WHERE TO NEXT?

Hello Traveler,

I’ve just touched down back in the US after my whirlwind tour through northern Spain, ending in Madrid, my favorite city and donde estâ mi corazón (where my heart is).

The reasons to visit northern Spain are vast. Limitless. Just look at how beautiful San Sebastian is….

Above is the main area of San Sebastian and their famous beach La Concha. The spot that photo was taken from is high up on a hill that also happens to have a little amusement park for kids and a funicular down near the beach. I highly recommend going up there for the view.

What to do in and around San Sebastian?

  • Cooking and eating in a local gastronomic club
  • Taking a pintxos tour to a few of the 100 bars in the city
  • Strolling the 3+ mile long promenade along the beach and the coast
  • Hiking along the coast to a fishing village for lunch
  • Biking from your hotel into the countryside and stopping at a local Basque restaurant
  • Eating at Michelin star restaurants
  • Eating the freshest grilled fish just off the boat
  • Seeing a local art installation next to the sea
  • Relaxing on the beach surrounded by local Spaniards
  • Swimming in the sea

Nearby:

  • Hiking and biking the mountains of the Picos de Europa or a little or a lot of the famous El Camino
  • Surfing
  • Visiting Guernica (the city Picasso painted that is in the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid)
  • Tasting wines in the Rioja region
  • Eating at more incredible Michelin star restaurants
  • Fishing
  • Visiting Getaria – the birthplace of Juan Sebastian Elcano – in the early 16th century, he became the first man to circumnavigate the globe. Getaria was chosen among New York Times’ 46 places to go years ago and is also the home of fashion icon Cristobal Balenciaga. You can visit the museum that lives on in homage to his work.
  • An afternoon in Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum
  • Visiting Pamplona for the running of the bulls in July


Last week’s most popular article was The Carry-On-Baggage Bubble Is About to Pop. Is there a better solution than our current system? There must be!

The inspiring articles below include getting inspiration for new ideas in your life through travel, Vogue’s best places to visit in Italy, why you don’t have to be old to go on a cruise (if you pick the right one) and exploring Berlin’s art scene.

A few of my favorite informational articles include a complete guide to the worldwide digital nomad visa (if, like me, you are looking to spend some extended time abroad in the near future, this is a good resource), what hotels star ratings really mean, clarifying how PreCheck, Global Entry and CLEAR are different and it’s never to late to find a new career.

Does your family watch March Madness? Have you entered a bracket? I have my teams picked and am ready for the non-stop basketball to begin!

Oh and a bit of exciting news to share. You will see below the new Condé Nast Travel seal below. I was selected again this year as a Top Travel Specialist with particular expertise in what you love – family travel, active travel and food+wine.

I’m grateful to all of you for trusting me to plan your most special leisure time and allowing me to do what I love while helping you explore the world! Thank you!

Have a terrific week!

Warmly,

 

Below:

  • This week’s highlight – tapas hopping in Madrid
  • Where to Next? Hotel Mercer
  • Articles to Inspire+Inforn

TAPAS HOPPING IN MADRID

There have been so many highlights to share with you over the last 10 days that it is difficult to pick one. But I must!

When forced to choose I am selecting the three impromptu places I went on my last day in Madrid with my dear friends, Madrileños, Cesar and Paloma.

They picked me up at the Rosewood Villa Magna and we drove near El Retiro Park (also worth a visit). After skillfully navigating a parking spot (thankfully as visitors without a car you will never have to do this) we simply began walking and popped into the first place we saw with a fun vibe.

It was Pintamonas. There was a guitarist playing an upbeat song that the bar was all singing along to. Once that one ended, it happened again (see them here and here). We ordered cañas for me and Paloma (when in Spain if you want to order a beer like a local – ask for a caña – a very small beer or a doble – a double) and a copa de vino tinto (glass of red wine) for Cesar, accompanied with potato chips and olives – very typical in Spain.

They had a super fun vibe, but after 30 minutes of loud music we were ready for a quieter spot. We ended up walking down Avenida de Menéndez Palayo and finding a place with wide open walls to bring the outside in. Given that Madrid has great weather the majority of the year many places embrace that with walls and windows that open. Check out Puzles and add it to your list for your next visit.

Another round of cañas, along with rabas (fried calamari) and some little tapas. We watched and heard the Spanish world swirl around us. There were many children around happily playing. Spaniards have a tradition of dressing up their young children in matching outfits and they learn from very young they will spend extended time at bars, terraces and restaurants entertaining themselves and they are quite good at it. Not an iphone in sight in their hands.

Going out for tapas – you move around to have a different experience and for our next and last stop we wanted to be fully outside. They took me to Florida Park in El Retiro Park. It just so happened that the night before when I was at dinner with Mercedes, the Assistant Director of the Madrid Tourism Board, I asked her for some of her favorite local, outdoor places and one was Florida Park.

The setting is lovely as you are surrounded by green. They often have live music or DJs on the weekend and Paloma told me it is a very vibrant scene. I thought the vibe was great while we were there, so I can only imagine the energy with live music.

? Florida Park

This is just one real world example of tapas hopping in Madrid. When you are here we can send you around with a guide to take you to the places they know and/or you can hop from place to place on your own. Either way it is so much fun to do this very local experience!

Almost two years ago I wrote this newsletter about how Madrid is “having a moment” with so many new luxury hotels being built. The city is so vibrant and full of energy and I highly recommend a visit!

?Our clients are off to Spain for spring break with stops in Sevilla, Granada and Madrid.  While in Sevilla, they will be staying at the Hotel Mercer.

Why is Hotel Mercer so special?

  • It is ideally located in the El Arenal district, close to Nueva Square and the Real Maestranza bullring. The hotel is the former Casa Palacio Castelar, a late 19th century mansion, with modern, luxurious rooms and suites.
  • Home to renowned María Louisa, an intimate restaurant.  The Mediterranean menu is complimented by an extensive wine list, with some delightful Spanish wines you can not get in the States.
  • The sophisticated cocktail bar FIZZ serves Mercer exclusive cocktails and tapas with international influences, unique presentations and exotic combinations.

Do as much or as little as you like:

  • Relax on the terrace and take a swim in the rooftop pool. Enjoy the panoramic views of the city while savoring a cocktail and light cuisine.
  • Take a cooking class or join in a wine tasting experience to learn about Andalusian culinary traditions.
  • Walk the city with a uniquely designed route from the concierge team. Explore the neighborhoods, stopping for a wine or gazpacho at one of the many tapas bars.

‼️ Don’t miss…. a tapas and flamenco tour in Sevilla. Learn about the history of flamenco from a dancer or instructor. Then enjoy a flamenco performance followed by curated tapas.

? Hotel Mercer

Reach out to plan your trip to

INSPIRATION

The 23 Best Places to Travel in 2024, Outside

You Haven’t Seen Blue Until You’ve Seen San Andres, NYT

Need to Spark Ideas and Inspiration? Pack Your Suitcase for Some Time Away – A new place could inspire a novel idea., Inc.

Canoeing, Snowshoeing, and Getting Naked With Strangers in Japan, AFAR

Aspen Has 153 New Acres of Terrain. Cue the Champagne., NYT

Rail travel to the Arctic: all aboard Norway’s slow train

under the midnight sun, National Geographic

The Best Places to Visit in Italy, Vogue

The Most Beautiful Overwater Villas You Can Stay in Around the World, Business Insider

In Kosovo’s Self-Preserving Tourism,

Old Traditions and Thrilling New Adventures, Condé Nast

20 of Europe’s best national parks to explore this summer, Lonely Planet

You don’t have to be old to go on a cruise, The Washington Post

On Your Trip to Hawaii, Don’t Skip This Laid-Back Strip of Oahu’s Coastline, WSJ

How to spend a day exploring Berlin’s art and design scene,
National Geographic

Europe’s historic islands you shouldn’t miss, National Geographic

SAFARIS

The Best Honeymoon Destinations in Africa, From Sleeping Under the Stars to Beach Retreats, Vogue

Botswana’s inspirational women safari guides who are navigating change, BBC

INFORMATION

13 new and weird travel gadgets we actually want to try, The Washington Post

Complete guide to the worldwide digital nomad visas, Visa Guide
(caveat – I have not vetted this info)

How Hotels Get Their Star Ratings and What They Mean, AFAR

Two of Japan’s Most Popular Attractions Are Limiting Tourists, AFAR

I tried the TSA PreCheck Touchless ID program at O’Hare — and it’s a game changer, The Points Guy

For the Under-12 Set, a Luxury Resort Is Only as Good as Its ‘Kids Club’,
WSJ

It’s Never Too Late to Find a New Career (a Mile Above Your Old One,),
WSJ

How a Little-Known Dublin Book Fest Transformed Into an A-Lister Summer Favorite, Robb Report

PreCheck, Global Entry, CLEAR: We explain U.S. expedited travel programs, National Geographic

(If you aren’t able to access an NYT or Washington Post article, send me a note and I’ll send it to you in a PDF.)

Do you enjoy these newsletters?

If so, please share with a friend who also might like them and encourage them to sign up.

Thank you!

Extraordinary Experiences for
Adventurous Families

Join our mailing list to be in the know about our favorite new travel finds and the latest travel updates. 

Thanks for signing up! You should receive an email from us shortly (if you don't see it, check your spam).