October 9th, 2021
Often we debate whether to go on a trip during the rainy season, it could be in the fall or maybe even in the winter, of course, I don't refer to those of us who go skiing, but to others who want to spend their vacation in a different way and enjoy the profound aspects of the vacation: getting to know the local culture, eat the local food, spend differently from what we are used to at home, and above all, experience the place in the "normal" season and not at the peak of the tourist season...
In order to show you this autumnal season in all its glory, I chose the city of Madrid as an example to a trip that is all fun in the season in which the sun is tending to hide behind the clouds...
San Miguel Market
Opened in May 1916 as a food market, this centenary establishment (one of the city’s few and best examples of iron architecture) became Madrid’s first gastronomy market in May 2009.
Located in the centre of Los Austrias Madrid, the San Miguel Market is the city’s gastronomic temple, the contemporary essence of all the corners of Spanish cuisine. From the best Iberian ham to fresh seafood brought from Galicia each day, the Mediterranean rice or the special cheese from Castile, Asturias or the Basque Country. The finest products and wine from the length and breadth of Spain are divided between permanent and portable format stands.
Not so trendy like San Miguel Market, but more authentic, located at La Latina, a central neighbourhood in Madrid, the "Mercado de la Cebada" market hall covers a large area with many stalls whose kind vendors offer a wide range of top-quality products.
The market spans two floors where you can buy not only meat, cold meats, fruit, fish or poultry but also cosmetics, flowers, eyeglasses, upholstery… In sum, everything you may need…
In addition to its commercial offer, it has a children’s area, Cebada Kids, where activities related to healthy eating and fresh and seasonal products, the functioning of the market, etc. are organised every weekendfor children. It also has a fun space with themed Playmobil exhibitions.
Visiting the market is also an experience for those who do not come to buy, but only to feel the pace of life in the city. You can sit down to have a cup of beer, or coffee, along with a light meal and be a "Madrilenio" for a moment ...
The stunning Palacio de Cibeles is not only the headquarters of Madrid City Council, it is also home to CentroCentro. A recent addition to the renowned "Paseo del Arte", this area, known in english as the Art Walk, boasts art and beauty as you’ll see nowhere else in the world. Along a stretch of just over one kilometre, you’ll find the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum, as well as a number of other institutions and buildings well worth visiting.
the cultural centre CentroCentro itself boasts a packed programme of activities that revolve around the city and includes exhibitions, workshops, conferences and concerts.
Next to the entrance hall, where you’ll find interactive information screens, there is a colourful lounge where visitors can sit back and read, connect to WiFi or enjoy some people-watching through the large windows that look out onto Plaza de Cibeles. The building has two restaurants:on the ground floor andon the 6th.
Also on the sixth floor is Terraza Cibeles, a great rooftop bar where you can relax with a pre-dinner drink or mid-afternoon snack as you take in the wonderful views of the Plaza de Cibeles and the Madrid skyline.
For even more breath-taking vistas, head up to the Mirador observation deckon the 8th floor.
Madrid is packed with history and therefore, even eating in a restaurant could be a wonderful cultural event ...
Botin is an establishment founded in 1725, it has a rich history which includes a young Francisco de Goya who worked there as a dishwasher. It all started when a French chef, Jean Botín, and his Asturian-born wife, opened a small inn.
The wood-fired oven dates from that time, still used today to roast suckling pig and lamb at the premises of Cuchilleros, moved there in the decade of the 40s. It is currently run by the third generation of this family. The restaurant occupies four floors and still has the atmosphere of the original inn, despite a series of refurbishments.
The Guinness Book of Records recognizes it as the oldest restaurant in the world. Botín also considered by the prestigious magazine Forbes at number 3 on the list of classic restaurants in the world.
Also known as escape games or locked room adventures, escape rooms have taken the world by storm. The premise is simple: you and a small group of friends (usually between 3 and 5 people) have 60 minutes to escape a locked room by solving a series of puzzles and cyphers. All you need for the challenge is to get your brain in gear and choose your teammates wisely!
In one of the popular escape rooms, you will meet with a predominantly linear script that contains some surprises.
Madrid in the 30’s. You have been requested to register Mr. Byne’s appartment, an art dealer who is rumored to be involved in the disappearance of some masterpieces. You have 66 minutes before he will be gone forever. Will you be able to find evidence of his guilt or can you prove that he is innocent?
Shopping, Gastronomy and wine: Chueca - Malasaña - Fuencarral
The districts of Chueca and Malasaña, along with the axis along Fuencarral Street, make a shopping area where you’ll find lots of fashionable brands, emerging designers, tattoo parlours, interior design shops, bookshops to buy comic, art, rare or second-hand books, and vintage objects.
The area bounded by Plaza de Chueca, Calle Fuencarral and Calle Hortalezais a map of quiet alleyways brimming with shopping activity. A nerve centre of the gay scene, the area has also opened up to other communities and trends, to become a favourite with both locals and out-of-towners.
Along and aroundCalle de Augusto Figueroa, there’s a good number of shops where you’ll find display shoes from past seasons at attractive prices.
In Malasaña, the main shopping street is Fuencarral to the east, bordering on Chueca. This pedestrian thoroughfare is lined with top brand shops selling sportswear and trendy clothes and accessories.
Malasaña is one of the districts where alternative cultures thrive in Madrid. You’ll find urban tribe outfits, tattoo parlours, vintage stores to buy 1960s, 1970s and 1980s originals or replicas.
In the1980s, Malasaña was the nerve centre of the so-called ‘movida madrileña’, a cultural revolution involving artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers. The legendary ‘movida’ atmosphere can still be felt in this district, where the sentimental can still spot their favourite leather jacket on display in a shop window…
The area is brimming with street markets as well.
Not far from Malasaña there’s the so-called Triángulo de Ballesta, This triangular area (hence the name) has become a vibrant cultural and social hub.
The area is also famous for its food markets, where you can get local produce or go out for tapas.
For visitors with a sweet tooth, there are bakeries (gluten-free treats) or the one that offers up to 800 different varieties of bread, from the most traditional (wheat bread, bread rolls or rye bread), to French breads, Vienna or German breads with multiple seeds, as well as all the desserts you can imagine.
And if you need a good book to accompany your pastry and coffee with, head fora bookshop specialising in a careful collection of fiction and specially selected essays, children's books and foreign-language books, which the owners plan to broaden over time. What is more, there is a café/wine cellar where you can sample unconventional signature wines and beers that you won't find on the traditional commercial circuit.
The reader/customer is invited to accompany their reading with a delicious beverage, acquire the latest book releases, purchase a bottle of wine from the cellar or enjoy a relaxed drink in a pleasant, quiet setting.
* Photographs: Madrid official tourism site