Love Letter To Madrid

Argentine soccer star and Barcelona midfielder Diego Maradona once said, ?The problem is that they are all stars at Madrid. You need someone to carry the water to the well.? Futbol rivalries aside, Maradona couldn?t be more wrong, at least when it comes to the soul of Spain?s capital city.

Argentine soccer star and Barcelona midfielder Diego Maradona once said, ?The problem is that they are all stars at Madrid. You need someone to carry the water to the well.? Futbol rivalries aside, Maradona couldn?t be more wrong, at least when it comes to the soul of Spain?s capital city. When I recently visited Madrid, I was reminded how much both Spaniards and travelers underestimate the Iberian capital. I briefly lived in the city after marrying my Spanish husband, and the trip back was my first since we returned to the U.S. Despite the economic crisis, Madrid felt more vibrant than ever. Rushing from soaring modern museums to subterranean speakeasies and stylish boutiques, I could barely find time to see all the new hotspots I?d heard of, much less revisit my old haunts.

Leafy Retiro Park remains a shady, quiet retreat on the edge of the glamorous Salamanca district, but even edgier areas like Chueca and Malasana (rough equivalents to the Chelsea and Lower East Side neighborhoods in New York) were cleaner, with a rash of new trendy boutiques and hip rooftop bars replacing the dodgier establishments of the past.

Here are some favorite discoveries and places you should not miss if you?re planning a trip to Spain:

Restaurants

My top meals were at very different restaurants. Casa Lucio, a favorite with the Royal family, serves traditional Spanish food and is located in a historic neighborhood near the Plaza Mayor. I?d heard reports of it for years but had never tried it, and I was blown away. Even the simplest dishes of revuelto (scrambled eggs) with ham and green beans tasted like something far more complex and refined.

For more adventurous cuisine, my favorite discovery was Asiana, which is run by a young chef who trained at El Bulli. Hidden in the candle-lit basement of an antiques store, the restaurant has seven tables tucked amongst ancient Buddhas and painted vases and serves a fifteen-course tasting menu that included some of the most exciting bites of food I?ve ever experienced. Be sure to make a reservation and get good directions?you?ll have to buzz the closed storefront and give your name before you?ll be admitted and shown downstairs to your table.

Find the ultimate power lunch scene on the terrace at the Goya restaurant in the Hotel Ritz. Affluence and power ooze from the tables as movie stars, heads of state and business impresarios rub elbows. When I dined there, I was flanked by Lord Norman Foster on one side and bodyguards to the Dominican president on the other. At night, stylish Madrilenos queue for entry to the Rande and Scott Gerber-designed Penthouse at ME by Melia in Plaza Santa Ana. The crowd here tends to be a bit younger than at the Ritz but the people watching is equally riveting.

Museums

No one should miss a chance to explore the historic Prado museum. During the summer, an afternoon spent amongst the Goyas is the perfect way to escape the oppressive heat. Just across the street sits the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed CaixaForum, a 19th-century power station reborn as a contemporary art hub. Exhibits rotate frequently, but even if what?s currently on view doesn?t interest you, entrance is free and it?s well worth a stop just to experience the wonderful architecture. Be sure to check out botanist Patrick Blanc?s vertical garden, a lush blend of 250 different species of plants that climbs the fa?ade of a building adjoining the Forum.

Shopping

Espadrilles in every size, shape and shade line the walls of this dusty shop just outside an archway leading into the Plaza Mayor. Run by the same family for five generations, Casa Hernanz is the place to buy espadrilles. Expect gruff service along with a fantastic selection of shoes. Modern fashionistas should focus their shopping in the pretty, tree-lined streets of the Salamanca neighborhood. If time is limited, be sure to start on Calle Claudio Coello, home to the sleek, multi-level boutique of Galician designer Purificacion Garcia and the adorable children?s store Melly Mello.

When I boarded my plane home, already overcome with nostalgia, I tried to list my favorite experiences. As my list grew, I thought of Maradona. Maybe he was right ? Madrid really is full of stars.

- See more at: http://www.indagare.com/destinations/europe/spain/madrid/articles/love-letter-madrid/#sthash.iCYxi9rW.dpuf

Argentine soccer star and Barcelona midfielder Diego Maradona once said, ?The problem is that they are all stars at Madrid. You need someone to carry the water to the well.? Futbol rivalries aside, Maradona couldn?t be more wrong, at least when it comes to the soul of Spain?s capital city. When I recently visited Madrid, I was reminded how much both Spaniards and travelers underestimate the Iberian capital. I briefly lived in the city after marrying my Spanish husband, and the trip back was my first since we returned to the U.S. Despite the economic crisis, Madrid felt more vibrant than ever. Rushing from soaring modern museums to subterranean speakeasies and stylish boutiques, I could barely find time to see all the new hotspots I?d heard of, much less revisit my old haunts.

Leafy Retiro Park remains a shady, quiet retreat on the edge of the glamorous Salamanca district, but even edgier areas like Chueca and Malasana (rough equivalents to the Chelsea and Lower East Side neighborhoods in New York) were cleaner, with a rash of new trendy boutiques and hip rooftop bars replacing the dodgier establishments of the past.

Here are some favorite discoveries and places you should not miss if you?re planning a trip to Spain:

Restaurants

My top meals were at very different restaurants. Casa Lucio, a favorite with the Royal family, serves traditional Spanish food and is located in a historic neighborhood near the Plaza Mayor. I?d heard reports of it for years but had never tried it, and I was blown away. Even the simplest dishes of revuelto (scrambled eggs) with ham and green beans tasted like something far more complex and refined.

For more adventurous cuisine, my favorite discovery was Asiana, which is run by a young chef who trained at El Bulli. Hidden in the candle-lit basement of an antiques store, the restaurant has seven tables tucked amongst ancient Buddhas and painted vases and serves a fifteen-course tasting menu that included some of the most exciting bites of food I?ve ever experienced. Be sure to make a reservation and get good directions?you?ll have to buzz the closed storefront and give your name before you?ll be admitted and shown downstairs to your table.

Find the ultimate power lunch scene on the terrace at the Goya restaurant in the Hotel Ritz. Affluence and power ooze from the tables as movie stars, heads of state and business impresarios rub elbows. When I dined there, I was flanked by Lord Norman Foster on one side and bodyguards to the Dominican president on the other. At night, stylish Madrilenos queue for entry to the Rande and Scott Gerber-designed Penthouse at ME by Melia in Plaza Santa Ana. The crowd here tends to be a bit younger than at the Ritz but the people watching is equally riveting.

Museums

No one should miss a chance to explore the historic Prado museum. During the summer, an afternoon spent amongst the Goyas is the perfect way to escape the oppressive heat. Just across the street sits the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed CaixaForum, a 19th-century power station reborn as a contemporary art hub. Exhibits rotate frequently, but even if what?s currently on view doesn?t interest you, entrance is free and it?s well worth a stop just to experience the wonderful architecture. Be sure to check out botanist Patrick Blanc?s vertical garden, a lush blend of 250 different species of plants that climbs the fa?ade of a building adjoining the Forum.

Shopping

Espadrilles in every size, shape and shade line the walls of this dusty shop just outside an archway leading into the Plaza Mayor. Run by the same family for five generations, Casa Hernanz is the place to buy espadrilles. Expect gruff service along with a fantastic selection of shoes. Modern fashionistas should focus their shopping in the pretty, tree-lined streets of the Salamanca neighborhood. If time is limited, be sure to start on Calle Claudio Coello, home to the sleek, multi-level boutique of Galician designer Purificacion Garcia and the adorable children?s store Melly Mello.

When I boarded my plane home, already overcome with nostalgia, I tried to list my favorite experiences. As my list grew, I thought of Maradona. Maybe he was right ? Madrid really is full of stars.

- See more at: http://www.indagare.com/destinations/europe/spain/madrid/articles/love-letter-madrid/#sthash.iCYxi9rW.dpuf

Argentine soccer star and Barcelona midfielder Diego Maradona once said, ?The problem is that they are all stars at Madrid. You need someone to carry the water to the well.? Futbol rivalries aside, Maradona couldn?t be more wrong, at least when it comes to the soul of Spain?s capital city. When I recently visited Madrid, I was reminded how much both Spaniards and travelers underestimate the Iberian capital. I briefly lived in the city after marrying my Spanish husband, and the trip back was my first since we returned to the U.S. Despite the economic crisis, Madrid felt more vibrant than ever. Rushing from soaring modern museums to subterranean speakeasies and stylish boutiques, I could barely find time to see all the new hotspots I?d heard of, much less revisit my old haunts.

Leafy Retiro Park remains a shady, quiet retreat on the edge of the glamorous Salamanca district, but even edgier areas like Chueca and Malasana (rough equivalents to the Chelsea and Lower East Side neighborhoods in New York) were cleaner, with a rash of new trendy boutiques and hip rooftop bars replacing the dodgier establishments of the past.

Here are some favorite discoveries and places you should not miss if you?re planning a trip to Spain:

- See more at: http://www.indagare.com/destinations/europe/spain/madrid/articles/love-letter-madrid/#sthash.iCYxi9rW.dpuf

Argentine soccer star and Barcelona midfielder Diego Maradona once said, ?The problem is that they are all stars at Madrid. You need someone to carry the water to the well.? Futbol rivalries aside, Maradona couldn?t be more wrong, at least when it comes to the soul of Spain?s capital city. When I recently visited Madrid, I was reminded how much both Spaniards and travelers underestimate the Iberian capital. I briefly lived in the city after marrying my Spanish husband, and the trip back was my first since we returned to the U.S. Despite the economic crisis, Madrid felt more vibrant than ever. Rushing from soaring modern museums to subterranean speakeasies and stylish boutiques, I could barely find time to see all the new hotspots I?d heard of, much less revisit my old haunts.


All photos courtsey of Indagare


Leafy Retiro Park remains a shady, quiet retreat on the edge of the glamorous Salamanca district, but even edgier areas like Chueca and Malasana (rough equivalents to the Chelsea and Lower East Side neighborhoods in New York) were cleaner, with a rash of new trendy boutiques and hip rooftop bars replacing the dodgier establishments of the past.

Here are some favorite discoveries and places you should not miss if you?re planning a trip to Spain:



 

Restaurants
My top meals were at very different restaurants. Casa Lucio, a favorite with the Royal family, serves traditional Spanish food and is located in a historic neighborhood near the Plaza Mayor. I?d heard reports of it for years but had never tried it, and I was blown away. Even the simplest dishes of revuelto (scrambled eggs) with ham and green beans tasted like something far more complex and refined.


For more adventurous cuisine, my favorite discovery was Asiana, which is run by a young chef who trained at El Bulli. Hidden in the candle-lit basement of an antiques store, the restaurant has seven tables tucked amongst ancient Buddhas and painted vases and serves a fifteen-course tasting menu that included some of the most exciting bites of food I?ve ever experienced. Be sure to make a reservation and get good directions?you?ll have to buzz the closed storefront and give your name before you?ll be admitted and shown downstairs to your table.

 

Find the ultimate power lunch scene on the terrace at the Goya restaurant in the Hotel Ritz. Affluence and power ooze from the tables as movie stars, heads of state and business impresarios rub elbows. When I dined there, I was flanked by Lord Norman Foster on one side and bodyguards to the Dominican president on the other. At night, stylish Madrilenos queue for entry to the Rande and Scott Gerber-designed Penthouse at ME by Melia in Plaza Santa Ana. The crowd here tends to be a bit younger than at the Ritz but the people watching is equally riveting.

 

 

 



Museums
No one should miss a chance to explore the historic Prado museum. During the summer, an afternoon spent amongst the Goyas is the perfect way to escape the oppressive heat. Just across the street sits the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed CaixaForum, a 19th-century power station reborn as a contemporary art hub. Exhibits rotate frequently, but even if what?s currently on view doesn?t interest you, entrance is free and it?s well worth a stop just to experience the wonderful architecture. Be sure to check out botanist Patrick Blanc?s vertical garden, a lush blend of 250 different species of plants that climbs the fa?ade of a building adjoining the Forum.

 

 



Shopping
Espadrilles in every size, shape and shade line the walls of this dusty shop just outside an archway leading into the Plaza Mayor. Run by the same family for five generations, Casa Hernanz is the place to buy espadrilles. Expect gruff service along with a fantastic selection of shoes. Modern fashionistas should focus their shopping in the pretty, tree-lined streets of the Salamanca neighborhood. If time is limited, be sure to start on Calle Claudio Coello, home to the sleek, multi-level boutique of Galician designer Purificacion Garcia and the adorable children?s store Melly Mello.

When I boarded my plane home, already overcome with nostalgia, I tried to list my favorite experiences. As my list grew, I thought of Maradona. Maybe he was right ? Madrid really is full of stars.

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