with a single complaint – no ripped seams, stuck zippers, or fabric tears – it’s my go-to jacket in cold weather and was worth every penny. If you need a good jacket for cooler weather, spend the money – you won’t be disappointed.