Madrid: A Capital with Heart and Art

Madrid: A Capital with Heart and Art

Compared to the elaborate cathedrals and monuments of Paris, Athens, or Kyiv, Madrid’s most prominent landmarks like the popular plaza of Puerta del Sol or even the royal palace seem modest. But in the absence of abundant loftiness is an affable attitude. The Spanish megalopolis is expressive, tolerant, and surprisingly easy to get along with. In recent decades, it’s earned the title of one of Europe’s great art capitals: three of the continent’s most decorated museums—the Prado, the Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen—can be found within walking distance of one another. The city also hosts one of the world’s largest pride festivals. Every summer, the Fiesta del Orgullo attracts nearly two million attendees for over a week of celebrations centered around the vibrant neighborhood of Chueca. Continue reading “Madrid: A Capital with Heart and Art”

An Ode to Toledo

An Ode to Toledo

Broken fragments of ice hovered motionlessly over a dreadfully frigid Tagus. It was a somber sight all around; the cheerful Spanish glow I had grown so accustomed to was nowhere in sight. On the ground, brown tamarinds lay trampled and suspended between a state of decay and perpetuity under the morning frost. Suddenly, out from the dense fog, a lone jogger burst forward. Swishing silently past in Stygian polyester tights, he vanished as quickly as he emerged, disappearing down a smoky slope. Had I arrived in Toledo, or had I awakened in Homer’s Meadows of Asphodel? Continue reading “An Ode to Toledo”

Mallorca, in Transit

Mallorca, in Transit

Towards the beginning of May, the waters around the Balearic Islands begin to come alive. One by one, the shorelines of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera cast off their winter colors in exchange for the well-known summer hues of transparent turquoise and cerulean blue. The full blare of the Mediterranean heat has yet to descend, but to the south of Palma de Mallorca Airport, along the seemingly endless palm-fringed avenue of S’Arenal, the bars and shops are already bracing themselves for the impending flocks of holidaymakers in search of sun, sand, and sangria. Continue reading “Mallorca, in Transit”

Cádiz & Seville

Cádiz & Seville

Before reaching our final stop in Seville, we made a short detour to Cádiz by the sea. Originally founded by the Phoenicians more than three thousand years ago, Cádiz is one of the oldest European cities still currently inhabited, and the oldest one in Spain. But neither of us knew that when we were there. Sébastien wanted to see Cádiz because it was the setting of a French operetta, La belle de Cadix. And me, I was happy to get a whiff of the ocean breeze… Continue reading “Cádiz & Seville”

New Year’s Eve in Córdoba

New Year’s Eve in Córdoba

Once the capital of Islamic Iberia—or Al-Andalus, from which Andalusia inherits its name—Córdoba was a leading center of culture and science and a jewel of the medieval world. Today, it still beams with beauty. Even in the trough of winter, luscious-looking oranges ripen and release their sweet fragrance under the expanse of a spotless blue sky. Continue reading “New Year’s Eve in Córdoba”

Granada: The Pomegranate City

Granada: The Pomegranate City

If there’s one country that never ceases to delight and surprise me, it would have to be Spain. The people are warm and welcoming, the dishes—delectable, and there’s an abundance of culture and colors. From the sun-baked sandy stretches of Ibiza to the evergreen forests along the Bay of Biscay, Spain is an experience for every sense. Continue reading “Granada: The Pomegranate City”