Madrid and Valencia

Posted on Monday, March 31, 2014

Like fashion, travel destinations are in and out of style. Spain is currently in the spotlight, attracting foodies with its modern twists on classic food and Spain’s growing reputation for wines. Spain is also known for its amazing museums and architecture. You'll have to adjust your eating times in Spain because lunch starts at 2 p.m. and no Spaniard eats dinner before 10 p.m. It's worth staying up late, because Spain is on the foodie fast track. Even better, Bodegas (Spanish wineries) are just starting to open their doors to the public. Viavinum, the first wine tour company in Spain, lets guests take part in the harvest by grape stomping before sampling the bottled product. spain2

Madrid Art aficionados will love the "golden triangle" of the Spanish Capitol's art museums, all located within a few blocks of each other. The Grande Dame is the Prado, considered by many to be the world's finest art gallery filled with Spanish, Flemish and Italian masterpieces. A few blocks away, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is known for its large display of 19th century North American paintings, a rarity in Europe. The Reina Sofía National Art Centre is dedicated to Spanish contemporary art including Picasso, Miro and Dali. Recently expanded, it now includes a red-hot restaurant called Arola Madrid, where Chef Serge Arola presents a modern twist on old-world Spanish cuisine. Madrid also boasts the largest palace in Europe with more than 2000 ornate rooms and an army museum. American celebrities often stay at the Hotel Puerta America where chosen architects from an international competition were allowed total freedom to design floors. The best place for souvenirs and people watching is Plaza Mayor, located in the old part of Madrid. Shops selling berets and espadrilles (both invented by the Basques) are next to outdoor cafes tempting passersby with the aroma of fresh seafood in garlic sauce.

Valencia One of the fastest growing cities in Europe, Valencia offers something for everyone. After winning the right to host the America's Cup international yachting races several years ago, the city transformed it's industrial port into a small village with restaurants and luxury shops. Almost overnight resorts began lining the Mediterranean beachfront. Famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was also instrumental in changing Valencia's image with his futuristic City of Arts and Sciences museum complex. The exhibits are interactive and fun so children won't even realize they're learning while playing. The design of the buildings reflects their purpose; the science museum looks like a dinosaur, the planetarium is an eye that opens and closes and the aquarium's shaped like a whale. In the old part of town tourists line up to visit the Ceramics Museum and the Silk Exchange Building, (the country's original form of currency), which has been declared a World Heritage Site. The Cathedral displays what many believe is the Holy Grail, the chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Valencia's the birthplace of Paella and you can take a tour where chefs in costume prepare the saffron rice dish over an outdoor fire in the traditional manner. Guests sip Sangria on the riverfront while waving to passengers gliding past in old-fashioned wooden boats.

Tags: madrid , spain , valenia

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