16 oct 2018

Introduction to Madrid with context

Living abroad means many things. One thing it’s sure to entail is a stream of visitors looking for an exclusive look at Madrid, since you know it all soooo well, right?!

If you’re looking for a fun activity here in Madrid for your guests, one where they can actually learn something beyond “this is called a cana”, consider sending them to Context. Context offers small group “walking seminars”, with no more than 6 guests. There are no “tour guides”, but rather the walks are led by docents. The small group dynamic lets you ask questions, or stop for photos, without feeling like you’re holding up the group. The docents leading the tours are more specialized, having earned advanced degrees in art history, classics, urban planning, etc.

In addition to “Introduction to Madrid”, Context offers two “Art Walks” that include “Goya in Madrid”, and “Prado”. There are also some history oriented tours, featuring “Flamenco”, “Life is a Dream, Intellectual Madrid”, “Civil War and Madrid Under Franco”, and “El Escorial”. Context also offers a five hour excursion to Toledo. So pick your interest, or just get an overview of the city.

I participated in the “Introduction to Madrid” walk this past weekend. The clouds were beginning to cover the sky, ominously looking like rain, when I met our docent, Andrea, at the meeting point in Puerta del Sol. Luckily the weather held out for our 2.5 hour tour, which covered the palace area, La Latina, and Huertas, in addition to Sol. Andrea described how Madrid came to be formed, and shared details of the Hapsburg kings, Spanish customs, and, in particular, the architecture of the city. And we took a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel, where I grabbed some delicious olives before we were off to the Plaza Mayor. I snapped shots along the way with my fancy camera, as did Mike, another New Yorker on the walk, and I was grateful for the opportunity to stop and pause in this wonderful city.

Although I have seen these parts of Madrid many times now, it was wonderful to hear more history of the city, and I have a feeling the themed tours (especially Franco) would be particularly interesting.

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