I’ve had a long relationship with Madrid—and it’s only gotten better (apart for the 11p.m. dinners, which I still haven’t gotten use to). This city started as a Moorish one called Magerit. It was rather provincial until 1561, when King Philip II made it his national capital. Today, apart from its endless museums (Museo del Prado, Muso Thyssen, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Lázaro Galdiano), its lively plazas (Plaza Colón, Plaza de Cibeles, Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Neptuno), its bridges (Puente de Segovia, Puente de Toledo) and the Real Jardín Botánico in the center, a peaceful world within the city, Madrid is an exciting, vibrant, artsy and hip city.
Some of my favorite spots: Mercado San Miguel (http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es) and Mercado De San Antón (you can shop for food, stop and eat at food kiosks, or have a drink or meal on the rooftops—very cool—it’s in Chueca, a small and animated neighborhood between Paseo de Recoletos and Calle de Fuencarral, known as Madrid's gay neighborhood. It has a New York City vibe with trendy restaurants, bars, and stores; The bar literario, Diablos Azules (http://www.bardiablosazules.com); Librería Antonio Machado (http://www.machadolibros.com)—buy any book the legendary Spanish publisher Chus Visor of Visor Libros publishes.