12 jul 2018

A view from above

When I first got to Madrid two years ago, I spent time wandering the more touristy areas with my roommate and we discovered within a couple of days an attraction that still holds my interest for A View from Above it gives and the simplicity of its design: Teleférico.

What is the "Teleférico"?

The premise is simple: it is a ride on cables from right next to the rose gardens of Parque del Oeste across the rest of the park, the río Manzanares, and a large swath of Casa de Campo, with a breathtaking view of the city itself from many stories up in the air. The ride claims to be ecologically friendly, and it is nice to get out and above the crowded city streets into the open air. Cheesy music is piped in and a narration in excited Spanish tells you about some of the things you can see, but if you can tune that out, you are getting one of the most serene and expansive views of Madrid that I’ve experienced. I haven’t tried it on a cloudy day, but I can definitely recommend it for those days where the sky here is impossibly blue and the sun almost blinding; I would bet that it gives you a few extra kilometres of visibility.

The ride itself is under 15 minutes, but it works: not exactly a wild roller coaster, but it isn’t long enough for you to be antsy to get off. The Teleférico itself has a café on a terrace when you arrive, and there is also a very close-by playground for small children. Also consider hiking around in Casa de Campo for a while, or heading down to the Parque de Atracciones, an amusement park that is just a short walk downhill. A slightly longer walk will take you to the Zoo. The last time I went, though, it was just a break in a busy day and all we did was eat a snack on a bench before heading back to take our “vuelta” journey. This second trip, there was no narration, and the picture-taking and views were reversed so that we were approaching the city from the west instead of heading into the wilderness.

Each car can hold 6 people, so it’s ideal for anyone from a couple up to a larger group of friends who can easily divide into multiple cars. During the winter the ride has limited hours – most of the weekends in January and February they are open, but only the weekdays that are near holidays, such as the first week in January. The website talks about their hours, which grow slowly as winter continues, 12h to 18h in December, 12h to 18.30h in January, and so on.

I have seen these rides in other cities, but this is the first one I’ve actually ridden and I find that it was a thrill for a person who had just landed in a big city for the first time. It is a nice time-out from a busy day of showing a house guest around the popular attractions of Madrid. If you want to get away from it all just for an hour or two, this trip won’t disappoint.

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