A spontaneous trip to Spain led me to Madrid and even more surprisingly Valencia. The two hour flight from Paris to Madrid brought me to the land of jambon, churros and paella. Read on to learn about my favorite spots in Madrid and Valencia.
Dabbawala for dinner because they have fresh langoustines and a very delicious chocolate souffle that pairs well with a local red house wine.
Santo Resto Deli was so delicious I ate here twice. Come for the eggs benedict brunch and freshly made smoothies (mine was mint and pineapple). The restaurant also makes plates of the day which offer creative twists like paella-style quinoa with poached salmon.
Salamanca is the luxurious neighborhood in Madrid. They have a street that reminded me of Paris with boutiques like Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno and other French brands.
The Mercado de San Miguel is a must see for foodies. I recommend to have lunch here or buy souvenirs for friends. My favorite food stalls were of the fresh produce: freshly squeezed papaya juice, langoustines, and jambon hanging from the ceiling.
La Central de Callao. This bookshop/concept store/cafe houses three stories worth of books in every language imaginable. While I had a hard time finding books in English because the new titles were mixed all together, I kept getting distracted by the beautiful covers that the employees definitely take time to edit. The first floor offers a great variety of cookbooks from all over the world along with interesting trinkets like Japanese scotch tape and children’s toys.
Museum ABC for contemporary art. The building’s architecture is just as modern as the work presented inside. There is also a cafe and a studio space for artists.
Museo Municipal de Art Contemporaneo for photography exhibitions and large research libraries. When I first entered this space I was struck by its size. I thought it was a palace!
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. This museum is well known around the world and is home to many paintings of Dali and Picasso, including the infamous Guernica, depicting Spain during the Franco regime.
Museo del Prado is another famous gallery. I was excited to see the Valesquez painting of the queen of Spain, among notable works from Caravaggio, Rafael and others.
La Casa Endendida for modern art and an incredibly chic organic grocery store (who would have thought?!)
Retiro park for an afternoon picnic, stroll and boat ride. Also sight see at the Crystal Palace and the various monuments and gardens scattered around this enormous park.
In Valencia, head to the City of Arts and Sciences to be starstruck by the vast design of these five buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. Valencia is a ninety minute train ride from Madrid via the new high speed railroad.