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What would Madrid be without the Retiro park! This oasis of peace, of respite from the frenetic pace of life in a city.

Enjoying the green of the spring, the bright green grass, the lush bushes, the chestnuts trees in bloom, the birds singing, a sunbeam caressing my face. I feel how my body relaxes and tensions disappear. I try to ignore the rest of the people and conect with nature, so necessary, I think, when living in  big town, in an accelerated world, surrounded by technology and constant interconnection.

Álvaro Bilbao, Doctor in Health Psychology and Neuropsychologist, at the “I Congress for Health Progress in the Companies”, celebrated recently in Madrid, comes to my mind talking about the importance of taking care of your brain and the damaging effect stress has on it, increasing considerably the possibilities of suffering a stroke or Alzheimer. Just as well I like training my brain reading and playing specific games to exercise it, but I will try and take care more consciously to prevent the damage caused by stress with specific exercises, meditation and so on.

I start my stroll through the Cecilio Rodriguez gardens because I feel like seeing the peacocks whose song can be heard from afar now in spring. Every time I passed by the Retiro park in the last weeks their song would call me and make me smile. Today I have decided to go and see them close up.Jardines de Cecilio RodríguezMoreover I love the Cecilio Rodriguez gardens with their fountains, the columns surrounded by ivy as if prepared for a wedding and, of course, the peacocks walking around at leisure. Amongst the trees I get a glimpse of the Baby Jesus chapel (Capilla del Hospital del Niño Jesús) with its wonderful towers, so I stop to take a picture.
Capilla Niño Jesús

I continue my walk and see the first peacocks, a group of four males and three females in the middle of the garden. Suddenly a bit further a male descends flying from a tree, but I don’t have time to catch the moment in a picture. I enjoy watching three cheeky male peacocks getting fed by two small girls. Seeing as we are in spring I was kind of hoping to catch a male courting a female and spreading this feathers in a wheel. But then I will remember the moment of seeing two males fly with their long, long feather tail.
Pavos reales

The moment has come to continue my stroll. I leave the gardens and walk towards the library taking one of the dirt tracks strewn by tall trees. I inhale profoundly the scent of chestnut trees and conifers. Passing by the library, I continue towards O’Donnell. The ballroom Flordia Park is under construction. What used to be the ballroom has already been removed and they seem to be restoring the historical building, which I at least would appreciate. I’ll come back in a few weeks to have a look at what they are doing.

For now, I leave the main walkpath crowded with people Casa del Pescadorwalking, cycling, skating or ball playing in search of a more peaceful path. I weave my way to the right, to the left aimlessly until I come across the Fisher’s House (Casa del Pescador) surrounded by a small pond.

Meandering I approach the exit. It certainly has been a very pleasant walk and I think of the book I have started reading, called “A Philosophy of Walking”. Frédéric Gros seems to be right. Walking is good for the health, but not a sport looking for results or competition. I believe it is physical and mental health. It is enjoying the moment, connecting with yourself and your environment. It allows you to let your mind wander off. As the author says “To go slower, there is no better thing than walking… When walking only one feat matters: the intensity of the sky, the beauty of the landscapes”.

What an excellent way to start this long weekend at the beginning of May, leaving behind the work, the stress, the worries. When I glance at the watch, I see it is lunch time but that I have been strolling less time than I thought, because for my soul it has been comforting and I feel peace of mind.

If you want to slow down, walk, stroll, meander and, above all, enjoy.

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