My Madrid, for you…

To be honest, Madrid isn’t a city that mesmerized me at first, wasn’t love at first sight, but it’s appeal has grown a lot since then.  All my trips were nice, of course, but I didn’t find it charming as others. Nonetheless, in my last couple of visits  I found the vibrant and energetic city that people are so fond of. I discovered the kindness of spaniards, the food, and of course the night life.

With all that said, I want to leave in writing -sort of my official apologies – a few suggestions of places to visit, hoping you might find them interesting and enjoyable as I did.

 

  1. Matadero Madrid: In Aranzuela,  what used to be a slaughter house is now a center for contemporary art, with theaters, cinemas, coffee shops and farm-to-table restaurants.
  2. Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales:  Cloistered nuns still live and walk around barefoot here. Other than being a oasis of peace in the middle of Madrid, it’s a place to see beautiful art by Titian, Hans de Beken and others.
  3. Argensola Street: Located in the Salamanca Neighbourhood, it’s the place to go shopping for local products and independent designer stores.
  4. El Ganso: Also at the Salamanca Neighborhood ( Serrano 47) it’s my favorite store in that area particularly to shop for clothes and shoes.
  5. Federica and Co: It’s a tiny open mall hidden at Hermosilla 26. There you will find a great selection of antique china, furniture and delicate knits.
  6. Barrio de las Letras: The neighborhood where Cervantes and Lope de Vega lived, in it’s narrow streets you will find today art galleries and vintage shops.
  7. El Corte Ingles: The most famous department store in Spain and probably a mandatory stop for everyone. My recommendation is to go to the one located in Plaza del Callao, the fourth floor is a foodies heaven, besides the perfect place to buy edible presents and souveniers.
  8. La Portegna: For travelers and wanderlusts like me, this is a beautiful store that specializes in luggage and briefcases all handmade in Andalucia.

 

Food and drinks are highly appreciated in Madrid’s culture.  It’s been hard to make a list of the good restaurants because all of them are excelent. So instead here is a list of the more memorable ones for me:

 

  1. Ten con Ten: My favorite in Madrid and perhaps in the world. Everything on the menu is extraordinary.  My recommendations are the Broiled Octopus (Pulpo Pedreiro), the Potatoes with shrimps and the Risotto with Truffles. The ambiance reflects the essence of Madrid’s nightlife, the bar, the drinks and the DJ are the perfect combination for a great night out. restaurantetenconten.com

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  1. Paraguas: The perfect place to enjoy a long meal, with great wine. The specialty is seafood but there are delicious dishes for meat lovers too, like the burger with foie. My choice is the Black Cod with Broiled Apple’s Sauce. elparaguas.com

 

  1. Arzabal: Is the place where chefs eat when they want authentic spanish food perfectly prepared. Best bets are the Ham Croquettes and the Truffled Eggs.  arzabal.com

 

 

  1. Arriba:  Chef Ramon Freixa’s new restaurant. It occupies and old  cinema that has been redecorated in a clubby style. Very popular with the younger crowd.  restaurantearriba.com

 

 

  1. Bosco de Lobos: Located in Barrio La Chueca, by chefs Tomas Tarruella and Perico Cortés, the restaurant is beautifully decorated with floor to ceeling windows and light wood tables. The menú offers a wide selection of dishes. ecompaniadelobos.com

 

 

  1. Taberna La Carmencita: The original ceramic tiles are still part of the deccor – it was a tabern during the 19th century.  By the acclaimed chef Carlos Zamora who is famous for restaurants like Deluz and El Machi, serves traditional dishes with a twist and prepared with organic ingredients. tabernalacarmencita.es

As it happens with the beloved, Madrid was mine, is mine…I am taking it with me, and also giving it to you…

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Slow Travel

Sounds extreme? Considering most of us have limited amount of time and budget for vacations, slow travel is as ilogical as throwing money down the toilet.

We have been programmed to think that those days should be squeezed to the last minute. Use them to cross out as many landmarks and tourist attractions as possible, sleep less – because is more expensive sleeping in a hotel. Eat fast. Go from one point to the next as efficiently as possible –hopefully soon there will be drones for that. We have all packed our energy drinks and drank lots of coffee to get our mission accomplished.

But it’s funny how, by the end of the trip many times I have forgotten were I’ve being. Don’t get me wrong, I have felt proud for months from looking at my “To Do and See Lists” filled with accomplishments. My bucket list shortened also makes me constantly repeat to my self: “Great job, great trip!”

Slow travel is not like that. Maybe it isn’t for everybody. Travel with out a list and a plan, could be terrifying for some. In fact I know a few people that would run for their life’s just hearing about it.

On the other hand, slow traveling offers some interesting ideas. It’s quality versus quantity. It’s allowing your self to get to know deeply a place and it’s culture. Trying the local food and restaurants. Talking to people. Visiting authentic non touristic spots and share activities with the locals. Slow Travel requires studying the place beforehand to be able to soak all it has to offer. Researching it’s history, geography and art. It means overcoming the mental barrier from going to see statues and landmarks, to getting to know people and their culture. Implies taking time to make friends, look around, enjoy every single bite, ask questions, walk a lot, get lost, immerse and get swept away by all of it.

Even though slow travel is an attitude, here are a few suggestions to take in consideration:

  • Walk around and ride a bike.
  • Stay longer.
  • Learn about local art, music, sports, politics, etc.
  • Make friends.
  • Participate in communitary activities, enroll in clases, etc.
  • Use alternative ways of accomodations like apartment rentals, vacation homes, etc.

 

In the end, deciding whether slow travel is or not for you, requieres choosing if you you want to be a traveler or remain being a tourist.