Madrid's scents are of elegant grandeur and laughter. The historic districts imbue impressions of grace and regal history, every street transposed from an era of impossible wealth. Walk down Paseo de la Castellana to the Gran Via and even the roofs scream of splendor, sculpted busts and gods basking beneath the Mediterranean sunshine. You'll be met at the airport and transferred directly to your five-star boutique hotel in the regal district of Salamanca (remember this name for later in the trip). As you're guided around the city, first impressions are of Madrid's sublime heritage. But gradually another side shines through.
Madrilenos live their life outdoors, their chatter consuming the Plaza Mayor and the Madrid of the Hapsburg era. The sociability runs through the Madrid of the Bourbons, finding its way into classical alleyways and grand palaces. Every suburb has its own character, its own display of socialites mixed with heritage. Your afternoon tour explores both the Hapsburg and Bourbon routes, taking you through winding streets to a fine-dining restaurant opposite Madrid's Teatro Real. After dinner you have prime seats at the opera. The theater's interior screams of opulence, all velvety and ornate as the tenor's voice reverberates off the dome ceiling. As dancers jump and a melancholy tale radiates beauty, this night at the opera is the start of your journey into Spain's golden age of art.
Day 9 - 10