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Sunday Morning: Madrid

DAVID LYON FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

DAVID LYON FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

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I don’t know which I enjoy more: watching the puppet shows in Parque del Buen Retiro, or watching the young children sitting in front of the colorful stage methodically moving their hands from potato chip bag to mouth while never taking their eyes off the action. Once a royal retreat, the expansive park now just a few blocks from the Prado museum was opened to the public by the king in 1767 and became city property a century later. Graced with striking plantings and a remarkable Crystal Palace left over from an 1887 exhibition, it is the green playground where much of Madrid comes to unwind and spend a restful Sunday. In spring and summer, the municipal orchestra presents free concerts at noon, but throughout the year street musicians play along the walkways for tips. Many Madrileños arrive early to simply meander around the fountains and statues, jostle for seats at a cafe table, or find an out-of-the-way bench to enjoy a good book. Chess players face off at small tables with embedded chess boards. After the puppet show, many families clamber into boats to row around the lake where kings once staged mock naval battles.

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