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Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Jan 29, 2018
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Madrid ignites your senses!

ARMANDO MENDONÇA

My return to Madrid this past fall was a foodies’ dream and the art scene was just as delightful, as the journey began at check-in at the NH Collection Colon Madrid (https://www.nh-collection.com/hotel/nh-collection-madrid-colon) located in the upscale Salamanca neighbourhood in the heart of all things fine.

This recently refurbished property built in the 1950s has a fresh art deco look/feel to it, and the rooms are just as nicely appointed with all the standard amenities. The hotel’s breakfast buffet is outstanding with plenty of options – delish!
Our afternoon tour began at Plaza Mayor, built in the 1600s, one of the main squares in central Madrid rich in history where many events take place, in addition to, offering a wide range of restaurants, cafes and shops. This is a great spot to grab a seat at one of the patios, sip on a local refreshment, people watch and take in the beautiful architecture. Our guide, Enrique – Madsnail Travel – continued the tour with stops at the Mercado de San Miguel (www.mercadodesanmiguel.es) and only a visit to their website will give you an idea of the scope of what this market offers – great if you’re on a budget, as well as Mercado de Anton Martin which was recently restored and is a current hot spot (www.mercadoantonmartin.com).
Our walking tour also included one of the main medieval squares, Plaza de la Villa, then a stroll along these narrow passageways where we stopped for lunch at a Vegan Restaurant – worth a visit if you’re in the area (www.vivaburger.es) – it has a charming location with a great patio. Before heading back to the hotel, a couple more stops for some tapas and local fair: Erre & Emme (www.erreyemme.com), La Casa de las Torrijas (www.lacasadelastorrijas1907.com) and Posada de La Villa (www.posadadelavilla.com)… love tapas’ing with a glass or two of Spanish wine.
The fall weather is unseasonably balmier and conducive for our planned morning shopping tour of the high-end Salamanca neighbourhood, oozing with elegance offering a wide variety of national and international renowned brands and designers in their stylish haute couture boutiques and lavish window displays.
The main shopping streets of Calle Ortega y Gasset also referred to as the “Golden Mile,” Calle Serrano, Calle Claudio Coello and Callejón de Jorge Juan are among the most popular for perusing and retail therapy.
There are also many art galleries and auction houses with original works from local and international notable artists located on Calle Villanueva and surrounding area. In addition, Barrio de Salamanca boasts Michelin-starred restaurants and amazing places to wine and dine as I had mentioned in my previous Madrid editorial (https://www.travelpress.com/subscription/IDEA/100017_010118_ctp/#?page=8). For more details on the foodie scene visit: http://www.spain.info/en_CA/que-quieres/gastronomia/ .
Madrid’s main park “El Parque de Retiro” is centrally located and a great escape from the city’s hustle-bustle for a leisurely stroll along the many manicured pathways lined with gardens, monuments and interesting sculptures. An optional alternative to explore the park can be by horse-drawn carriage, and, if your feeling adventurous, go for a paddleboat ride along the lake adorned with a half-moon colonnade and monument to King Alfonso XII – picturesque. There are a few options to grab a bite lakeside, however, the restaurant “Pabellón” in the Florida Retiro entertainment complex is a treat! For more details visit: www.floridaretiro.com/en/ .
A brief visit to the Thyssen Museum located in “Villahermosa Palace” also known as part of the “Triangle of Art,” which also includes the Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum was inspiring. The collection of art from notable painters such as; Picasso, Renoir, Rembrandt, and so many others are permanently on display, and one can easily spend the day in awe from these works of art. It goes without saying that the collection of work at the Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum is just as impressive and worth a visit. For more information, please visit: www.museothyssen.org/en , www.museodelprado.es/en , www.museoreinasofia.es/en .
If you have a chance, I highly recommend a visit/tour and take in a show at the “Teatro Real” the city’s Royal Opera House which reopened in 1997 and considered as one of the great theatres of Europe. A backstage tour of the theatre makes you really appreciate what it takes to pull off a theatrical production from staging to custom design. Check out what’s on: www.teatro-real.com/en/ .
Foodie lovers take note when visiting Madrid and make sure you consider these great restaurants on your next visit; Bodega de los Secreto (www.bodegadelossecretos.com) one of Madrid’s oldest wineries built in the 17th century, has been recently restored to its former glory where the cellars, labyrinth of galleries and caves set the tone and ambience for one unforgettable meal; Platea Madrid (www.plateamadrid.com/en/) multi level Michelin-starred dining experience offering live music and performances with a variety of different cuisines – the vibe and energy is quite overwhelming in a good way, so be prepared; Corral de la Moreria (www.corraldelamoreria.com) when you combine great food and add a flamenco performance, you hit the jackpot – a must!
For more information on Madrid and Spain, visit: www.spain.info and www.esmadrid.com .

Armando Mendonça is a tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist supporting HIV/AIDS charities and lifestyle & diversity columnist. He can be reached at: armando@baxter.net .

 

 

 

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