Thursday, July 2, 2015

Madrid 2014 - Madrid

Though I was expecting Madrid to be pretty, I was not prepared for how beautiful it is. The pristine Classical buildings, the squares, the gardens and the beautiful people all combine to make this one of the most stunning cities you could ever visit in Europe. With a population of around 6 million in the metropolitan area - Madrid is the 3rd largest city in the EU. This is also one of the great art cities of Europe, with its World Class museums and galleries like The Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Like many European cities, just walking down the streets is a very enjoyable experience. This is especially so in Madrid due to the great architecture, very clean an pedestrian friendly streets, and the great weather especially in Spring.

Due to its colourful history, the buildings in  Madrid show a great variety in architectural styles. You will see buildings in Romanesque, Renaissance,  Italian Baroque, Spanish Baroque, Moorish, neo-Gothic and all the way to more modern styles. And most of the buildings are incredibly well preserved. 

To me the streets of Madrid is like an architectural museum, and if you are interested in European Classical architecture this is the place to be.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Madrid 2014 - Dinner at a local Tahone

We arrived in Madrid quite late in the evening, however being Spring the sky was still bright. After the long drive from the airport we were all famished and it was time to eat. Dinner was served in a traditional Spanish restaurant. This being one of the meals included in the tour, we were not expecting much. However it did come with Sangria which was most welcome.

The restaurant has a long name - La Tahona de Alburquerque. At the front is a Tapas bar with lots of Jamon hanging from the ceiling. At the back is a dining area which is quite cozily appointed.

The dinner was quite simple. It started with a  Noodle Soup with Ham (Sopa de jamón y fideo). Looking a bit like Maggie mee - it however tasted great.

Main course was Pork Medallions with French Fries. Again the look is deceiving. The pork was very flavourful and tender. The Spanish do know how to cook their pork.

Dessert was a mixed fruit comport. Nothing special but it was fresh and refreshing.

This was a good start to our Spanish adventure, especially with the generous servings of Sangria to put us in the right mood.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Madrid 2014 - Barajas International Airport Madrid

After our sojourn in Marrakesh, we had to backtrack to Casablanca and fly to Madrid. Though the Spanish Capital is well-known and its football clubs are legendary, I really did not know what to expect. We arrived at the Barajas International Airport - which is designed by renown British Architect Richard Rodgers. It is an impressive high-tech complex with acres of steel and glass. The soaring wavy roof is beautiful and a technical tour de force.

Among the high-tech architects, Richard Rodgers along with his former partner Renzo Piano is one of the most humanist. Here you get a sense that all the technology is being deployed to serve the user, and to make the user feel comfortable. The use of colours on the main steel structures, and the wooden ceiling adds warmth and comfort to the building.

Even the luggage pick-up area which is normally the most overlooked area in an airport is given a high soaring roof and interesting high-tech design.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Morocco 2014 - Marrakesh Airport

For the next leg of our tour we were flying to Madrid. Arriving at the airport - the architecture was one of the big surprises of our visit to Marrakesh. This is an ultra-modern airport with a very iconic design.

Not only is the design very striking, the details are also very well thought-out and executed. Like the skylights in the roof which let in the light but shielded away the heat.

Morocco has been quite an adventure, and it was sad to leave. It is one of those places which I will definitely revisit - and hopefully soon.