Melissa's Travels

Just Back From: Madrid

Some trips are charmed and our Insider Trip to Madrid certainly was—not just with gorgeous spring weather and fabulous company but with the luck of discoveries. On our first day, we arranged to meet Lady Elena Ochea Foster, who was in town for an opening at her incredible gallery/exhibition space Ivorypress Art + Book. Her passion for the projects on which she collaborates with such artists as Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst was infectious. We followed this with an overview tour of the city, before heading to the US Ambassador’s residence to meet with the current U.S. Ambassador to Spain, James Costos. His partner, the designer Michael S. Smith, has worked his magic on the interiors of the residence to create a statement on American elegance abroad that is the perfect backdrop for the 75 pieces of outstanding American art on loan through the Art in Embassies program. (Among the artists on display are James McNeil Whistler, Robert Rauschenberg, Walton Ford, Josef Albers and Chuck Close.)

The next day we headed to the Prado to view its Goyas, Velázquez and El Grecos as well as Picassos on loan from the Kunstmuseum. A contrast to the diversity and scale of the Prado, we also visited the Sorolla Museum in the artist’s former home, which instantly joined my list of favorite small museums. A long leisurely lunch at Luzi Bombon was followed by shopping. The next day journalist and design critic Andrew Ferren, who lives in Madrid, shared many of his favorite spots, including the home and studio of renowned designer Lorenzo Castillo. Inspired by his incredible collection of antiques, we went treasure hunting in the antiques district with Andrew as our guide before heading to Platea, the new five-story gourmet temple.

On our last day we drove outside of Madrid to El Escorial, the palace, monastery and UNESCO World Heritage Site, where most of the kings of Spain are buried. Exploring its rooms of ancient maps and illuminated manuscripts was made even more magical by the sight of monks hurrying through the corridors and a boys’ choir rehearsing with the voices of angels. Though for some in the group it was a first visit to Madrid, for none would it be the last. All of us left eager to return to further explore what we agree is one of the most underrated fabulous capitals of Europe.

Published onJune 22, 2015

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