Students recently spent a gorgeous autumn afternoon in el Parque del Retiro riding bikes and rollerblading.

Once, the private playground of royalty, Madrid’s crowning park is a vast expanse of green encompassing formal gardens, fountains, lakes, exhibition halls, children’s play areas, outdoor cafés, and a puppet theater. The park is especially lively on weekends, when it fills with street musicians, jugglers, clowns, gypsy fortune-tellers, and sidewalk painters along with hundreds of Spanish families out for a walk. At the central lake, “estanque”, there are rowboats for rent at a very low price.