Last week we were graced with a nearly 70-degree day so we agreed that it was best spent outdoors and spent the day in Maria Luisa Park. I had been told by more than one friend that the park was amazing and we HAD to visit it ASAP. It’s located just south of the Alcázar, so it was a manageable walk and we meandered on down.
We’d read in advance about the Plaza de España, but we weren’t really prepared for how grand it was. It really surprised us! The Plaza was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, and features intricate tile work depicting each province of Spain, and a small moat that you can rent boats and row around (sadly, Jared was not up for rowing a boat).
It was pretty fascinating to see something so grand that had been built for the world stage. It doesn’t really seem like that’s done anymore. Jared and I were reminded of one of our favorite books, The Devil In the White City, that describes the enormous undertaking to built the structures for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
The Exposition was held throughout the park, so there are other interesting spots and buildings dotted around, but the Plaza de España is by far the most spectacular (for good reason – they had to represent!).
After we picked our jaws up off the ground, we began to explore the park a little and found a stand renting bicycles. Jared used to ride every day in New York, so being off a bike for 4 months has been torture for him. We rented 2 bikes for 5 Euros each and figured it was a bargain to be able to more easily cover the enormous space.
I have to admit, it was really nice to be on a bike. We were pretty giddy riding around the park on such a nice day. We stopped and had a nice little picnic lunch and Jared did his best to make all the birds in the park love him.
Sadly, Jared’s back tire had a spectacular blow out (it sounded like a gun shot), so we ended up having to walk our bikes back to the rental stand. It wasn’t a huge tragedy since we were due to return them in 15 minutes anyway, but it was a little deflating after the glee of riding around (um, sorry for that tire pun).
If you’re ever here, I highly recommend seeing the park by bike. There are local stands all over the city that you can use if you don’t feel like renting the ones in the park, but it’s totally worth it to hop on a cycle!